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December 28, 2018 10:00pm
WHY DIDN'T JOHNNY APPLESEED (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), a.k.a. Jonathan Chapman, ever get married? As every schoolboy knows, or probably doesn't have an inkling these days, Mr. Appleseed dressed in a coffee sack, donned a saucepan for a hat and traveled barefoot. A 19th-century horticulturist who made great contributions to the westward expansion of the United States, he planted entire orchards as far west as Illinois. Though he may not have traveled down the Allegheny River on a block of ice like his folk-hero persona, Chapman, the son of a farmer, was born in Leominster, Massachusetts. He moved to Ohio at the beginning of the 19th century, bringing seeds from Pennsylvania cider presses with him and planting them along the way. The whole thing was about Cider-- hard Cider, an essential in hard-drinking America at the time, so most homes had their own small orchard. Chapman planted his orchards right along the pioneer routes, staying ahead of other orchard-planting competition-- since his obsessed, nomadic, unmarried lifestyle allowed him to cover more ground. He would then trade his seedlings with new settlers in the area so that they could grow apples for their new homes. A wife, perhaps, would have cramped his style. And few would put up with his peculiar calling, or his deliberate courting of harsh conditions. If this be Sexism, make the most of it. With the poetry of Dylan Thomas and others, Michael Peppe, Puzzling Evidence-- and KrOB.

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