This post is excerpted from a longer article by Don Ricks published in the Seattle Tree Fruit Society’s Urban Scion Post:
John Chapman (the original and real Johnny Appleseed) roamed Ohio in the early 1800’s and helped pave the way for the future western migration and colonization of settlers into what was then the frontiers of Ohio and Indiana.
Chapman was deeply religious. A devout Christian, he was in fact a mystical Swedenborgian Christian, someone who might prefer to preach rather than to plant . . but did a lot of both. He roamed the woods in stark clothes, slept outside, and was a marginalized character in a marginal frontier society. He didn’t marry, although marriage was considered a necessary religious state to Swedenborgians.
Chapman believed grafting to be immoral and was concerned that apple trees should come purely from seed. As a result, he contributed much to genetic diversity and to apples that were fit for cider, maybe hard cider, but not apples that could match the sweetness of today’s eating apples.