Today, September 26th is Johnny Appleseed day. Did you know that? Probably not. Did you also know that Johnny Appleseed planted all those seeds because a woman broke his heart? That’s the short explanation for why a man might spend his adult years traveling the country barefoot, sleeping on floors. Johnny Appleseed is a prominent legend in American folklore. Appleseed was the man who spread his love westward across the United States, planting apple orchards, asking for very little in trade. He didn’t wear expensive clothes, and he was constantly barefoot, even in the winter. He’s often depicted as a lanky, barefoot weirdo wearing a constant smile and a pot on his head. Somewhat believable, considering he traveled across the country planting seeds for nothing, while not wearing any shoes — he was clearly a crazy person. While his humanitarian actions serve his legend well, there’s a few things about Mr. Appleseed that many historians and elementary school teachers fail to bring up…
Set off across the country to get away from his unfaithful ex-girlfriend.
That’s the very thing that turned John Chapman into Johnny Appleseed. Cynthia Leary was a young Irish woman from Massachusetts that Johnny had planned on marrying. After a steady courtship, Johnny caught Cynthia with Adam Washington, a cherry farmer from Connecticut. Legend has it that Cynthia justified her attraction to Washington by saying his orchard was large enough to provide income for the rest of their lives. Vowing to never again be outdone by another nurseryman, Chapman ran westward with a cart full of appleseeds, not realizing that the real reason Cynthia left him for Adam was that Adam wore really nice shoes.
Fathered ninety-four illegitimate children.
The wayward drifter, completely indifferent to his surroundings, only concerned with acquiring more nursery land, had a strange way with every woman in every town he passed through. His religion forbade any form of birth control, and he was really bad at turning down chicks.
The use of marijuana was not prominent at the time, but Johnny always knew where to score. Some say this is the reason why he’s often shown literally wearing a pot on his head. Several of Johnny’s journal entries also provide evidence that he was a bit of a stoner. A line from one of his only remaining diaries reads:
“It’s like we’re small and the world’s big. Full of seeds. Apples and peanut butter would be awesome right now.”
Not actually a war hero.
It’s been said that Johnny ran barefoot twenty-six miles across Ohio to warn a town of a possible Indian attack during the war of 1812. He did in fact run twenty-six miles, but only because he was being chased by a farmer who’s daughter and wife he’d slept with. The farmer sent out a mob to hunt him down and kill him. Appleseed ran so far and so fast, he ended up in Mt. Vernon, OH. When the folks in Mt. Vernon asked why he was out of breath he said “Running… From… Indians…”
As luck would have it, there were a tribe of Indians approaching the town, but they were intercepted by the mob who’d chased him from Mansfield.