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Johnny Appleseed in Hanover

By LeMoyn Littell Parkinson

Milestones Vol 32 No. 4


Editor's Note: The following story has been abstracted from an article that first appeared in The Christian Science Monitor on April 17, 1957. It has been printed in the new book, The History of Frankfort Springs and Hanover Township by Betty Brodmerkel with Charles Townsend


William Littell settled on 640 acres of land in what is now Hanover Township, Beaver County. On this settlement were fine springs of water and good rich soil. Work was begun to build a house, which was really a fort against the Indians. Corn, wheat, and oats were planted and soon provided food, in addition to wild game of which there was plenty.
William Littell somehow found time to lay out and plant a very large orchard. His favorite was apple, many varieties, and they were planted all around the south side of hills. Peaches, pears, and several varieties of cherries, black and white mulberries, and black haws were also planted.
In a few years youngsters came along. One of them, my grandfather, David Littell took over the place and married Jane Shellatoe.
One late summer there appeared a weird person. It was Jonathan Chapman, alias Johnny Appleseed. He wore a cooking pan on his head, a few clothes and a Bible under his arm, and was dressed in a sack with holes for head and arms, and in bare feet. He asked to stay until cider making time, as he wanted to gather up all the seeds. Permission was granted.
He slept under a tree in good weather. When it rained he stayed in a wagon shed. He washed his clothes in running water from a spring, wrung them out, and, climbing a tree, spread them out on long limbs. Asked why he did this, his reply was, "To get them closer to the sun."
He came in the fall for many years, and at cider time the pomace, instead of being piled up or thrown away, was spread out to dry so he could pick out the seeds and carefully put them in a bag. Then he left, always going west.

An early picture of the Littell house.

The Littell house in 2007.


The Littell Farm: Deeded in 1796 to William Littell who was a native of Belfast, Ireland. The farm is located in Hanover Township along State Route 18. William served as George Washington's private secretary and was a field officer in the Revolutionary War. His grandson, John R. Littell, was a member of Company G, 168th P.V. and fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. Originally, the Littells operated a tannery, later a sheep farm and then a beef cattle farm, until 1991. Approximately 175 acres remain of the original 475 acres. The farm is currently owned by Norman Littell, his sister, Florence Gray, and his sister's children, Harold Sloppy and Peggy Gustafson.