A Search for Ruth Roots

by Loren Meissner 1998

My wife's great-grandfather was Blair Ruth. She knew very little about him except that he was born in Scottdale PA and that he moved from Sewickley (just west of Pittsburgh) to Englewood KS (a few miles east of Liberal, and close to the OK border) before 1900.

A search for the Ruth family in Broderbund World Family Tree Archives led me to "Blaire Ruth" in Volume 5, Tree 3478. (As I found out later, the submitter had lived in Scottdale.) I copied this archive and began processing it, selecting direct ancestors of "Blaire Ruth" and descendants of those ancestors to the fourth generation, plus any parents and grandparents that had not already been included.

In the selected data base, I noticed that a lot of information was entered as "Facts" that I would have considered "Notes," so I started reformatting these items. Since the space allocated to "Facts" by the software is quite limited, the text contained many abbreviations.

Several of these notes stated that the individual was buried in the "Alte Menist" cemetery at Pennsville, Bullskin Twp, Fayette Co, PA. I could not find Pennsville on my map (but I found it later). I understood that "alte" is the German word for "old" but I thought that the compiler was using "Menist" as an abbreviation for something like "Mennonitist." Several of the notes stated that the individual was a Mennonite; in some cases even a Mennonite minister. I learned that Fayette County and its neighbor, Westmoreland County, are the heartland of traditional Mennonite country in Eastern Pennsylvania, some 30 miles southeast of downtown Pittsburgh.

In an attempt to find the correct spelling for the name of the cemetery, I looked in the Internet directory for Fayette County and located the Public Library at Uniontown. I spoke with a curator in the "Pennsylvania Room," a research facility at the library that specializes in local genealogy and other subjects. She was on her way out to lunch, so I told her what my interest was, and I called her again later in the afternoon. She told me, first of all, that "Alte Menist" is the actual name of the cemetery at Pennsville; "Menist" was the German term for "Mennonite" that was used in the area. The cemetery is just west of Pennsville toward Everson and Scottdale; my Rand McNally road map of Pennsylvania shows "Frick birthplace" as a historical site that must be very close to the location of the old cemetery. She said that a very good source of information about the early history of this area is a book called "Along the Banks of Jacobs Creek: A Genealogy of the Mennonite Community," published by the Mennonite Publishing House in Scottdale PA. She was reading some of her information from this book, which she had taken from the shelf while waiting for my return call.

The author of this book now lives (1998) in Scottdale; I found her listed on the Internet. She told me that the book is unfortunately out of print, but she offered to send me copies of some relevant pages concerning the early Ruth residents of the area. She offered to also send me some material that she had received from a Ruth family member from Dunlap IL (since deceased); this material had been published in a Ruth genealogy compiled some time ago by Warren R. Kriebel of Souderton PA. She also knew about a researcher of the Sherrick family (Blair Ruth's grandmother was a Sherrick) in Adinboro PA. And she had known a fellow named Ruth who was probably a close relative of Blair Ruth. He is now deceased, but has a niece still living in Mount Pleasant PA. I found three listings with the correct surname in the Internet phone directory for Mount Pleasant. I called the first one and, after explaining my connection to the Ruth family, was told that the third phone number on my list was one I wanted.

When I called the niece's number, I reached her answering machine. By this time it was evening in Pennsylvania, so I left a message briefly explaining my interest, and promising to call back the next day. When I reached her, she had gotten out her books. She turns out to be a granddaughter of Blair Ruth's brother Frank, and thus a second cousin of my wife's mother. This lady has done some genealogical work herself, and she promised to send me copies of what she has. In return, of course I will send her what I have on Blair's descendants. She says that her records agree with ours, in spelling Blair's name without an "e" at the end. She knew nothing else about him, except that he had moved to Kansas and had apparently lost touch with his family.

She is also learning to use Family Tree Maker. Her son (my wife's third cousin) works for PeopleSoft, a software company in Washington DC, and he is in the process of relocating to California, about 40 miles from where I live. The mother says that she has been looking forward to visiting her son and seeing California after he moves; and now she would also like to visit with us when she comes. She is "recently retired," so I take it that she is quite a bit younger than her second cousin (my wife's mother) who died last year at the age of 87. All of this will of course become plain from her records.

This shows what you can do with World Family Tree archives, Internet directories, the phone company, a County Library with efficient and helpful researchers, some other friendly individuals, and a lot of persistence.


Submitter of World Family Tree, Vol 5, #3478: Susan S. Jones.

Public Library, Uniontown PA (Vicky, curator in Pennsylvania Room) <PH> 1-412-437-1165.

Author of "Along the Banks of Jacobs Creek": Winifred Paul

Ruth family researcher: James W Ruth; 1045 Hiawatha Ct; Dunlap IL 61525

Sherrick researcher: James Wiley Sherrick

Granddaughter of Frank Ruth: Margaret (Peg) Milliron; Her son's name is Tom.
(Frank Ruth's son "Cash" was known to Winifred Paul; his daughter was Edith who married Doncaster. Margaret's maiden name is Doncaster.)

Beebe and Ruth families: CLICK HERE
This page was last updated 19 February 2012