John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed)
I was going to include a brief discussion about John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, because after I wrote One Bad Apple, I discovered that I'm related to him.
Only one problem: I'm related four different ways, which means there's no tidy diagram I could insert here. We share twenty-four Massachusetts ancestors.
His ancestors lived in Ipswich and Woburn, as did mine. His parents came from Tewkbury and Leominster--people moved around more than you might expect, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
And John Chapman went even further than that: he died in Fort Wayne, Indiana, after traveling extensively in New Jersey and Pennsylvania (where he acquired his apple seeds from the discards of cider mills) as well as Ohio. (By the way, my husband grew up in Fort Wayne.)
Although Chapman has been portrayed as a comic figure, an eccentric wanderer (thanks in part to Walt Disney), in fact he was a shrewd businessman with great foresight. He had already established his own orchard by 1800, in Ohio, and later planted more in Indiana. But these were nurseries, not apple sources: he assured himself of a steady supply of seeds and stock, which enabled him to spread his apples over a large area. At the time of his death he owned over 1,200 acres of nurseries.
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