∗ Yes, Johnny Appleseed was a real person. His name was John Chapman. He was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, September 26, 1774. His father was a Minuteman at Concord, and later served as a captain during the Revolutionary War.
∗ Records of his boyhood are scanty at best. His mother died while his father was in service. His father married again after the war, and the family moved to East Longmeadow, where he spent his boyhood years.
∗ In his early twenties, John Chapman migrated to western Pennsylvania, and first settled in the frontier village of Warren, near Pittsburgh. From there he traveled west into the Ohio Valley, and in the nearly 50 years that followed he lived the life that many folks to this day relate more to legend than history.
∗ Chapman never married. For lack of a more appropriate description of his work, he was an itinerate missionary and preacher of the Swedenborgian Christian faith, and an apple tree nurseryman. He traversed the forests and prairies of what is now Ohio and Indiana and fringes of other states, planting and caring for his apple trees, teaching farmers apple culture and assisting them in planting and care for orchards, and preaching “good news right fresh from Heaven.” He became known for his courage and dedication to his fellow man, as well as for the thousands of apple trees he planted.
∗ Chapman died in March 1845, from pneumonia. He is buried near Fort Wayne, Indiana.