Appleseed Cabins and Necessary Johnny Details:
John Chapman, “Johnny Appleseed” was born near Leominster, Massachusetts, 1774. He was the second child of Nathaniel Chapman, patriot soldier who fought with George Washington. Circa 1780, Johnny met John Young, member of The New Church, a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772); Swedenborg, the seer-scientist who visited with angels and ancient saints, and wrote about it. When the Northwest Ordinance (1789) opened land to settlement, Swedenborg devotee, Johnny Chapman was quick to explore the territory … he was, in fact, among the first of our Northwest Territory colonists.
For half-a-century, Johnny settled American territory in advance of pioneering families, building five Appleseed cabins* along the way, establishing as-many-as 28 nurseries (accounts differ). Why so many nurseries: frontier settlers qualified for 100-acre land grants if 50 apple and 20 pear trees were cultivated on homesteads (within three years of claim). Johnny’s seedlings helped young families establish themselves, create wealth, and build a nation.
Curiously, Johnny, a Swedenborgian, would not abuse trees by grafting, the quicker manner of cultivation; claimed it hurt our fellow, living things, so he laboriously planted by seed and tended the trees, year-after-year visiting each of his twenty-plus nurseries. Upon his death from exposure at 71 (1845), Johnny’s estate included over 1,200 acres of nursery (one with over 15,000 trees) in 19 counties of 3 states. Johnny did not marry while alive, keeping his promise to wait until arriving in Heaven when he would marry the angel with whom he had spoken.
Johnny’s voice was described, “loud as the roar of wind and waves, then soft and soothing as the balmy airs that quivered the morning-glory leaves about his gray beard.” He went barefoot in winter; often wore a coffee sack; to keep his hands free would sometimes carry a pot, head-topped; would not eat until certain there was enough for the children; would sign his name, “John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed”.
In his final years, Johnny Appleseed became a missionary who delivered Swedenborg’s canon and the canonic Bible to homey cabins and open-air congregations, proclaiming to bring “good news straight from heaven”. His Fort Wayne obituary stated, “Many of our citizens will remember this eccentric individual, as he sauntered through town eating his dry rusk and cold meat, and freely conversing on the mysteries of his religious faith. He was a devoted follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, and notwithstanding his apparent poverty, was reputed to be in good circumstances.” The rude stone upon his grave, below a deep etched apple, reads, “‘Johnny Appleseed’ – John Chapman – He lived for others – Holy Bible – 1774-1845”.
Johnny’s Log Appleseed Cabins
None of Johnny’s many Appleseed cabins survive, each succumbing to time and devouring nature. Yet, we can know the character, scale, and appearance of the Appleseed cabins by other Ohio cabins of the period (1790-1830) that yet endure. Typically, the cabins are one room, sometimes with a ladder-accessible loft, heated by a stone-stack fireplace, entered through a wood door, sometimes wood hinged, illuminated by windows sometimes of oiled paper rather than glass, roof topped with bark, sod, or shake, the stacked logs chinked with sand, clay, and cobb husk, neat and tight.
Colonizing pioneers, alike Johnny and Daniel Boone, would build cabins when expanding westward. Most often, the cabin would be constructed near a stream or along the shore of a fresh lake, or near an open field of rich bottom land, soil suited to a healthy crop and producing nursery. Around the crop or nursery, sticks, brush, debris, and other pickets were staked to discourage ravaging by neighboring woodland creatures.
For a typical Appleseed cabin (16’d x 20′ or 24’l), a fellow might need to axe 50 to 70 straight, sturdy pine, or if among cedar, 15 of the 50’h trees (when choosing, trunks consistently 8” to 10” are best). Trunks are then divided into log sections, 12’, 14’, 16’, etc., and stacked thick to thin; the heavier to be placed at bottom, the lighter, atop (best not to exceed 500 pounds per log, the maximum weight of a fellow’s dragging and lifting, as I can attest). And you will need tons of stone for floor and fireplace, and this, with fresh water, why best to build near a stream … smooth, plentiful river-stone and abundant finned creatures tasty when cooked.
If alone in the wood, a pioneer might need a couple of weeks or months to build a log cabin, what with hunting, planting, and other pioneering necessities. If with companions, a cabin might be built in a week, as I have heard, though more likely for scale, quality, and craftsmanship, several weeks with the benefit of strong, intelligent, tough and full-hearted men experienced in the ways of nature and truth. You might like to know: Appleseed cabins are yet built in the lower 48 quickly and inexpensively at a cost of some $10K (plus a continuing monthly energy cost of approximately $150). In Alaska, in areas not closed by intrusive government, settlers can yet build pioneering log cabins. Though if you do, remember: face the door and the porch, South, on the stream or lake’s North bank; plant your apples from seed, early, so that soon you might enjoy a supply of healthy, clean hard cider.
