In And Around Hannibal: May 12, 2012

by Rita Hooper

I’m hooked on NPR — National Public Radio. Last week, I was listening to the Diane Rehm Show when she had Eric Rutkow on, talking about his latest book, “American Canopy — Trees, Forests and the Making of a Nation.”

I intend to get a copy for my son for Christmas. The book chronicles the history of American through trees. He spoke about when the settlers first came to America, there was about a billion acres of ancient forests. This has been drastically reduced over the years, first with home building by the settlers.

Wood was a cheap resource and a good building material. Westward expansion, industrialization, continually increasing population and the building of the suburbs have continued to decrease our woodland acreage.

Naturally occurring tree diseases have also affected our tree population. He also mentions Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed and other folklore connected with trees.

My knowledge of Johnny Appleseed is basically the “grace” sung at camp: “Oh, the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord..for giving the things I need, the sun, and the rain, and the apple seed.”

Come to find out that is only the first verse of a much larger hymn! Who woulda thunk it?

Legend has it that Johnny walked across the U.S. planting trees and he wore a tin pot for a hat! Now my interest is piqued…so who was the real Johnny Appleseed?

Turns out Johnny was born in Leominster, Mass. Sept. 27, 1774, around the time the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought. His father, Nathaniel Chapman, fought at Concord in 1175 and later served in the Continental Army with George Washington. His mother died in 1776 shortly after the birth of his brother, who also died.

His father left the military in 1780 and re-married and had 10 more children. In 1792, Johnny persuaded his 11-year-old half-brother to head west with him; Johnny was about 18.

The two of them moved around quite a bit until 1805 when his father moved his large family to Ohio. Johnny’s brother decided to stay with his family and help his father with the farm. His father apprenticed Johnny to a Mr. Crawford, who had apple orchards so he could learn the career of “orchardist.”

Many of us have the picture of this funny little man walking the countryside, dropping apple seeds along the way. I’ll speak about the funny man later, but he did drop his apple seeds in anything but a random way.

In modern day, we graft fruit trees, but Johnny grew his trees from seed. They were not sweet or tasty but they were great for hard cider and applejack.

As the population moved west, laws were passed that made it necessary for people to plant fruit trees to maintain their land claims.

Johnny worked on the nursery idea rather than planting orchards. He fenced in his trees to keep livestock out of them. Leaving the nursery in charge of someone else would move on and start another.

He would return every two years or so to tend them. The neighbor would sell trees on shares for him as well; this made it easier for the new land owners to keep claim to their land.

I bet if he were alive today, Johnny would be in the forefront of the “green” movement. Like most naturalists, Johnny had a deep concern for animal life as well as that of the trees and there are many stories about him and animals.

Now, the “funny little man” legend revolves around his frugalness. He did not wear shoes, winter or summer, and wore old sacks and cast-off clothing. His hat was a tin pot that he also cooked in.

He was also a missionary of the Swedenborgian Church. I don’t know too much about that, but I think they believe in God in one person….Jesus Christ but not in the Father and Holy Spirit.

Anyhow, Johnny would travel about the countryside, telling stories and sharing the gospel sometimes in return for a place to sleep, even if it was in the barn. Sometimes, the folks would even feed him.

Do your own research on this funny little man who had a reason for everything he did and left an impression on people that continues to this day. While there is debate, he is believed to have died in 1845 in Indiana.

There is a ball team named for him, songs, movies, cartoons and lots of stories written about him. He is prominent in apple festivals, too. Some cynics say his claim to fame was bringing alcohol to the west.

“Oh, the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord..for giving the things I need, the sun, and the rain, and the apple seed.”

*  *  *  *  *

Granby UMC’s “NU-2-U” sale ends today at 2 p.m.

There will be a car wash by donation today at the Village Market for the benefit of the Community Park.

IOOB will have a steak bake in Fairdale today.

Tomorrow, May 13 is Mother’s Day — don’t forget it! Take your special lady to a Mother’s Day breakfast at the American Legion on Rochester Street tomorrow. The Sons of the Legion will be doing the cooking and it’s free for mothers.

The menu for the Senior Meals Program this week: chicken cacciatore Monday, Swedish meatballs Wednesday and open face turkey sandwiches and gravy Friday. There will be Bingo Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.

The group meets in the Senior Center Wing of the Community Center (library) on Oswego Street, Hannibal. The doors open for coffee and conversation and games. Call Rosemary at 564-5471 to make reservations.

The Jammers will not be meeting this week. Remember, they do not meet on the second Monday.

The Hannibal school budget and board member vote will be held Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the high school board room.

The Hannibal Library will be asking the voters of the Hannibal School District to increase their funding by $10,000 at the school election May 15. This vote has no impact on the Hannibal school budget. This increase would cost the property owner about 5 cents per thousand of assessed property value or $5 for a property assessed at $100,000. That doesn’t seem like much money to me for all you get.

Access to computers if you don’t have one, DVD’s and audio books to accompany you at home or on the road, a place to pick up a magazine without having to subscribe to it, a place to bring your children for story hour and after school crafts, a comfortable place to browse through the books until you find the one that tweeks your interest. You can even get copies made for you at a reasonable cost.

And maybe most importantly, a place you can get a smile from one of the library ladies who are always willing to help you find what you need either in Hannibal or through their library connections.

The Thursday soup/chili lunches at the Hannibal UMC are still being served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Takeouts are available.

The SW Oswego UMC will be having a roast pork dinner Saturday, May 19 starting at 4:30 p.m. The menu is roast pork, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable, salad, roll, and homemade pie for dessert. Take-outs are available. The church is located on Route 104.

Now if you haven’t found anything to your liking or just want to make a full day and night of it May 19 – stop in at the Dale Osborn Music Scholarship Fund Benefit at the Volney Fire Department from 4 to 10 p.m.  Dale died in a tragic accident last August. I understand Dale attended Hannibal schools and the scholarships will benefit both Phoenix and Hannibal Dollars for Scholars for music scholarships. I’m also told Dale was always among the first to help when and where he could and a great friend and father, and a talented musician who performed in many benefits himself.

A number of groups will be playing, among them Stone River Band, Tom Gilbo (Elvis), the East Side Blues Band, the Marshall Dillon Band, and Nightlife. Lots of activities going on. The admission charge includes dinner.

Our Lady of the Rosary Church on Cayuga St. across from the High School will be serving its “Joe and Loretta Ukleya’s famous spaghetti dinner” Sunday, May 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; takeouts will be available. The dinner is a fund-raiser to replace the roof on the church hall.

It pays to advertise, so please remember to get the news of what’s happening in your group or organization to me.

If it’s important to you, it just might be important to some of my readers. Please note my phone number is 706-3564 and my e-mail is

You may snail-mail me at 210 Meadowbrook Circle, Fulton 13069.

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