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

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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).

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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.

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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)

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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.

Subscribe to the Truby Farmhouse blog to receive emails whenever new articles are posted.

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

 

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
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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.

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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.

Cravener-Map&Pic

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.

Fouse-1602AchesonAve-NA-Upright&Wing

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.

Shriver Home05102017

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!

Apollo’s Historic House Styles: Bungalow & Upright-and-Wing

A Continuing look at the 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey

While researching the history of Simon Truby’s farmhouse in Apollo, PA, I happened upon an architectural survey of historic buildings in Apollo and other towns in Armstrong County. This Historic Sites Survey was conducted more than 3 decades ago, in 1980 and 1981.

It’s unclear what criteria the surveyors used to choose the 29 homes and other buildings in their report on Apollo Borough. They seemed to overlook a few beauties, including the Damico home at the corner of N. 9th Street and Terrace Ave, built circa 1895 by Frank W. Jackson, son of Apollo’s General Samuel McCartney Jackson and uncle of Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart.

Still, the historic sites surveyors made some interesting choices that could cause you to take a 2nd look at homes that might initially seem unremarkable. If you look carefully enough, every home or building or structure has a story to tell or raises questions to investigate.

“If you look carefully enough, every home or building or structure has a story to tell or raises questions to investigate.”

You can read in earlier blog posts an overview of the 1980-81 survey, with an emphasis on Terrace Ave (Apollo & the Historic Sites Survey of 1980-81), and describing Apollo & North Apollo’s I-house and 4-over-4 style homes (Apollo’s “folk-type” architecture). Sad to say,  some of the old houses included in the site survey report have since fallen into disrepair.

Here we’ll take a look at two other historic vernacular-type houses in our community: Bungalow and Upright & Wing. All the houses described below were included in the 1980-81 survey, and I’ve included downloadable PDFs of the surveyor’s original reports, if you’re interested.  

BUNGALOW: A story and a half

Bungalows are generally considered to be 1- or 1½-story houses with a simple design, low sloping roof, and a front porch. This type of house design originated in the Bengal region of South Asia–the word “bungalow” means “house in the Bengal style”–and it quickly gained popularity around the world during the early 1900s. Read more about bungalows here http://www.antiquehome.org/Architectural-Style/bungalow.htm.

Bungalow-style architecture seemed to be all the rage in Apollo during the roaring 20s and beyond. In fact, at least 25 bungalows were built in Apollo Borough in the 1920s and 1930s, according to the Historic Sites Survey report.

The report notes that the Buyers house at 320 N. Third Street  in Apollo is a notable example of bungalow-style architecture in the borough. The house was built circa 1930.

BuyersHouse-320N3rdStreetCropped

Bungalow-style house at 320 North 3rd Street in Apollo. The style became increasingly popular in Apollo during the 1920s and 1930s. Photo by Vicki Contie, March 2016.

Click the icon at right to download the 2-page PDF of the Historic Sites Survey report for the Buyers bungalow-style house at 320 N. Third Street: 300_PDF_download

The historic surveyors also described four bungalow-style houses in North Apollo Borough. However, I was unable to identify these buildings the last time I was back home in Pennsylvania. The street numbers in the Historic Sites Report did not seem to match the street numbers on the dwellings in North Apollo. If you can help me identify the houses listed below, or send me photos of them, I’d be most grateful! I’ll include more info about these houses and acknowledge your help in a future blog post.

  • Shriver house, 802 Moore Ave, North Apollo – A bungaloid-style house made of stucco/wood and built circa 1920.
  • Shaffer house, 823 Wilson Ave, NA – A brick/tile bungalow built circa 1826.
  • Kuhns house, 352 Wemple Ave, NA – A bungalow built in 1922 of stucco/wood.
  • Andrews house, 1693 N 16th Street, NA – a brick bungalow built in 1926. Download the PDF of the Andrews house site survey report.

Can you help to identify or photograph the North Apollo bungalows at the addresses listed above? 

The Historic Sites report notes that many of North Apollo’s bungalows were built during a period of prosperity and population growth after the Apollo Steel Company began operations in 1913. In fact, the company built many single-family bungalow houses along Moore Ave and elsewhere in North Apollo beginning in 1921.

