Johnny Appleseed: Travels and Trees An Exploration in Historical GIS
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SubjectsHistorical GIS; Johnny Appleseed; American Western Expansion; John Chapman; Population growth
On the eve of the American Revolution, John Chapman was born, soon becoming one of the country’s most cherished folk heroes- Johnny Appleseed, a man synonymous with the frontier. Though his legend is widely known and often romanticized, few are aware of his tangible existence and deeds. Due to this, there are very limited responses readily available to the question of where he actually traveled. This project took historical evidence of Chapman’s travels, specifically noting the locations of his orchards, and converted them into features that could be mapped and edited using ESRI ArcMap, a tool for mapping and spatial analysis. By determining the specific locations of the orchards, which preceded the settlers in many cases, it was shown what significant effect the orchards had on the growing population of the country and its expanse into the young American west. Orchards would have made settling easier for those new to the frontier, as they provided a steady supply of food and were even helpful in indicating property during the era. Since a ten year period was necessary for maturation in most trees, and since census data is collected every decade, by comparing population counts in ten year increments in locations both with and without orchards, it became evident that Chapman’s orchards did act as a catalyst to growth and expanse in the west.