Today in History
History's Happenings for September 26
John Philip Sousa, aka "the March King", was born in 1854 in Washington, DC. In 1867, at the ripe age of thirteen, he was apprenticed to the U. S. Marine Corps Band, the official band of the President of the United States.
Promoted to lead the Band in 1880, Sousa began his distinguished composing career with such military favorites as Semper Fidelis (1888) and the Washington Post March (1889).
In 1892, he quit the Marine Corps to form his own band, and on this day played his first performance in Plainfield, NJ. Sousa's Band, as it was named, toured both the U. S. and the world to great acclaim as Sousa continued to write. His most highly regarded march, The Stars and Stripes Forever, was written in 1897.
Sousa also wrote several short operas, and an autobiography, Marching Along (1928), and invented the Sousaphone -- that huge tuba we see today in virtually every marching band. He died in 1932.
Not much is known of the real -- yes, he was real -- Johnny Appleseed, born John Chapman in Leominster, MA on this day in about 1774. Much of what is known tends to blend into myth or legend.
We do know that he traveled westward in the early 1800's, planting appleseeds across the modern states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and spent the rest of his life tending the orchards and nurseries that arose from his plantings.
The legend that he traveled barefoot with a tin pot on his head rings true in light of his deeply held religion.
Johnny is often credited with the huge variety of wild apple trees spread across the mid-Atlantic and near midwestern states. Given that he devoted his life to their culture, this would not be surprising. And it would take such a huge effort to bear good fruit, since Johnny recovered his seeds from eastern cider presses … even today, a really good apple tree is expected from only about one in ten thousand such seeds. But some of the greatest varieties have been discovered growing wild from that ten thousandth seed.
Despite what must have been a grueling life, Johnny died in 1845, at the ripe (no pun intended) old age of about 71.