Kane County History: Elgin Is The Apple of Illinois Bicentennial's Eye

Kane County History: Elgin Is The Apple of Illinois Bicentennial’s Eye

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was submitted by Elizabeth Marston, director of the Elgin History Museum.
  • FEATURE PHOTO CAPTION: Elgin residents Mary Ellen and Carl Flaks at the Apple Tree Dedication for Bicentennial 2018. (CREDIT: Elgin History Museum.)

Illinois is celebrating its 200th birthday in 2018 — and Elgin just might be the apple of everyone’s eye.

The Illinois State Historical Society has developed a program to observe this special occasion. An ISHS donor family has provided for small commemorative trees to be planted in each of Illinois’ 102 counties.

City of Elgin staff plant the apple tree — just like Johnny.

These trees are descendants of apple trees planted in Illinois in the early days of the 19th century by John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed.

Chapman planted apple nurseries in the early days of the 19th century in Illinois as well as Indiana, Ohio, and other states to the east, using seeds from a cider mill near his original home in Pennsylvania. He then sold apple trees to settlers.

During Chapman’s barefoot travels, he stayed with friends along the route and planted trees for them as well. The last known surviving tree planted by Chapman was at the Alego Farm in Nova, OH, which was one of his wayside stops.

Terry Lynch speaks in Elgin.

Some claim it is a Rambo apple, but most arborists just call the tree the “Johnny Appleseed” variety. Unlike the mid-summer Rambo, the Johnny Appleseed variety rips in September and is a baking-applesauce variety similar to an Albemarle Pippin apple.

Fresh scionwood from an original tree was used to grow 102 Johnny Appleseed trees for planting throughout Illinois. The ISHS offer these trees on a first-come, first-served basis.

Carl and Mary Ellen Flaks, of Elgin, purchased a special Bicentennial “Johnny Appleseed” tree for the Elgin History Museum to represent Kane County. City of Elgin staff planted the State of Illinois Bicentennial Apple Tree on Oct. 25, outside the Elgin History Museum.

This past Sunday, April 8, the Elgin History Museum hosted a Bicentennial Birthday Bash program from Terry Lynch called “History For Kids.” The tree was also publicly dedicated and the donors recognized.

Celebrate the Bicentennial!

HFK Bicentennial Minutes


Learn about Illinois history, people, and places every day of this Bicentennial year.


Laura & Terry’s Illinois Adventure!

Laura and Terry Lynch will travel to all 102 counties in Illinois.

Learn about the history, people and places in Illinois.

It is must-see video!

Did you miss an episode? You can always watch previous episodes on our YouTube Channel: “Laura & Terry’s Illinois Adventure”

History For Kids Website

Check out the History for Kids website!

State of Illinois Bicentennial

See what the state is planning to do to celebrate all year long at https://illinois200.com/