On Saturday, April 28, 2018, the Apollo Area Historical Society hosted a tour of the Apollo & Riverview Cemeteries. We visited the grave sites of prominent and not so well-known citizens of Apollo from the distant past to present day. Here are the various re-enactors and their scripts.
The Civil War Circle of Honor (Ray Rusz)
My name is Ray Rusz and I represent the Civil War Soldiers buried here at the Circle of Honor and throughout the Cemetery. In 1861 when President Lincoln asked for volunteers, the town of Apollo responded with about 261 men, 58% of the male population, over 100 of those brave men are buried in this Cemetery. The cannon pointed skyward in some circles represents the headquarters of a general and in this case it is fitting because we have Brigadier General Samuel M. Jackson, buried in the mausoleum in another part of the cemetery, but his original burial place was just over the hillside on the original entrance to the cemetery he helped to design.
The men in the Circle of Honor are as diverse as the citizens of Apollo itself.
We have Eden Eakman, of Peg Town, a substitute who was paid $ 100.00 to serve for another man. He also collected a pension of $ 6.00 a month in 1890 for service connected disabilities.
Daniel McClain, a Black Soldier, who served in the 39th United States Colored Troop, USCT, 39th Regiment Company I
Andres Sheasley, who deserted from the 204th Regiment 5th Artillery Co M but because he came back and served out his time, no charges were ever brought against him and he was honorably discharged. He was granted amnesty by President Lincoln.
Jeremiah Brubaker, who was a prisoner of war and survived the POW camp at Salibury, NC.
James Saltsgiver was drafted and Alexander Long served in a Militia Unit, a unit where they served from 2 weeks to 90 days.
Benjamin Shearer served in the 103rd Regiment Company C, described by some as the unluckiest unit in the Army and died at an Old Soldiers Home in Erie, Pa.
Daniel Keiflin served in the 74th Regiment Co G.
Two other soldiers I would like to point out are, John B Guthrie, who formed Guthrie’s Unattached Militia and James Hunter 159th Regiment 14th Cavalry Company M who has a cenotaph, a memorial in another cemetery, his is at the notorious Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia, marker 11219, under the name Ames Hunter, they forgot the J on his tombstone. He died of Scorbutus, Scurvy.
These 8 men who make up the Circle of Honor and the other 2 all had one thing in common, they came from here, they returned here and they loved their hometown and you should also.
In the years following the Civil War, veterans across the country established Fraternal Organizations known as Grand Army of the Republic Posts. On January 21, 1878 Post Number 89 of the G.A.R. was organized in Apollo with 29
members. The post was named after Corporal Charles S. Whitworth who was killed in the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864. There were five G.A.R. Post 89 members still living in 1916 when Apollo celebrated its Centennial. In 1907 G.A.R. Post 89 of Apollo erected this memorial to honor those who served in the “War of Rebellion” as it was commonly called then. The granite base holds a Dahlgren Naval Gun pointing skyward. This gun, weighing 4,521 pounds, was made by the Cyrus Alger & Company, Boston, MA in 1866, and used a 32 pound shell. Service of these guns was entirely naval and they were not used on land. Several markings can be seen on the gun including an anchor and initials of naval inspectors.
