The Dream of Johnny Appleseed©

There are many stories told about a young man called Johnny Appleseed. He lived many years ago, when the pioneers and settlers traveled in covered wagons across America, moving to places like California and Oregon.

History tells us that Johnny Appleseed was a somewhat strange man. He spent most of his life roaming across the states of Ohio and Indiana, planting apple trees. Dressed in old sackcloth and often barefoot, he carried a large sack of apple seeds. He gave these seeds to farmers and helped them plant orchards. When the farmers tried to pay him for his kindness, Johnny Appleseed would often not accept money. All he would take was a meal and a place in the stable to sleep.

Soon, word about Johnny Appleseed spread around the countryside.

“Who is this kind and gentle man who takes nothing for his help and gives so much?” travelers asked.

“He is called Johnny Appleseed,” said the farmers. They told different stories about him. Some said that when he was traveling between farms, he often slept in trees with the birds and squirrels. It was while sleeping in a tree that Johnny Appleseed had his dream.

One summer night, asleep in a big oak tree, Johnny Appleseed dreamed that he could plant apple trees across America from Ohio to the Pacific Ocean. And his dream came true! Pioneers had forged a new trail, two thousand miles long, from the state of Missouri to the Pacific Ocean. It was called the Oregon Trail. Johnny Appleseed’s dream was now possible. He gave sprouts and apple seeds to many who passed through on their way to the coast. He told them to plant a few seeds every few miles along the trail. “This way,” said Johnny Appleseed, “the travelers coming later won’t get lost, since they can follow the apple trees, and they won’t go hungry along the way.”

Many travelers thought this was a good idea. They planted the seeds as they traveled along the trail. Soon, many of the trees grew tall. There were apple trees from one end of the trail to the other. But Johnny Appleseed never got to see them.

One very cold and stormy night, the farmer Johnny Appleseed was helping came out to the stable. “Johnny, why don’t you take a bed in our house tonight?” he asked. “It’s going to be very cold.”

“Thank you, but no,” he said. “I’ll be all right in here with the animals to keep me warm.”

This strange but wonderful person puzzled the farmer. He started to leave, but then turned and said, “I have a question, Johnny. I can’t help but ask you. Why have you spent your life giving away and helping to plant apple seeds?”

Johnny Appleseed paused for a moment, then began to smile. “I’ve never told anyone,” he said, “because some things inside us are hard to explain. But I’ll say this. There is no tree on earth like the apple tree. It gives us apples for cider in the fall, preserves in the winter, blossoms in the springtime, and pies in the summer. No fruit is healthier for our bodies. For these reasons, I wanted to grow apple trees across this great land, so that no one would go hungry. You see, I feel like I am a part of every tree that grows from my seeds. They are like the children I never had, something to leave for the next generation. And someday when I die, I’ll still in a small way be here.”

Johnny Appleseed died that very cold night while sleeping on a stack of hay. But he lives on in the hearts of all the Americans who work hard to build a better country for the next generation. He is alive in every history book, encyclopedia, and dictionary. Buildings, parks, bridges, highways, and songs carry his name. And let us never forget, he is smiling down from all those apple trees, from the state of Ohio to the Pacific Ocean.

In helping others, you will find
The noblest deed of humankind.