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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 8 years, 17 days
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Bio and Links
Bio Photo Prompted by an eighth grade assignment to construct a family tree, Jim Owston has been interested in collecting genealogical and historical data for over 40 years.

As part of this assignment, the discovery of a yellowed newspaper clipping detailing the 1929 death of his great-great grandmother, Sarah Ann Merriman, prompted an initial visit to her grave site at the McKeesport-Versailles Cemetery in 1968. He was pleased to add this grave to Find A Grave as a new contributor in 2008.

He has traced all the lines of his family back at least four generations. His direct ancestors include the following:

Four Civil War veterans (John Merriman, Thomas W. Day, John C. Brakeall, & George W. Staley).

A decorated Royal Navy warrant officer that served in the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars: William Owston.

At least two Revolutionary War veterans (William Gardner & David Gardner).

A soldier in Captain Beer's company in King Philip's War — John Gustin, who was born as Augustine Jean de le Tocq in the Bailiwick of Jersey in the Channel Islands.

The Plantagenet royal house of England and Anjou via 3 Gardner lines that merge. This lineage includes 60 European kings and 8 canonized saints.

Members of the Waldensian sect that escaped religious persecution in southern France by traversing the Alps into Germany - the Maneval/Manewal family. His great-grandmother, Marie Katherine Manewal Schad was his most recent relative born with the Maneval surname.

Among the Quakers who traveled with William Penn to the colonies was his ancestor Thomas French who settled in Burlington, NJ.

His ancestors came from England, Germany (Würtemberg & Hesse), Scotland, France, Ireland, Wales, the Island of Jersey, and perhaps Switzerland. Family tradition holds that one or several of his New England lines were Mayflower descendants. Another tradition signifies that one of his German ancestors served as a Hessian soldier (on the side of the British) during the American Revolution. Neither of these traditions have yet to be satisfactorily proven.

Beyond record keeping, Y-Chromosome DNA Testing has determined that Owston's paternal line was among the haplogroup I1. This group originated in Scandinavia and his ancestors may have been Danish Viking invaders that attacked and settled the north of England in the 9th Century A.D. The modern spelling of his surname Owston indicates Norse influence over the original Saxon spelling Æston which became Easton elsewhere.

As far as his maternal ancestry, mitochondrial DNA testing places his ancestry in common with 47% of all Europeans in the the H haplogroup. This DNA grouping has been nicknamed Clan Helena - one of the theoretical seven European foremothers. Apparently, the H haplogroup was the most successful of the migrations into the European continent.

In addition to his genealogical studies, he is currently researching the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves with Chris Rasmussen. Three blood relatives (although not direct ancestors) served in this unit which was formed in Western Pennsylvania in 1861. His relatives in the unit included Captain Charles W. Owston, Daniel Merriman, and Charles Champlin Townsend.

Owston holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) and educational specialist (Ed.S.) in Leadership Studies from Marshall University in addition to masters' degrees from Marshall and WVU, and bachelors' degrees from Kentucky Christian University and Mountain State University.

His Master's of Arts in Humanities from Marshall included a concentration in history. Owston's internationally recognized doctoral dissertation on institutional rebranding utilized historical research as one of the multiple research methods that he employed. The dissertation is available online at This work was the winner of two outstanding dissertation awards.

Other historical works under his belt include being the designer & caretaker of the Virtual Nixon Era Center at Mountain State University. This project was actively worked from 2001-2003. While currently operational, updates have been added on an infrequent basis since 2003.

Two historical papers are available online: Heterodyning in the Hills - The WOBU Story and The Early History of Transylvania University: An Archetype of Restoration Movement Institutions of Higher Education and has contributed to several WikiPedia articles including most of the article on his hometown of North Versailles Township, PA.

Owston, a former dean at Mountain State University, lives in Beckley, WV with his wife and two daughters.
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Find A Grave Friends
Craig Merriman, Curtis D. Craig, KATHY, Michael Millike..., P.R.V.C. Histor..., Pam Owston, R. Pinkerton, Suzanne Damien, Todd Walker, Tracy Francis
Messages left for Dr. James M. Ow... (766)[Leave Message]
Allegheny cemetery
Dr Owston

Again your work at Allegheny cemetery has made thing easier. May I request a transfer of two memorials: Evelyn Margaret Evans 37034103 & her 2nd husband Harry Rae Evans 37034083?

