Where Simon Truby’s Kids Lived

The Apples Didn’t Fall Far from the Tree

All 9 of Simon Truby’s children grew up in the brick farmhouse he built around 1844. That house, which still stands today at 708 Terrace Ave in Apollo PA, must’ve lived large in the Truby kids’ memories even after they’d moved out and on with their lives—probably like that intense mix of emotions most of us can feel about our own childhood homes. You might imagine the Truby children roaming the farm and grabbing apples & pears from Simon’s orchards, or maybe catching crayfish in Sugar Hollow Run along today’s N 11th Street. Farm chores too were surely part of their daily lives. It might have felt magical to grow up on this modest Western Pennsylvania farm, or it might have felt gawd awful. Or maybe something in between. We can’t know for sure, but we can guess!

For whatever reasons—maybe fondness or failures—Simon Truby’s children stayed close to home once they reached adulthood. Many of his grandkids did, too. Most bought property from Simon or his estate after his death, etching out their own homes on former farmland.

Of course, there’s a tale to tell about each of Simon’s children. For now, though, we’ll focus on where these folks lived in adulthood.  At the end of the article, you’ll find a link to an interactive map showing where some of Simon Truby’s children and grandkids lived. And if you have any stories or photos of the houses or their owners, please share by commenting at the end of this article. Continue reading

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Mary Jane Truby & William H Henry

Sorrow and Suicide

Mary Jane Truby was the first-born child of wealthy farmer and landowner Simon Truby of Apollo PA. So you might have expected that she’d be destined for a life of privilege & ease. But Mary Jane Truby’s life instead seemed marked by heartbreak and tragedy. Though she’d married into another prominent local family—the Henrys—the secure life that Mary Jane and her husband tried to build for their children had crumbled away before their eldest child had turned 16. Continue reading

It’s Time for a Commercial Break

Apollo’s Historic Business Buildings

Those of you who’ve been following the Truby Farmhouse Blog know we’ve occasionally taken a sidetracked look at the local historic structures described in the 1980-81 Armstrong County Historic Sites Survey. To date we’ve looked primarily at the residential buildings highlighted in the survey. But it turns out, several commercial buildings were also deemed noteworthy by the architectural historians who came to town, including 2 businesses built on lots that were once part of Simon Truby’s farmland in Apollo, Pennsylvania. Continue reading

Nellie Bly Dwells on Simon Truby’s Farm

Farmer Truby aids a widow & gives Nellie Bly a home

historicmarker

Historic marker at the 500 block of Terrace Ave in Apollo, PA, where Nellie Bly lived briefly (for less than 2 years) as a child.

Most of us who’ve lived and loved in the western Pennsylvania town of Apollo have heard that the daring, world-famous journalist Nellie Bly (1864-1922) grew up in a mansion on the 500 block of Terrace Avenue—a fact attested to by the historic marker on that block. But you may not know that Nellie Bly lived for only a couple of years in that mansion. Her mom and siblings were forced to vacate mere months after the death of Nellie’s father, Judge Michael Cochran, in 1870. Continue reading

Simon Truby Makes the Grade!

It’s kind of like the Academy Awards of Apollo PA. Earning a mention in one of the town’s official history books, published every 25 years, is quite an honor. It helps to ensure that hometown facts, figures, faces, and places important to Apollo’s past will be remembered for years to come. So it’s awesome that Apollo’s new bicentennial bookApollo: Pride in Our Past; Faith in Our Future—includes a page devoted to Simon Truby, his farm, and house. Thank you Bicentennial Committee for the shout-out! Continue reading

Location, Location, Location

Simon Truby Cashes In on the Good Earth

How can you make a quick buck? Definitely not through farming! Farming requires dedication, resilience, and patience. If you were Simon Truby’s farmhand in 1880, you’d have to work plenty hard to help him raise a cool $225! You’d help him pick the 300 bushels of apples and peaches his farm produced that year, which could bring in about 35 cents a bushel, or $105 total. And you’d help sow and reap his 350 bushels of oats to earn just over $120 in sales. That $225 profit would quickly dwindle away, though, when you consider the associated costs of farm upkeep, such as mending fences, plowing, irrigation, paying laborers, etc. A tough life!

On the other hand, Simon Truby found that he could rake in about $200 for selling just over one-tenth of an acre of land in Apollo, or a plot of about 4,800 square feet. And Simon had plenty of land—156 acres to be exact. Demand for that land grew considerably throughout the second half of the 19th century, as Apollo’s businesses and industries continued to expand.

Land records show that Simon Truby sold more than 50 residential lots in today’s Apollo and North Apollo during his lifetime. Most of these lots were along today’s North 6th and North 7th streets. Some were in Pegtown, next to the Kiski River a little north of Apollo. Strangely enough, nearly one-third of Simon’s real estate sales were to women—including widows—which seems somewhat unusual for that time.

After Simon’s death, of course, his entire farm would be divvied up into hundreds of residential lots. But for the moment, let’s keep the focus on the land Simon himself sold between the 1860s and his death in 1886.

Apollo Expands to Include Truby Farm’s Lower Corner

In the early days, Simon Truby’s farm was located to the north of the town of Apollo/Warren, in what was then called Kiskiminitas Township, and his land was mostly uninhabited. But the successes of industries along the Kiski River changed all that. Growing businesses like the iron rolling mill needed a local labor force. So the tiny borough of Apollo decided to extend its purview over neighboring lands to the north.

With the stroke of a pen—and additional legislative paperwork—Apollo borough more than doubled its size in 1859, growing from about 60 acres (yellow in the map below) to approximately 130 acres under the Act of March 31, 1859 (P.L. 328). Under this Act, the annexation of Apollo borough not only included the iron rolling mill; it also extended significantly into Simon Truby’s farmland, including his brick house that still stands on today’s Terrace Ave in Apollo (see map below).

