Little Apple Tree on the Prairie

On this trip I’m read­ing The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pol­lan. I’m just at the begin­ning, where he is talk­ing about apples and John Chap­man (aka John­ny Apple­seed).

His­tor­i­cal books have always inter­est­ed me (as do his­tor­i­cal nov­els with a wee bit of fic­tion in them) and so I find this part espe­cial­ly fas­ci­nat­ing.

Much of his infor­ma­tion seems to come from the writ­ings of peo­ple who met Chap­man on his trav­els, home­stead­ers who took him under their roof in exchange for sto­ries and, nat­u­ral­ly, apple trees.

There must be a huge wealth of these writ­ings, diaries, sto­ries, back-of-the-Bible scrib­blings. But I can’t help but won­der if there were any actu­al writ­ers he met. Imag­ine, if you will, an encounter between John Chap­man and Lau­ra Ingalls Wilder. What col­or­ful, won­der­ful, engross­ing nar­ra­tive might have result­ed?

Did they even live at the same time? Was there any­one else alive at this junc­ture who could have served? Would Pa have even let this “fron­tier Diony­sus” in? (Pollan’s words)

Per­haps it is time for some his­tor­i­cal fic­tion. Any­one?