Johnny’s Apples and Apple Cider
As the Bible says, the apple first made an appearance in Eden fifty to sixty million years ago … after dinosaurs took their exit. We cannot be certain that Adam & Eve enjoyed hard cider, yet we can be pretty certain that Noah did, as has every generation then till now. The pre-Roman British (circa 55 B.C.) perfected hard cider, a perfection soon enjoyed by the broad Empire. Grafting was the Empire’s preferred method of reproduction because each seed creates something of a new breed (apples have twice the gene variation of mere humans) and consistency is necessary to commercial application. Not so with Johnny’s apples: Johnny thought it wicked, cruel to cut, to graft a tree, so his apple trees were unique, grown from seed, allowing each homestead its genetically eccentric, private stock of hard cider. Pure and healthy, Johnny grew trees as Nature intended, ungrafted, unhomogenized, a practice that encouraged the rapid development of new and distinct American apples.
As you will know, if ever you tasted a wild apple, that seed-tree wild apples are acidic, “spitters”, as they are called, not pleasant for eating, though excellent and serviceable for hard cider, the drink of choice for men, women, children of the Ohio savannah. Hard cider, healthy and sanitary, more hydrating than water ** is tasty and thirst quenching, Americans’ most trusted beverage until Germans introduced beer during the 1840s.
And yes, hard cider is alcoholic, 8% on average, so hard cider has been a target for aggressive, social reformers alike Carrie Nation, the bulldog who barked at what Jesus did not like, who damned the hard cider boozers and their sinful ways. As you will remember, the progressive Mrs. Nation agitated to temperance by swinging heavy hatchets at hard cider and other offending kegs. Soon, the pious Prohibition (1919-1933) banned hard cider, and government Revenuers chopped away most all of Johnny’s trees (as now Progressive municipalities chop down unsafe apple trees … “tripping hazard”).
Yet, one small and knotty Johnny apple tree survived reform and government Revenuers, a lonely, bent old tree upon a homestead in Nova, Ohio. Thought to be Johnny’s last surviving tree (planted in the 1830s), it was saved by a young farmer, grafted during the late 20th Century, and is now available: the Johnny Appleseed Authentic™ apple, a spitter, excellent for the making of hard cider. As you will guess, many hard ciders yet carry the name, “Johnny Appleseed”, memory of a gentle man, a Christian devoted to life, a colonizing planter, a friend to nature, servant of God.
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He died near Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1846 or 1848, a stranger among strangers, who kindly cared for him. He died the death of the righteous, calmly and peacefully, and with little suffering or pain. So long as his memory lives will a grateful people say: “He went about doing good.” Rosella Rice
Once the camp-fire of Johnny Appleseed drew many mosquitoes which were burning; he quenched the fire, explaining to friends, “God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort which should be the means of destroying any of His creatures!” Carl Sandburg
“He always carried with him some work on the doctrines of Swedenborg with which he was perfectly familiar, and would readily converse and argue on his tenets, using much shrewdness and penetration.” The Fort Wayne Sentinel
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* At least: Appleseed cabins near present day Cleveland (1804), Marietta (1805), Huron County (1811), Richland County (1814), Fort Wayne (1828).
** As has been suggested; as is known, alcohol prevents E. coli, cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, nasty bacteria and eager parasites.
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Notice: Jonny Appleseed (note the spelling), published 2021, was composed by Joshua Whitehead, a self-described “queer, indigenous writer”, a “book of the year”, celebrated for LGBTQ sensitivities, a fantasy wherein an imagined Johnny Appleseed and a happy queer explore through mutual physical pleasures, femininity. Note: fallacious Johnny Appleseed quotes have been excerpted from the book and are widely disseminated by eager Progressives, librarians, government teachers, and innocent Normies.
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During our September and October apple harvest season, Johnny Appleseed is remembered in festival coast-to-coast, some festivals on his birthday, September 26.
Johnny Appleseed Museum and Education Center, Urbana, Ohio;
Johnny Appleseed Days, Paradise; California;
Johnny Appleseed Fest, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
For more on Appleseed cabins, visit The Beautiful Home.
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You might like to know: Other considerations of Johnny Appleseed composed by the author include
Appleseed’s Progress, third volume of the Appleseed Trilogy, and the essays
Appleseed’s Progress Preamble, Part I, Chapman, Appleseed, Swedenborg, Colonization,
Appleseed’s Progres Preamble, Part II, Colonization, Eden, Apples, Apple Cider,
Appleseed’s Progress Preamble, Part III, Indians, Johnny Appleseed, U.S..
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Featured image: Johnny Appleseed Authentic Tree Collection.
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