UPRIGHT-AND-WING

Upright-and-Wing-type dwellings were popular in western Pennsylvania during the late 1800s, according to the Historic Sites Survey report. This type of house generally has a 2-story gabled “upright” section attached to a 1- or 2-story wing. Here’s Wikipedia’s entry on Upright-and-Wing folk-type architecture.

The 1980-81 report says that the Womeldorf house at 605 N Fourth Street is a unique variation on the Upright-and-Wing. Evidence hints that the house may have been built between 1876 and 1896, during a period when the burgeoning railroad and local steel industries led to a boost in the local population. Of note is the 1 1/2-story mansard-roofed section in the middle of the L-shaped floorplan. It appears that the house’s distinctive original windows have been replaced since the 1980-81 report was written. Note the original fieldstones at the base of the upright section.

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The Womeldorf house at 605 N.Fourth Street in Apollo, PA, is a unique example of Upright-and-Wing folk-type architecture. Photo by Vicki Contie, March 2016.

Download the 2-page PDF of the Historic Sites Survey report for the Womeldorf Upright-and-Wing house at 605 N. Fourth Street: 300_PDF_download

Another Upright-and-Wing cited in the 1980-81 report is located at 416 N. Fourth Street. Known as the Clemenson house, this home was built circa 1870. The report notes that the gabled roof features cornice returns, and that the back porch retains its original wood eave trim, but the original front porch features had been replaced.

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The Clemenson house at 416 N. Fourth Street, built circa 1870, is another example of an Upright-and-Wing dwelling. Photo by Vicki Contie, March 2016.

Download the 2-page PDF of the Historic Sites Survey report for the Clemenson house at 416 N. Fourth Street: 300_PDF_download

Upright-and-Wing in North Apollo – A little help please? The Historic Sites Survey cited one Upright-and-Wing home in North Apollo, located at 830 Acheson Ave. Known as the Fouse house, this home is apparently at the corner of Acheson Ave and North 16th Street. Again, I was not able to locate that North Apollo home. If you can provide information or a photo of the Fouse house, I’d be very appreciative. The Fouse house, according to the survey report, is a 2-story Upright-and-Wing with a slate-covered multi-gable roof interrupted by one interior brick chimney, and with simple Tuscan-order columns that support the plain establature and roof of the wrap-around front portico. A one-story wing section and porch abut the rear of the house.

MAP OF HOMES in the 1980-81 Historic Sites survey

I’ve been gradually building this interactive map of homes and other buildings that were described in the 1980-81 Armstrong County Historic Sites Survey. Please visit & click around to see images and brief descriptions of the buildings. I’d like to add North Apollo homes to the map as well, but I’d be grateful for some assistance from people familiar with the area. Beneath this image, please see a “wish list” of North Apollo homes I’d like to identify or have photos of.

HistSiteSurveyMap

Click on the map to open a larger interactive version. I’ll add more buildings to the map as time allows.

North Apollo Wish List: The following homes were listed in the Historic Sites Survey, but I haven’t been able to find them nor photograph them based on the addresses listed in the historic survey report. If you can help, please let me know! I’d like to add more NA homes to the interactive map.

  • Davis house, 678 Cochrane Ave – 2-story, 2-bay Cubic-style wood house built circa 1928.
  • Held house, 230 Leonard Ave – Brick Cubic-style house built in 1927.
  • Reefer house, PA Route 66 & 15th Street – Wood I-house with a back wing section resulting in a T-shaped plan. A 2-story 3-bay dwelling with a gabled roof and 2 exterior brick chimneys. Built 1892.
  • Cravener house, 507 Spring Street – Wood I-house, built circa 1900, with its gabled end facing the street and one central brick chimney that interrupts the slate-covered gabled roof and a 2nd brick chimney, located at the exterior gable end.
  • Kirkman house, Grove Street – Built in 1886, this structure is probably one of North Apollo’s earliest remaining farmhouses. It’s a vernacular I-house with 2 stories, 5 bays, and a frame construction. A front-facing gable interrupts the roofline.

Please visit the website’s homepage at trubyfarmhouseapollopa.wordpress.com and sign up to receive email notices of new blog articles.

