Who Was Johnny Appleseed?

Johnny Appleseed is one of those larger-than-life folklore heroes that everyone knows about. The truth behind his life is widely debatable, although we know that at least his existence was real. 

Unlike the majority of characters from classic American folklore, Johnny Appleseed actually walked the earth and performed (a variation of) the tasks that he was rumored to have performed. 

For starters, his name was John Chapman, not Johnny Appleseed. 

He was born in Massachusetts in 1774. Nobody really knows about his early life. Really, the only thing we know about his childhood is that his mother died when he was a kid and his father was a soldier in the American Revolutionary War. 

We know that John Chapman planted his first apple orchard in the Allegheny Valley in northern Pennsylvania around 1978. After that, he started walking west through Ohio, planting trees as he went along. 

He walked ahead of the path of the pioneers that traveled through the area to settle down. He walked all day and planted nurseries in areas where he chose to rest for the night. 

The pioneers that walked west used his nurseries as milestones, and his name became synonymous with the apple trees he planted. Hence, coining him "Johnny Appleseed."

It is important to note that the apple trees he planted weren't of the eating variety that we commonly see in grocery stores today. He planted cider apples. These apples were hard and difficult to digest, but when mashed and fermented, they made hard apple cider. The pioneers had a difficult time locating safe drinking water on their conquest, so Johnny Appleseed made sure that they had a steady supply of cider to drink. 

The man did not wear a pot on his head, but he did in fact wear a burlap sack as a shirt, canvas pants, and he rarely wore shoes.

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