Even though the image of a man walking around Colonial America wearing a pot for a hat and planting apple orchards seems like something that could only be a folktale, there was in fact a real life Johnny Appleseed, who may have been America’s first conservationist.
Johnny Appleseed was born John Chapman on September 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts. At the age of 18, John and his brother headed West, and while they did not just randomly plant apple trees as they wandered about, they did create a number of fenced orchards. Pear or apple orchards were required by law to uphold land claims in many settlements, which made his nurseries very popular places to settle. He also would return to tend to his nurseries every 2 years or so. At the time of his death, Chapman owned around 1200 acres of land. He was also a noted conservationist and vegetarian.
Leominster (pronounced “LEMON-stir”) is very proud of their native son. There, you’ll find the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, Johnny Appleseed Elementary School, Johnny Appleseed Arts & Culture Festival, Johnny Appleseed 5k, and more. Most directly, on Johnny Appleseed Lane, you’ll find a marker (which looks remarkably like a gravestone) for the birthplace of Johnny Appleseed. Besides the simple stone marker, there is an informational sign and a small log cabin roughly the size of a large dollhouse with a diorama inside.