Johnny Appleseed tree planted at museum

The first tree planted at the future site of the Piatt County Museum is a significant one, and it fits nicely with the historical nature of the organization.

On Saturday, museum members planted an apple tree that traces its roots to none other than John Chapman – more commonly known as Johnny Appleseed.

To help celebrate the state’s bicentennial next year, the Illinois State Historical Society made 102 Appleseed trees available, one per county. They are all grafts made from a tree in Nova, Ohio that can be traced back to the Midwest folk hero.

“The point is it’s from an original Johnny Appleseed tree, and if you’ve got kids at a museum you like to have a piece you can tell a story with,” said local museum member Lorin Nevling.

“You can tell a great story with this,” he added.

The Piatt County Museum has already constructed the shells for an education center and a separate barn-style museum with hopes of soon transferring artifacts to the new area and opening up shop. Next up is a building to connect the two, which will serve as an entryway that houses museum restrooms and other amenities.

Museum Board President Donna McClure hopes a park can be developed around the tree, which was planted behind the current buildings.

“When things are finished out here there will be a link that connects the education center and the barn, and hopefully this can be developed into a garden or park-like area out here,” she said.

Chapman brought apple seeds from his home near Pennsylvania and planted tree nurseries in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, among other locales. The last known surviving tree he planted is at the Algeo Farm in Nova, Ohio.

According to an article in Illinois Heritage, an ISHS publication, some claim it is a Rambo apple, but most experts just say it is of the “Johnny Appleseed variety.”

The fruit ripens in September and was used commonly in baking and making applesauce.

Nevling obtained the tree for Piatt County by being Johnny on the spot, so to speak.

“The Illinois State Historical Society in their publication mentioned they were going to have 102 trees, one for each county, and if anyone was interested they should call. I was interested,” he said.

Categories (3):News, Agriculture, Living

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