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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 7 years, 4 months, 2 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, 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... (697)[Leave Message]
Catherine Staley Shook
Are you related to Catherine Shook? 33812084. She is my GGGG Grandmother. If you aren't directly related, I would appreciate if you would transfer to me. I would like to update her bio based upon family journal info.

You also created a record for her son Levi (who is in the same grave plot as Catherine.) I would like to link him to her as well. If you are not related to Levi or others in this grave plot, you could transfer these memorials as well. I will research and update where possible. (I see that you manage a great number of memorials and I am just starting with family relations)


Added by deb on Feb 07, 2016 6:31 AM
MerryAnne Pierson
James Harrison 1887 McKeesport Cemtery
I saw that you posted to findagrave about a james harrison died 1887. Did this information come from a cemetery book? can you tell who else was buried near him. I have a James harrison great x many grandfather, born 1819 living in McKeesport in 1880. Trying to locate his death date and wonder if this might not be the correct man.
Added by MerryAnne Pierson on Feb 06, 2016 1:01 PM
Rich Fein
RE: German grove
McKeesport Versailles
Added by Rich Fein on Jan 28, 2016 5:15 PM
Peter Johnston Memorial # 34604512
Hi, I am trying to determine if Peter is the father of my Peter Johnston of Pa & WV. Is Peter an ancestor of yours? If so, do you mind if I send you a Private Message with a couple questions? Thank you.
Added by Lynn on Jan 26, 2016 5:09 PM
Kelly M
Find A Grave Memorial# 46542758
Captain James T. Fawcett was born on April 26, 1848 in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Fawcett is a relative by marriage, and I would like to manage his memorial, if you would please transfer it to me. Thank you very much.
Added by Kelly M on Jan 24, 2016 1:35 PM
Levi Shook 33812097
I incorrectly requested linking Levi as a child of Jacob and Emma Shook. Please disregard.

33812097 Levi is Jacob's brother, not son.

Sorry for the confusion
Added by deb on Jan 21, 2016 7:16 PM
Nancy Rupp
Minnie Lederer #46816252
Would you please connect Minnie to her parents
Father: Ananias Gillespie #108433434
Mother: Elizabeth Robson Gillespie #108438140.

Thank you
Added by Nancy Rupp on Jan 10, 2016 3:32 PM
Midge Titlow
George Mathews "Bubby" Ingram II
Memorial # 85210615
There is information on this page that is incorrect.
Burial place and picture are totally wrong.
This was created by my mother Lynne Oakes 2/19/2012.
I just signed up on Find A Grave due to my grandmother passing.
I do have pictures of his resting place (private family cemetery) and others that are resting there.
Midge Ingram-Titlow Daughter
Email Address :
Added by Midge Titlow on Jan 04, 2016 9:56 AM
Rich Fein
German grove
Is information about sites in this section from church records?
Added by Rich Fein on Dec 30, 2015 12:00 PM
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Dr. Owston, my Find A Grave friend! And also, I would be honored if you added me to your Find A Grave Friends List! Please let me hear from you!
Added by KATHY on Dec 25, 2015 12:51 PM
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