Les and Rosie Mohler hired Jerry Ward of Delton, Michigan, to carve the tall stump of a diseased ash tree left on the Sunbury Village Square as part the village of Sunbury’s 2016 bicentennial celebration.
During the carving, Ward would not say who the figure was going to represent; he said he was sworn to secrecy. All anyone would say was that the figure was of someone who visited Sunbury, and left something valuable behind.
It didn’t take long for the secret to get out. Ward’s sculpture is none other than Johnny Appleseed.
Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) was born in 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts, and died in 1845 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. During his lifetime, he traveled on foot, planting apple seeds throughout Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
Myers Inn Museum curator Polly Horn said Johnny Appleseed made a good subject for the bicentennial carving.
“I’ve often wondered about the origin of the old apple orchard on the south side of Granville Street along Prairie Run Creek,” Horn said. “Could these trees be descendants of Johnny’s trees? The spot is beautiful, and until the Granville Street Bridge opened up the route from Columbus Street to Street Route 3, there was no access to this land without fording the stream.”
Horn said Prairie Run Creek comes from the north through Berkshire Township and is close to Taylor Run Creek in Kingston Township, where Johnny Appleseed did stop annually.