Johnny Appleseed Day

Johnny Appleseed Day - Thursday, September 26, 2024

Cultural Historical Pop Culture

When confronted with the legend of Johnny Appleseed, most people are surprised to discover that this American legend was a living, breathing, historical human being!

It’s true. Far from being simply the stuff of folklore and folk tales, Appleseed (real name: John Chapman) was an American nurseryman who introduced apple trees to the Midwest, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. He was also a conservationist and missionary during the earliest days of the United States.

And yet, despite his living, breathing status, Appleseed was, indeed, a living legend. And Johnny Appleseed Day on September 26 is celebrated in his honor.

There’s a story from the early days of America, discussing this near-mythical figure that traveled the wilds of America spreading apple seeds everywhere he went. He was known and lauded for his kind, generous ways, and the importance he placed on the apples. To this day he is depicted in stories and song as the man who made apples an American institution and is one of the most beloved characters in its mythology and history.

Learn about Johnny Appleseed Day

To understand the importance of Johnny Appleseed Day, we first need to discuss who Johnny Appleseed was. The name sounds like something from a nursery rhyme or a children’s television show.

However, Johnny Appleseed was an American pioneer nurseryman who ensured that large parts of the United States were introduced to apple trees. His generous and kind ways resulted in him being an American legend while he was still alive. He became a symbol of the importance of apples, as well as being a key leader in conservation. 

Johnny Appleseed Day is a day for remembering the man that made apple trees bloom across the United States. Not only do we honor everything that he did for the United States, but we also spread awareness regarding conservation and growing our own produce.

Although we never knew him, we are sure that this is what he would want from the day itself: the world to unit in their efforts to conserve the planet and embrace sustainable living approaches. 

There are a number of different landmarks across the Midwest that pay honor to Johnny Appleseed. This includes a monument in South Park, which is in Mansfield, Ohio.

Warren County, Pennsylvania claims to have the first tree nursery that was planted by Johnny Appleseed. There is also an entire park named after Johnny Appleseed in Springfield, Massachusetts, which was his hometown. 

History of Johnny Appleseed Day

What many people don’t know is that Johnny Appleseed was no mere legend, but was, in fact, a missionary known by the name of John Chapman. Born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1774.

While the most common display of the man who would be known as Johnny Appleseed is of him randomly spreading apple seeds everywhere, the truth of his methods were a bit more pragmatic.

He travelled throughout Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and the lands that would become West Virginia planting nurseries. He would fence them in and leave them in the care of a neighbor who would then sell shares in the trees, and then come back every year or two to tend them.

His very first nursery was built on the bank of Brokenstraw Creek, south of Warren Pennsylvania, but dozens more were to follow. His work wasn’t focused just on apples, however. He had a deep and abiding love for animals of all kinds, including insects.

He may have been one of the first ethical vegetarians and spent much of his life taking pains not to harm animals. One popular story about him recounts his attitudes towards animals:

“One cool autumnal night, while lying by his camp-fire in the woods, he observed that the mosquitoes flew in the blaze and were burned. Johnny, who wore on his head a tin utensil which answered both as a cap and a mush pot, filled it with water and quenched the fire, and afterwards remarked, “God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of His creatures.”

How to celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day

Celebrating Johnny Appleseed Day is best done by indulging yourself in the delicious fruit that he helped to spread across the US. Whatever form you choose to have it in, whether a fresh apple off a tree or a rich and flavorful apple pie, be sure to take some time to appreciate the results of his efforts. You may also take a day off of eating meat and be extra kind to animals on this day, in remembrance of his efforts and his beliefs.

There are lots of great recipes online for everything from apple pies to apple cider and applesauce, so you should have no trouble finding something that appeals to your taste buds. We don’t know about you, but we love nothing more than a delicious apple dessert!

Some of the different apple desserts that you can try on Johnny Appleseed Day include the likes of salted caramel apple crisp, apple crumb cheesecake pie, cast-iron apple and blackberry crumble with sour cream whip, caramel apple baked donuts, apple cinnamon honey cake, and caramel apple pie fudge.

This is just a handful of the exciting recipes that you will find online today, so why not do a little bit of digging and find a recipe that you can make the most of on Johnny Appleseed Day? You could even plant your own apple tree in order to pay tribute to this day! What better way to play honor to the legend himself?

As mentioned earlier, another important part of Johnny Appleseed day is raising awareness about the importance of sustainability and conservation. As well as tucking into delicious apples, why not take a moment to spread the word online with your friends, family members, and followers?

You can tell them more about Johnny Appleseed and all of the hard work that he put in over the years and the massive impact he made. You can share tips on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as sharing some photos of the delicious apple-based dessert that you have baked in order to celebrate the day!

Johnny Appleseed Day timeline

March 18, 1845

Johnny Appleseed died

After a life of travel, religious devotion and conservation, Appleseed died in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He left behind a legend that lives on to this day — plus an estate of more than 1,200 acres.


Go west, young man

Johnny headed west out of Massachusetts to begin his legendarily nomadic life. He planted his first nursery near Warren, Pennsylvania a few years after starting out.

September 26, 1774

Happy birthday!

The man, the myth, the legend — actually the very real, historical John Chapman (i.e., Johnny Appleseed) — was born in Massachusetts.

17th Century

Apples arrived in the 'New World'

Colonists began introducing apples to the North American continent, with the first apple orchard planted in Boston in 1625.

328 BCE

Alex found a great apple

Alexander the Great is said to have discovered dwarf apples in the area of modern-day Kazakhstan.

5 Tasty Johnny Appleseed Tidbits

  1. He spread the Gospel

    Appleseed was a religious man of peace — a "primitive Christian" — whom American Indians regarded as having been touched by the "Great Spirit."

  2. He wouldn't hurt a fly — or a mosquito

    Legend has it that Appleseed doused his campfire rather than have mosquitoes perish in its flame. He is said to have remarked, "God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of His creatures."

  3. He was an unmarried vegetarian

    He used to tell folks that he would meet his true love in heaven if one wasn't provided to him on Earth.

  4. We're not sure where he's buried

    Appleseed is almost certainly buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana — but the exact location is still very much up for debate.

  5. He helped American expansion

    Land claims during American westward expansion often required plantings. Appleseed sold seedlings to pioneers, making the creation of an orchard — and thus a verifiable land claim — much easier.

Johnny Appleseed Day Activities

  1. Make some cider!

    This one seems almost too easy. But in honor of the man for whom Johnny Appleseed Day is named, how about brewing up a home batch of your own tasty apple cider?

  2. Learn the Appleseed traveling hymn

    Some Americans still sing the Appleseed hymn before supper. The lyric goes, "I thank the Lord For giving me the things I need: the sun and rain and apple seed."

  3. Visit Johnny Appleseed's birthplace

    Leominster, Massachusetts, is home to the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, the Johnny Appleseed Arts & Culture Festival and, of course, Johnny Appleseed Lane — birthplace of the man himself.

Why We Love Johnny Appleseed Day

  1. How do we like them apples?

    We like them a lot, actually. Apples are not only a good source of fiber (eat the skin!), they provide a decent amount of vitamins C and K, plus potassium. So serve 'em up, Johnny! After all, an apple a day ... well, you know the rest.

  2. It's his birthday!

    Johnny Appleseed's birthday is September 26, 1774, which is why we celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day on that date. His was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, and the site where he was born is now called Johnny Appleseed Lane.

  3. How do you like that cider?

    Uh, yeah, we like that, too! In fact, the apples that Johnny Appleseed planted weren't good for eating; they called them "spitters," because you were likely to spit them out if you took a bite. Johnny's apples were great for cider, though.

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