Thursday, September 26, 2013

Johnny Appleseed Day


Today we celebrate the birthday of one of America’s greatest legends and folk heroes, Johnny Appleseed. The real Johnny Appleseed was born John Chapman in 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts. He lived his life by a strict code of morality, honesty and kindness to all creatures. John was a pioneer, probably the country’s first nurseryman, one of its great agriculturists, and without a doubt, a great man.

John’s adventures began in 1792 at the age of eighteen. He headed west following the steady stream of immigrants. Although he lived most of his life alone, he was a stranger to no one. His frequent visits to the settlements were well received. To the men and women he was a news carrier and to the children he was a friend and storyteller. In this way, he was the frontier’s first librarian!

John was very religious and often preached to people along his way; his favorite book was his Bible. While he appeared to be poor, this was not the case. He made money by selling his apple trees and tracts of land. He never used banks and instead chose to bury his money. John often bartered food or clothing for his trees and was known to give the better clothing to people he felt needed it more than he. He rarely wore shoes, even during the coldest days of winter. It is said he could walk over the ice and snow barefooted and that the skin on his feet was so thick that a rattlesnake couldn’t bite through it. Pictures of John often depict him wearing a pot on his head as a hat. While this makes for a great story, this is unlikely since pots at this time were made of heavy copper or iron. He rarely sought shelter in a house, since he preferred to sleep in the open forest with his feet close to a small fire. On March 18, 1845 John died of pneumonia at the age of seventy-one. Legend says it was the only time he was sick in his whole life.

Stories have a way of changing over time and maybe that is why the story of Johnny Appleseed became a mixture of facts and tall tales. However, one part of the story has always stayed the same; people loved Johnny Appleseed.

Hey kids, check out these "apple books” today:
Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale  by Steven Kellogg
The Legend of Johnny Appleseed (Graphic Novel) by Martin Powell
Johnny Appleseed by Jane Yolen
Apples for Everyone by Jill Esbaum
Apples A to Z by Margaret McNamara
Amelia Bedelia’s Apple Pie by Herman Parrish
An Apple Pie for Dinner retold by Susan VanHecke

Submitted by Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

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