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)


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:


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


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.


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:


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.


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.


    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.


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.

Which Simon Truby?

Avoid Mistaken Identities

Turns out, Simon Truby was not a unique name in Western Pennsylvania back in the early 1800s. The Simon Truby who built the brick farmhouse in Apollo was born on June 15, 1806 (as calculated from the dates on his tombstone in the old Apollo Cemetery). But at least 3 other Simon Trubys were born in nearby communities around that same time—including 2 reportedly born in that same year—which can complicate matters for those researching family histories. (More about these “other” Simon Trubys at the end of this post.)

Old Apollo Cemetery, Apollo, PA

Simon and Elizabeth Truby tombstone, Old Apollo Cemetery, Apollo, PA. Photo by Vicki Contie.

It’s easy to get confused about which person is which, especially since first names often get recycled within families. Genealogical databases like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org sometimes add to inaccuracies by propagating erroneous information that’s been uploaded by family members/users. Family trees on Ancestry.com have a jumble of half-truths about the various Simon Trubys from the early 1800s.

Choose Your Source. The best source of information about farmer Simon Truby of Apollo and his descendants can be found in the town of Apollo, Pennsylvania—particularly in the Apollo Memorial Library’s genealogy section. This gem of a resource has binders and vertical files of records on many local families. Some binders have old newspaper clippings of marriages, obituaries, births, etc.

A wonderful binder on the Truby family was prepared in 1970 by Mrs. Grace Bush Armitage under the auspices of the Fort Hand Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mrs. Armitage (wife of William O. Armitage) acknowledges Mr. and Mrs. Simon Truby of North Apollo for sharing significant and extensive family records that served as a backbone for her research. North Apollo’s Simon Thompson Truby (1893-1976) was a grandson of Apollo’s original Simon Truby, who built the old brick farmhouse on Terrace Ave.

Simon Truby’s Forebears. Apollo’s original Simon Truby (1806-1886) had 2 wives—Sarah Woodward and Elizabeth Hill—and 9 children (more about them in a future blog post). This Simon Truby is the great-grandson of Christopher (1700-1753) and Maria Catherine Truby (1702-1757), both born in Switzerland; they arrived in Philadelphia in 1731. Christopher and Maria had 6 children, including Col. Christopher Truby (1736—1801), who is Simon’s grandfather.

Col. Christopher Truby was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and he owned much of the land that makes up present-day Greensburg, PA. Read more about Col. Christopher Truby here: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=14439611 .

Col. Christopher Truby married Isabella (Sybilla) Bauman in 1760, and they had 7 children, including John Truby (1772-1854), who is Simon’s father. John Truby married Magdelena Reamer (called Mary, born in 1774); the couple is reportedly buried in the old Apollo Cemetery. John and Mary had 7 children: Elizabeth (born 1798 in Westmoreland County); Henry (1800-1882); William (1802-1875); George (born 1804); Simon Truby of Apollo (1806-1886); John T. (1808- ); and Marshall (1819-).


Henry Truby’s Diary. Additional confirmation that Apollo’s Simon Truby had the above parents and siblings comes from the diary of Simon’s brother, Henry Truby (1800-1882), as transcribed by Grace Bush Armitage and located in the Apollo Library. Henry’s diary covers November 1843 through to the 1870s, and it includes several undated newspaper clippings. Henry notes that his father was John Truby; his mother Mary Reemer; and his grandfather Christopher Truby, who died Aug 26, 1802 (although this account says he died 20 February 1802), and who fought in the Indian War under General Harmon. A newspaper clipping apparently dated sometime after 1886 notes that Betsy Brown (nee Truby) of Gilpin had 6 brothers—3 of whom were still living (George Truby, residing in Tarentum; John T. Truby at Mt. Joy in Gilpin PA; and Marshall Truby in Will County, Illinois) and 3 of whom had already died (Simon, William, and Henry Truby).

Three Other Simons. Don’t get confused! These Simon Trubys are sometimes conflated with Apollo’s original Simon Truby. They all appear to be related, as they share the same grandfather or great-grandfather: Col. Christopher Truby.

  • Simon Truby born Apr 14, 1806, in Greensburg; died Dec 5, 1897 in Mechanicsburg, Indiana County PA. This Simon was born the same year as Apollo’s original Simon Truby. But this Simon is the 11th child of Michael Truby and Mary Anna Kline. It turns out, both Simon Trubys are the grandsons of Col. Christopher Truby. So these 2 Simon Trubys were first cousins born in the same year with the same name.
  • Simon Truby, born 1806, supposed son of Jacob Truby and Mary Lauffer. This Jacob Truby is also a son of Col. Christopher Truby, making all 3 of these Simon Trubys first cousins born in the same year. I suspect that this relationship is in error. If you have or know of evidence to support a Simon Truby born to Jacob and Mary Lauffer Truby, please let me know! This Simon is sometimes said to have been born on June 15, the same date as Apollo’s Simon Truby.
  • Simon Truby of Kittanning, born August 17, 1826; died April 28, 1894. He’s the 3rd son of John Truby Esq. (1784-1875) and his wife Lavinia Wible; this Simon’s grandfather is Michael and Mary Anna Kline. Like Apollo’s Simon Truby, Simon Truby of Kittanning was born and lived in Armstrong County, PA. Both Simons also had fathers named John Truby. This Simon Truby served as the Postmaster in Kittanning and as the county Prothonotary. Simon Truby of Kittanning married Anna Jane Mosgrove (1832-1893) and had 6 children.

As always, if you have additional information about the Truby family you’d be willing to share, please get in touch!

– Vicki Contie