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FEB. 20, 1932
By Frances Espy McDanel
Milestones Vol 11 No 3--Summer 1986

One of the strangest characters to frequent Beaver County - in days of old, when our large communities were mere villages and the surrounding countryside was for the most part still thickly wooded - was Jonathan Chapman, affectionately called, by those who knew him, "Johnny Appleseed."

Johnny Appleseed, was born near Springfield, Mass., while the guns of the Revolution still roared. When he was a young man of about 20 years of age, his family moved to Marietta, Ohio. It was then that he conceived the fantastical idea of planting apple orchards through all of the middlewest.

In the large eastern cities, and in fact as far west as Pittsburgh, apples were plentiful. They were a drag on the market. But west of Pittsburgh the situation was decidedly different. Except for a few scattered farms in Beaver County where the young trees were cultivated, the fruit was not readily accessible to the people. Across the Ohio line indeed, apples were as scarce as though they were picked from the orchards of Southern Europe.

So Johnny dreamed of making clearings in the woods of Western Pennsylvania, and Eastern Ohio and planting there the appleseeds which he could obtain for a song at the big eastern cider presses.

Trip after trip he made from the woodland area where he loved to work, to the cider presses for seed. His favorite route through this section was down the Ohio River. Sometimes though, it is said, he landed his canoe at Rochester and then struck out across country into Ohio over much the same route that the Darlington Road from Fallston to East Palestine now traverses.

Johnny Appleseed through his whole-hearted endeavors soon became widely known not only to the dwellers in the populated regions but to the settlers in remote districts. To him their doors were always open.

His personal appearance, history tells us, was as odd as his character. His clothing for the most part was old, having been given him frequently in exchange for a sack of appleseeds. Sometimes he was known to wear a huge coffee sack, with holes through which his arms and legs might protrude. As a rule he went barefoot, often traveling miles through the snow, unmindful of the bitter cold.

It is said that his favorite headdress was a rather dented old tin pan. As he spent much of this time camping outdoors, when he wished to cook a meal he would remove his "hat" and use it as a cooking utensil.

Johnny, when he was a familiar figure - hereabouts, never shaved. He wore his beard long, and both it and his eyes were black. He presented a striking picture, but nevertheless, he was a man in which everyone put their trust. Men and women told the secrets of their hearts to him. While the Indians were still restless across the Ohio border line in what was known as the Western Reserve, Johnny enjoyed their friendship. For some unknown reason they respected him almost as a god.

When Johnny tucked the little appleseed into the brown earth he was not through with his task. Periodically he retraced his trails, nurturing the tiny slips and providing for their protection. There are wild apple trees still blooming in Beaver County, the old folks say, which were planted by Johnny Appleseed. In Brighton Township, it is said, he planted some of his seeds, and here the trees, gnarled and twisted, still bear fruit in the woodlands that farmers have not as yet cleared. They are living memorials to his work.

Johnny Appleseed was a highly religious man. He was a devoted follower of Swedenborg, and often likened himself to the primitive Christians, having no thought for the morrow. Wherever he went he carried with him a supply of Bibles, and it is said if he ran short of them while on a trip would frequently tear one in two, that more than one family might read God's word.

As the nineteenth century advanced through its first quarter, the man's activities in this section lessened. Beaver County then, having been incorporated in 1800 was rapidly growing in size. Johnny indeed, was able to secure some of his seeds for distribution from cider presses on the Southside.

Various reasons have been advanced as to why he set out upon such a strange career. The pioneer liked to lay his oddity to a disappointment in love. But if Johnny Appleseed were a "little" odd as some thought, he was a friend to all, and no one throughout the breadth of the country over which he tramped would have refused him a night's lodging and a bite to eat. He in turn was both generous and kind, and it is said helped more than one settler to get a start.

In 1838 Johnny deserted this region entirely, and pushed farther west. He died March 11, 1845 at a farmer's home near St. Joseph, Ind., where a few days illness had detained him. He is buried at Fort Wayne, Ind., where a memorial to his memory has been erected.