Cora Henry, wife of Dr. T.J. Henry (Alexandra Enciso)
My name is Cora Cochran Henry. I was the wife of Dr. Thomas J. Henry, a much
beloved physician here in Apollo. I am his first wife. I was born on November 11, 1861. I would like to tell Thomas’ story. He was born on November 3, 1858 here in Apollo. His early education was secured in the public and select schools of Apollo and at Eldersridge Academy. Before taking up medical work Thomas taught school and was principal of the Franklin school at Conemaugh, Pennsylvania. He studied medicine under Dr. W. B. Ansley and completed his course at the medical department of the University of Wooster, located in Cleveland, Ohio. Later Thomas took a post-graduate course at the Philadelphia Polyclinic. In 1884 he settled in Penn Run, where he practiced three years. In 1887 our family came back to Apollo. Thomas belonged to the Armstrong County Medical Society and the
Pennsylvania State Medical Society, and was a member of the American Medical Association. He was an official examiner for the United States Marine Corps. Fraternally he was a Mason, being connected with Blue Lodge No. 437. In politics he was a Republican. Thomas served on the borough council and school board several years, and was a director of the First National bank of this city. During his long practice Thomas was very successful and was regarded as one of the more prosperous physicians in this area. Thomas was the author of “The History of Apollo 1816-1916”, a definitive history of Apollo’s first hundred years. A copy of this little book may be purchased at the Apollo Area Historical Society museum. Thomas & I had three sons, Arthur, Edwin , and little Harold who tragically died when he was two years old with me while we were crossing the old train bridge on July 10, 1895. Thomas remarried Margaret Elder and had another son, Leland who became a doctor like him. Thomas passed away on May 30, 1945 at age 86.
Eugene Chambers (Ben Seevers)
My name is Eugene Chambers. I was born on March 17, 1919 in Armstrong County. My parents were Paul F. & Violet P. Chambers and I had a brother Wiley. I’d like to share some of my family history. Way back in 1847, my ancestor John Chambers came to Apollo. He ran a freight & passenger boat named the “Apollo Packet” on the Pennsylvania Canal between Apollo & Pittsburgh for several years. Then he opened a store and was quite successful for 18 years. He helped lay out the Apollo Cemetery in 1868 with Thomas Cochran and Sam Jackson. When the Apollo Savings Bank was organized in 1871, John Chambers was elected president and held that office until his death in 1886. John & Martha Chambers had a son, James who was born on May 21, 1838. I want to talk a bit about him because his story coincides with mine. James served in the Civil War as a First Lieutenant in Company C, 103rd Regiment of the
Pennsylvania Volunteers. Upon leaving the service, he built the Chambers House in 1889. The elegant building is still located on the corner of First Street and Warren Avenue in the very business center of town. James was quite proud of this building and advertised that it was very up to date with running water, gas heated rooms, and electric bell pulls to summon a maid. The hotel was bought by Mr. & Mrs. Hartman in 1912 . They changed the name to The Hartman House. Here is where my story comes in. I was just out of high school when I joined the Army Air Corps, Philippine Department on September 17, 1940. At age 22, I was a Private First Class in the 18th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. I was the first service member from Apollo killed in what became known as World War II. The Apollo American Legion, which met in the hotel, petitioned to have the hotel name changed back to Chambers Hotel in my honor, which was done. I’m proud to have the Chambers name back on the hotel since my family has played a big part in so much of Apollo’s history. After I was brought home from Pearl Harbor, I was laid to rest in the Riverview Cemetery. My grave site is just below the flagpole up there.
Catherine Cochran (Nevin Herr)
My name is Catherine Cochran. I was born around 1783 near Baltimore, Maryland. I married Robert Cochran who died in 1814. As a young widow, I came from
Crawford’s Mill, Pennsylvania to Warren. I liked the looks of the place and decided to settle here. I was actually one of the first settlers here. It was called Warren’s Sleeping Place, some say after an old Indian chief of that name or after that Indian trader Edward Warren of Philadelphia. No one knows exactly, and there is no sign of a Warren being buried around here. The town’s name had to be changed in 1848 to Apollo since there was already a Warren in eastern Pennsylvania. When we arrived here in Warren, my oldest son John who was 12 helped clear a lot of the land within the town limits. In 1830, I was assessed as having 1 house (lot #34) 1 head of cattle, and $31. Not too bad for a widow of those days! My daughter Polly Wilson later became the owner of my log cabin on Indiana Street. My son Greenberry, while yet a young lad, helped haul logs from Hickory Bottom for the other log cabins in the town. My younger son Michael became a blacksmith and cutler on Main Street. He always stamped his name on his cutlery because he was proud of it. Michael later became a Justice of the Peace in the township. He married Catherine Murphy and they started their family in a log house on what is now 217 South Second Street. They had ten children within 20 years. Catherine died in 1857 and in 1858 he married Mary Jane Cummings. They had 5 children together, giving him a total of 15 children! One of my granddaughters, Elizabeth, went on to become the noted reporter Nellie Bly.