1861-apolloboro-trubyfarm1859annexation_yellow

Apollo in 1861. The borough’s size prior to the 1859 addition is highlighted in yellow. The annexation to Apollo borough, outlined in red, more than doubled the size of the town. This new addition to Apollo significantly encroached on Simon Truby’s farmland (outlined in light blue in the upper right corner of this map; Simon’s property actually extended well beyond the borders of this map to the north and east).

Follow the River. Why did the borough extend its boundaries to the north instead of stretching further inland, to the east? Successful industries like the nail factory and rolling mill—and later the steel mill—needed to be situated next to the Kiskiminitas River, which provided energy and also helped to transport goods. Apollo borough surely wanted a piece of that industrial action and tax base! So the borough’s boundaries expanded northward and kept to the Kiski River.

Besides taking in a corner of Simon Truby’s farm, the 1859 addition to Apollo borough also included land owned by James Guthrie, and some vested in John B. Chambers.

Three regional history books mention the new plots of land laid out by Truby, Chambers, Guthrie, and others in Apollo borough: T J Henry’s History of Apollo, Pennsylvania (1916, page 25); J H Beers’s Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Her People Past and Present (1914, chapter 15); and R W Smith’s History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania (1883, page 241).

Only the oldest of these books—Smith’s history—goes into enough detail to outline the boundaries of the Truby, Chambers, and Guthrie properties that were divided into residential lots. Since Apollo’s street names have changed since 1883, I’ve included the current street names in brackets:

“A considerable portion of the territory annexed to the borough by the act of March 31, 1859, became vested in John B. Chambers, who caused forty-five building, or in-lots, and twenty-one out-lots, to be surveyed and laid out, December 4, 1865. The portion of Canal Street  [Warren Ave] in this plot is thirty-three feet wide, and those portions of Church, Locust, Wood, State, and Union streets [Pennsylvania, Armstrong, and Terrace avenues, North 5th and N 4th streets] within it are, respectively, forty feet wide.

Adjoining and above this plot, extending to the alley between and parallel to Mill and Maple streets [N 2nd and N 3rd streets], and between Church and Canal streets [Pennsylvania and Warren avenues], is a smaller plot, laid out about the same time by James Guthrie, and below and adjoining it i.e., the Chambers plot, is another plot more recently laid out by Simon Truby, through which extend, nearly east and west, First and Second streets [N 6th and N 7th streets].”

—From Smith’s History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, page 241.

 

Based on Smith’s description, and a look at land deeds as well, we can outline the properties laid out by Truby, Guthrie, and Chambers after the 1859 annexation of Apollo:

 

1876-apollo-pomeroy-trubychambersguthrie

Apollo in 1876. By this time, landowners Simon Truby (blue), John Chambers (red), and James Guthrie (green) had divided portions of their properties into residential lots, and most of these lots had already been sold. New owners’ names are listed in the rectangles; black squares indicate a home or building. Empty rectangles indicate still-unsold lots. Note that Apollo’s street names have changed since 1876:  Second Street is now N 7th Street, and First Street is now N 6th Street. North Street is now First Street; Maple Street is now N 3rd Street; Union Street is N 4th Street; State Street is N 5th Street; and Wood Street is Terrace Ave, which was only 2 blocks long at that time.

 

As the map above shows, by 1876, most of these “new” residential or retail lots had already been sold. When the deeds were drawn up, they noted, for example, that a property was “Lot 11 in the Truby Addition to Apollo” (this property is today a vacant lot at the corner of Armstrong & N 6th street); or a deed might note that the property is “Lot 4 in the Chambers Addition to Apollo.”  Some deeds call these lots the “Simon Truby Subdivision.” Modern deeds for Apollo properties no longer use this language. But some deeds even as late as the 1970s continued to note which “addition” a property belonged to, and which original landowner had surveyed the lot.

The 1876  map indicates that Simon had already sold more than 20 of his lots by 1876. If these were sold at approximately $200 each, Simon would have more than recouped the original $3,000 he laid out to buy his entire 156-acre property from Dr. James R and Hetty Speer in 1843. That’s a decent return on his investment!

Among the first residential lots Simon sold was lot 34 in the Truby Addition to Apollo Borough, which today is at 404 N 7th Street. In the 1876 map above, this lot is the narrow rectangle labeled “R O Hunter” at the upper edge of the blue-shaded Truby Addition. In 1891, R O Hunter and his wife Margaret sold this property to Oliver Artman. The photo below shows that house today, and the hand-drawn map below shows the house as it appeared in 1896.

n-7thst-baums-lot34-in-truby-addition

Lot 34 in the Truby Addition to Apollo Borough, today at 404 N 7th Street, was owned by R O Hunter in 1876. (Photo by Vicki Contie, May 2016)

1896-inset-trubysubdivision

Apollo in 1896. This inset of an 1896 hand-drawn map of Apollo shows Lots 34 and 9 in the Truby Subdivision of Apollo, as described in this blog article. By 1896 (10 years after Simon Truby’s death) most the properties that he himself sold or intended to sell now had homes and families. (See the full version of this 1896 map at the Library of Congress)

 

Simon & wife Elizabeth Truby sold Lot 9 in the Truby Addition to 60-year-old widow Mary Eakman on May 28, 1872. More than 30 years later, another widow—Belle Truby Carpenter (Simon Truby’s daughter)—would end up living in this same house, and it would later be inherited by her son Charles Winchester Carpenter and his wife Jesse after Belle’s death in 1927. This property is located at 504 N 6th Street in Apollo (see photo below).

504-n6th-maryeakman

This property at 504 N 6th Street in Apollo was originally Lot 9 in the Simon Truby Addition to the borough. Simon sold the lot to 60-year-old widow Mary Eakman in 1872. Decades later, Simon’s widowed daughter Belle Truby Carpenter would end up renting and eventually owning this property, which passed to Belle’s son after her death in 1927. (Photo by Vicki Contie, May 2016)

 

In upcoming blog posts, look for more info about various houses in the Truby Addition to Apollo Borough. And coming soon: Get the scoop on Simon’s brother, Capt Henry Truby of Gilpin Twp near Leechburg.