Up next: The Farmer Takes a Wife: Simon Truby, his wives, and his children. Thanks for reading!

Copycat Brothers?

The Matching Houses, Wives, & Lives of Simon & Capt Henry Truby

Don’t be surprised if the theme song from the Patty Duke Show gets stuck in your head as you contemplate the parallel lives of Apollo’s farmer Simon Truby and his older brother Henry of Gilpin Twp, PA. These brothers were 2 of a kind.

Though they had 5 other siblings (as outlined in an earlier blog post), Simon (1806-1886) and his brother Capt Henry Truby (1800-1882) seemed to be especially in sync. They farmed alike, married wives alike, they even built their homes alike. Sometimes Simon seemed to follow in his older brother’s footsteps. Other times, Simon blazed a trail with Henry tagging behind.

In 1843, these 2 brothers each made a significant purchase of farmland. Henry bought a large chunk (about 108 acres) of the George Hawk farm in Gilpin Twp, a little to the north and east of Leechburg. Henry’s new farm was dubbed Mount Joy; I wish I knew the origin of that name! A few months later, Simon Truby—already living in Warren, as Apollo was then known—purchased 156 acres of land that straddled Warren and Kiski Twp, PA. (Read more at Start with a Dot, Then Follow the Deeds.) Simon’s and Henry’s farms were about 11 miles apart when traveling along the old River Road.

1861 Pomeroy Map closeup - Alleg Twp-HenryTruby-Mt Joy labeled

The 2 Truby brothers then proceeded to marry a pair of sisters whose father, Jacob Honorable Hill, owned a sizable farm in nearby Parks Twp. Simon took the matrimonial plunge first, marrying Elizabeth Hill around 1846. Henry then followed suit a few years later, marrying Elizabeth’s sister Alvinia in February 1850. The Hill sisters were about 20 years younger than their new Truby husbands.

“The Hill sisters were about 20 years younger than their new Truby husbands.”

The brothers also occasionally dabbled in similar trades. In addition to farming, Capt Henry Truby manned a packet boat that carried passengers from Leechburg up and down the Pennsylvania Canal. And Simon at least briefly pursued work as a packet boat captain as well.

Two-of-a-Kind Abodes

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The Mt Joy farmhouse in Gilpin Twp, PA. Built c. 1844 by Capt. Henry Truby, older brother of Apollo’s Simon Truby. Photo courtesy of Linda Truby Touzeau

And then then there’s the matter of the matching houses. The 2 Truby brothers built near-identical 4-Over-4 brick homes on their respective properties. The 2 houses are exactly the same size, with 2,560 square feet of living area, according to the real estate website Zillow.

Thanks go to Simon Truby’s great-great-grandaughter, Linda Truby Touzeau of Arizona, for alerting me to the existence of Capt Henry Truby’s lovely home in Gilpin Twp, near the intersection of Lover’s Leap and Truby Hill roads. Linda and her father, Simon Thompson Truby Jr., took this photo of the house back in the mid-1990s while on a genealogy tour across Pennsylvania. Linda noted that Capt Henry’s “Mount Joy” house bore a remarkable resemblance to the 1890 photo of Simon Truby’s home. (Read Photograph Forensics to learn how we know that the old photo depicts Simon Truby’s home in Apollo, PA.)

Then&Now

Simon Truby’s farmhouse in Apollo PA, in 1890 and today.

Capt Henry Truby and the Mt Joy farm in Gilpin Twp

Capt Henry Truby kept a diary of his day-to-day life throughout the 1840s and beyond. A transcript of this diary can be found in the Truby binder at the Apollo Memorial Library. The diary begins shortly after he’d purchased the Mt Joy property in 1843 & continued intermittently until his death in 1883. I’ll write a future blog post about Capt Henry Truby and the Mt Joy farm, for it has a storied history. But for now, let’s simply focus on his stately house.

The current owners, Mary Clark Bevan & her son Ronald Bevan, were kind enough to give me a tour of their home last summer. Mary’s grandfather James D. Clark purchased the 105-acre farm in 1907 and launched a thriving fruit-farming operation. Mary’s family has lovingly owned & maintained this land ever since. Click the image below to download a 2006 article about their Gilpin Twp home from the Valley News Dispatch.

