Dedicated to my grandmother,
Ruth Lane McGary,
who loved Jesus and her family.
Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother of 12, Sunday School
Researcher, Writer, Caretaker, and Loving Hearted.
Matriarch of the LANE-McGARY families.
grandmother was Ruth Elizabeth Lane McGary (1912-2000) born in Wylandville,
Washington Co., PA. She had started genealogy research in the 1970s when
she realized she had no birth certificate. She focused her early
research on proving to Social Security that *she* indeed did exist. She
told that story to me, laughing at the insanity of proving to a government
body that she had been born and was alive!
quickly, her research re-ignited the stories her mother had told her as a
young child. Aunts and Uncles and great-aunts and great-uncles, some she
knew and some she never had met, all were vividly described as her mother did
chores around the house, shelling beans, making pies, rubbing clothes on the
washboard. In turn, when I began helping with genealogy research,
Grandma shared her mother's stories with me.
great-grandmother, Flora Wynona Waller Lane (called Nown), was a feisty lady
and head-strong child. One day when Flora was a small child, she told
her kin-folk she was going to "run away from home." No one
believed her until later in the day when no one could find her. Of
course they went looking, and they found her walking up "The Pike"
(Route 40) from Beallsville, PA.
Some unknown person along her walked route had given her many old hats, and
she had piled then on her head atop of each other, so that she had a stack of
hats high above her small face.
was also a grand woman, of small means but huge heart. When relative
Charlotte Waller Lutes gave birth to a daughter, Sarah, the baby needed
special care, so at three weeks old, Laura was being cared for by Flora.
Later when Charlotte died in childbirth, Flora took in the three small
children of James and Charlotte, Sarah and John, and raised them along with
her three children, Roy, Ruth and Vesta (her child, James T., died as a
baby). The house was also the second-home to most of the
neighborhood kids who visited throughout the day and evening. Indeed,
great-grandmother "Nona" or "Nown" was a special woman.
Grandma Ruthie often spoke of her mother as being very brave and very loving.
grandmother (Ruth) probably inherited this caretaking nature from her mother.
Because of illnesses with my dad, my sisters and I often spent time (days and
nights) at grandma's house. Then, after my father's death in 1970, my
mother's then-three-year illness became much worse. When my mother was
in the hospital for the last time beginning in September 1973, I went to live
with my grandparents. Two months later, my mother died. I then
lived with my grandparents until age 18, until six months before graduating
high school. As well, Ruth McGary cared for her other grandchildren at
various times. She once told me during one of our many
"grandmother- granddaughter talks" that she had "taken care of
many children not my own." Ruth Lane McGary actually had only four
children of her own, with just three surviving to adulthood (Betty Ruth,
Marcella Jean, Mary Gertrude, and Howard W. Jr. who died as a baby.)
But, through her life she had periodically cared for 12 grandchildren and
children of friends, plus provided a home to me from September 1973 to January
1975. And, in previous years, she had taught many years of Sunday School
classes at Allison Avenue, and many of those children came under her care and
From 1984 to 2000, I was given the stories of my family and extended family
and ancestors, through talks with my grandma and her letters. Just as
she had heard of long-dead ancestors from her mother, I learned about these
ancestors from my grandmother's stories. She had known and been close to
her Aunts and Uncles, most who had moved on to California and had died in the
early 1970s. Grandma had saved their letters, which I now have.
Other family members she had never met, but her stories gave me so much
information that I feel like I know them somewhat.
Grandma's focus in genealogy was more that just names and dates. She
knew and corresponded with several generations of families, and personally
knew 'cousins of cousins'. She cautioned me to be ever-mindful of the
feelings of our family members, especially when recording the many tragedies
of early deaths etc., common experiences of people worldwide. "Just
the facts, Ma'am" was one of grandma's mottos, but also "Be ever
protective of people's emotions." Like professional
confidants such as doctors, a genealogist may "hear much but record
none" of people's personal failings and misjudgments, especially of the
living. Genealogists must maintain a balance between gathering
"information" about individuals, and "telling all."