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Please help to preserve Apollo’s history by becoming a member of the Apollo Area Historical Society at apollopahistory.wordpress.com/become-a-member.

Catch you soon!

-Vicki

 

Simon Truby in the Books

Hunting for Hints in Regional Histories

A Man of Many Hats

Apollo’s Simon Truby (1806-1886) listed his occupation as Farmer in census records and historic maps. But dig into the local history books, and brief mentions of Simon Truby help piece together a broader picture of the man.

Man's Chip Hat

Man’s chip hat. Circa 1832. Made in U.S. of straw, silk, & grosgrain ribbon. Image courtesy www.lacma.org

Turns out, Simon Truby was a man of many hats. He was not only a prolific farmer but also a sawmill operator, a coal miner, a founding member of Apollo’s Lutheran church, a real estate developer, and a gentleman who sported a chip hat. Most of these details were found only in the history books, and not in any of the other records I’ve examined to date. And the details provide ideas for further investigation via other types of records.

We’re lucky that today many century-old regional history books—at one time hard to find—are now available and searchable online. But even when they’re on the web, these books can sometimes be tricky to find and clunky to search. And the info they provide is sometimes incomplete….for  example, strangely enough, none of the history books seem to mention that Simon Truby was a farmer. So always supplement book research with other types of records. I’ll include links to some of these books at the end of the article. Check them out and see if any of your forebears are mentioned in these western PA histories.

Local Ledgers: Earliest Traces of Simon

The earliest book I could find that mentions Simon Truby was not online but was housed at the awesome Apollo Area Historical Society. It’s a ledger book dated 1833….OK, it’s not a published history book. But it is a book with quotidian information about Apollo’s hard-working farmer. The unnamed ledger shows that Simon Truby was buying up plenty of oats and hay between April & October, and he’d hired a Captain Drum to haul some boards from Freeport, presumably via the old Pennsylvania Canal. That same book shows that Simon’s brother Henry was buying tea, coffee, and sugar—a man after my own heart. (Read more about Simon’s brother Capt Henry Truby of Gilpin Twp in Copycat Brothers?).

SimonTruby-1833 Ledger

This ledger book notes that Simon Truby purchased 29 bushels of oats, at 25 cents each, between April 30 and October 15, 1833. A bushel is about 32 pounds of oats. Simon also paid capt Drum 25 cents cash for hauling boards at Freeport. On August 3, 1833, Simon bought “Oats & Rye.” And on January 13, 1835, Simon bought 3 bushels of oats “for father.”

It’s not clear from these records where Simon was living in 1833, when he was 27 years old, although his purchases of oats suggest he was living or working on a farm. He was probably still a bachelor, since his first wife, Sarah Woodward, would have been only 14 at that time. In 1833, Simon hadn’t yet bought the 156-acre farm that straddled today’s Apollo and North Apollo. His name doesn’t show up in the 1830 census, so he may have been living with someone else, possibly his parents, John and Mary Truby, who were living in Allegheny Twp, as this region was then known. In fact, the Apollo ledger book mentions that Simon had purchased 3 bushels of oats “for father.”

Chip Hats: A Local Fashion Trend?  Another ledger book, dated 1838, shows that Simon had purchased a chip hat for 25 cents, possibly like the one shown above. A chip hat, fashionable in the early 1800s, is a bonnet or hat made of wood split into small slips, according to an 1898 encyclopedia http://bit.ly/1IWpZCp. Simon bought the hat in Warren, as Apollo was then known. The same page in the ledger book also indicates that someone named James Barr had purchased 2 chip hats and a pint of brandy earlier in the month.

Simon’s Sawmill

At some point around 1856, Simon Truby owned and operated a sawmill that was near the “old basin,” according to Dr. T. J. Henry’s History of Apollo (page 99). Fed by the canal, the basin was a favorite skating park. Water in the basin helped to power the nail factory/iron mill and possibly Simon Truby’s sawmill as well. From Dr. Henry’s book:

“The old basin was a reservoir extending from North Fifth to North Seventh Street, on the west of the present railway. It was from eight to fifteen feet deep. It was the supply for water-power for the rolling mill. The waste wier was at the northwest corner, where the unused water ran into the river. Simon Truby had a sawmill at this point. This was a favorite skating park. After the dam at Roaring Run broke in 1866 the water supply for the basin was impossible. The only remaining evidence of this vast pond is the depression in the `Y` at the foot of Seventh Street.”

Keep T. J. Henry’s description in mind when you look at this 1861 map of Apollo (below). Henry says the northwest corner of the basin (i.e., the upper left corner) has a waste weir (or spillway),  where Simon’s sawmill was located. Note the square labeled “S.M.” at this corner. Mightn’t  that stand for Saw Mill? I’m guessing yes.

1861-Basin&Sawmill

Apollo in 1861. The location of the “old basin” is shown in blue. Based on T J Henry’s description in the History of Apollo, Simon Truby’s sawmill was likely located at the dot labeled “SM,” at the top of the basin.

The original map doesn’t seem to include a legend or key. Without T.J. Henry’s book, we might never have guessed what those letters stand for, and we’d never suspect a link to Simon Truby. That’s the power of multiple sources of information!

Powered by Coal

After the “old basin” washed away in the flood of 1866, the rolling mill needed an additional power supply, so it turned to coal. Lucky for the mill owners, Simon Truby’s property included coal banks along Sugar Hollow Road, underneath North Apollo (then known as Luxemburg Heights). Truby’s coal was sometimes used to heat the mill’s furnaces,  according to T J Henry’s history (pages 55-56):

“The works were run by coal. Part of the time this was taken out from the Truby mines under Luxemburg Heights. The coal was hauled in cars on a wooden railroad from the mines to the mill. Horses were used for this. At the time of the great epidemic of Epizootic among horses, the mill company was compelled to haul their coal with teams of oxen.”

