In the early 1800’s, John, better known today as “Johnny Appleseed”, traveled extensively through the midwest, much of which was then newly settled territory. He acquired land and planted apple trees, leaving them in care of neighbors to sell trees for a share of the profits and returning every few years to maintain and care for the orchards.
The popular image of Johnny Appleseed is a mix of idealized figure and historical fact. He was a rather eccentric figure, frequently travelling barefoot, with clothing ranging from threadbare cast-offs to rough homemade floursack shirts and his tin cooking pot for a hat. He would sell his trees for a profit when he could, but would often barter for goods he needed, and his passion for seeing trees planted and his friendly nature would even lead him to sometimes give trees away to those too poor to afford them. He was friendly with the Native Americans he met in his travels, and a supporter of animal rights – even becoming a vegetarian in later life. Much of his unusual behavior was rooted in his religious beliefs; he was a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, and believed in living simply and kindly. In his travels, he would also spend time with settlers, reading with them and sharing his faith and Sedenborg’s religious tracts.