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Valley News Dispatch article courtesy of Leechburg Area Museum and Historical Society.

Comparing Simon & Capt Henry’s Homes

The Bevan/Mt Joy/Capt Henry home retains many original features that the Simon Truby house in Apollo no longer has, especially the lovely 5-bay Georgian facade on both sides of the house. Both central exterior doorways in the Bevan/Mt Joy/Capt Henry home have the original colored-glass sidelights. In the Simon Truby house in Apollo, the original front doorway remains intact, but the glass is gone and replaced with white-painted wood.

The Bevan’s Mt Joy house also retains all of its original fireplaces, 1 in each of the 8 rooms of the house. In Simon Truby’s house in Apollo, only 3 of the original 8 fireplaces remain, all on the first floor. In both houses, though, the owners wouldn’t dream of trying to use those old fireplaces!

The staircases in both homes have similar wood paneling along the sides. But Capt. Henry Truby’s staircase has a landing at the 12th step and then doubles back with a few more steps to the upstairs hallway. Simon’s staircase is a single flight of 17 steps.

Both homes also have matching built-in corner cupboards in the kitchen; Capt Henry has an additional one in the dining room.

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All of Simon Truby’s interior windows and doors are topped with a simple slightly arched lintel, befitting a simple farmhouse.

The interior walls in both homes are made of solid brick, which makes it difficult to run duct work for air conditioning or heat.

In the upstairs bedrooms of both homes, the 2 rooms on the left side have a connecting doorway in between, presumably to give parents/caregivers ready access to an adjoining nursery room.

Although Simon and his brother Henry both purchased their properties around the same time in 1843, it’s not clear whose brick home was built first or when. Having toured both houses, Simon Truby’s home strikes me as a little more primitive. Simon’s house has plain, slightly arched lintels over every interior door and window, whereas Capt Henry’s house more detailed interior elements.

The original back of Simon’s house is also more primitive. It lacks the 5-bay symmetry that appears on both sides of Capt Henry’s house. I suspect that Simon built his home first, and his brother Henry’s house benefited from “lessons learned” after Simon’s experiences. If anyone can provide further evidence on this matter, please let me know!

 

Coming up: More of the vernacular-type houses listed in 1980-81 Historic Sites Survey of Apollo.

Drop by the Truby Farmhouse website, take a look around, and drop me a note!

Apollo’s Thriving Farm & the U.S. Agricultural Census

If you happened to live in Apollo from 1859 to nearly the turn of the century, a thriving farm was practically a stone’s throw away in the same borough. It was almost like having a giant Guinta’s Fruit Market right in your back yard. Simon Truby’s 156-acre farmland (green in the map below) originally extended from below N. 6th Street in Apollo up to N. 16th Street in North Apollo borough. The farm was active from about 1844 to 1890. Although there were plenty of other local farms (Owens, McKinstry, Jackson, Hildebrand to name a few), Simon Truby’s was the only significant farm in Apollo borough in the 1800s.

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Simon Truby’s original farmland, purchased in 1843 (green). Present-day Apollo Borough (light red). Boundary lines are approximate. View a larger version of this map: http://bit.ly/1YYVygE

Photo of a ewe.

Sadly, this ewe never lived on Simon Truby’s farm. Photo by George Gastin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL] via Wikimedia Commons.

In various years, the Truby farm was home to:

  • 40 sheep that produced 100 pounds of wool;
  • 35 chickens that laid 305 dozen eggs;
  • an orchard with 200 apple trees & 40 peach trees;
  • crops that included corn, oats, potatoes, and hay.

In 1850, Simon Truby’s farm produced 10 tons(!) of hay, which he likely used to help feed & bed his 6 milk cows, 4 horses, and 15 pigs. That same year, his farm also produced: runny_hunny

  • 400 pounds of butter
  • 60 pounds of honey
  • 300 bushels of oats
  • 200 bushels of corn
  • 100 bushels of buckwheat
  • 20 bushels of potatoes
  • and various unnamed market produce.

Though he’d purchased the property only 7 years earlier (in 1843), Simon seemed to get the farm up & running rather quickly.

