Saturday, August 10, 2013

One of our local heroes - Johnny Appleseed

Our area of northcentral Ohio has a great love for John Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed.

He lived in our vicinity during the early part of the 1800's.  And yes, he planted thousands and thousands of apple trees.  Up until just a few years ago, some of the descendants of those apple trees were still alive.  At this point in time, I am unsure if any are still living.

Today, Mr. Kerry and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful, late summer weather.  We went to a rummage sale (the best I've ever been to!), grazed at Sam's Club, and enjoyed a classic car show and ice cream social at a small country church.

But, in between all of that, we visited the restored blockhouse that our community is famous for.
 Restored Mansfield Blockhouse 
South Park on Brinkerhoff Avenue

There used to be twin blockhouses that sat in the middle of town, where our square is now.  Many preservation efforts have brought it to where it stands today.

This weekend marks the event that Johnny Appleseed is famous for in our area.  During the War of 1812, Ohio was on edge.  There were a few Indian skirmishes, as well as the famous Battle of Lake Erie, won by Oliver Hazard Perry.

But, this part of Ohio didn't see much of the War's happenings.  Until...the murder of Levi Jones, a local shopkeeper.  The residents were just sure that Indians were planning an attack, for along with the Americans and the British, they were the third players in the War.  Johnny got along quite well with them.

Johnny ran for reinforcements.  He reported left on the evening/night of 9 August 1813 and ran barefoot to Mount Vernon, a small town 26 miles to the south.  He knew the woods intimately.  He called upon the residents to come and help, for there would surely be an impending Indian attack.  He was the Paul Revere of north central Ohio, for he felt it was his duty to warn and to gather aid.
The attack never came.  Rumor has it that the Indians had laid siege upon the town.

Johnny lived in our area for many years following this event before moving westward to Indiana.  He later died in Fort Wayne.

Now, why do I bring this up?  Because sometimes we need to explore the area right around us to gain an appreciation for the early settlers, their lives, their joys, and their fears.  In this case, an important part of history is right in our back yard.