Obit of the Day (Historical): Johnny Appleseed (1845)
An early American folk hero, Appleseed was best known for supplying farmers in the Ohio/Pennsylvania apple tree sapling and helping to developing swaths of apple orchards in the early western US. Appleseed, born John Chapman, in Massachusetts, moved to Ohio by 1800. Only six years later he was commonly called Appleseed. Most of the apples trees he sold were bred to grow cider apples, not “let’s jump in the car and head to Vermont for maple syrup and a cup of cider” cider, but hard cider. Hard cider was easier for farmers to make than most any other intoxicating beverage.
Appleseed, who was later imagined wearing a pot on his head, did dress in rather ragged outfits, often without shoes. He was also a missionary of Swedenorgianism (aka The New Church), a Christian denomination that espoused beliefs such as marriage in Heaven and the salvation of all, if an individual was good. (Historical note: Another famous Swedenborgian was 19th century architect Daniel Burnham.)
Appleseed died on this date (March 18) in 1845 and is buried in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. His gravestone is pictured above. (Image courtesy of Life magazine, who you can also find on tumblr, life.tumblr.com.)
Here is his obituary from the Fort Wayne Sentinel from March 22, 1845:
On the same day in this neighborhood, at an advanced age, Mr. John Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed).
The deceased was well known through this region by his eccentricity, and the strange garb he usually wore. He followed the occupation of a nurseryman, and has been a regular visitor here upwards of 10 years. He was a native of Pennsylvania we understand but his home—if home he had—for some years past was in the neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, where he has relatives living. He is supposed to have considerable property, yet denied himself almost the common necessities of life—not so much perhaps for avarice as from his peculiar notions on religious subjects. He was a follower of Swedenborg and devoutly believed that the more he endured in this world the less he would have to suffer and the greater would be his happiness hereafter—he submitted to every privation with cheerfulness and content, believing that in so doing he was securing snug quarters hereafter.
In the most inclement weather he might be seen barefooted and almost naked except when he chanced to pick up articles of old clothing. Notwithstanding the privations and exposure he endured, he lived to an extreme old age, not less than 80 years at the time of his death—though no person would have judged from his appearance that he was 60.
He always carried with him some work on the doctrines of Swedenborg with which he was perfectly familiar, and would readily converse and argue on his tenets, using much shrewdness and penetration. His death was quite sudden. He was seen on our streets a day or two previous.