EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
In his journeys across the Buckeye State in the 1820s and 1830s, pursuing his apple tree trade, Johnny Appleseed always followed the Blanchard River when passing through Hancock County. He would come from the east to Upper Sandusky and then cross country to the headwaters of the Blanchard River for a water journey on west.
In his 1954 volume “Johnny Appleseed,” Prof. Robert Price, a graduate of Denison, and later a professor of English at Otterbein University at Westerville, Ohio, describes the Appleseed travels along the Blanchard quite extensively.
“By 1828, say memoirs of the first settlers in Hancock and Putnam counties, through whose portion of the Black Swamp the Blanchard River flows down toward the Maumee,” says the Price work, “John not only had made plantings somewhere on the isolated headwaters of the Blanchard but even had trees ready to sell to the families that were beginning to push up the streams into this dismal corner of the wilderness.
“THAT WAS THE YEAR, said John Wilcox of Putnam County, when his parents bought trees of Chapman (Johnny’s real name was John Chapman), as he was paddling down the river in a boat loaded with seedlings from a nursery near Fort Findlay.”
Author Price says there “are enough other allusions to a Chapman planting near Fort Findlay on the upper Blanchard to make certain of its existence.”
The facts, of course, are — and the Price volume subsequently confirms them — that Johnny Appleseed bought some lots in the village of Mount Blanchard along the river for a nursery. This was in 1834 and the record of the deeds is in the office of the county recorder at the Hancock County courthouse. Chapman came to Findlay himself to have them recorded, it is believed. So he once trod the streets of Findlay.
The Price book says “no evidence can be found that these lots had ever been built upon.” Chapman sold the lots after five years. They are close to the park along the river in Mount Blanchard, and not far from the village’s Main Street, close to the center of town.
In the appendix to his book, author Price describes the Chapman lots as having been purchased from A.M. Lake, Dec. 24, 1834. They were not recorded until Oct. 8, 1835, and they appear on Page 380 of Deed Record No. 1 in the recorder’s office. They are lots numbered 51,52 and 53. They were sold to Michael Shafer May 20, 1839. The record of their transfer appears on Page 118 of Deed Record No. 2 in the recorder’s office.
The Price volume, in a chapter devoted to “Last Journeys” of Johnny Appleseed, who died in 1845, says:
“People along the Blanchard River used to see him going through year after year, following his regular route.”
MR. PRICE QUOTES Daniel B. Beardsley, Findlay lawyer and historian, as saying in the latter’s history of Hancock County, published in the 1870s, that he (Mr. Beardsley) remembered him passing his boyhood home in the 1830s on the north side of the stream three miles above Findlay.
The Price work closes its account of the Appleseed story in Hancock County with this observation:
“In a later day when monuments have sprung up to mark many parts of Johnny Appleseed’s long peregrinations, one should by means be set up somewhere on the headwaters of the Blanchard River that marked for almost a quarter of a century the regular point of his yearly passages from east to west along the land bridge of Northern Ohio.”
(To Be Continued)