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