Skip to main content

Johnny Appleseed

September 6, 2021

Some people become legends in their own time; such is the case for Johnny Appleseed. Before he was the Johnny Appleseed of Disney cartoon feature fame (1948), he was John Chapman, missionary and nurseryman. He lived simply and traveled far and wide preaching, entertaining, and planting apple seeds everywhere he went. Those who came to know him loved him. Settlers who acquired land where the seeds grew into trees or who bought the saplings and seeds to plant on their own land felt very fortunate and knew who to thank for their good fortune.

Johnny's seeds produced thousands of trees, and those trees produced a valuable crop. Unfortunately, only one tree planted by John himself is left. Surprisingly, at more than 170 years old, it still produces apples that are used in cooking. Since the apples were mainly made into cider, most of the trees that survived into the 20th century did not die but were chopped down by government agents during raids on orchards. This was to stop the production of alcoholic cider during Prohibition in 1920.

Although his trees were nearly eradicated, the memory of his life's work and intention have been kept alive to inspire the generations that came after him. Through legend as well as researched biographies, kids can learn all about it at the library! Check out these and other resources on Johnny Appleseed.

Donna headshot thumbnail


Donna Reagan has served as Children's Specialist at the Bellevue Branch Library since 2002. She produces My Storytime Place, a local TV show for young children. The ALA's Every Child Ready to Read initiative forms the foundation of her early childhood programming.