John Chapman, or Johnny Appleseed as he came to be known, was a missionary for the Swedenborgian Church, pronouncing “Good news, right fresh from heaven.” Along the way he not only planted ideas of a new way to think about Christianity, but apple seeds, which some purport, would’ve resulted in unsweet, inedible apples. In the documentary and book, “The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World,” Michael Pollan discusses John Chapman; referring to him as a “modern-day” Dionysus, the Greek God of wine and merriment. Tart apples, once grown, would’ve been made into alcoholic cider, a safe drinking-water alternative, and popular on the frontier.
He understood he was working for the apples as much as they were working for him. -Michael Pollan.
To get a different perspective on John Chapman’s spiritual goals, the Swedenborgian Foundation interviewed Ray Silverman, who wrote “The Core of Johnny Appleseed: The Unknown Story of a Spiritual Trailblazer”. Chapman was a shrewd, yet kind businessman who had a love for nature and his fellow human.
Johnny owned at least twelve thousand acres of land and planted numerous nurseries in nineteen counties (in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana). This kind of documentation helps to demonstrate that Johnny was not just a wandering, good-natured vagabond, but rather a skilled businessman and visionary entrepreneur who anticipated people’s needs and filled them. At the same time, it should be remembered that business was not Johnny’s primary love—it was the heavenly doctrines of the New Jerusalem. -Swedenborgian Foundation
You can find out more about Johnny Chapman in Urbana, OH, at the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum. There is also a Johnny Appleseed Festival in the town where, John Chapman died: Ft. Wayne, Indiana. And, in Cincinnati, Ohio, you can see a bench (pew) likely used by Johnny Appleseed during prayer meetings, at the Glendale New Church.