23 July 2009

the crazy guy planting apple trees

I have an unproven claim to fame. Oral tradition in our family is that we were related to Johnny Appleseed....to which, when my nephew announced this at school, the children scoffed. I think I would too. But my aunt passed the story on to me that was passed down by her great aunt which was passed down by her grandfather from his father....a supposed cousin of the apple tree planting fellow.
My great x 4 grandfather's name was Ezekial Chapman. He was born in 1783 in Onondaga County, New York to family from Massachusetts. Ezekial settled with his family in Ohio before moving on to Indiana, first to LaPorte in 1840, then to Argos in 1844. Ezekial's son was Dr. Clarke Chapman, one of the first men to graduate from the LaPorte Medical Institute and also patented one of those cure-all elixirs in his day. Clarke was responsible for relaying the story of Johnny Appleseed visiting their farm in Ohio and called him his father's cousin.

So, I began to investigate the story. The time frame would work for John Chapman, aka: Johnny Appleseed, to visit their family farm in Ohio. We know that John Chapman was born in Massachusetts in 1774 and traveled mainly through Illinois, Ohio and Indiana planting apple trees. I did a search on Appleseed's kin and came up empty with the connection, however the generations would align. This is where I need the History Detectives to step in.

Dr. Clarke Chapman (1823-1898), second cousin to Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed died on Hoosier soil and was buried in Fort Wayne in 1845. Of course, everyone is familiar with the tale of the lanky fellow wearing a tin pot for a cap crossing the wilderness on foot planting apple trees. He has become an American legend due to his peculiar dress, transient lifestyle and generous nature. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Appleseed

His relationship to me may just be one of those legends I let live on....and not try to prove or disprove. It does make for a great story; but I've not played it up too much with my kids.....they have enough trouble being related to Hoosier Reborn.


Laporte Medical Institute




For the record: I may have planted a lot of trees in my lifetime, but never an apple tree. My dad told me a story once about the old apple tree at his parent's farm that he planted as a kid. He traded a turtle (if I remember the story correctly) for the sapling. My only connection besides being a bit obsessive with planting trees is that I have a great weakness for apple dumplings. And occasionally I put an old tin pot on my head.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

interesting....so your ancestors were planting non native envasive species....were they responsible for purple loosestrife too hehe!

hoosier reborn said...

what are you talking about...my ancestors WERE the non native envasive species

Denny said...

I enjoyed reading your post about Johnny Appleseed; I have a similar experience. I too am a Hoosier and grew up in central Indiana (though I reside in Ohio now). My Grandparents on my mother's side were Chapmans and I too was told that I was descended from Johnny stock. I chose to believe it as well. Though I do not have the documentation myself, I understand that the genealogy work was done and that the connection is real. Regardless, today I am a Trustee on The Johnny Appleseed Foundation and work to preserve his legacy through various works and support of the Johnny Appleseed Museum. Something tells me that we should talk. We have some very exciting projects underway and you just might find them of interest. Please feel free to contact me and we can share Searching for Johnny stories.

hoosier reborn said...

Denny-
Thanks for stopping by...I certainly will be in contact.

Anonymous said...

This is wingman, I have grudgingly planted two apple trees this spring. I would have preferred to plant something native...say persimmon.

hoosier reborn said...

wingman-
ok-nothing against the persimmon tree...but have you ever had persimmon pudding? ekghad! We had it at Spring Mill, thinking it was a brownie