Historic Farms & the U.S. Agricultural Census

How do we know these 170-year-old details about Simon Truby’s farm? We owe thanks to the benevolent digitizing efforts of the Pennsylvania Agricultural History Project, under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. The project’s website offers PDFs of the Agricultural Census records of individual farms in Pennsylvania for the years 1850, 1880, and 1927. If you have an ancestor who was a farmer in Pennsylvania during those years, you too can seek out a detailed summary of their farm records online …. as long as you can decipher the census-taker’s flowery handwriting and figure out which township the farm was in. County and township boundaries seemed to change a lot back in the 1800s. See the end of this blog post for more about searching for your own ancestors’ farms.

“If you have an ancestor who was a farmer in Pennsylvania in 1850, 1880, or 1927, you too can  seek out a detailed summary of their farm records online.”

More about Simon Truby’s Farm in 1850

In 1850, Simon Truby’s farmland was partly in Warren (as Apollo was then known) and mostly in Kiski Twp. You can download the 2-page PDF that shows 1850 Agricultural Census data for Truby’s farm. The PDF also lists data for  40 other nearby farms, including farms owned by 3 McKinstrys (James, William, & Jackson), D. Risher, Philip & Michel Shutt, Samuel Jack, James Culp, Henry & John Clark, and John & Alexander Kerr.

Download the 2-page PDF of the 1850 Agricultural Census records for Simon Truby and nearby farms in Kiski Twp: 300_PDF_download
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1861 Land Owners in the Apollo area. This close-up from Pomeroy’s 1861 map of Kiski Twp shows buildings (dots) and property owners, some of whom also had farms, including S. Truby, Alex Kerr, Ja. Jackson, J. Kerr, and Wm. McKinstry.

1880 Ag Census & Simon Truby’s Shrinking Farm

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Illustration of peaches c. 1892. By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

The Ag Census Records from 1880 are more detailed than the 1850 data. By 1880, Simon Truby’s farm now included apple & peach orchards, along with barnyard animals & other crops. This was the year that 35 chickens laid 305 dozen eggs. But by this time, the overall size of his property had been reduced by half, with only 80 acres remaining. A future blog post will describe how Simon gradually divvied up and sold lots on the edges of his property, including the lots that now make up Pegtown. Some of lots were sold or given to his grown children, including his daughter Julia and her husband John Finley Whitlinger, who established a tannery on the property.

The maps below show how severely Simon Truby’s property shrank within Apollo borough over a 15-year time span, from 1861 to 1876. Simon’s land is the open space in the upper right portion of the map, and his brick farmhouse is the lonesome dot in the middle of the open space:

1861-1876-ApolloMaps

In the 1880 Ag Census—just 6 years before Simon’s death—his oldest son, Henry Hill Truby, was listed as the farm manager. The Census  shows that the overall value of the Truby farm was $5,000 (comparable to more than $120,000 today). Truby hired farm laborers for 10 weeks a year and paid them wages totaling $40 (more than $1,000 in today’s dollars). He also did some sharecropping, renting out part of his land in exchange for a share of produce.

Download the 1-page PDF showing 1880 data about Simon Truby’s farm. This page also includes info on the nearby farms owned or managed by Sylvester Hildebrand, W. Kerr, George Hunter, and others in Kiski Twp: 300_PDF_download

Find Your Own PA Ancestor’s Farm

Sad to say, the Ag census records aren’t easily searchable online—yet. Someday Ancestry.com or another organization may convert the handwritten Agricultural Census script into searchable documents. But for now, you’ll have to page through the documents yourself to find your ancestor. Happy to say, the  Pennsylvania Agricultural History Project has simplified the search by categorizing the data by county and township.

Here are links to the original data on individual farms in Pennsylvania during different time periods:

Remember, in the 1800s, county and township boundaries were still changing, so it may take a little research to figure out where a historic farm was located.

If these links help uncover any cool info about your ancestor’s farm, please “Comment” on this blog post to let us know what you’ve learned.

Visit the Truby Farmhouse Apollo PA website and take a look around. Coming soon: Learn about Simon Truby’s brother Capt. Henry Truby, who had an almost identical 4-Over-4 brick farmhouse in Gilpin Twp., PA.

