And The Finley Hill Orchard
Johnny's Orchard on a Hill in Bucyrus:
The Property Later Known as Finley Hill (Owned By E.B. & Charlotte FinLey)
In Mrs. Maud Alfred’s (the great-granddaugther of Samuel and Mary Norton) Bucyrus Centennial Speech, she described how Johnny Appleseed planted an apple orchard near the Sandusky River in the town known today as Bucyrus.
Several decades after Johnny’s death, General Ebenezer and Mrs. Charlotte Finley bought an extensive hillside property in Bucyrus (1873), thereafter referred to as Finley Hill.
Finley Hill is where Johnny Appleseed planted an apple orchard prior to the arrival of the Norton party in 1819, in the area today known as Bucyrus.
The Finleys were a prominent Bucyrus couple. Ebenezer Byron Finley began studying law in Bucyrus in 1860 and continued until October 1861. He then raised a military company and served in the Civil War for just one year.
Mr. Finley then returned to Bucyrus and was eventually admitted to the Ohio Bar, holding the appointed position of prosecuting attorney of Crawford County for an unexpired term. Later in his career, he was elected as a Democrat to the 45th and 46th U.S. Congresses (March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1881). Finley also served as Adjutant General of Ohio in 1884 and also as a Circuit Judge of the Third Circuit of Ohio. After his political career, General Finley resumed his Bucyrus law practice.
In his free time, General Finley was an amateur historian and archeologist. He was credited with finding evidence for and locating the exact site of the ancient Native American village, Seccaium, located just outside Bucyrus.
Tree Loaded with Fruit
In 1906, the Bucyrus Forum reported on a single, apple tree planted by Johnny Appleseed still living on the Finley’s property.
More than 100 years old at the time, the apple tree was still “loaded with fine fruit.” In this newspaper article, community members were highly encouraged to request from the Finleys some “good cooking apples” from their legendary and prolific apple tree.
General Ebenezer Byron Finley died on August 22, 1916. Mrs. Charlotte Finley died in 1929. Both General and Mrs. Finley are buried in Bucyrus Oakwood Cemetery.
In 1932, Dr. Daniel and Mrs. Mildred Arnold purchased the former Finley Hill property. A single, remaining apple tree planted by Johnny Appleseed on Finley Hill survived until 1939.
The Arnolds lived in the house on Finley Hill until 1948.
Dr. Daniel Arnold was the founder of the Bucyrus Historical Society. He also authored the book, “About Bucyrus,” which includes a chapter about Johnny Appleseed in Bucyrus.
Pre-sale orders of Dr. Arnold’s republished book can be found here on our website.
Mrs. Charlotte Finley and the Presbyterian Dolls
Mrs. Charlotte Codding Finley was a beloved teacher with the Bucyrus City Schools System. She was also recognized as the mother of some of Bucyrus’s leading clubs, including the New Era Club, the Northside Reading Circle, and other small organizations. With the help of Susan Kearsley, Charlotte Finley also organized the Crocus Club.
Mrs. Finley also established the doll-making project at the First Presbyterian Church.
In 1885, Mrs. Charoltte Finley also established the doll-making project at the First Presbyterian Church in Bucyrus, Ohio. She was the head of the project throughout the “First” and “Second” Periods. The dolls were handmade entirely of cloth with a painted face. There are some hallmarks of these now world-famous Presbyterian dolls, including:
- A gusset piece at the bottom, allowing the doll to sit alone. (At one time, they were the only cloth doll made to maintain a sitting position)
- A gusset piece in the head, giving the appearance of a headband
- Presbyterian dolls (particularly of the second-fourth period) were dressed for play in a matching prairie-style bonnet, or a petticoat and bloomers with matching lace edging, hand-tatting at the hem, socks, and boot-style shoes.
What began as an individual doll-making project by the women of the church, eventually turned into an assembly line, of sorts, with each woman contributing to the process according to her talents and skills. For a century, the women worked on the dolls from their homes and as a group in meetings or sewing circles.
The doll-making ended during the Fourth Period (in 1984).
The now world-famous “Presbyterian Dolls” are cherished by doll collectors across the globe. Grace Kelly was known to have once owned a Presbyterian Doll.
In 1913, 16 years before her death, Charlotte Finley personally passed down the Presbyterian Doll patterns to an apprentice.
Finley Hill Today
Finley Hill is the current site of Arby’s restaurant and is located across the street from the Bucyrus Community Hospital.
In 2017, Bucyrus’s first official Arbor Day tree (a maple tree) was planted on the side of Finley Hill as a dual tribute to the city’s “Tree City USA” status as well as Johnny Appleseed’s special connection with Finley Hill.
Johnny Appleseed's Legacy in Bucyrus
In honor of both Johnny Appleseed’s and the Norton Family’s legacies, two certified, Johnny Appleseed clone apple saplings will be planted in the future Norton Bicentennial Greenspace.
The new, Norton Bicentennial Greenspace will be located just a short distance south of Finley Hill, where Johnny’s orchard once thrived.
The two apple tree saplings were purchased from Silvercreek Nursery, the official supplier of genuine Johnny Appleseed apple tree clones.
Silvercreek Nursery grows these clone saplings by grafting semi-dwarf rootstock with the buds from one of the last known surviving apple trees originally planted by Johnny Appleseed in Nova, Ohio (just outside of Savannah, Ohio).
The clone apple tree saplings will flank a custom-made fiberglass apple made by Persuader Performance Boats. The apple will be adorned with a custom, copper stem and leaf made by Bucyrus Copper Kettle Works.
All related landscaping features will commemorate Johnny Appleseed’s legacy and help beautify our town.