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The Apple of Fort Wayne's Eye: John Chapman, 170 Years On

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Wednesday marks the 170th anniversary of the death of John Chapman – commonly referred to as Johnny Appleseed.

Chapman came to Fort Wayne in the 1830s, bringing with him the gospel and a bag of apple seeds. He hoped to make life more comfortable for the settlers by helping them start orchards.

Historian Tom Castaldi says the legend of Appleseed is still an important part of Fort Wayne’s identity.

“It gives us a lot of pride," says Castaldi. "I mean when you’re out of town and people say you’re from Fort Where? You say I’m from where Johnny Appleseed is buried! Don’t mess with me.”

And while John Chapman is often remembered more as a fairy tale than a historic figure, Castaldi doesn’t think he’ll be forgotten any time soon.

“I think people grasp onto those sorts of things to find a time and place in their own existence,” says Castaldi.

Most historians agree that Chapman is buried in Fort Wayne, although there is some dispute about exactly where his burial site is located.