Apollo & the Historic Sites Survey of 1980-81

In 1980, Armstrong County PA deployed a fleet of experts in architecture and history to scour the region looking for historic structures, including buildings and bridges. It’s hard to find info about this Armstrong County Historical Sites Survey on the Web. But the Kittanning Public Library has a set of 3-ring binders with photocopies of 2-page reports on all the sites they reviewed. 300_PDF_download

Nearly 30 historic buildings in Apollo PA were included in their analysis (more about that below). The report’s summing up about the town (download the PDF) notes that “Apollo Borough’s colorful historical development has produced a majority of turn-of-the Century vernacular residences, a variety of popular 19th Century architectural styles, and early 20th Century Bungalow, Cubic, and Colonial Revival styles.”

In other words, the town is jam-packed with a wide variety of cool historic houses.

The report further notes that the town’s earliest buildings had been destroyed by the 1876 fire and the St Patrick’s Day flood in 1936, with the sole survivor being Drake’s Log Cabin, built circa 1816 away from the floodplain. And “A 4 Over 4 folk-type residence on Terrace Avenue is one of the other few remaining buildings from the 1840-1859 period.” That 4 Over 4 folk-type house is the Simon Truby farmhouse at 708 Terrace Ave. (Read more about Apollo’s historic 4-Over-4 houses at Apollo’s “folk-type” architecture)

ALONG TERRACE AVENUE

Terrace Ave is recognized for having “Apollo’s most impressive, and most well-preserved buildings dating from the turn of the Century. These residences represent an age of prosperity during the community’s railroad and steel mill eras.”

The report cites 4 homes in particular on Terrace Ave:

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“The Col. Jackson house, built in 1883, as a combination of Italianate and Colonial Revival Stylistic features.”  Photo by Vicki Contie.

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The house at 505 Terrace Ave is “the most elaborate example of the Colonial Revival style found in Apollo and built between 1900 and 1919,” according to the Historic Sites Survey.

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The Amy Snyder house, “an excellent example of the Queen Anne style house built between 1880 and 1899.”300_PDF_download

Site survey report  PDF for the Amy Snyder house. Download the PDF:

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And Simon Truby’s farmhouse on Terrace Ave in Apollo, PA.    A 4 Over 4 vernacular-type house built during the 1840-1859 period, already mentioned as one of the few remaining buildings from this era. Photo by Cathy Hubbard.

MAPPING THE HISTORIC SITES

This map (also below) shows some of the other buildings featured in the 1980-81 Historic Sites report, including:

  • Whitlinger house at 406 N Fourth Street Apollo PA. Built c 1870, this brick building is eclectic, combining architectural features from the Colonial Revival Style and the 2nd Empire Style. It’s one of the few buildings in Apollo with a Mansard style roof.

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    Dr. McCullough house at 323 First Street in Apollo. A 5-bay I house. Photo by Vicki Contie.

  • Dr. McCullough house at 323 First Street Apollo PA. Built in 1850, this 2-story residence is one of the earliest examples of a 5-bay I House in the Apollo Borough. (Read more about Apollo’s historic I-houses in Apollo’s “folk-type” architecture)
  • Apollo United Presbyterian Church, 401 First Street Apollo PA.
  • Apollo Area Community Center/Municipal Bldg at 405 Pennsylvania Ave Apollo PA.
  • WCTU building at 317 N. Second Street Apollo PA. Current home of the Apollo Area Historical Society.

HistoricSitesMap2016

Click on the map to open a larger interactive version. I’ll add more buildings to the map as time allows.

What is a 4 Over 4 folk-type house? And what’s an I-house? I wondered that myself! Tune in to the next blog post — Apollo’s “folk-type” architecture — to find out.

Please comment or share any additional thoughts/info you might have, whether about historic houses in Apollo & environs, or about the 1980-81 Armstrong Historic Sites survey, or whatever’s on your mind. Thanks for reading!

Visit the website’s homepage at trubyfarmhouseapollopa.wordpress.com/

The image at the very top of this blog post is from a postcard of Terrace Ave, Apollo PA circa 1910.