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.

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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).

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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

It’s Time for a Commercial Break

Apollo’s Historic Business Buildings

Those of you who’ve been following the Truby Farmhouse Blog know we’ve occasionally taken a sidetracked look at the local historic structures described in the 1980-81 Armstrong County Historic Sites Survey. To date we’ve looked primarily at the residential buildings highlighted in the survey. But it turns out, several commercial buildings were also deemed noteworthy by the architectural historians who came to town, including 2 businesses built on lots that were once part of Simon Truby’s farmland in Apollo, Pennsylvania.

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Nellie Bly Dwells on Simon Truby’s Farm

Farmer Truby aids a widow & gives Nellie Bly a home

historicmarker

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