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

Truby Farm Mt. Joyc1990-fromLTouzeau
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.)

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.

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.

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.

The Capt Henry Truby farmhouse in Gilpin Twp is available for purchase as of February 2020. Read more at Capt. Henry Truby House for Sale in Gilpin Twp

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


  1. History of The Hill / Sober Farm
    This farm was bought up by Peter Berrickman and or Michael his son on July 1 1784 from William Husknia for the sum of 175 pounds. April 20, 1793, and was called in this and subsequent transfers the “Hustings Mill Seat.” Berrickman sold it to George Crawford.
    George Crawford sold it to Nicholas Klingensmith.
    Nicholas Klingensmith said if a certain very large tree on the farm should fall he would sell, as he would never take the time necessary to clear it up. A storm having uprooted the tree.
    The farm was sold to Squire John Hill Sr. by deed dated April 18, 1812; signed in German, and witnessed by Henry A. Weaver and Philip Bolen.
    The Hill family was of Scotch-Irish descent, and were pioneers of Western Pennsylvania . They came from “east of the mountains,”
    Squire John Hill Sr. was the ax expert started building log houses and barns, started Hill’ Mills on Kiskiminetas river at what is now Bagdad station. Planted the first Apple Orchard of 1,000 apple trees Manufactor of Wooden Moldboard plow and gunpowder, he also started the Riggle School.
    The three story red brick house was started by the Hill family in 1848 and finished in 1849. There was also large dairy barn, probably built before the house.
    Daniel N, Robert M and George H Sober bought the the Hill farm in 1908 at a sheriffs sale in 1908 for $7500. Daniel Hill was the last owner of the farm.
    D N Sober began the dairy farm with his sons George Howard and Robert Miller Sober and continued operating the dairy farm till his deat in 1939.
    George and Robert inherited the farm and ran it as equal partners till the death George in 1960. Robert Miller Sober bought out George’s part of the barn and equipment and continued farming till his death 1964.
    After Robert Miller Sober’s death, his wife Verna and daughter Dorothy continued living there till the death of Vern Sober in 1976.
    The farm was then equally divided by Glenn, Harol, Paul and Dorothy Sober. In the 1970’s the brick house was sold to David & Westley Powell, who researched the history of the home and partially restored it to the the original time period. David and his wife were divorced in middle of the restoration. The house was then sold to the current owners Bob and Margaret Scholtz.
    The house was completely restored by Bob and Margaret, and they built an addition and garage that is in the period of the house.
    Lloyd Sober 5/9/2015

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow Lloyd – I love this! Thanks for sharing the history of John Hill Sr/Sober house and farm. It sounds like the Sober family was farming the land beginning around the same time as the Clark family on the Capt Henry Truby farm, starting in the early 1900s. Probably, those families knew each other! Would love to know more about the location of this farm, as there seems to have been several “Hill farms” in the region, probably children or brothers of John Hill Sr.
    In fact, farmer Simon Truby of Apollo ended up owning one of the Hill farms in Parks Township in the late 1800s after a court battle involving John W. Hill. After Simon Truby’s death, his son Winchester Hill Truby ended up owning and managing that farm & raising his children there. I haven’t yet researched the fate of that Hill/Truby farm. Thank you again for the info!


  3. Hi Again,
    Could you send me your e-mail address and or call me ?
    I have some pictures that will interest you.
    The Hill family I sent you are the same family as Elizabeth J Hill and Alvina Hill.
    Lloyd Sober
    785-272-1044 anytime


    1. Hi Again,
      Could you send me your e-mail address and or call me ?
      I have some pictures that will interest you.
      The Hill family I sent you are the same family as Elizabeth J Hill and Alvina Hill.
      Lloyd Sober
      785-272-1044 anytime


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