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ЧАПМЕН Джон 1774-1845 США CHAPMAN John 1774-1845 USA

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Chapman, Johnfree
(26 September 1774–10 March 1845)
  • Frank R. Kramer

Chapman, John (26 September 1774–10 March 1845), pioneer nurseryman and folk hero, known as “Johnny Appleseed,” was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Chapman, a farmer and carpenter, and Elizabeth Simons (or Simonds). No authenticated account of Chapman’s childhood has come to light. It is likely, however, that he began to develop his remarkable woodsman’s skills during his childhood and youth along the Connecticut River near Longmeadow, Massachusetts, to which the family had moved following his father’s remarriage. As a young man, Chapman established an appletree nursery along the Allegheny Valley (1797–1798) in northwestern Pennsylvania. From there he gradually extended his operations into central and northwestern Ohio and then into eastern Indiana.
Chapman’s scouting and plantings in Ohio were the fruition of methods he had been developing on the Allegheny—shrewdly judging along what routes pioneers would be likely to settle and planting apple seedlings just ahead of settlements from which homesteaders could start their orchards. These Ohio settlements, aided by the building of Zane’s Trace and the sale of U.S. military lands, were growing rapidly. In the rough environment of the first decade of the 1800s, Chapman’s resourcefulness, wilderness skills, and endurance of pain and hardship won him admiration; but his nondescript clothing (sackcloth shirt with holes for head and arms, tow-linen smock, and—when he wore them at all—worn-out shoes) and his kindness to creatures of the wild, even to rattlesnakes, struck his contemporaries as eccentric.
The tributaries of the Muskingum River gave Chapman ready access to the north central part of Ohio, in particular to the environs of Mansfield. During this period legends about him proliferated. He had become familiar to settlers as an intrepid frontiersman, ready to help them with apple seedlings (free to those unable to pay the five cents’ charge) and medicinal plants or with a practiced axe when needed. But during the War of 1812 a major element of the legend developed as a result of his daring as a scout: he traveled through the wilderness from Mansfield to Mount Vernon at the risk of his life to warn backwoods settlers of impending Indian massacres and to seek reinforcements.
Tales of Chapman’s preaching extemporaneous sermons when staying with a family overnight were given a heightened dimension through his devotion to the writings of the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. Chapman’s renown reached the Manchester, England, Swedenborg Society, which published a vivid account of the missionary zeal of this primitive preacher in 1817. Chapman would pull apart Swedenborgian tracts (sent by William Schlatter of Philadelphia, a wealthy merchant) so as to leave a section at each cabin he visited and when he returned take that section to the next cabin.
These tracts may have been particularly appealing to him since their doctrines seemed to sanction and confirm his own qualities. His kindness to animals found confirmation in Swedenborg’s view that “God has made all things for good,” and his concern for his frontier neighbors was articulated in the doctrine that “the life of religion is to do good” and that “there is a heavenly happiness in doing good without a view to recompense.”
Popular impressions of Chapman’s eccentricities of dress and manner, of his apparent impecuniousness (though his various holdings added up to 1,200 acres), and of his heroic exploits and missionary zeal had been expanding into legend before he began to move in the early 1830s along the St. Marys, Auglaize, and Maumee rivers into northwestern Ohio and northeastern Indiana. These impressions were later enhanced by literary accounts—as in Henry Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio (1847, 1889–1891, 1896); W. D. Haley’s article in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (Nov. 1871), which made Chapman a national figure; several novels, including James F. M’Gaw’s Philip Seymour (1858, 1877) and Eleanor Atkinson’s very popular Johnny Appleseed: The Romance of a Sower (1915); and the poetry of Vachel Lindsay (In Praise of Johnny Appleseed [1921]) and Rosemary and Stephen Benét (Johnny Appleseed [1933]). Chapman’s life was idealized: he was portrayed as the tragic victim of unrequited love; his plantings were seen as furthering his mission of disseminating the gospel; and his benevolences—the expression of an apparently innate decency and gentility—took on spiritual dimensions.
Typical of the growth of the Johnny Appleseed legend was his metamorphosis from pioneer planter of apple seeds to patron saint of horticulture, a transformation into a cultural hero who made the wilderness habitable by providing settlers with the means of subsistence. Behind the legend lay the facts that apples and cider were an indispensable part of the frontier diet and that an apple orchard could stand as a legal prerequisite to a claim. Chapman’s transformation into cultural hero owed much also to the feeling that he embodied the more humane impulses of his society as well as its tough frontier skills.
Despite being idealized and romanticized, Chapman emerges from popular reminiscences and literary treatments as an authentic folk figure, one who not only paved the way for cultivation of the wilderness but who symbolized as well the civilizing traits of the new West. Literary fantasy has Johnny Appleseed planting his saplings across the continent to the Pacific. Though there is some evidence that he may have gone as far west as Illinois and Iowa, his final years were spent in the neighborhood of Fort Wayne, where he died at the cabin of a friend, William Worth. He is believed to have been buried not far north of Fort Wayne.

Bibliography

The most thorough and balanced treatment of John Chapman is Robert Price, Johnny Appleseed, Man and Myth (1954). A lively account, based almost exclusively on Price, is Edward Hoagland, “Johnny Appleseed,” American Heritage 31 (1979): 61–73. Curt J. Gronner, “Illinois Commentary: Johnny Appleseed’s Visit to Whiteside County,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 71 (1978) uses local records to authenticate the claim that Johnny Appleseed came through Illinois in 1843. D. W. Garber explores Jedediah Smith’s association with Mike Fink and Johnny Appleseed in “Jedediah Strong Smith, Johnny Appleseed and Tylertown,” Pacific Historian 16 (1972): 47–58.

