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Life in Washington Co., PA "Little Washington" 
1700s to Present


Dedicated to my grandmother,
Ruth Lane McGary,
who loved Jesus and her family.
Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother of 12, Sunday School Teacher, Genealogy
Researcher, Writer, Caretaker, and Loving Hearted.
Matriarch of the LANE-McGARY families.

My grandmother, Ruth Elizabeth Lane McGary (1912-2000) was born in Wylandville, Washington Co., PA. She 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!

Very 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.

My 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.

Flora 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.

My 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 guidance.

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.

But, 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 2000, each of us shared a loss of the matriarchal figure of a "grandmother" but also lost a friend.

Christ in dark sky

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 McGary Florian,
Howard W. McGary, Jr., and Mary Gertrude McGary.

Grandmother of twelve (with mothers listed beside each child):

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 book.

Index to My Family's Pages

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.



This page was last updated on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 17:54

Judith Ann Florian
Girard, Ohio 44420

Copyright Notice - Data / info. for individuals and surnames may be reproduced for personal family histories only, but not for any commercial use or sale. Please give credit to Judith Florian and Catherine L. Caldwell for newspaper items and original documents. You may use J. Florian's research conclusions if credit is given. No other data or images may be reproduced without permission. © 2005 to present, Judith Florian, Copyright All rights reserved.

Backgrounds by Marie. The background was chosen specifically to emphasize the matriarchal role of women in "the life" of children and families, and the resilience of all the women of southwestern Pennsylvania.