In today’s world, most of the TV channels portray an ideal image of a beauty…
There are several larger-than-life heroes in American folklore. However, for those of us who have been out of school for a long time, it can be difficult to recall which ones are made up and which are true historical characters who have come to be attributed with imaginative exploits through time.
In 1774, John Chapman was born in Massachusetts. Little is known about his early life other than the fact that his mother died while he was young and that his father served in the American Revolutionary War.
Around 1798, he established his first apple tree nursery in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Valley and then began traveling west across Ohio, planting as he went. He remained well ahead of the pioneers by walking for kilometers every day and sleeping outside, guessing where they would settle and planting nurseries in those locations.
It’s worth noting that the apple trees Chapman planted produced largely cider apples, rather than the dessert and culinary types that most of us are accustomed to seeing in supermarkets.
Cider apples are tiny and unpleasant to eat, but they may be used to make hard cider, an alcoholic beverage that was a mainstay of the American diet, particularly for pioneers who did not always have access to clean drinking water.
Oral reports of Chapman’s exploits began to spread throughout his lifetime. The majority of these centered on his outdoor talents and amazing physical endurance. Chapman was also known for his unusual clothing: instead of a shirt, he normally wore a bag with holes for his head and arms, and on his feet were shoes.
Chapman was an ardent devotee of Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg’s mystical teachings, evangelizing and distributing Swedenborg’s works as he went. Chapman died at Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1845, having planted apple trees as far west as Illinois or Iowa, according to the tough pioneers he met on his travels.
Soon after, a romanticized portrayal of his life began to emerge, with Johnny Appleseed serving as a friendly benign icon of European invaders’ conquering of the American continent.