Stories from the Great Black Swamp

painting by Moritz Busch

Contained in this catagory are a series of short stories written by Julius Hermann Moritz Busch, a German, who in October of 1851 spent a week in the Black Swamp and reported his observations in a book entitled – 

"Travels between the Hudson & the Mississippi" (ISBN 0-8131-1251-6).


• Julius Hermann Moritz Busch – the author
• The Legendary "Johnny Appleseed”
• A Walk in the Swamp
• Justice in the Black Swamp
• The Sharpshooters
• The Black Swamp Hotel
• Westward Ho! – “The Movers”
• 1851 – A North-western Ohio Train Ride
• Through the eyes of Thoreau
• The Demoniac Pleasure of Extermination

Julius Hermann Moritz Busch

Julius Hermann Moritz Busch, German publicist, was born at Dresden on the 13th of February 1821. He entered the University of Leipzig in 1841 as a student of theology, but graduated as doctor philosophiae, and from 1847 devoted himself entirely to journalism and literature. The vividness of his descriptions and the cleverness with which the conversations were reported ensured his success. In 1851 he went to America and published an account of his travels between the Hudson and the Mississippi. Busch died at Leipzig on the 16th of November 1899.


The Legendary “Johnny Appleseed”

As recalled by Moritz Busch, 1851

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One strange inhabitant of the Black Swamp was a certain Jonathan Chapman, better known by his nickname, "Johnny Appleseed”. He was an eccentric fellow but one of the most lovable of those reported in the book of human curiosities. Among the crude race of hunters and warriors living along the border, he followed the gentle occupation of a gardener in the desert. Although I never met him, Johnny Appleseed was described to me as a small, deformed man with a long, dark beard and black, sparkling eyes, quick and restless in speech and gesture. Inured to privation and hardship, he often slept in the open during the hardest time of the year, and it frequently happened that he wandered barefoot through the snow for miles.

Without any claim to thanks and reward, he roamed through the inhospitable forest regions to plant them with apple trees. It just happened to be his inclination, as it was the inclination of others to wander through the wilderness as Indian killers. Having followed the advancing civilization from Pennsylvania to Ohio, he always stayed close to the borderline between the furthermost settlements of the whites and the hunting grounds of the redskins. Here, on the rich loam of river margins, he cleared away the underbrush and then planted his apple seeds, whereupon he left the place, to return when the young trees had sprouted. If settlers now came into the region to begin their clearings, Johnny was always ready for them with his seedlings; as a rule, he gave them away free or exchanged them for an old piece of clothing or some other trifle. For long years he continued this blessed activity, until the land was full of the fruits of his labors and he, like those hunting-mad and bloodthirsty nine-killer souls, had to seek new elbowroom for his inclination in the Far West. In the matter of faith he was a follower of Swedenborg, whose writings he distributed along with his apple trees. It thereby occasionally happened that he did not have a sufficient supply of a certain book, so he’d tear one in two and give the two halves to different persons. It was another peculiarity of his that he regarded it as a sin to kill an animal, and in this connection a few typical anecdotes are in circulation. One cold autumn night, sitting before his campfire out in the woods, he observed that the mosquitoes were flying into the flame and being burned. He stood up at once, filled with water the tin vessel that he used as hat, cooking pot, and bowl, and quenched the fire, saying, “God forbid that I, merely for the sake of my comfort, may be the cause of the death of one of my fellow creatures!"

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for more information see – 

"The Story of Johnny Appleseed"

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