[By the way, if you have a minute or 2, check out the link to the Epizootic (which means an epidemic among animals). In 1872, a terrible horse flu swept across the country in a matter of months, from the east to the west coast. It wiped out horses everywhere, or left them weak and tired, and it greatly harmed agriculture and travel. Clearly, it affected Apollo as well.  Who knew?]

horse_railway_in_coal_mine

A horse hauls coal along a rail system from mines in Lick Run PA, circa 1909-1932. Simon Truby’s coal-hauling operation likely looked similar. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

T.J. Henry’s History of Apollo is one of only 2 sources I’ve found to date that mentions Simon Truby’s coal banks. (The other source was a codicil to his will, dated 1879, but the value and productivity of the mines are not described.)I’ve tried without success to uncover more details about Simon Truby’s coal-mining operations.

Do you know anything about the location or other info about old coal mines along Sugar Hollow Road, below North Apollo? If yes, please comment at the end of this blog post. Would love to know more about this long-gone resource.

Incidentally, about the rolling mill: It changed hands several times over the decades.By 1866, it was owned by Rogers & Burchfield (they later opened a factory in Leechburg as well). As industrial innovators, Rogers & Burchfield sought ways to move away from coal power, and they began experimenting with using the region’s plentiful natural gas to heat mill furnaces. By 1874, “gas was substituted with success, the first use of this clean fuel in the United States,” according to Capital’s Utopia: Vandergrift Pennsylvania, 1855-1916 (Anne E. Mosher, 2004, Johns Hopkins University Press, pages 26-27).

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Life Among the Lutherans

luth1

The Union Evangelical Lutheran Church, built in 1861 on First Street in Apollo, PA. This building no longer exists. Today Apollo’s Lutheran Church is located at 214 N Pennsylvania Ave. Photo courtesy of Apollo Area Historical Society.

Simon Truby was a charter member of the Union Evangelical Lutheran Church, a forerunner of today’s First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Apollo. Built in 1861, according to Smith’s History of Armstrong County Pennsylvania (Chapter 10), the original church was a wood frame structure, 38 by 50 feet, and located on First Street, a little down the hill from today’s Presbyterian Church.

The Lutheran church’s charter was dated June 2, 1862, and charter members included not just Simon Truby but also John H. Townsend, George Gumbert, J.F. Cline, and Isaac Townsend, Jr.

The Apollo Area Historical Society has a terrific web page about the Lutheran Church and other Apollo churches as well.

Incidentally, Simon’s second wife, Elizabeth Hill Truby (daughter of Jacob & Hannah Ulam Hill of Parks Twp) had also been raised a Lutheran. Her family belonged to the Lutheran Church of Leechburg (as mentioned in the Beers history of Armstrong County, PA, see here).

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Real Estate Developer

As Apollo’s iron mill and other industries grew and expanded, so did the need for a nearby workforce. And of course, workers and their families needed to places to live. To accommodate these changes, the borough began to extend its boundaries to the north and to the east, into mostly undeveloped territory.

In 1859, a new annexation to Apollo more than doubled the size of the borough. The borough now encroached on lands owned by Simon Truby, John B Chambers, and James Guthrie, who recognized there was  money to be made by dividing their properties into residential lots and selling them. So that’s exactly what they did.

Three regional history books mention the new plots of land laid out by Truby, Chambers, Guthrie, and others: T J Henry’s History of Apollo, Pennsylvania (1916); J H Beers’s Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Her People Past and Present (1914); and R W Smith’s History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania (1883, page 241). These books don’t go into great detail about these new residential lots. But by supplementing the book info with some research into the land records, you can piece together clues to the history of Apollo’s houses and neighborhoods.

Look for upcoming blog posts to learn more about these residential additions to Apollo borough in 1859. For instance, see Location, Location, Location.

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Simon’s “Unmentionable” Farm?

Plenty of records—especially the Federal census and Simon’s will/estate documents—clearly show that Simon considered farming to be his primary pursuit (read more at Apollo’s Thriving Farm). But for unknown reasons, the Truby farm and Simon’s agricultural efforts aren’t mentioned in any of the history books I’ve found to date.

This demonstrates why it’s important to track down a variety of records when doing genealogical research. Don’t rely on a single type of source. With books alone, we’d never have known that Simon Truby was a farmer!  Still, the books provided details about Simon that I hadn’t found anywhere else.

Strangely enough, the Truby farm and Simon’s agricultural efforts aren’t mentioned in any of the history books I’ve found to date. …. Don’t rely on history books alone!

Check out the regional histories below to see if any of your forebears are mentioned. If you discover anything cool, please let us know by writing comments at the end of this article.

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Regional Histories on the Web

Good luck with your research!

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Up Next:  Location, Location, Location – Residential additions to Apollo circa 1859

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Architectural Old Gems in North Apollo PA

North Apollo Homes in the 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey

When it comes to local towns, the borough of North Apollo at age 86 is really a sprightly young whippersnapper compared to the wizened, wise, slightly eccentric but always beloved 200-year-old grandpappy of Apollo PA. Despite its youth, North Apollo has some stately old homes built decades before the borough was incorporated. And some “newcomers” built during the Roaring 20s are also architectural lookers.

In fact, a dozen North Apollo houses were identified in an old county report as having some sort of historical/architectural significance. Many of the homeowners may have no clue that their houses were featured in this 35-year-old government survey, or that their residence is (or was) considered a sterling example of a certain type of local architecture.

Ever Heard of Luxemburg Heights?

After the 1890s, a community known as Luxemburg Heights was mapped out on the northern remains of Simon Truby’s farm. Today that community is located in the southwest corner of North Apollo borough. As you may already know if you’ve been reading the Truby Farmhouse Blog, North Apollo’s Pegtown was also laid out on Simon Truby’s farmland.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance map below from 1915 shows the layout and homes in the Luxemburg Heights community 100 years ago. All of the streets and residential lots on this map, as far to the right as N 16th Street, used to be Simon Truby’s farmland. The oval fairgrounds near the bottom of the map and the lands below had belonged to Simon’s farmer friend George Washington Hildebrand.

