"The Johnny Appleseed House.....Longmeadow's Oldest"
Local legend has it that this house was originally built down in The Meadows prior to 1700, and, as such, is the Town’s oldest structure. It is unknown who the original inhabitants were. One can easily imagine a simple cabin with perhaps two or three rooms on a family farm. In 1700, the house was moved eastward, away from the river, to the top of the hill. Here, for the next two centuries, it stood parallel to what would later be Longmeadow Street.


By 1913, perhaps this quaint and modest cottage was out-of-step with its more grandiose new neighbors along Longmeadow Street. For whatever reason, it was moved once again in that year to an unobtrusive place on Fairfield Terrace, where it sits peacefully to this day.

After 300 years, the “Johnny Appleseed House” is still a functional home. When I called the present owners earlier, the husband’s voice on the answering machine was young and energetic; bringing to mind the image of an emerging family. I went to the house and the steps and porch felt solid and sound as I crossed to the door. A knock brought a pair of hounds rushing to the window. A Bassett and beagle both eyed me warily, but with tails wagging to beat the band. They clearly had a good thing going on!



Nathaniel Chapman ended up in Springfield with the militia after the Revolutionary War, in which he fought as a Minuteman. He was already a widower with two small children adrift back in his hometown of Leominster. On July 24, 1780, he married Lucy Cooley of Longmeadow. They, along with Nathaniel’s two children, lived in this house from 1780 to 1803. Elizabeth was about 10, and John was 6. Nathan and Lucy raised ten more children before moving to Ohio. To alleviate the crowded and economically stressed household, Johnny struck out at age 16 on a rambling journey that would put him squarely into the annals of American folklore.

John, as American folk legend “Johnny Appleseed” gained fame but not fortune distributing apple seeds and sprouts throughout the Ohio Valley starting in the early 1800’s. Believing that self-deprivation in this life would lead to less suffering in the next, Johnny would go barefoot and stay out-of-doors even in severe weather. He may have, at some point, returned to his New England roots; as many of the present orchards and cider mills in Leominster and also Sterling give credit to Johnny for their start.

Although Johnny Appleseed was not born in this Longmeadow house, orchards and cider mills were plentiful during his youth here. There can be little doubt that his fascination for apples and his religious passion were products of our small town!