Well, it’s another glorious fall. The weather has been mild, the colors are bright, and each day seems better than the last.
On the history front, not much is new, probably because everything happened in the past. In all seriousness, however, things are moving along nicely at the museum, even amid the pandemic.
Lester Schuft will visit the museum at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, to meet with our members' Breakfast Club. In addition, volunteers are currently building a timber-framed barn inside the Steffel Wing Addition. We hope that the exhibit is up and ready for viewing by year’s end.
Aside from a little news, I thought this week would be a good opportunity to break from the regular local history articles and offer another bit of strange historical happenings.
A STRANGE FACE ON FIRST DOLLAR BILL
Everybody loves a few bucks in their pocket, and, of course, everybody knows that George Washington’s face appears on the $1 bill. That wasn’t always the case, however, as the nation’s first president did not grace the dollar bill until 1869.
The first $1 bill was issued in 1862 during the Civil War. Salmon P. Chase was secretary of the treasury at that time and was the designer of the nation’s first bank notes. Because of this, it was Chase who appeared on the first dollar.
JOHNNY APPLESEED LIVES ON IN OHIO
Being that it’s autumn, you’ll probably be enjoying a red and ripe homegrown apple at some point. Personally, I think there’s nothing better than the taste of a juicy apple plucked right out of a tree — a store boughten counterpart does not even come close.
While you’re enjoying that apple, you might be reminded of an American folk hero named Johnny Appleseed — the happy go lucky man who wore a pot for a hat and wandered the countryside, randomly planting apple trees wherever he roamed.
What not everyone realizes, however, is that Johnny Appleseed was a real person. His real name was John Chapmann, and he was an apple orchardist. He traveled around the eastern states and planted apple nurseries everywhere he went. He’d plant the trees, build fences around the nurseries, and return to them each year to tend to the trees. Once the orchard was established, he’d turn around and sell them to settlers in the region. He was known for wearing threadbare clothes and preferred to walk barefoot.
On a side note, most of his orchards were used to make homemade alcohol, and during prohibition, federal agents destroyed most of the orchards that Appleseed had planted in the century prior. It is said that one of his trees is still living today, however, in Nova, Ohio.
ZACHARY TAYLOR'S DEATH BY CHERRIES?
Since 2020 is an election year, you might be getting tired of hearing about American presidents. If that’s the case, well, here’s one more to annoy you.
The 12th president of the United States was a former major general named Zachary Taylor. Taylor was known widely for his exploits during the U.S. Mexican War. He was elected president in 1849 but only served 16 months before dying while in office.
On July 4, 1850, Taylor consumed copious amounts of raw cherries, iced milk (ice cream), milk and water. In the days to follow, he became gravely ill and eventually died. His doctors were confounded and blamed the death on cholera.
Some modern physicians, however, attribute Taylor’s death to gastroenteritis, a condition caused by large quantities of highly acidic fruit and fresh milk.
OLD HICKORY AND HIS PROFANE PARROT
Here’s one more presidential fact, then I’ll stop, I promise. You’ve likely heard of America’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson. He could be described as a president who was slightly “rough around the edges.” He was a soldier, famous for his exploits during the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans.
Jackson was not a typical politician; he favored taking power from political elites and placing it in the hands of ordinary people. He was also brash, quick to speak his mind, and could be vulgar at times.
What people don’t know is that Jackson had a pet parrot. The bird’s name was — you guessed it — Polly. Like his owner, Polly wasn’t a typical parrot. Like others of his kind, he learned to talk by mimicking his owner. Unlike others of his kind, however, Polly was vulgar and cursed like a sailor.
According to legend, during Jackson’s funeral, Polly had to be removed from the room for his profane comments.