John Chapman headed west about 1800. Known as Johnny Appleseed, he carried with him apples for planting, usually along streams (probably obtained seeds from cider mills in Pennsylvania). His earliest known apple nursery was planted near Steubenville, Ohio, in a valley near the Ohio River. He located them near settlements where he could walk back and forth to maintain them. He was a practical nurseryman, not a 'scatterer of seeds' as people believed and owned several orchards. He lived the rest of his life in Ohio and Indiana, wandering about barefoot, clad in rags ('wearing a tin kettle on his head', they say), tending the apple orchards he started wherever he found a good spot, and reading aloud from the Bible. He walked alone without gun or knife. He chopped down no trees and killed no animals. He lived very simply. He slept outdoors, ate berries and made his clothes from sacks. He made his drinking water in winter by melting snow with his feet. For Forty-nine years he roamed the American wilderness, devotedly planting apple trees. He created apple orchards in the wildernesses of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana, spanning an estimated area of 100,000 square miles. Some of these trees are still bearing fruit after 150 years.
The seeds that he planted, and the saplings he gave away (see below paragraph) to the local Indians and the new settlers, helped to build the orchards of the Midwest. Apples were very important to the early settlers. They offered something different in what could become boring daily meals. Easy to grow and store for year-round use, they were dried to eat during the winter, and made into butter and cider. Chapman also planted the seeds of many healing herbs such as catnip, horehound, and pennyroyal. Some could say that he planted spiritual seeds as well. Despite his eccentric appearance, he was regarded as a healer, and even something of a saint, by settlers and Indians alike.
Johnny Appleseed didn't wander the Midwest giving away apple seedlings and seeds, as many believe. In 1806 Johnny charged about 6 cents for a seedling. But if setters couldn't pay, they say he would accept cornmeal, old clothes or a promise to pay in the future. He probably gave trees to needy families. Johnny Appleseed was not a poor man, he was a businessman. He had money, but he used it for charity and to further his work rather than for his personal comfort.
John Chapman was a deeply religious man and a self-appointed missionary for the Church of the New Jerusalem, a Christian Church based on the Biblical interpretations of Emanuel Swedenborg. His love for his neighbors made him a peacemaker between the Indians and the settlers.
The City of Leominster, Massachusetts is proud of being the birthplace of John Chapman, known as Johnny Appleseed. They celebrate with a parade in his honor every year. They have also named one of their Schools, Johnny Appleseed Elementary School in North Leominster, after this legendary character. They also have a monument dedicated to him on Johnny Appleseed Lane, the place of his birth, and a statue in front of the Library.
Monday, September 24, 2001
By Mike Elfland
Telegram & Gazette Staff
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Tuesday, September 21, 1999
By George Snell, Telegram & Gazette Staff.
LEOMINSTER...Ever since his birth certificate was found collecting dust in City Hall archives in the 1930s, Johnny Appleseed has been embraced by the city of his birth.
He is everywhere:
So it is no surprise that Leominster makes the apple-picking season the occasion for an annual Johnny Appleseed celebration.
This weekend the city will have a tripleheader: The sixth annual Johnny Appleseed Festival; The fifth annual Johnny Appleseed 5K Road Race; And the third Johnny Appleseed Parade.
It is the most exciting weekend of the year in Leominster, Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella said yesterday. We expect about 10,000 people to be in the downtown for the weekend.
The festivities begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with the road race. Richard M. Marchand, festival organizer, said he expects more than 300 entrants, about 200 from school children.
We put out a challenge to the schools, he said yesterday. We will give the school with the most entrants a $250 gift certificate from C&M Pizza.
The road race starts and ends at City Hall. Registration the day of the race is $9 ($7 for advance registration) for adults and free for children under age 18. The first 100 people to sign up get a free T-shirt.
Saturday the festival kicks off at 10 a.m. with an apple pie bake-off. Contestants should bring their pies to the Unitarian Church. The first place winner gets $100, second place $50 and third place $25.
Afterwards, Monument Square becomes a festival ground. Marchand said there will be 11 food venders and about 100 crafters selling their wares: teddy bears, blankets, picture frames, toys and fabrics.
The festival will feature a full petting zoo, three kiddie rides (including a trackless train), interactive sports exhibits, and a photography exhibit and contest.
The Johnny Appleseed Parade will wind its way through the downtown at 2 p.m. Sunday. The parade features more than 80 entrants, including fire trucks, dancers, bands and more than 20 floats.
So far, it is the biggest parade of the three we've had, Anna M. Hamblin, the parade director, said.
The festival, road race and parade are paid for through private donations.
© 1999 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
LEOMINSTER-- The imposing figure of Johnny Appleseed, all 9 feet of him, is striding forward, seemingly ready to go back downstairs and outside City Hall.
The wood statue was placed in the main entryway Friday by a crew that maneuvered the 800-pound piece from the parking lot, up a set of stairs, to its new home in the main corridor.
The piece was sculpted two years ago by Oklahoma artist Clayton Coss, who used three chain saws to carve the folk hero. John Chapman, a nurseryman who later became known as Johnny Appleseed, was born in Leominster but moved away as a young boy.
The sculpture was commissioned by a group of private donors, led by David P. Mattos. The statue, which cost around $15,000, was carved from an ash tree outside Mr. Mattos' home at 50 West St.
Mr. Coss carved the statue from an ash tree that had been severely damaged during a winter ice storm, Mr. Mattos said. When workers came to remove the damaged tree, Mr. Mattos told them to leave about 20 feet of it.
He then invited Mr. Coss, whose work he had seen in Oklahoma, to carve Leominster's hometown hero from the tree.
After Mr. Mattos sold the home, he had to find a new place for the massive sculpture, he said. On Nov. 1, Peter D. Dandini, of Dandini Landscaping Co., cut the statue away from the stump, rolled it onto a pallet and stored it at his business.
When the decision was made to bring it to city government, Mr. Dandini took it to the Department of Public Works, where it was stored for three weeks in a heated garage until being moved to City Hall.
DPW workers paid $240 to Hartman Relocation Services Moving & Storage Co. for the move. The statue was protectively wrapped, then maneuvered through the 7-foot door at City Hall. The movers used a ramp to get the statue up the stairs, said an aide to Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella, Anna M. Hamblin.
The decision to send the statue to City Hall was made because of fears it could be vandalized if left outside, Mr. Dandini said. Even aside from worries about vandalism, there were concerns that the weather, particularly winters, would damage the statue, Mr. Mazzarella said.
I think he'll be safe here, the mayor said yesterday.
The statue could end up at Sholan Farm, the orchard the city has agreed to buy. The orchard is intended to become a living memorial to Johnny Appleseed.
I can't exactly keep it in my front room, Mr. Mattos joked. Although Mr. Mattos said the statue was donated to the city, Mr. Dandini said the matter still has not been decided. The owners still must get together to discuss the ownership issue, he said.
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Leominster Historical Commission, 17 School St, Leominster, MA 01453
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