1915-NorthApollo_LoRez-Sheet_8 copy

1915 map of Luxemburg Heights, which today is at the southwestern end of North Apollo borough. This residential community, above the oval Apollo Fairgrounds, was mapped out on Simon Truby’s farmland several years after his death in 1886. Can you find your home – or a friend’s home – on this map?    Sanborn Fire Insurance Map.

Historic Sites Survey

If you read my earlier Truby Farmhouse articles, you may already know about Armstrong County’s 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey, in which the county hired architectural historians to visit and photograph dozens of locations county-wide. They wrote up a 1- or 2-page report for each property. Most people didn’t realize their house(s) had been included in this survey. In most cases, the experts simply viewed the houses from the outside, without knocking on doors, and wrote up their very interesting but brief reports.

Below are most of the 12 North Apollo homes described in the 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey, starting with the oldest houses still standing. About half of these dwellings were built on Simon Truby’s old farm. All but 1 or 2 of the 12 listed homes still exist. There were 3 dwellings I couldn’t find–on Spring St, Moore Ave, & Hickory Nut Road–but I’ll bet at least the Moore Ave house is still around. Can you help? The 3 un-found houses are highlighted in Yellow  below.  

North Apollo’s Old Timers: I Houses & a 4-Over-4

As described in an earlier post, I-Houses & 4-Over-4 houses were common in Western Pennsylvania in the late 1700s and early 1800s. I-Houses have 2 rooms on each floor with a central hallway. 4-Over-4 houses are 2 rooms wide and 2 rooms deep, with a central hallway that runs from the front to the back of the house. Three I-houses and one 4-Over-4 in North Apollo–all likely built in the late 1800s–were included in the County’s 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey Report.

I-HOUSES
LoRez-Kirkman-GroveSt-NA-IhouseIMG_20160530_125514820

Kirkman I-House on Grove Street, built c. 1886. Photo by Vicki Contie, May 2016.

The gorgeous Kirkman I-House on Grove Street–see the large photo at the very top of this article–was built in 1886, according to tax assessment records. It’s one of North Apollo’s oldest remaining farmhouses. Special thank you to Vivian Shaeffer, whose grandparents Nellie (Boarts) and Thomas H. Kirkman had long lived in this house, having purchased it in 1956 from the Noel family. Over Memorial Day weekend, Vivian connected me with her mom, Carole Kennedy, who co-owns the house today. And Carole was kind enough to give us a tour of their lovely family home and surrounding land.

The 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey notes that this vernacular I-house has 2 stories, 5 bays (a bay is a window or door), and a frame construction. A front-facing gable interrupts the roofline. A rear wing—added later gives the building a distinctive T-shape. In the 1896 map a few paragraphs below, a blue arrow points to a drawing of this treasure of a house.

Carole says that this house was originally built by a Hildebrand. I’m still researching the details as to which Hildebrand, as the original landowner—George Washington Hildebrand—had died before this house was built in 1886. I suspect the house may have been built by one of George’s sons. More to come.

The Reefer House of North Apollo is another grand old I-House—this one built in 1892, according to tax assessments. Located near PA Route 66 at Clark Ave and N 15th Street, this 2-story 3-bay dwelling has a gabled roof and 2 exterior brick chimneys.

Reefer-1421-Rte66-NA-IhouseIMG_20160530_160449918_HDR

Reefer I-House at the intersection of Clark & N 15th Street, built in 1892, was 1 of 5 similar houses on this block. All 5 of these houses were built on Simon Truby’s farmland. Photo by Vick Contie, May 2016.

The county’s 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey report notes that:

“The [Reefer house] is one of a row of 5 houses of identical design, built as single-family dwellings during the late 19th Century. All of these buildings appear on a 1896 panoramic map of the Apollo area.

PA Route 66, a major Armstrong County highway that now fronts these houses, appears on the map as a narrow insignificant road. At that time this road provided access to nearby Apollo Borough for the sparsely settled hilltop area, which developed into North Apollo Borough in the 20th Century. … When surveyed, this house was vacant and undergoing renovation.”

Here’s a close-up of a portion of the 1896 panoramic map described above, featuring today’s North Apollo. The 5 similar houses are circled and labeled in red, with the Reefer house at the far left. The Kirkman I-House is labeled with a blue arrow.  Click on the map to open up a larger version, or click here.

1896-NAclose-up-Reefer&Kirkman

Close-up portion of the 1896 Panoramic map of Apollo by Fowler & Moyer, focusing on what today is known as North Apollo. Pegtown at far left; Reefer I-House & 4 similar houses circled in red; Kirkman I-House at blue arrow.

And here’s a close-up of the 1915 Sanborn map showing the same 5 houses circled in red. The Reefer house is at the far right; the 2nd house from the right no longer exists; and I’m not sure if the other 3 at left remain standing. Click for a larger version.

UPDATE from June 2016: Reader Dawn Henry Bentley commented that the house that was NEXT to the Reefer house had belonged to her great-grandparents, T William & Mary Louanna McPhilliamy; that house is no longer standing.

1915-NorthApollo_5Houses-Sanborn

Close-up of the 1915 Sanborn map of Luxemburg Heights, today part of North Apollo. The 5 houses circled were similarly built in the early 1890s. The Reefer I-House, at far right, still stands at the corner of Clark and N. 15th Street.

I couldn’t find the Cravener house, supposedly located at 507 Spring Street, which is the 3rd North Apollo I-house listed in the Historic Sites report. The report includes a small map showing that the house is near the intersection of Spring & Oakwood Streets (see below).  But I couldn’t find a 2-story I-house at that location. If you have any knowledge of this old I house or tidbits to share, please add a Comment to the end of this article. It’d be fun to learn more about the history of this apparently now-gone home.

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A portion of the Historic Sites report showing the location and a Xeroxed photo of the Cravener I-house on Spring St, built c. 1900. I believe this house no longer exists. The report notes: “Although tax records identify 1900 as its construction date, map evidence indicates a possibility that it was built prior to 1896.”

