Monday, June 14, 2021

Johnny Appleseed's Grave is a Lie


Back when we weren't traveling anywhere, I got so bored one day that I made myself a map that pinpointed every single place that I thought it would be interesting to go in my home state of Indiana. I (correctly) figured that when we did start to travel again, we'd probably start more locally, and wouldn't it be handy to have all the doughnut shops, waterfalls, history museums, nature preserves, and unusual playgrounds already marked for me so that I could simply look up a location, see what's nearby, and detour to visit that, too?

As a matter of fact, it IS handy!

And that's how we four intrepid explorers, on our way to a family reunion in Ann Arbor, Michigan, found ourselves underdressed for the weather and inanely wandering down a path between a giant parking lot and a German social club:

We don't look like we know where we're going, and yet we still managed to find our way to our destination: the gravesite of Johnny Appleseed:

There's a lot about the folktale of Johnny Appleseed that's a lie. 

He wasn't itinerant, but rather had a lot of property spread out over a large area that he often traveled between.

He didn't give apple seeds away or randomly plant them, but instead planted them in orchards as nursery stock, and then sold the young trees to settlers.

He did proselytize wherever he went, but as a Swedenborgian.

And this is probably not his gravesite.

Some stories say he was buried down by the nearby river in a grave that's now unmarked and undiscovered. Other stories say he was, indeed buried in this family cemetery, the Archer Cemetery, in a grave that was also unmarked but whose location was confirmed by then-living witnesses to his funeral. 

There are even a couple of other headstones from the family cemetery still standing there:

As usual, this little side trip, meant to answer one small and not terribly interesting question--Where is Johnny Appleseed buried?--has inspired in me the desire for other moderately-related and definitely weirder side quests. Not only did I just go on a deep dive into Swedenborgianism, but now I have yet another tiny history museum to add to the map of weird places to go in Ohio that I should totally make.

And the curious little hill that Johnny Appleseed's marker stands on got me wondering if it's, in fact, a Native American mound. Researching that led me to this site with opinionated information about numerous little-known mounds in Indiana... and so obviously I had to ask my public library to buy this book for me:

If you've got littler homeschoolers, I'd say keep them away from the Nephilim speculation, ahem. Instead, might I suggest an autumn unit study or Midwest geography study that includes Johnny Appleseed, culminating in a field trip to his disputed gravesite, a day trip to an apple orchard, and then a following week full of all the apple crafts and activities?

Add the Swedenborgianism to your ongoing comparative religions study, of course.

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