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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 7 years, 9 months, 15 days
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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... (748)[Leave Message]
Mary E. POTTER # 37980612
Greetings, Dr. Owston -

I would like to request a transfer of the memorial for Mary E. POTTER # 37980612.

After ordering her interment record through the Allegheny Cemetery Historical Association, I believe this to be the infant daughter of my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Emma (Cooper) Potter, who is at rest in the adjoining grave.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


jvtree1 (#48265806)
Added by jvtree1 on Jul 16, 2016 8:14 AM
Shirley McElyea
Virginia Flower
Can you tell me where Virginia's death date of 11 Jan 1940 came from? She was alive and well in 1950. Taking a trip with her husband and 2 sons
arriving back in New York 17 March 1950 on the ship Santa Rosa.
Added by Shirley McElyea on Jul 09, 2016 8:55 PM
Michelle Lee
Henry Taylor. #33555849
Dear Dr I am searching for my great great great grandfather Henry Taylor, He was born in approximately 1845 in Fayetteville County Pa ( I think). His wife was either Dortha or Dorothy . His son was Andrew Taylor, born 1875. Could this memorial belong to him? Thanks Michelle 49023966
Added by Michelle Lee on Jul 06, 2016 9:26 AM
Al Smith
Re: Transfer of Memorials
Dear Dr. Owston,

I forgot to mention that the folks listed in my previous message are all either immediate or extended members of my family.

Thank you.

Al Smith #48585582

Added by Al Smith on Jun 28, 2016 5:03 PM
Joyce Henderson
Samuel T Lindsay
Dear Dr. Owston, Please forgive me for misspelling your name! Joyce Henderson
Added by Joyce Henderson on Jun 20, 2016 8:46 AM
Joyce Henderson
Samuel T Lindsay
Dr. Owens, I would like very much to have the management of Samuel T Lindsay, memorial #46818783. He was my husband's maternal grandmother, and we have some connections to add to his memorial. Thank you. Joyce Henderson
Added by Joyce Henderson on Jun 20, 2016 8:44 AM
Al Smith
Transfer of memorials
Dear Dr. Owston,

May I request a transfer of the following memorials from McKeesport-Versailles cemetery? They are:

John McClellan Smith #34529104, Mary Jane Rodabaugh Smith #34529105, Albert R. Smith, Sr. #34741983, Anna M. Smith #34741984, Lucy E. Edwards Rodabaugh #35527934, Bessie Rodabaugh #36647310, Melville Wesley Rodabaugh #34537107, Mary Barone Caruso #34599060 and Rose Fiduccia #36817059

Thank you for all of your fine work.
Al S.
Added by Al Smith on Jun 18, 2016 9:46 AM
Bob McGowan
Husband of Mary Ann Magee
Re: Memorial 37170505

Dr. Owston,

Can you tell me what information you have that led you to list Casper Negley as the husband of Mary Ann Magee. Notes from earlier family members tracing our family says that her husband was John Gallagher, but the only proof that I can find of that is references in the paper to court hearing in which Christopher Magee is the guardian of John Gallagher's heirs. What information shows she married Casper Negley? Of course, she could have been married to both men as John died before 1841.

Added by Bob McGowan on Jun 17, 2016 5:17 PM
Thermuthis Jones Shephard
Dear Dr. Owston,

I came across a death notice for Thermuthis while doing some research relating to a property the Shephard family owned in Pittsburgh. It's from the Pgh. Post Gazette of 14 November 1883.
"SHEPHARD–Suddenly, on the 11th inst., at Town Hill, Lucerne County, Pa., Thermuthis, wife of John Shephard, in the 76th year of her age.
Funeral on THURSDAY at 2:30 P.M., from Christ's M.E Church, Penn Avenue. Interment private.

Added by Ladylorax on Jun 17, 2016 9:22 AM
Lexie Staton
Florence E Reese
I just added a photo of the gravestone for Florence E Reese, whose plot is part of John Beck Sr. and Jr's plot in Allegheny Cemetery, Section 29, Lots 75 and 76. Do you know of the connection between the Becks and Florence Reese? We are trying to determine if John Beck Jr. is the John Beck we are related to.
Thanks for you contributions to FindAGrave,
Lexie Staton
Added by Lexie Staton on May 22, 2016 1:24 PM
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