Johnny Appleseed: An Original American Entrepreneur


Name 3 of America’s earliest entrepreneurs- and… go. Who did you come up with? Here’s what I’ve got: Benjamin Franklin (disagree? Go fly a kite), Andrew Carnegie (aka the Man of Steel), and Thomas Edison (does that one make a light bulb go off?). There’s one name that I bet you left off the list, though, because I did too before I did some reading. His name is John Chapman – but you probably know him as Johnny Appleseed.

John Chapman was born in Massachusetts in 1774. Despite his roots, he preferred the Jets over the Patriots – OK, that’s not true, just making sure you’re still with me. Since Facebook hadn’t yet been invented, not much is known of John’s early life. We do know that he lost his mother early in life and eventually travelled west from Massachusetts to Ohio where his father, Nathaniel, got him an apprenticeship at an orchard (anyone note the foreshadowing?) and by 1812, John had established himself in this field, working as an “Independent Orchardist” (yes, this was a thing).

Then, in most of our minds, John took off his shoes, put on his tin hat, and walked randomly through the forest planting apple seeds. The real story, though, is more entrepreneurial than that.

It is estimated that by the time of his death the mid-1800’s, John had cultivated over 100,000 square acres of land… by hand. His cultivation methods did not involve the “shotgun approach” either. Taking discarded (aka free) apple seeds from local apple presses, John went west ahead of the expansion of the US – focusing his efforts on the wilderness spanning the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. His strategy was simple: he anticipated the expansion of the pioneers, went there before they got there, and planted his apple orchards. By the time the pioneers reached his orchard, the trees were mature and ready to be sold or harvested.

Eventually, John would become immortalized as Johnny Appleseed, and be passed down in oral and written American tradition to later generations like you and me – the man, the myth, the entrepreneur.

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Harry Kierbow

Harry Kierbow is the Director of Social Media for Commissions Inc (CINC), a real estate technology and marketing company. He's played professionally on Facebook (and other social networks) for more than 7 years now, managing campaigns for brands (both big and small) and individuals (also both big and small). Universally regarded as the greatest ice hockey goalie to ever come from Griffin, GA (by his mom at least), you can find Harry between the pipes on the ice rinks of Georgia (yes, there is more than one) or playing with his 2 kids when he's not perfecting social media ads or binging true crime documentaries on Netflix. Connect with Harry on LinkedIn @HarryKierbow.