Help save Johnny Appleseed work


Local foundation asks for community support

By Betsy Coffman - Contributing writer



Browne Hall was the final structure to house the Johnny Appleseed collection at the now-defunct Urbana University. With Franklin University now attempting to sell the campus, the collection must find a new home. Pictured at right is a red banner denoting the former Appleseed presence at Browne Hall.

Browne Hall was the final structure to house the Johnny Appleseed collection at the now-defunct Urbana University. With Franklin University now attempting to sell the campus, the collection must find a new home. Pictured at right is a red banner denoting the former Appleseed presence at Browne Hall.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Franklin University permanently closed Urbana University in March of 2020.

This closure shuttered The Johnny Appleseed Education Center and Museum, sealing off its collection from the public.

The legendary American John Chapman, popularly known as Johnny Appleseed and born in Massachusetts, planted apple trees near Urbana in the mid-1820s.

“Johnny” professed and lived by a set of values that included generosity, humility, stewardship, thrift, entrepreneurship and caring for one’s fellow man – values relevant in every era.

For over a quarter-century, The Johnny Appleseed Education Center and Museum has taught these values to scholars, children, travelers and community groups from its location on the campus of Urbana University.

The Education Center and Museum housed the world’s most significant and complete collection of information about Johnny Appleseed. This extensive research collection was used by historians and scholars.

The Education Center trained teachers, provided educational materials for classrooms and published books for children.

The museum has now been closed for almost a year, stored in boxes.

The search is on for a new home for the collection, the education center and the museum by a small band of individuals, some genetic descendants of John Chapman, who have continued to work to preserve the museum collection, re-open it to the public and eventually re-start community programs promoting Chapman’s values.

A small amount of funding for this work has been raised.

More is needed.

The fundraising is a combined effort of The Johnny Appleseed Foundation (which owns the collection) and The Johnny Appleseed Society (which provides volunteers, activities and memberships to support the museum’s programs). The Johnny Appleseed Foundation has created a GoFundMe page. https://au.gofundme.com/f/save-the-johnny-appleseed-museum

The Foundation’s web address is www.johnnyappleseedmuseum.org where one can learn more, and make a donation that will help save history.

Donation checks may be mailed to: The Johnny Appleseed Foundation, PO Box 799, Urbana OH 43078

Sadly, this valuable community resource and attraction may well be leaving our community unless citizens and relevant organizations in Urbana/Champaign County are interested in partnering with the Johnny Appleseed Foundation to find ways to raise funds for a new local location in which to preserve the collection, provide enriching, values-based programs and welcome visitors from near and far.

For more information about the Johnny Appleseed collection, please contact Drew McLandrich, by email, info@johnnyappleseedmuseum.org; or by phone, 513-706-2942.

History of the Johnny Appleseed Foundation and Society

The Johnny Appleseed Foundation

In 1990, The Johnny Appleseed Foundation, for many years based at the Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio, was re-incorporated in Urbana, Ohio in order to raise the public and private funds with which to create the first museum wholly devoted to Chapman’s legacy: The Johnny Appleseed Education Center and Museum. The museum collection, originally displayed in Bailey Hall on the Urbana University campus, was relocated to the campus gateway at Browne Hall in 2018.

Urbana University’s connection to John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman went back to the middle decades of the 19th century, when Chapman – woodsman, orchardist, entrepreneur, and Swedenborgian missionary – encouraged the founding of a college to prepare young men and women to spread the “good news straight from Heaven” he found in Swedenborg’s writings. Urbana College (later Urbana University) was the fruit of that encouragement, as the apple was the fruit of his orchards.

In 2014 Urbana University, then in dire financial straits, was acquired by Franklin University as a branch campus. Franklin invested roughly $30 million in new or improved programs and facilities at Urbana University over the next six years; but when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in the Spring of 2020, and the State of Ohio closed all college campuses, Franklin, fearing further losses, permanently closed the institution.

Johnny Appleseed Foundation Mission

The Johnny Appleseed Foundation exists to support and further the public’s awareness and understanding of John Chapman (also known as Johnny Appleseed). The Johnny Appleseed Foundation provides resources that support the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum.

The Johnny Appleseed Foundation is a 501c(3) non-for-profit organization.

The Johnny Appleseed Society

Nearly three decades ago, Urbana University faculty and friends came together, in what would become the Johnny Appleseed Society, to spark interest in creating a museum dedicated to the life and work of John Chapman. For information about the Johnny Appleseed Society, contact Jeff Taylor, PO Box 93, Urbana, OH 43078, info@appleseedsociety.net

The Johnny Appleseed Society is a 501c(3) non-for-profit organization.

Browne Hall was the final structure to house the Johnny Appleseed collection at the now-defunct Urbana University. With Franklin University now attempting to sell the campus, the collection must find a new home. Pictured at right is a red banner denoting the former Appleseed presence at Browne Hall.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2021/02/web1_appleseed.jpgBrowne Hall was the final structure to house the Johnny Appleseed collection at the now-defunct Urbana University. With Franklin University now attempting to sell the campus, the collection must find a new home. Pictured at right is a red banner denoting the former Appleseed presence at Browne Hall.
Local foundation asks for community support

By Betsy Coffman

Contributing writer

Betsy Coffman is the president of the Johnny Appleseed Foundation.

Betsy Coffman is the president of the Johnny Appleseed Foundation.