Legendary pioneer and conservationist John Chapman is one of America’s most popular characters. In fact, Americans celebrate “Johnny Appleseed” not once, but twice. Johnny Appleseed Day is celebrated twice a year – on the anniversary of his birth on Sept. 26, 1774, and on the anniversary of his death. Because the actual date of his death is often disputed – March 10, March 11 or March 18 - Johnny Appleseed Day is also celebrated on either March 10th or 11th.
While he was also known for his generous ways, he introduced apple trees to a large portion of the United States. Legend has it, this deeply religious man planted apple seeds as he walked barefoot though the Ohio Valley while balancing a pot on his head. But Appleseed actually planted apple seeds wherever he found “suitable ground for a nursery.” He enclosed the areas with fences made out of brush and would return to the area year after year. For more than 40 years, Johnny Appleseed returned to his beloved nurseries to tend to his tress and planted new nurseries along the way.
During his travels, he encouraged others to plant apple trees too. If and when this simple man slept in a house, he usually slept on the floor. His hat was made out of a tin vessel, which he also used for cooking his food. He befriended everyone he met, including Native Americans and animals. He often helped animals of all shapes and sizes that were injured and often used his own money to buy animals that were being mistreated.
Johnny Appleseed never married and died of pneumonia at a friend's house. His legendary life continues to touch people of all ages. In 1966, a United States Postage Stamp was created in his honor.