4-OVER-4 HOUSE

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Hines-Sanders 4-Over-4 house on Hickory Nut Road.

The blue Hines-Sanders house at 1722 Hickory Nut Road, built between 1880 & 1899, is the only 4-over-4 type house in North Apollo that’s listed in the 1980-81 Historic Sites report. Today that house is owned by the Barto family. Read more about this house and 4-Over-4 construction in an earlier blog post.

UPRIGHT & WING

The Historic Sites Survey cited one Upright & Wing home in North Apollo, located at 1602 Acheson Ave, at the corner of Acheson & N. 16th Street. Known as the Fouse house, built in 1908, this home is a 2-story Upright & Wing, which is a variation on the I-house design, but with a 1- or 2-story wing added on. Here’s Wikipedia’s entry on Upright-and-Wing folk-type architecture.

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The historic sites survey report further notes:

“Several Upright & Wing folk-type houses are located on Acheson Ave, North Apollo borough. This type of house design… is found throughout Armstrong County. The population growth that led to the incorporation of North Apollo Borough in 1930 was just beginning when this house was built in 1908. The trolly of the Leechburg and Apollo Electric Railway, which began operations in 1906, ran directly past this house along Acheson Ave. This encouraged residential development in the Borough by providing easy access to the adjacent towns and their employment.”

By the way, this Acheson Ave house is currently on the market!

AMERICAN FOURSQUARE, OR CUBIC

Cubic-type houses, also known as American Foursquare, were locally popular in the 1920s, according to Armstrong County’s 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey. “This decade marked the beginning of the automobile era in America, and cubic houses were the first style to have attached garages. Many houses of this style were built in Armstrong County at this time,” the report states.

In fact, 9 Cubic-type houses were constructed in North Apollo during the 1920s. Two of these were recognized in the county’s Historic Sites Survey report.

Foursquare houses are a roughly cubic, 2-story structures, usually with a pyramidal roof that has 1 or more dormers. Each floor generally has 4 square-shaped rooms with a central hallway. This house type originated in the U.S. in the 1890s and remained popular throughout the 1930s. They’re especially good for giving maximal living space on small residential lots.

The brick Held house at 1324 Leonard Ave, at the corner of Leonard & N 14th St, is an “excellent example of the Cubic style,” the report notes. It was built in 1927, according to tax assessment records.

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Built in 1927, the Held house is a noteworthy example of Cubic or Foursquare-type architecture. Located at the corner of Leonard & N 14th St. This house sits on land that was once part of Simon Truby’s farm.  Photo by Vicki Contie, May 2016.

The 1980-81 Historic Sites report states:

This dwelling, built as a single-family residence, helped house the influx of the population to this area, which was the most populous section of Kiskiminetas Township in the 1920s. Citizen organization led to incorporation of North Apollo Borough in 1930, three years after this house was built. There are several cubic homes in the immediate vicinity, but this was selected for its unaltered appearance and above average conditions. The original owners occupy the house.

Another lovely Cubic house, known in 1980 as the Davis house, is located at 1202 Cochrane Ave. It was built in 1928. Today the house is owned by the Rodgers family.

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Cubic style, or foursquare, architecture at 1202 Cochrane Ave, built in 1928. This house sits on land that was once part of Simon Truby’s farm. Photo by Vicki Contie, May 2016.

BUNGALOW

The county’s Historic Sites Survey recognized the following 3 bungalow-style houses in North Apollo. Bungalows are typically 1-and-a-half stories. Read more about bungalow architecture at Apollo’s Historic House Styles: Bungalow & Upright-and-Wing.

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The Kuhns house at 1307 Wemple Ave is a stucco & wood Bungalow-style house built in 1922. Photo by Vicki Contie, May 2016.

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Andrews house, a bungalow style built in 1926, at 831 N 16th Street.

Download the PDF of the Andrews house site survey report.

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Shaffer house, built in 1926 and located at 1703 Wilson Ave near N 17th Street.  In 1980, the house was owned by a younger generation of the original family.

BUNGALOID !!!

How is a bungaloid house different from a bungalow? I have no clue. But the Shriver house listed at 802 Moore Ave is classified as a Bungaloid, according to the county’s 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey report. However, I couldn’t find this house. A portion of the report is below and may provide some clues, including a description of house features. Can you shed any light on the location of this house? Click the image to open a larger version.

Shriver

The Shriver house report goes on to include this interesting background on the history of North Apollo:

The Apollo Steel Company brought prosperity and population growth to the Apollo area when it began operations in 1913. In 1921, the company had several stucco-covered, single-family, bungalow-style houses built on Moore Ave in North Apollo.

[The Shriver house] was selected for its unaltered appearance and grey color, although various pastel shades were used for others on the street. This area of the borough was once called Allison Lane, before it was combined with Pegtown and Luxemborg Heights sections to form North Apollo Borough in 1930. Two waves of residential construction are apparent in the Allison Lane area, the first in the 1920s when this company house was built, and the second later, in the 1950s.

HAPPY NEWS!  A long-time resident of the Shriver house at 802 Moore Ave has sent the photo of Shriver house. The photo is a several years old. A lovely house!

In addition, an email from Lawana & Phil Murphy of North Apollo helped clear up some confusion over the street addresses, which have apparently changed since the Armstrong County Historic Site Survey was completed in the 1980s. Today, 802 Moore Ave is 1724 Moore.

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802 Moore Ave (today the address is 1724 Moore), near the corner of 18th Street, North Apollo. Photo courtesy of John Shriver, whose parents purchased the house for $3,600 in 1944, when John was age 4. His parents John & Eleanor Shriver continued to live here for nearly 5 decades. The house was sold after Eleanor’s death in 1991.

VERNACULAR QUEEN ANN – Also missing

The Historic Sites Survey says that the Cockran house on Hickory Nut Road, built c. 1900, is a vernacular style structure that’s unique to North Apollo’s built environment. “The residence is an example of an attempt by the common man to integrate popular stylistic features into a less expensive dwelling,” the county’s architectural experts wrote.

