The story of Johnny Appleseed is based on the life of John Chapman, an American nurseryman and conservationist who introduced the apple tree to many parts of Midwest. Chapman became a folk hero during his own lifetime for his environmental contributions.
Chapman was born on Sept. 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts. Little is known about his early life, but by 1812, he worked as a nurseryman and orchardist. Chapman introduced apple orchards to many American states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and West Virginia. While most folk tales portray him as planting at random, he was actually quite calculated in his founding of different orchards, establishing significant land claims and turning a profit from his orchards.