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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 6 years, 9 months, 19 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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Craig Merriman, Curtis D. Craig, Michael Millike..., P.R.V.C. Histor..., Pam Owston, R. Pinkerton, Suzanne Damien, Todd Walker, Tracy Francis
Messages left for Dr. James M. Ow... (644)[Leave Message]
Request for transfer
Would you be willing to transfer the following to me?
#33407008 and #33405879. These are my parents.

Thanks in advance.
Added by JustDabblin on Jul 22, 2015 1:06 PM
RE: Also
Thank you for the transfers, Jim.
Added by Jan on Jul 21, 2015 10:16 AM
Would you please consider transferring memorial 34537751 to me. She is my grandmother. Thanks again. Jan
Added by Jan on Jul 19, 2015 5:44 PM
Transfer request
Thank you for creating memorials 34537562, 33182739, 33182745, 33182744 and 34600498. These are my direct line ancestors. Would you consider transferring these memorials to me? Thank you, Jan 47968404
Added by Jan on Jul 19, 2015 9:46 AM
Stanley Tykarski
Recent Edits
I recently have been photographing entire sections of McKeesport-Versailles Cemetery and have sent sent you hundreds of edits per day over the last month.
I will be taking a break for awhile, but first I want to thank you for your timely response to my edits. You have been accepting my edits almost as fast as I have been sending them.
I just want you to know that your help with my edits, as well as your work on Find-A-Grave, is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Added by Stanley Tykarski on Jul 14, 2015 9:37 PM
joseph coulson
F A G # 34148948 david f spence
hello again, I just have to ask david f spence. could his death date be a typo error? could it be 1898 Its almost to close not to ask. spence is a fairly common name but same cementry. could that david f spence be ducketts husband. I show david may have died in cleveland ohio 1898, but he could have been buried in Pa. thank you joe coulson
Added by joseph coulson on Jul 14, 2015 8:19 AM
Mark Race
Sarah Jane Walker
Thanks for the reply Jim. I will get down to Allegheny Cemetery & see if I am able to obtain any further information.
Added by Mark Race on Jul 14, 2015 7:57 AM
joseph coulson
duckett ducetta ward spence
just to be correct her fathers first name is benjamin thanks joe
Added by joseph coulson on Jul 13, 2015 8:47 PM
joseph coulson
RE: F A G # 34148949 Drisetta Spence
hello thanks so much, she led a tragic life, may she rest in peace, and her space in history now is known thanks joseph coulson a distant cousin.
Added by joseph coulson on Jul 13, 2015 8:44 PM
joseph coulson
F A G # 34148949 Drisetta Spence
hi I'm trying to track down if the above person could be Ducetta C Spence died dec 17 1896 in pittsburg Pa, her death cert says she was buried in this cem. if so she was born in lisbon, columbiania co ohio in 1834. The death cert. misspelled her first name, it actually is Duckett C "Ducetta" Ward, but commonly called "Ducetta", She married David Spence, his death date is still under study but after hers, according to the newspaper article. Hopefully you might still have your records of this grave many thanks for your assistance joseph coulson F A G member
Added by joseph coulson on Jul 13, 2015 1:14 PM
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