Sad to say, I can’t seem to find this house! The portion of the report pasted in below may provide some clues. If you can figure out where this house is located, please let us all know by commenting at the end of the article.

UPDATE in June 2016: Readers Debbie Kloc and Milli Cook note that the Earlie Cockran house was torn down years ago. See their Comments at the end of the article for more details.

Cockran

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Help to preserve Apollo’s history by making a donation to the Apollo Area Historical Society at https://apollopahistory.wordpress.com/donate/ . And stop by their museum on N. 2nd Street to see their displays, neat old photos, & hot Apollo merch for sale, including the 1896 panoramic map of Apollo.

Come check out Apollo’s History Walk along Roaring Run Trail on Sun July 3, from 4-6pm (I think). I’ll have a table with info about Apollo’s architectural styles and also the Truby farm, family, and farmhouse. Plus, you can visit other tables as you stroll along through Apollo’s 200 years of history. Be there or be square!

The Farmer Takes a Wife

The Growing Family of Simon Truby

Technically speaking, Simon Truby was Apollo’s real-life farmer in the dell—especially when he stood on his property along today’s Sugar Hollow Creek/North 11th Street (it’s a dell!). As in the old nursery rhyme, the farmer took a wife; the wife took a child; and the child even took a nurse (domestic servant). But of course Simon’s story then spins out into a more complicated tale, including 2 wives, 9 children, and the death of a 6-year-old son. And though we know his farm produced many pounds of butter, there’s no clear evidence if in the end, as in the nursery rhyme, the cheese stands alone.

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The cheese stands alone. Cheesy.

Here’s what the records reveal about Simon Truby and his family. As mentioned in an earlier article (Which Simon Truby?), Apollo’s Simon Truby (1806-1886) was from an illustrious family. His granddad, Col. Christopher Truby (1736-1802), was a founder of Greensburg, PA (today the capital of Westmoreland County). Col. Christopher Truby also served in the Pennsylvania Militia during the late 1700s.

 

Going to the Chapel

Apollo’s Simon Truby married into locally well-connected families. His first wife was Sarah Woodward (1819-1844), the eldest daughter of Armstrong County’s associate judge Robert Woodward, who owned a large farm in Plum Creek Twp. Together, Simon and Sarah Truby had 2 children: Mary Jane (born 1838) and Julia (1840-1920).

A few years after Julia’s birth, Simon and Sarah Truby purchased the 156 acres of land that would become the Truby farm of Apollo. (Read more at Start with a Dot, Then Follow the Deeds). But their dreams of establishing a farm of their own soon came to a tragic end. Just a few months after the land purchase, Sarah died at the age of 24. She was buried in Apollo’s old Presbyterian Cemetery.

A widower at age 37, Simon Truby then met teenager Elizabeth Hill (1826-1901), who had been living on her father’s farm in Parks Twp. The two were married around 1846, and they moved into the red brick farmhouse that today stands at 708 Terrace Ave in Apollo, PA. Their first child, Hannah Ulam Truby, was born in 1847. A few years later, in 1850, Simon’s brother Capt Henry Truby of Gilpin Twp married Elizabeth’s sister Alvinia Hill…but that’s another story that you can read about in Copycat Brothers.

Simon and Elizabeth’s second child, Henry Hill Truby (1849-1927), was named after Simon’s brother. As Simon’s oldest son, Henry Hill Truby would grow up to help his dad manage the Truby Farm, and he would continue to live in the old brick homestead after Simon’s death.

Family Fills the Farmhouse

The federal census of 1850 was the first to list the names and  specific ages of all members of a household. Prior to that, only the head of household was named, along with the number of male and female residents and their age ranges. The federal census occurs every 10 years.

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Simon Truby’s farmhouse at 708 Terrace Ave in Apollo.

In 1850, census records show that Simon and Elizabeth Truby were living in the Truby farmhouse with their 4 children:

  • Mary J., age 12, and Juliana, age 10 – they’re the daughters of Simon’s 1st wife, Sarah Woodward Truby.
  • Hannah, age 4; and Henry, age 1, the children of Elizabeth Truby.
  • A boarder or household servant named Hannah Dauster, age 23, was also living in the 8-room brick house.

It seems that Simon often fibbed about his age to the census taker. In 1850,  Simon was 44, but the census lists him as age 40. In 1860, the census shows Simon as a decade  younger than he actually was. In 1880, his wife Elizabeth is listed as a decade older than her actual age. Maybe Simon was sensitive about the 20-year age gap between him and wife? Or maybe he honestly couldn’t remember his age; it happens to the best of us!

By 1860, 3 more children were born to Simon and Elizabeth. Their house was probably feeling a bit cramped, with 5 kids and 4 adults, since daughters Mary J. and Juliana Truby were now both in their early 20s. Farmhouse residents were:

  • Simon, age 54 (though the census lists his age as 45)
  • wife Elizabeth, age 34
  • daughter Mary J., 23
  • daughter Juliana, 21
  • daughter Hannah,  13
  • son Henry, 11
  • daughter Isabela, or Belle, 8;
  • son Winchester, 4;
  • son Albert age 6. Sadly, little Albert would die later that year of unknown causes.

This 1861 map of Apollo shows that the Truby farmhouse (red square) was surrounded by undeveloped land, mostly owned by Simon. (Simon’s approximate property lines are highlighted in aqua.) By 1861, Simon had begun dividing the southern portions of his land into dozens of residential lots along today’s N. 6th Street, N. 7th Street, and Armstrong Ave. Some of these later became occupied by his grown children.

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In 1861, Simon Truby’s property (aqua tinted area) encompassed most of the northern end of Apollo borough and extended further to the north and east. His brick farmhouse (red square) today is located at 708 Terrace Ave. From the 1860s to the mid-1880s, Simon plotted out and sold more than 38 residential lots on his property, mostly along today’s N 6th and 7th Streets and Armstrong Ave.

Simon’s Daughters: Moving On Out

By 1870, all 4 of Simon’s daughters had gotten married and moved out of the Truby farmhouse.

