Truby Farmhouse Prepares for Transition

Brief Summing Up of the House’s History

Dear Apollo-area history lovers: When I started this blog over 3 years ago, in anticipation of Apollo’s 200th anniversary celebration in 2016, I never imagined that our family would be putting this old brick house on the market within the next few years. But that is where we are today. In fact, after only about a week on the market, we’ve accepted an offer on the house, and we hope all stages of the sale process will go smoothly. Continue reading

Family Home Transitions: Good? Bad? Inevitable.

Greetings dear Apollo-Area history lovers! I’ve taken a more-than-yearlong hiatus from the Simon Truby Farmhouse blog while tending to family and personal matters. Although I haven’t been writing, I’ve continued to investigate local history, and there are dozens of Apollo- and Truby-related stories I still intend to write and share on this website. Please stay tuned to this channel.

The blog’s silence has been due to the illness and passing of my beloved mom, Becky Frayer, who had been the owner and caretaker of the Simon Truby farmhouse at 708 Terrace Ave in Apollo for more than 43 years.

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

Simon Truby in the Books

Hunting for Hints in Regional Histories

A Man of Many Hats

Apollo’s Simon Truby (1806-1886) listed his occupation as Farmer in census records and historic maps. But dig into the local history books, and brief mentions of Simon Truby help piece together a broader picture of the man.

Man's Chip Hat

Man’s chip hat. Circa 1832. Made in U.S. of straw, silk, & grosgrain ribbon. Image courtesy www.lacma.org

Turns out, Simon Truby was a man of many hats. He was not only a prolific farmer but also a sawmill operator, a coal miner, a founding member of Apollo’s Lutheran church, a real estate developer, and a gentleman who sported a chip hat. Most of these details were found only in the history books, and not in any of the other records I’ve examined to date. And the details provide ideas for further investigation via other types of records. 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.

    IMG_20150821_124958_749

    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/

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.

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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!

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
1861-KiskiTwp-Apollo

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.