September 26, 2011 - Happy Birthday, Johnny Appleseed

Born John Chapman on this day in 1774, he earned his nickname by wandering over large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, introducing apple trees by planting nurseries. He would return every year or two to tend to his nursery, but while he was wandering he would leave the nurseries in the care of a neighbor. He gave away many apple trees but still ended up with a lot of valuable land and nurseries.

Johnny Appleseed was considered kind and generous, and he was ahead of his time in his thoughts about conservation and the treatment of animals.

Here is a quickie story that shows some of those character traits. One day Johnny Appleseed heard that a horse was going to be “put down” due to an injury. (That means that the horse was going to be killed in a humane, hopefully painless, way.) He saved the horse's life by purchasing it. He then purchased a few acres of nice, grassy land on which he could keep the injured horse. He allowed the horse to roam around the land, eating grass and recovering from its injury. When the horse was fully recovered, Johnny Appleseed gave the creature to a poor family that needed a horse, saying that the only payment he wanted was a promise to treat the horse well.

It is said that Johnny Appleseed always treated animals—even wild animals—exceptionally well. He was a vegetarian, and he was a big believer in not disturbing wild animals. He is even said to have spent some chilly nights rather than accidentally killing insects with his campfire!

Celebrate by eating apples!

Little kids might also enjoy these apple-themed crafts and activities. 

By the way...

Some pictures of Johnny Appleseed show him walking around with a huge bag of seeds, just indiscriminately tossing hands full of seeds everywhere he went. (This is what Miss Rumphias is supposed to have done with lupine seeds—but she is a fictional character!)

In truth, however, as I mentioned, he carefully planted seeds and seedlings in nurseries.

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