William Kerrigan completed Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard: A Cultural History with the assistance of an NEH summer stipend. The book, which was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2012, examines the life of Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman, an American frontier hero so iconic that he has become the stuff of legend. And as Kerrigan makes clear, virtually everything we know about Chapman is just that—legend—with only a tenuous relationship to the man himself or the period in which he lived. Kerrigan places the oral tradition surrounding Chapman in conversation with historical material, documents drawn from archives and historical societies throughout the country. He presents readers with the biography of a complex and unusual man. In the process, Kerrigan provides an inroad to an underexamined period of American history: the midwestern frontier in the 75 years following the American Revolution.
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