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Photos of the Controversial Gravesite of Johnny Appleseed

The gravesite of Johnny Appleseed is listed as a roadside attraction on the Roadside America website, but that’s not the reason I sought out this site. Read more below. 

Fort Wayne, Indiana is said to be the final resting place of Johnny Appleseed, but is the site of the gravestone the confirmed resting place of this legend? Johnny Appleseed was born John Chapman in Massachusetts. He has been the center of tall tales for generations. We’ve been told that he wandered throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and other Midwestern states barefoot, with a saucepan on his head, planting hundreds of thousands of apple trees.

We do know that he planted nurseries all over the Midwest, whether he did that barefoot or wearing a saucepan, we don’t know. And while there is controversy on the true story of his life, there is also controversy surrounding his death and exactly where he was buried.

This mural of Johnny Appleseed is located on the side of a building in downtown Mansfield, Ohio.

I grew up near Mansfield, Ohio. Johnny Appleseed is kind of a legend in these parts. A painting of a tall man surrounded by trees graces the side of one of the buildings in my hometown and nearby there’s a historical marker tells of a run he made to Mt. Vernon, a town 30 miles away to get reinforcements when the area was about to be attacked by Native American tribes. Some years ago, an amphitheater named after this larger than life hero was opened as an outdoor theater to share his life story with the masses (the play is no longer offered). We even boast the Johnny Appleseed Scenic Byway where numerous monuments and historical markers mark the route leading to sites of historical significance in the life of our famed citizen who is said to have lived in and around the surrounding area from the years of 1810-1830. I guess you could say that I thought Mansfield had kind of claimed the figure as their own.

Johnny Appleseed's gravesite as seen through crab apple trees.

And then I took a road trip two and a half hours away to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Imagine my surprise when I learned that they hold an annual Johnny Appleseed festival, have a park named after him and claim to have his gravesite as well.

Placard at Johnny Appleseed's gravesite that tells about his life.

I won’t begin to speculate, but I do know that there is a gravesite in Johnny Appleseed Park in Fort Wayne. Whether this is his final resting place, I couldn’t tell you. Some sources say that he could be buried on the other side of the river. What I do know, is that I couldn’t leave Fort Wayne without seeking out the gravesite of this nineteenth century superstar.

The grave sits upon a hill surrounded by a black wrought iron fence. You’ll find a placard at the bottom of the hill that shares a bit about the life of John Chapman. The gate is not locked and you’re welcome to open it to get a closer look at the simple tombstone that is decorated only with an outline of an apple and the Holy Bible.

The tombstone simply reads:
“Johnny Appleseed”
John Chapman
He Lived for Others
1774-1845

Johnny Appleseed's Grave in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Collage of photos taken at Johnny Appleseed's grave in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Johnny Appleseed's Grave

Directions to the gravesite:

Drive south on Parnell Avenue and drive past the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum (at 4000 Parnell). Just past the coliseum, you’ll see a small driveway on the left, turn left here and follow the road to the end where it loops around. You’ll see the grave at the top of the hill.

Have you been to this site? Would you go?

Ruth Taylor

Sunday 29th of March 2020

Such a lovely resting place! The Men’s Club did a beautiful job honoring him. Thankful for this opportunity to visit it🥰

Jay Martin

Saturday 13th of May 2017

Ask some.of the nearby locals if they remember digging the site. There was no dig. Gravel, headstone, iron gate (we use to play in, in the early 80s), and rumors. Do a little research at the Lincoln library. You will find your answers there or trust my post.

Missy Miller

Sunday 25th of September 2016

Tonya, I haven't been but after reading your post, I want to go! John Chapman is one person I remember learning about in the 3rd grade. His life intrigued me as a child. Thanks for sharing!!

Tonya

Sunday 25th of September 2016

It would make a great field trip for you, Missy! And Fort Wayne has a lot to offer families. You should check it out.

Jody Halsted

Friday 23rd of September 2016

I'll have to check my family history book to see if it has a definitive answer... because 'Johnny Appleseed' is one of my ancestors through the Higley line.

Barry

Friday 21st of October 2016

I didn't think that John Chapman had any children, so how could he be your ancestor? Perhaps a cousin, as he had a sister and about 10 half brothers and sisters.

Tonya

Sunday 25th of September 2016

That is very cool, Jody! Did you know about that before your trek to the genealogy center? Let me know what you find out. I'm very curious. Did you visit his gravesite when you were in Fort Wayne?

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