Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman was born September 26, 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts and died of pneumonia ("the winter plague") near Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 18, 1845. His epitaph was "He lived for others."
He is most known for the stories of his life where he travelled westwards planting apple trees and spreading the word of God. It is thought that he started this at about the age of 25. He was a member of the Church of New Jerusalem, or a Swedenborgian, a very rare sect of Christianity, there were perhaps 400 on the entire continent. Because of this he did not carry a knife or gun and he did not drink alcohol of any sort. He travelled in extremely modest clothing, stories portray him as wearing a shirt made from a coffee sack, walking barefoot, and using a cooking pot (a saucep'n, see Johnny Saucep'n) for a hat. He wandered up and down Ohio, Indiana, and Western Pennsylvania. (Perhaps even going as far south as Kentucky.) Even the Disney cartoon which features him with a talking animal has him carrying a bible underneath his pot-for-a-hat.
He was well known for his modesty, he denied the fantastical stories of his life that had sprung up. It is known that he traveled 30 miles to summon troops to Mansfield, Ohio to forestall a raid by British-allied Native Americans during the War of 1812. He did own many orchards by the end of his life, although he typically left them for other farmers to cultivate and harvest once he had them started. (It is thought that at one time he owned nearly 160 acres in Ohio.) This helped many of the pioneers in their travels westward, since the apples were an important renewable food source. Even though he was planting the orchards for other settlers' use, it is said that he felt guilt about owning land. (At one point it was said that he was bitten by a snake and that he claimed it was God's punishment upon him for being a landowner.) It was said that he was admired by the Native Americans of the area because he travelled through the wilderness, but didn't carry a weapon.
My name is Daniel E. Chapman II, so I am a distant relative. Not a direct descendant, but seven generations back our lines diverged. His brother was one of my ancestors. So, I heard many stories of what he did and did not do where I lived. (In western Pennsylvania, where he spent much of his life.) One of my coworkers at National TechTeam was named Brent Chapman, so during a casual conversation he mentioned his research into his lineage. He also turned out to be related. So, from a casual conversation I found a cousin, seven generations removed.
If you read the writeups below which mention the fact that the apples were probably used to create hard cider, keep in mind that (as I mention above) Johnny Appleseed believed in the tenets of a sect of Christianity which forbade the drinking of alcohol.