Elizabeth Cochrane, aka Nellie Bly (Lauren Newton)
My name is Elizabeth Cochrane. I’m visiting here from the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York. I’m sure many of you have heard of me by my pen name, Nellie Bly. As such, I’ve done a lot of investigative journalism and have led the battle against discrimination against women and children. My career with the Pittsburgh “Dispatch” was the first of many papers and magazines which gave me employment in my lifetime. Taking my pen name from composer Stephen Foster’s song “Nelly Bly”, I exposed abuses in politics, employment and dereliction of duty in hospitals and prisons. I think my worldview was strongly influenced after my father Judge Michael Cochran’s death in 1871 when I was just 6 years old. For some reason, he died without a will so my mother and my four siblings and I were forced to sell
our big house and move to a smaller house in Apollo. My mother then married a drunk who beat her. When she eventually decided to divorce him, I had to give testimony and that was not a pleasant experience for a young girl. We moved to Pittsburgh and I wrote an letter to the editor opposing the view that women weren’t good for much. The rest is history as I became a reporter and traveled around the world. After a very exciting career in journalism, I married Robert L. Seaman, a millionaire industrialist 40 years older than me, and I retired from journalism. After a ten year marriage, he died and I took over managing his manufacturing company, The Iron Clad Manufacturing Company. I now have several patents in my name for barrels! I passed away on January 22, 1922 at the age of 57 and as I mentioned, am buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
Stella Bollinger (Jaiya Slusar)
My name is Stella May Cochran Bollinger. My mother, Martha Jackson Cochran was General Samuel Jackson’s sister so I’m his niece. I was married to Charles Wesley Bollinger. I’m going to tell his story first. Charles Bollinger was born on Jul. 24, 1860 in Apollo right at the start of the Civil War. His father, Oliver Perry Bollinger was a physician in Apollo after serving in the Civil War in the 78th regiment. Charles didn’t want to follow in his footsteps as a doctor, but instead became a pharmacist. He opened his store, CW Bollinger Drugs and Ice Cream on North Fourth Street in 1883. Heran the store for 55 years before he retired in December 1938. The drugstore wasn’t his only interest though. In 1878, he published the Apollo Review, a small 4
page sheet. Unfortunately it only ran for a few months, but then 1894 he started the Advertiser which his brothers and he continued it until 1897. In August & Sept. of 1894, Charles began experimenting with telephones which always fascinated him. Charles convinced six or seven businesses to let him run lines to each, connecting the phones on one line. I think people thought he was crazy. This method worked, but not too well. He got some more subscribers and with T.J. Baldrige formed a company called the B & B Telephone Company. They purchased a switch board from Viaduct Telephone Com of Baltimore. By Oct. 30 1894, they had erected poles, connected up the phones and established an exchange in the store building on N. Fourth St. Miss Anna Cochran was their first operator. In Jan. 1895, Mr. Baldrige retired from the company and Charles continued the business alone, still gradually adding to the subscribers. In 1901 F.W. Jackson bought an interest, but sold it the same year to H.W. Walker. They continued in partnership until Oct. 1902 when a stock company of Apollo citizens was formed. It was called the Apollo Telephone Company. The capital stock was $10,000 which in those days was a nice amount of money. In 1908 it was consolidated with the Kittanning Telephone Company. At the age of 79 on Jun. 10, 1939, Charles passed away and was laid to rest here in the cemetery. While Charles was busy around town, I also kept busy with civic work. I was once president of the Woman’s Club of Kiskiminetas Valley which was organized in 1908 & federated the same year. This was the first federated club in the valley and included in its membership women from neighboring towns. Regular meetings were held twice a month in WCTU Building club room. The club took an active part in the civic movements of Apollo, including the 1916 Centennial Celebration. We women initiated a number of movements for the betterment of the town, including the placement of public fountains and waste baskets. The Woman’s Club presented the first sanitary drinking fountain to our public school. My husband and I think we did a lot to improve the town of Apollo. I passed away on March 14, 1956 and also am buried here in the cemetery.
