(By Jonathan Sprout & Dave Kinnoin)
REFRAIN: Look who's coming! It's Johnny Appleseed!
Sack on his back, he's a friend to all, indeed.
Everyone knows a smile is guaranteed.
He's Johnny Appleseed.
From Massachusetts, he's heading west
Through Pennsylvania to the edge of the frontier.
All those who meet him say he's the best
At growing apple trees
And making friends with ease.
A gentle spirit, so kind and fair,
He follows nature's way and lives an honest life.
We see his apples grow everywhere.
And they remind us of the man who planted love.
Some folks say that he is nutty.
I hear tell he would not hurt a fly.
He'll lend a hand to anybody.
When he greets you, he says, "Hi! How you doing?"
© 2000, Kanukatunes (ASCAP), Song Wizard Music (ASCAP)
Facts & Observations by Jonathan Sprout
His real name was John Chapman and he planted apple orchards throughout Ohio and Indiana with seeds he carried from the cider mills of Pennsylvania. He often gave his seedlings to settlers and is credited with many extraordinary acts of kindness to people and animals. The Indians let him wander without harm wherever he wished, believing him dear to The Great Spirit. Without a gun and with scarcely any possessions, he lived a simple life in harmony with nature.
Once, while taking his turn working on public roads, someone stirred up a nest of yellow jackets. One found its way into Johnny’s pants. Though it stung him again and again, John very gently and quietly forced it downward by pressing the pants above until it escaped. Why didn’t he kill it? It would not be right to take the life of the poor thing, he said, as it was only obeying the instinct of its nature and did not intend to hurt him.
He was said to be a one man humane society. In the autumn, he’d gather up old and broken-down horses that had been turned loose to die, and then he’d make bargains with settlers for their safe keeping until spring when he’d return and take them to good pasture. If their health improved to work again, he never sold them. He would lend them or give them away.
One cold November day, a friend and neighbor spotted Johnny wearing a worn out pair of shoes. A few days later, that same neighbor saw Johnny walking barefoot on the snowy streets. John Chapman had given the shoes to a needy family moving west.
The stories above are taken from a book by Robert Price titled Johnny Appleseed: Man & Myth.
John Chapman did not take on the values of his present day society. He marched to the beat of a different drum. He took his own path and created his own special journey through life. He did what brought him peace and joy, guided by his inner sense of what was good and bad, right and wrong. He also walked the talk – he acted as he believed.
Learning about people like John Chapman can inspire and empower us to do the same. We’re not all going to go out and plant apples trees, but when we learn how one man was not afraid to be a little different, how he carved out his own special life, we can be inspired to do the same.
A stone that was erected at his probable gravesite in 1916 reads “He lived for others.”
More Johnny Appleseed information
Original Harper's Magazine article about Johnny Appleseed that made him famous (1871)