Homage to a Legend

The rural garden Spring Grove Cemetery at Cincinnati, Ohio, has a sculpture by artist Robert Koepnick of Dayton, Ohio, dedicated to Johnny Appleseed. The sculpture, dedicated in 1968, is placed in the middle of a stone circle with Johnny in the middle standing on a granite boulder. The bronze is of a barefoot Johnny Appleseed, book in one hand, the other lifting up an apple sprig—presumably towards the heavens asking for God’s blessings before it was planted.

The statue honors John Chapman, known better, as Johnny Appleseed because of his dedication to plant apple orchards and nurseries throughout Pennsylvania, Ontario, the northern counties of West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, and eventually Indiana.

This piece of artwork is art as tribute, not as a monument placed over his grave, because he is not buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery.

Johnny Appleseed died in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is where is buried, though, the exact spot is disputed and the truth may never be known. Some believe he is buried close to the cabin in which he was living when he died, while others believe he is buried at the Archer Family Cemetery.

In any case, the sculptural homage to Johnny Appleseed is also accompanied by a plague in the floor of the stone circle that reads:

JOHNNY APPLESEED

(JOHN CHAPMAN,  SEPTEMBER 26, 1774 – MARCH 18, 1845)

JOHNNY APPLESEED, FIGURE OF LEGEND, WAS A SWEDENBORGIAN MISSONARY TO THE OHIO AND INIDANA FRONTIER. SAINTLY IN HIS DAILY LIFE. HE LOVED LIFE IN ALL ITS FORMS AND HAD A JOYOUS WILL TO HELP THE EARTH YIELD ITS FRUITS. BIBLE IN HAND AND SACK OF SEED SWINGING FROM HIS SHOULDER HE PLANTED MANY APPLE ORCHARDS THAT LIVE TODAY IN THIS REGION. MAY HE BE REMEMBERED IN FACT AS WELL AS IN LEGEND FOR HIS GODLINESS AND GOODNESS.

The day we visited the cemetery, some clever visitor left a small individual container of Mott’s applesauce at the foot of Johnny’s sculpture—homage to his love of the apple in all its forms!

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One Response to Homage to a Legend

  1. Paul Breda says:

    Oh the Lord’s been good to me,
    And so I thank the Lord!
    For giving me the things I need
    The sun and the rain and the appleseed
    The Lord’s been good to me!

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