Elizabeth Truby (Vicki Contie)
My name is Elizabeth Hill Truby, but most folks call me Betsy. I was born in 1826 in Parks Township, one of the 8 children of Jacob Honorable Hill and his wife Hannah Ulam. Around 1846, when I was 20 years old, I married widowed farmer Simon Truby, who was twice my age. He had just bought 150 acres of land that today are part of Apollo, Pegtown, and North Apollo. Simon had built our brick farmhouse on a vacant hillside, and he cleared the surrounding land to make fertile fields. Today that house still stands on streets that didn’t exist back then. The Truby farmhouse is
at 708 Terrace Ave, at the corner of Terrace & N 8th Street. Farm life was hard. But fortunately, we eventually had 9 children who helped with chores. We tended the cows, chickens, and pigs, and harvested our crops of corn, oats, & hay. In peak years, our Truby farm made 400 pounds of butter & 60 pounds of honey in one year. We had 40 sheep that supplied 100 pounds of wool; and 35 chickens that laid over 300 dozen eggs in one year. Our orchard had 200 apple trees and 40 peach trees. We helped keep Apollo’s families well-fed! When industries like the steel mill started to expand, workers needed homes, so Simon and I sold small plots of land at the lower edge of our farm. About one-third of our sales were to women, including widows. In fact, Nellie Bly’s widowed mom bought a plot from us in in 1870, when she had to downsize after her husband died. Nellie’s mom built her own modest home that today is on N 6th Street. (511 N 6th Street). My husband Simon Truby lived to age 80. When he died in 1886, his will stated that he wanted me to continue farming the land for the rest of my life. But by then I was age 60 and had had enough of farming. Besides, Apollo industries were still booming. And my children and I saw that we could make serious money by dividing the farm into hundreds of residential lots. These were sold over several decades, from about 1890 to 1920. My oldest son Henry bought the Truby farmhouse, and I lived there with him and his family—including 8 of my grandchildren—for the rest of my life. I’m lucky that I had dozens of grandkids right here in Apollo. Some are buried nearby in this cemetery. Our Truby family is proud to have played an important role in the history of Apollo. And we’re delighted that our land helped to grow a booming community for working men and women.
Laird Boarts (Robert Kane)
My name is Laird S. Boarts. I was born April 29, 1908, in Whitesburg, Pennsylvania and lived in Apollo for most of my life before moving to Florida in 1976. I retired as a district manager in 1973 from State Farm Insurance, having grown my agency into one of the most recognized in the state. I was a member of the Apollo United Presbyterian Church since 1924, and was an officer and committee person for many years. I had many other interests. I served on the board of directors of Apollo Trust for 46 years. I served as chairman of the Apollo American Red Cross. I was also
instrumental in organizing the Apollo Chamber of Commerce. I was the recipient of a 50 year membership pin and certificate from the Apollo Masonic Lodge. I was a life member of the Apollo Elks Lodge and the Lions Club and the Pittsburgh Syria Shrine, a member of the Apollo Elks Country Club, the Apollo Civic Advancement Group, and I served as a committeeman for the Boys Scouts of America. I obviously enjoyed being involved in community activities and helping my friends and neighbors. One of my interests was history. I’m proud to say that I was one of the founders of the Apollo Historical Society when it purchased the Drake Log Cabin, one of Apollo’s oldest buildings. I supervised the restoration of the cabin which needed much work. We replaced logs, windows, and shingles on the outside, as well as tore off the front porch which had been added later. We gutted the inside of the cabin and restored it to its 1800’s condition, including a field stone fireplace instead of the pot-bellied stove that was there. I’m happy that the cabin is still open to the public today. Be sure to stop by sometime and see what is there! I loved my family which consisted of my first wife, Mary Whitlinger Boarts who died in 1976; my second wife, Mary Hemphill Boarts who died in 1995; a son, David and his wife Cathryn of Lehigh Acres, Fla.; a daughter, Dorothy Shaffer and her husband James of Camden, S.C.; five grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. On Jan. 9, 2003 I passed away at age 94. My grave site is across from the flag pole. I had a good long life and I’m glad to have had a part in making Apollo what it is today.
