Tea for Three

Ma Truby, Ma Mullen, & My 3-G Grandma Harrington Were the Ladies Who Lunch (allegedly)

Apollo farmer Simon Truby was married to his second wife Elizabeth Hill Truby (1826-1901) for more than 35 years, until his death in 1886. After Simon’s death, Elizabeth – known to her friends as Betsy or “Ma Truby”– found herself in her big rambling brick farmhouse, living with her eldest son Henry and his family, including 8 of Betsy’s grandchildren (see photo at end of article). Meanwhile, all around her, the Truby farm was being subdivided into hundreds of lots. New homes and streets were being built, and new families moving in.

With Simon gone, Betsy surely needed a friend to socialize with and confide in; son Henry Truby and his wife Sarah Belle Whitlinger were busy raising their children and managing what remained of the dwindling farm. Fortunately, Ma Truby seems to have found such a friend—a woman around the same age who had moved into a sprawling new house on N 7th Street, diagonally behind the Truby farmhouse. That woman—Ma Truby’s new friend—was my great-great-great grandma Mary E (Ryan) Harrington (1838-1922).

Continue reading

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

Nellie Bly Dwells on Simon Truby’s Farm

Farmer Truby aids a widow & gives Nellie Bly a home

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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

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. Continue reading

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/

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.

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-).

ChristopherTrubyTree-SimonArrows

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