For example, one of the most painful events in a person's life may be the
accidental death of a baby or young child, causing guilt and blame among
family members, leading to divorces and other painful memories. This is
but one example where a genealogist can hurt people through their "love
of the hobby of genealogy." It is not always necessary to record
"everything;" sometimes recording "just enough
facts" is not only satisfactory, but necessary.
In 1983-84, Grandma taught me the research basics. I was her hands and
feet, traveling to the courthouse and library (just as my older sisters had
done for her when they were still in high school). She'd tell me what to
look for and later I'd call her to tell her what I had found, and she would
tell me what to look for next. Some days, we did this all day long until
the courthouse closed for the day. Through the first six months, I was
able to prove many of the facts she had needed.
she had been given a DAR
Application which supposedly connected us to a Bedford County PA soldier,
and I knew grandma's one big wish was to prove (or disprove) that DAR record.
By then, I had just graduated as a Registered Nurse, and had just
gotten my very first car (at age 26). Within months, I pointed that red
Chevette toward Bedford, PA, and went on a trip down the PA Turnpike for the
first time by myself (well, with my young daughter along for the ride!).
We stayed, ironically, at "Judy's Motel," a small family operated
business just outside of Bedford. Judy, the proprietor, was a kind young
woman, and I felt comforted being in a safe place on my first
"major" trip. But, by the end of my first day in Bedford, I
had to call grandma with the disheartening news that I thought the Bedford
County soldier was NOT our ancestor. Over the next months, we gathered
more and more proof that the DAR application was wrong.
With grandma's guidance and instruction, we continued to collect records on
our earliest known ancestors. My next big trip was to Frederick County,
MD where we got the marriage record of John Lane, Sr. Every
"find" was exciting for Grandma; her excitement was contagious!
It spurred me to look more, and try to prove more. Within a year, we
knew John Lane and Catherine Baker Lane had at least 4 children. And I
had found living descendants on 2 children (and grandma had compiled our main
branch). By 1989, we had gathered a lot of "facts" for our
first book. It was based on 20 pages grandma had typed 20 years earlier.
Those 20 pages ended up being expanded to over 150+ pages in our book Lane
Family History: Descendants of John Lane, Sr. co-authored by Ruth Lane
McGary and Judith Ann Florian (1990). The book includes the years 1794
to 1990. Grandma called that book her "labor of love"
and gave it as gifts to all of her grandchildren.
Grandma was always interested in her family, of every generation. Her
genealogy hobby came from her consistent interest in and contact with almost
every branch of Daniel Lane's descendants. I think she had maintained
contact with each of her first cousins, as well as her children's families.
Every grandchild felt a unique relationship with grandma because our
interactions were so very personalized. When she died in October of
2000, each of us shared a loss of the matriarchal figure of a
"grandmother" but also lost a friend.
Ruth Elizabeth Lane, Genealogy
May 16, 1912- Oct. 14, 2000
Buried in Beallsville Cemetery
Daughter of Francis E. "Frank" Lane and Flora
Wynona "Nown" Waller Lane
Wife of Howard "Wib" McGary
Mother of Betty Ruth McGary Lanik Peyton, Marcella Jean
Howard W. McGary, Jr., and Mary Gertrude McGary
Grandmother of twelve (with mothers listed beside each
|1. Diana Lynn Florian (1950) (Marcella)
2. Sarah Marie Peyton (1951) (Betty)
3. Catherine Louise Florian (1953-2003) (Marcella)
4. Ronald Eugene Lanik (1953) (Betty)
5. Deborah Ruth Jones (1953) (Mary)
6. Frances Colleen Florian (1954) (Marcella)
7. Denise Darlene Jones (1956) (Mary)
8. Judith Ann Florian (1957) (Marcella)
9. David Lee Peyton (1959) (Betty)
10. Karen Sue Peyton (1963) (Betty)
11. Kevin Eric Jones (1963) (Mary)
12. Wendy Sue Florian (1967) (Marcella)
View the All-Name Index
of the book, Lane Family History: Descendants of John Lane, Sr. by Ruth
Lane McGary and Judith Ann Florian. Contact webmaster about availability of this
Special acknowledgement to my co-researcher and co-author of
our 2nd book,
and co-trouble-maker, my sister Cathy Caldwell (deceased).
Tribute to Ruth Lane McGary.