See also

Chapman, Johnfree
(26 September 1774–10 March 1845)
  • Frank R. Kramer

Chapman, John (26 September 1774–10 March 1845), pioneer nurseryman and folk hero, known as “Johnny Appleseed,” was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Chapman, a farmer and carpenter, and Elizabeth Simons (or Simonds). No authenticated account of Chapman’s childhood has come to light. It is likely, however, that he began to develop his remarkable woodsman’s skills during his childhood and youth along the Connecticut River near Longmeadow, Massachusetts, to which the family had moved following his father’s remarriage. As a young man, Chapman established an appletree nursery along the Allegheny Valley (1797–1798) in northwestern Pennsylvania. From there he gradually extended his operations into central and northwestern Ohio and then into eastern Indiana.
Chapman’s scouting and plantings in Ohio were the fruition of methods he had been developing on the Allegheny—shrewdly judging along what routes pioneers would be likely to settle and planting apple seedlings just ahead of settlements from which homesteaders could start their orchards. These Ohio settlements, aided by the building of Zane’s Trace and the sale of U.S. military lands, were growing rapidly. In the rough environment of the first decade of the 1800s, Chapman’s resourcefulness, wilderness skills, and endurance of pain and hardship won him admiration; but his nondescript clothing (sackcloth shirt with holes for head and arms, tow-linen smock, and—when he wore them at all—worn-out shoes) and his kindness to creatures of the wild, even to rattlesnakes, struck his contemporaries as eccentric.
The tributaries of the Muskingum River gave Chapman ready access to the north central part of Ohio, in particular to the environs of Mansfield. During this period legends about him proliferated. He had become familiar to settlers as an intrepid frontiersman, ready to help them with apple seedlings (free to those unable to pay the five cents’ charge) and medicinal plants or with a practiced axe when needed. But during the War of 1812 a major element of the legend developed as a result of his daring as a scout: he traveled through the wilderness from Mansfield to Mount Vernon at the risk of his life to warn backwoods settlers of impending Indian massacres and to seek reinforcements.
Tales of Chapman’s preaching extemporaneous sermons when staying with a family overnight were given a heightened dimension through his devotion to the writings of the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. Chapman’s renown reached the Manchester, England, Swedenborg Society, which published a vivid account of the missionary zeal of this primitive preacher in 1817. Chapman would pull apart Swedenborgian tracts (sent by William Schlatter of Philadelphia, a wealthy merchant) so as to leave a section at each cabin he visited and when he returned take that section to the next cabin.
These tracts may have been particularly appealing to him since their doctrines seemed to sanction and confirm his own qualities. His kindness to animals found confirmation in Swedenborg’s view that “God has made all things for good,” and his concern for his frontier neighbors was articulated in the doctrine that “the life of religion is to do good” and that “there is a heavenly happiness in doing good without a view to recompense.”
Popular impressions of Chapman’s eccentricities of dress and manner, of his apparent impecuniousness (though his various holdings added up to 1,200 acres), and of his heroic exploits and missionary zeal had been expanding into legend before he began to move in the early 1830s along the St. Marys, Auglaize, and Maumee rivers into northwestern Ohio and northeastern Indiana. These impressions were later enhanced by literary accounts—as in Henry Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio (1847, 1889–1891, 1896); W. D. Haley’s article in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (Nov. 1871), which made Chapman a national figure; several novels, including James F. M’Gaw’s Philip Seymour (1858, 1877) and Eleanor Atkinson’s very popular Johnny Appleseed: The Romance of a Sower (1915); and the poetry of Vachel Lindsay (In Praise of Johnny Appleseed [1921]) and Rosemary and Stephen Benét (Johnny Appleseed [1933]). Chapman’s life was idealized: he was portrayed as the tragic victim of unrequited love; his plantings were seen as furthering his mission of disseminating the gospel; and his benevolences—the expression of an apparently innate decency and gentility—took on spiritual dimensions.
Typical of the growth of the Johnny Appleseed legend was his metamorphosis from pioneer planter of apple seeds to patron saint of horticulture, a transformation into a cultural hero who made the wilderness habitable by providing settlers with the means of subsistence. Behind the legend lay the facts that apples and cider were an indispensable part of the frontier diet and that an apple orchard could stand as a legal prerequisite to a claim. Chapman’s transformation into cultural hero owed much also to the feeling that he embodied the more humane impulses of his society as well as its tough frontier skills.
Despite being idealized and romanticized, Chapman emerges from popular reminiscences and literary treatments as an authentic folk figure, one who not only paved the way for cultivation of the wilderness but who symbolized as well the civilizing traits of the new West. Literary fantasy has Johnny Appleseed planting his saplings across the continent to the Pacific. Though there is some evidence that he may have gone as far west as Illinois and Iowa, his final years were spent in the neighborhood of Fort Wayne, where he died at the cabin of a friend, William Worth. He is believed to have been buried not far north of Fort Wayne.

Bibliography

The most thorough and balanced treatment of John Chapman is Robert Price, Johnny Appleseed, Man and Myth (1954). A lively account, based almost exclusively on Price, is Edward Hoagland, “Johnny Appleseed,” American Heritage 31 (1979): 61–73. Curt J. Gronner, “Illinois Commentary: Johnny Appleseed’s Visit to Whiteside County,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 71 (1978) uses local records to authenticate the claim that Johnny Appleseed came through Illinois in 1843. D. W. Garber explores Jedediah Smith’s association with Mike Fink and Johnny Appleseed in “Jedediah Strong Smith, Johnny Appleseed and Tylertown,” Pacific Historian 16 (1972): 47–58.

See also

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