By Terri Weeks
Posted On: Sep 21, 2017
March 18 is National Johnny Appleseed Day! Preschool and elementary children all over the country learn about this American legend. Many Ohioans know that Johnny Appleseed had ties to Ohio, but did you know there's a museum you can visit to learn about him?
You'll find the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center & Museum near the campus of Urbana University (now Franklin University), about an hour's drive west of Columbus. This museum is a hidden gem filled with high-quality multimedia exhibits; it's one of those outings that's perfect for multiple generations to visit together.
Regardless of their age, everyone in our group had some knowledge about Johnny Appleseed. My kids were most familiar with the Disney version of the story in the 1948 film Melody Time. That movie contains the Johnny Appleseed song that's frequently sung as a prayer before meals: The Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the appleseed. The Lord is good to me. Don't remember the tune? There's an exhibit where you can play the various songs. My father fondly remembered the Bing Crosby song about Johnny Appleseed.
Other displays include books and figurines about the beloved American legend, who is often pictured barefoot wearing tattered clothes and a cooking pot for a hat.
The museum is a place to learn about the real person John Chapman and his journey across Ohio and other states. We saw a piece of an apple tree known to be planted by him and learned about his orchards and nursery in Ohio where he raised seedlings to sell to settlers on the frontier. One of the video exhibits is about the last living tree known to be planted by Johnny. An apple cider press that was owned by a friend of Johnny Appleseed is displayed.
We learned about Johnny Appleseed's work as a missionary and a medicinal herbalist, as well as his ties to the university. He was known to always carry a Bible with him and the one that was in his possession when he died is on display.
An activity table provides fun for younger kids including coloring pages, games, and puzzles. A visit to the museum will give you a new appreciation for this American legend.
For Ohio history and ways to explore Urbana, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.