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Did Johnny Appleseed pass through Bluffton?

By Fred Steiner

Did American folk hero John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman pass through Bluffton during his apple-tree planting career?

A recently discovered Bluffton News column reveals that possibility.

In truth, he tramped around northwestern Ohio, dying in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in 1845. Still, on a technicality, he never stopped in a village called Bluffton.

Instead, hints exist he may have visited Shannon – Bluffton’s name prior to 1861.

The apple trees Chapman planted produced mostly cider apples. He made his last trip through Ohio in 1842. Apparently walking and keeping ahead of pioneers, he planted nurseries on spots where he predicted they would settle. And, yes he carried a bag of apple seeds. His tree plantings allowed him ownership of property.

According to a Sept. 16, 1895, Bluffton News account, a group of Bluffton residents traveling to Carey stopped and ate apples from a Johnny Appleseed-planted-tree in Mt. Blanchard. That’s only 18 miles from Bluffton.

A monument in Mt. Blanchard’s Island Park confirms Appleseed owned property and established a nursery on lots 51, 52, and 53, there in 1834.

It’s also known that he planted trees in at least two places in Allen County. Markers also document both those locations.

The first planting, in 1829, was an apple nursery near Spencerville, 35 miles from Bluffton.

Around that same year he planted trees in what is today the Shawnee school yard, 21 miles from Bluffton.

Here’s the smoking gun for his possible Bluffton–excuse us, Shannon–appearance.

We believe it is pretty interesting.

This account from the Sept. 16, 1895, Bluffton News concerns a trip where a Bluffton committee visited Carey to see its new village water plant. The story, written by I.N. Heminger, then the News editor, follows.

You’ll witness Editor Heminger’s wit throughout this story. It tells us that dropping interesting observations, as he successfully does in this story, were common to his writing style. See if you can find them.

Sept. 16, 1895, Bluffton News –

A Trip to Carey: To inspect their magnificent system of water-works

Councilmen Triplett and Euller, Messrs. A Hauenstein, P. Althaus, Dr. G.C. Steingraver and the editor constituted a party that drove over to Carey Tuesday to see their new water-works plant. The party started at 4 a.m. and were nearly to Arlington when Mr. Hauenstein looked at his watch and announced that it was “plum” daylight.

A few miles farther on the party regaled themselves on a fine supply of apples from a tree planted by the wayside by Johnny Appleseed, of pioneer renown. Here Mr. Althaus astonished his companions by plucking a perfectly formed “sugar” pear from a Rambo apple tree.

There you have it – a Johnny Appleseed orchard, some 18 miles directly east of Bluffton.

There’s more to this story and additional photos at