Thanks again for all the great work you do
Phil 46855181
Added by Lasherp on Oct 23, 2016 7:48 PM
Ginny (Womack) Howard
Charles W Shaffer Memorial

Please add this bio to Charles W Shaffer memorial #33810857:

Charles William Shaffer is the son of William M. Shaffer and Cora May (Warner) Shaffer. He first married Mary Martha Keim and they had a daughter, Margaret "Peggy" Anne (Shaffer) Farley on 23 Mar 1924 in Randolph Co., WV. His second marriage was to Eleanor G. Murphy on 26 Dec 1933 in Brooke Co., WV. Charles and Eleanor Shaffer had one daughter, Donna Lee Shaffer and one son, Charles W. Shaffer, Jr.

He worked for 13 years at the Gulf Oil Corporation as a supervisor of sales and operations. In 1942, he joined the Pittsburgh Convention Bureau and was an assistant for Adolph O. Frey who was the Executive Vice President of the Pittsburgh Convention Bureau. Upon Mr. Frey's death, Charles William Shaffer, Sr. was named the new Executive Vice President of the Pittsburgh Convention Bureau where he brought in many delegates who spent millions of dollars in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Convention Bureau thrived into a five million dollar industry under his direction. Among his other achievements he was also a member of the Washington Lodge 25 and he was a past president of the International Association of Convention Bureaus. On January 8, 1969, he passed away at his home in Beaver Falls, PA.
Ginny (Womack) Howard (also a member)
Added by Ginny (Womack) Howard on Oct 18, 2016 9:25 AM
Dave & Lois Ashworth
Alice Thompson Smith
Hello Dr. Owston, Are you related to Alice [Thompson] Smith the wife of George B. Smith? They are my GG-grandparents on my mother's side of our family. We would be interested in any information you might share with us about our Smith or Thompson family. My name is Dave Ashworth. I am a retired Mechanical Piping Engineer and love to do family history research. Thanks in advance. Looking forward to hearing from you. We would really love to have a photo of our GG-grandmother's grave.
Added by Dave & Lois Ashworth on Oct 11, 2016 2:01 AM
jean taylor
mary and antonia r. policicchia
dear sir, the last name is spelled policicchio. they are related to the others by the last name. mary is my mother and Antonia r. is my grandmother on my dad,s side. I don't know offhand the dates of birth but I will find out later for you. and I can give you some of the other dates of birth. I been trying to find out how I could get in contact with you. now I know.these computers are still new to me. so if you leave a message for me,i will try to get back to you as soon as possibly. have a good weekend and talk to you later.thank you!
Added by jean taylor on Oct 07, 2016 12:06 PM
mfb59Margaret Bagwell
Channel Islands
I have relatives that lived on the Isle of Guernsey. (Guille). My great-aunt, Frances Guille, translated Adele Hugo's diary and French director, Francois Truffaut, made it into a French speaking movie entitled ADELE H
Added by mfb59Margaret Bagwell on Oct 06, 2016 9:05 PM
Rosie Byard
C Henry Myers McKeesport
C Henry Myers and his wife Wilhelmina D are buried in Sec. E, Lot 34 of McKeesport & Versailles Cem. I find it a bit unusual that their death dates are the same. My records show that Wilhelmina died 4 Nov 1857. Could you please verify the death dates.

Added by Rosie Byard on Sep 18, 2016 11:22 AM
Rosie Byard
C Henry Myers McKeesport
Added by Rosie Byard on Sep 18, 2016 11:19 AM
Robin Coles
Charles Palmer
I wanted to make a 4th Request because it really means a lot to me.

I am writing you to request a transfer of my ggrandfathers memorial.
Find A Grave Memorial# 37982261 Charles Palmer. I would be very grateful for the transfer. years ago i found him in the cemetery with a very bad unreadable headstone... I worked with the Allegheny Cemetery to purchase a new one for him. I have been working on his family tree an traced it back 4 generations and I would be very appreciative if you transferred his memorial to me. I don't plan on changing your stuff but I want to link him to his wife and children and post photos and obituaries

Thank you for your consideration.
Robin Coles (#47322744)
Added by Robin Coles on Sep 09, 2016 10:56 AM
Fran Determann
37214522 Conrad Reutzel
It says plot removed on the cemetery site in Pa. You set this record up and wondered what this means
Added by Fran Determann on Aug 31, 2016 2:10 PM
Gene Meier
Gustaf Henning Higgins
The heading says "Gint Higgins"
This is incorrect
At hand is the death certificate of Gustaf Higgins,date of death May 12,1909
He was born 1863 in Stockholm, was a student of the Art Academy there before he emigrated to USA in 1879
He settled in Chicago in 1885 and worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, among other publications, participating in a lively group of Swedish-American writers and writers in the 1880s and 1890s. He claimed to be the only Swedish-American to exhibit a work in the Swedish pavilion in the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Higgins moved to McKeesport,Pennsylvania shortly after the turn of the century (more on AskART)
Added by Gene Meier on Aug 29, 2016 2:24 PM
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