Johnny Appleseed

And The Finley Hill Orchard

Finley Hill orchard

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.

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.

Residence of Ebenezer B. and Charlotte Finley. Published in the Illustrated Atlas of Crawford County, 1873
General Ebenezer Finley, Esq.
Bucyrus Forum
August 23, 1906
Postcard of the Ebenezer and Charlotte Finley Residence

Mrs. Charlotte 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. 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 also the founder of the Bucyrus Historical Society,

A single, remaining apple tree planted on the Finley Hill site by Johnny Appleseed survived until 1939.  This beloved tree was referenced in Dr. Daniel Arnold's local history book, "About Bucyrus."

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 new “Tree City USA” designation as well as Johnny Appleseed’s special connection with Finley Hill.

In celebration of the Bucyrus Bicentennial, two certified, Johnny Appleseed clone apple saplings will be planted on Finley Hill during a dedication ceremony on Saturday, September 25, 2021.

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).

 

Elwood Gebhardt throws soil onto the the first Arbor Day tree planted on Finley Hill while Mayor Jeff Reser helps stabilize it.

The clone apple tree saplings will flank a custom-made fiberglass apple made by Persuader Performance Boats, and the apple will be adorned with a custom, copper stem and leaf made by Bucyrus Copper Kettle Works. 

Landscaping work on Finley Hill will commence in late spring in preparation for the dedication ceremony in September.  All landscaping features will help enhance the area and commemorate Johnny Appleseed’s legacy on our beautiful town.  

The dedication ceremony will take place over the weekend of National Johnny Appleseed Day.