Apparently, a real person who became something of a folk legend, who traveled around the frontier planting little apple orchards in the wild for shade and fruit. It was a mission for him, a homely and friendly way of civilizing the wilderness without "developing" it. Here's a romantic version of the legend:
Somewhere, somehow, he had caught a vision of the winderness [sic] blossoming with apple trees, orchard after orchard of carefully nurtured trees, whose fragrant blossoms gave promise of a fruitful harvest for the settlers. Willingly he endured the hardships of his wilderness life as he worked to make his dream come true. His sturdy young trees lightened the hearts and lifted the spirits of many settlers, for there is a suggestion of a permanent and loving home when one plants fruit trees around a cabin.
Much nicer than being an evangelist!