Friday, August 23, 2013

On the Trail of Johnny Appleseed

This spot, with the historical markers and miniature log cabin,
marks the birthplace of Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman, in Leominister, Massachusetts

Every time I drive to my Mother’s house we drive down Route 13 through Leominster, Massachusetts.  Along the way we pass a “Welcome to Leominster” sign that says “Home of Johnny Appleseed”, a  Johnny Appleseed school , Appleseed plaza, and lots of other references to the mythical hero.  But he was a real man, and his actual name was John Chapman.  He was my 2nd cousin, five generations removed.   His mother was Elizabeth Simonds, the niece of my 5th great grandfather, Caleb Simonds (1720 – 1811).

One day last month when we were passing though Leominster I said to my husband, “Let’s find the historical marker for his birthplace”.  Of course, it was located on Johnny Appleseed Lane, next to the Johnny Appleseed State Park.  It was easy to find with an iPhone using Google and a mapping app, or GPS.   The memorial was small and solemn, and easy to drive past if you don’t go slowly and keep your eyes open on Johnny Appleseed Lane.   There is no space to park and pay your respects, so we pulled over on the side of the road and took a few quick photos out the car window.

NEAR THIS SITE WAS BORN
JOHN CHAPMAN
KNOWN AS
JOHNNY APPLESEED
SEPTEMBER 26, 1774          MARCH 18, 1845
LEOMINSTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
1963

My fellow genealogists are gathering in Fort Wayne, Indiana this week for the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference.  This is near where Johnny Appleseed lies buried at the Johnny Appleseed Memorial Park.  You can see photos of this at FindAGrave.com at this link: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1848 Or here are a few from my fellow blogger Carol A. Bowen Stevens.  Thanks, Carol!


"JOHNNY
APPLESEED"
HE LIVED FOR OTHERS
HOLY BIBLE
1774 - 1845



IN FOND MEMORY OF
JOHN CHAPMAN, ENDEARLY KNOWN AS "JOHNNY APPLESEED"
THESE GRAVESITE IMPROVEMENTS WERE PROVIDED BY
THE MEN'S GARDEN CLUBS OF AMERICA
AND
THE JOHNNY APPLESEED NATIONAL MEMORIAL FOUNDATION, INC.
SEPTEMBER 25, 1965

Johnny Appleseed Memorial Park
Fort Wayne, Indiana
photo courtesy of Carol A. Bowen Stevens
In a funny coincidence, my ancestor Caleb Simonds, mentioned above,  had a first cousin married to Colonel Loammi Baldwin (1744 – 1807), who was a renaissance man - an engineer, inventor, politician and an officer in the American Revolution.  Loammi Baldwin has a statue in his hometown of Woburn, Massachusetts, and is widely remembered as the cultivator of the Baldwin apple among all his other acomplishments. He is the husband of my 2nd cousin six generations removed.   I wonder if Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman took Baldwin apple seeds with him on his journey to the midwest?   


This Johnny Appleseed statue is in the
Londonderry Leach Library, next to the Children's Room.
It was sculpted by Pat Verani of Londonderry.


Johnny Appleseed’s genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Chapman, born 26 September 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts, died on 18 March 1845 in Fort Wayne, Indiana; unmarried.

Generation 2:  Johnny “Appleseed”’s parents were Nathaniel Chapman, born 13 September 1746 in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, died 18 February 1807 in Salem, Ohio; married as his first wife  on 9 August 1769 in Leominster to Elizabeth Simonds.  She was born 2 July 1748 in Ware, Massachusetts, died 18 July 1776 in Leominster.  

Generation 3: James Simonds, born 10 March 1717 in Woburn, Massachusetts, died in Leominster; married as his first wife on 12 May 1740 in Woburn to Anna Lawrence, daughter of John Lawrence and Elizabeth Stone.  They are my 5th great uncle and aunt.

Generation 4: James Simonds, born 1 November 1686 in Woburn, died 30 June 1775 in Woburn; married on 17 June 1714 in Woburn to Mary Fowle, daughter of James Fowle and Mary Richardson.  She was born 18 June 1689 in Woburn, died 9 March 1762 in Woburn.  They are my 6th great grandparents.

Generation 5: James Simonds, born 1 November 1658 in Woburn, died 15 September 1717 in Woburn; married 29 December 1685 in Woburn to Susannah Blodgett, daughter of Samuel Bloggett and Ruth Eggleton.  She was born 17 February 1663 in Woburn, and died 9 February 1715 in Woburn.  My 7th great grandparents

Generation 6: William Simonds, born about 1612 in Winchester, Hampshire, England, died 7 June 1672 in Woburn; married on 18 January 1644 in Woburn to Judith Phippen.  She was born about 1619 and died 3 January 1690 in Woburn.  My 8th great grandparents.

For more information:

The Chapman Family Association, www.chapmanfamilies.org

From the Chapman Family Association website, the Johnny Appleseed page at this link: http://www.chapmanfamilies.org/BIO/j_appleseed.html

"This Day in History- September 26" video from YouTube by the Freedom Trail Foundation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei_mKYvGU-c
 
New England’s Insomniac Theater visits the Johnny Appleseed Birthplace, on YouTube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ofihZVnBG8

A story from the Worcester Telegram, 3 July 2011 “Johnny Appleseed Tale Grew Tall in Leominster” by Karen Nugent at this link:  http://www.telegram.com/article/20110703/NEWS/107039793

Johnny Appleseed Country website, sponsored by Massachusetts Visitor Center on Route 2 westbound, located between exits 35 and 36 in Leominster, Massachusetts.      http://www.appleseed.org/

Carol A. Bowen Stevens blog "Reflections from the Fence" http://www.reflectionsfromthefence.com/

-----------------------
Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

3 comments:

  1. "....Johnny “Appleseed”’s parents were Nathaniel Chapman, born 13 September 1746 in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, died 18 February 1807 in Salem, Massachusetts;... "

    Maybe because of the "Salem" this seems a bit mixed up, but if you look near Marietta, Ohio there is the (very) small town of Lower Salem; Nathaniel is in the Mound Cemetery not far away. I think the current-day address of Mound would be Marietta.

    The "latter-day" (late 1800s) Allen County & Adams County Chapmans included my ancestors and my grandpa, whose father lived in Allen/Adams and spent much of his early life with Johnny Chapman's sister (a regular way-station for Johnny when he was in norther IN, it seemed), apparently had many "Johnny stories" as they were called in our family, to pass down--many of them were related to his "off" preaching and what they perceived as his strange eating habits. Generally the consensus when I was a kid listening to all them talk, was that he was a kook, about whom they were pretty much embarrassed. Interesting character, no doubt of that!
    Susan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're correct. That was a typo. He died in Salem, Washington County, Ohio. Thanks for pointing it out. I'm editing the post now.

      Delete
  2. I think that Johnny (cousin-in-law) ought to be remembered yearly. Too, we can still learn from the guy's life.

    Wikipedia has a nice write-up. Essentially, he was an early nurseryman.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_appleseed

    ReplyDelete