Each fall during cider-making time, Chapman collected seeds from the sweet-smelling cider presses. He carefully washed them, and dried them in the sun. Then he planted the seeds in forests and fields. For more than 40 years, beginning in the late 1700s, Chapman crisscrossed Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, tending his budding apple trees and showing people how to start their own orchards.
Dressed in tattered clothes, he cheerfully endured the hardships of pioneer life. People thought him odd, but praised his friendliness and sincereity. However, during the War of 1812, John Chapman saved the hamlet of Mansfield, Ohio, by summoning troops to defend it against a Native American attack.
Not much is known about John Chapman’s life. But as Johnny Appleseed, the sower of tiny seeds that grew into stately orchards, he holds a unique place in American frontier history.