  • Mary Jane Truby had married William H. Henry, who was working in Apollo’s rolling mill. They likely lived along today’s North 7th Street with their 2 children: Harry T Henry, age 4, and Bertha Henry, age 2.
  • Nearby was Mary Jane’s sister, Hannah Ulam Truby, who at age 18 had married Civil War veteran Samuel S. Jack, on February 23, 1865. By 1870, Samuel was working at Apollo’s planing mill, and he and Hannah had 2 children: Lilly May Jack, age 5, and newborn Carrie Belle Jack, age 5 months.
  • Mary Jane’s sister Julia Truby had married John Finley Whitlinger, a butcher and saddler, and they too were living nearby in Apollo. They had 3 children: Charles Edgar Whitlinger, age 5, who was attending school; Henry Seibert Whitlinger, also age 5, and John Whitlinger, 1. Living with them was David Ashbangh, age 20, a Tanner.

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    Belle Truby Carpenter and her family lived at this house at 518 N 7th Street in Apollo PA at some point during the late 1800s. The house is just around the corner from the brick Truby farmhouse, where Belle grew up. Photo by Vicki Contie, summer 2015.

  • The 4th Truby daughter, 18-year-old Belle Truby, had married Samuel Carpenter, who was a painter and had also served in the Civil War. The young couple and their infant daughter Minnie were likely living on N. 7th Street, around the corner from Belle’s parents, Simon and Elizabeth Truby.

Meanwhile, back at the Truby homestead, Elizabeth and Simon Truby were busy with their farm and their 4 sons. A domestic live-in servant named Sarah Giger helped around the house. Farmhouse residents were:

  • Farmer Simon Truby, age 64 (though the census lists him as age 60)
  • wife Elizabeth, 42
  • Henry, age 21, worked on the farm;
  • Winchester, age 15
  • John, 8
  • Hill (Charles H.) Truby, 4
  • Sarah Giger, age 20, domestic servant

Brimming Brick House in 1880

In 1880, the old brick homestead must’ve felt like it was bursting at the seams, for it housed 7 adults, ranging in age from 20 to 74 years, and 3 children, ranging from 3 months to 14 years old. Simon and Elizabeth were there with their 2 youngest sons, and their newly married son Winchester had moved in with his new bride and their 2 children, as well as his mother-in-law and sister-in-law. A cozy arrangement!

The 10 residents of the Truby farmhouse in 1880 were:

  • Simon, age 74 (though the census lists him as age 70)
  • wife Elizabeth, age 54 (though the census lists her as age 60)
  • son John, 20 – works on farm
  • son Chas H., 14—works on farm.
  • son Winchester Hill Truby, age 23 works on farm. He  had gotten married in 1875 to
    • wife Emma R. Blose Truby, 25. Their children were:
    • Willie A. Truby, age 2
    • Grace M. Truby, 3 months.
    • Melinda Blose, age 56, Emma’s mother
    • Kate Blose, age 34, Emma’s sister.
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Henry Hill Truby c.1890, Simon Truby’s eldest son. Henry and his family lived in the Truby farmhouse after his father died.

By 1880, Simon’s oldest son Henry Hill Truby (1849-1927) had married Sarah Belle Whitlinger (1849-1914) and moved to a home in neighboring Kiski Twp, likely on his father’s property. The newlyweds were actually siblings-in-law, since Henry’s sister Julia Truby had married Sarah Belle’s brother John Finley Whitlinger about a decade earlier. Their parents were Simon S. Whitlinger and Violet E. Taylor Whitlinger.

In 1880, Henry and Sarah Belle Truby had a boy and a girl: Evart F. Truby, 7, and Ophie Truby, age 11 months. Henry continued to work on his dad’s farm. In fact, Henry’s listed as the manager of Simon Truby’s farm in the federal agricultural census of 1880.

Simon’s 3 daughters also continued to live nearby in Apollo:

  • Julia Truby Whitlinger, age 39, along with husband J.F. Whitlinger, age 41, had 7 children: C.W. Whitlinger, age 15, who worked in J.F.’s tannery; H.S. Whitlinger, 13; J.W. Whitlinger, 10; Ida K. Whitlinger, 8; Logan H. Whitlinger, 5; Nellie Whitlinger, 4; and Fred T. Whitlinger, 1.
  • Hannah Truby Jack, 32, was living with husband S.S. Jack and 2 children: Lillie M. Jack, 14, and Carrie B. Jack, 10.
  • Belle Truby Carpenter, age 28, was living with husband S. C. Carpenter and their 3 children: Minnie H. Carpenter, 10; Willie H. Carpenter, 5; and Lizzie, 3.

By 1880, Simon’s eldest daughter, Mary Jane Truby Henry, 42, had moved to Leechburg with her husband William H. Henry and their 3 children: Harry Henry, 13; Bertha Henry, 11, and Ada Henry, 9.

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The federal census of 1880 was the last to include Simon Truby; he died in 1886. And then, it seems, all hell broke lose, as his heirs and others jostled over property rights, inheritance, and other matters in the courts. More on that later.

In the years after Simon’s death, his children and grandchildren will marry into the following Apollo area families: Schriver, McClelland, Young, Wolfe, Hill, Mitchell, Baldridge, Kinter, Mahaffey, Naser, Hendricks, Husselton, Bulette, Kunselman, Smith, Knepshield, Johnston, Bott, Swope, Claypool, Gumbert, Flickinger, Hoofring, Held, Hagens, Wiley, and Riggle. That’s a lot of families!

In upcoming blog posts, we’ll look at some of the houses  built by Simon Truby’s children and grandchildren in Apollo and North Apollo.

And coming soon: Simon Truby & Nellie Bly: A surprising connection!

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And help to preserve Apollo’s history by making a donation to the Apollo Area Historical Society at https://apollopahistory.wordpress.com/donate/ .

Hope to see you at Apollo’s 200th anniversary celebration, July 1-10. More at http://www.apollo200.org/