Franklin Garris (John Kautz)
My name is Franklin Garris. I was born on July 23, 1879 just down the river in
Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. After the war, in 1925, my wife, Mae, and I moved into one of the few remaining log cabins in Apollo. We had four children, Frances Wilson, Florence Gamble, Thelma Garris, and Frank Thomas Garris plus Mae’s son, Art Webber. I worked as a carpenter until my death at age 49 in 1928 from heart problems.
Mabel Garris Shirey (Bonnie Kautz)
My name is Mabel Garris Shirey, but you can call me Mae. I lived in Drake’s Log Cabin just over the hill. You know what I’m talking about? It’s named for Mrs. Sarah Drake who bought the cabin in 1862 when she was about 30 years old . As my first husband Frank stated earlier, we moved into the cabin in 1925. When Frank passed away, I continued to live in the cabin with my four children. My oldest son Art Webber lived with an aunt. Sadly my daughter Thelma passed away from appendicitis when she was only 14 years old. I married Ralph Shirey and we stayed in the cabin. We never had running water or an indoor bathroom. We had a spring outside and an outhouse and it never hurt any of us! The cabin was much bigger than it is today because we added several rooms as well as a nice front porch. I never wanted to leave the cabin, so I lived there after my husband died and my children left home. My grandchildren have
many memories of visiting me in that old cabin. Every time I made apple dumplings, I swear the grandkids could smell them from over the hill and would come visit. After I passed away in 1965, my daughter Frances and her husband Samuel Wilson wanted to sell the cabin to someone who would appreciate it and not tear it down. In 1970, the Apollo Area Historical Society was formed for the express purpose of saving the cabin. They bought it for $1000. The cabin needed much work since the Society wanted to restore it to its original early 1800’s condition. They removed the additions, as well as the front porch. Several logs were replaced as well as windows. They’ve put a lot of labor into the cabin and it looks wonderful today. I know I appreciated it during the forty years I lived there. Please try to visit it someday; you’ll be glad you did!
Tour Guides, Ticket Takers, and Parking Crew
There were many helpers for the tour also. Our tour guides were Becky Kane, Ashten Slusar, Kim Zelonka, Michael Ott, and Cassie Booth. Our ticket takers were Russ & Helen Fry. Our parking crew was Joseph Ott, Victor Griffin, Joe Kerr, and Mike Zelonka. If I forgot anyone, please let me know. A BIG Thank you to all who participated!!
From the replies that I received from those whom I asked, the tour was a success. Next year again? This Autumn?
Hmmm, autumn might work… Thanks, Joe!
Very interesting program. Reenactors did a great job. The whole hour was very informative and I am glad I was able to attend.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.
I hope you have this affair again. I was unable to attend today but I so enjoyed reading the stories. Thanks for sharing and thanks for all your hard work.
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We are considering doing this again; perhaps next summer…
Just a note that we are doing this again on June 15,2019 if you can make it, Carol!
Another wonderful AAHS event! So interesting to “meet” some of the personalities that helped to build our town. I learned a lot of details I hadn’t known, like about Bollinger’s role in bringing phone lines to Apollo & the connection to Jackson, Cochran, & Baldrige familes. … and the details about the Chambers & about Frank & Mae Shirey…and all of it was great. Thanks for posting all the scripts & photos here – and thanks for organizing such a fun event!
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Thanks, Vicki! And your portrayal of Betsy Truby was excellent as well!
Thank you so much for posting this information. I enjoyed reading about the tour and the cemetary; and seeing the photos. I will share the post for my other friends who do not live in Apollo anymore.
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Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for sharing!