They're hoping that a traveling exhibit funded by an anonymous donation to a western
"We want people around the country to know the real person, not just the myths and folklore," said
Chapman, known as Johnny Appleseed to generations of Americans, was a pioneer nurseryman in the late 18th and early 19th centuries credited with introducing apple trees to portions of
"He apparently dressed, ate and lived as simply as a human being could," said
At the same time, there are documented accounts of him going barefoot after giving his shoes to someone in need. He also widely distributed religious tracts as a missionary of the
Chapman, who never married and apparently had no children, was born in 1774 in
"He was excellent about anticipating where settlers were going next," Ogden said.
Having fruit trees on their property was especially important for settlers, who had to show improvement on homesteaded parcels to claim land grants. The apples from the trees, while not good for eating, were used to make hard cider. Settlers used apple cider vinegar to preserve fruits, vegetables and meats.
"A new nation needs folk heroes," Wilson said.
Documentation indicates Chapman traveled for more than 50 years before he died in 1845 in
He also has been memorialized through markers including a statue in
While the traveling exhibit won't be ready until at least fall 2015, Ogden says, it will be interactive and include a mobile app that will superimpose computer-generated images of Johnny Appleseed telling his own story.
And Chapman's story — legend and fact — is expected to continue.
"I think his free-spirited lifestyle is something that in our workaday lives still appeals to us today," Masich said.
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