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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 5 years, 9 months, 1 day
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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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Messages left for Dr. James M. Ow... (510)[Leave Message]
Anna Ramin
John Pernyak
Again, I respectfully request the management of John Pernyak.

Mr. Owston, do you even check these messages?
Added by Anna Ramin on Jul 07, 2014 5:47 PM
Joseph Boland
Thomas Taylor
Thank you for fulfilling my photo request for Thomas Taylor.

I'm not certain that this Thomas Taylor is definitely the one that I'm searching for and was hoping that the headstone, or surrounding graves, may have shed some light. It's a shame that there was no marker.

Thanks for going the extra mile and posting the document, as well. I'm assuming that this is all that the cemetery has in regards to this grave? I was hoping to confirming a birth year - or anything really.

Thanks again!
Added by Joseph Boland on Jul 07, 2014 2:18 PM
Anna Ramin
John Pernyak
Please transfer management of John Pernyak's memorial to me, his grand daughter, so that it can be updated with the correct information. It seems as though you do not relinquish management easily of those whom you have no personal ties to.

I respectfully request this transfer.

Kind Regards,
Added by Anna Ramin on Jul 03, 2014 10:37 PM
Stanley Tykarski
Eicholtz transfer
My member ID is 48380016.
In April, I left a public message asking for the transfer of John E Eicholtz #35533499, John F. Eicholtz #35533500, and Ellen Eicholtz #36646177. You never responded. In May, I emailed you with my request. Still, no response. Are you THAT Busy. Or are you just rude?
Added by Stanley Tykarski on Jun 28, 2014 9:43 PM
Harry Cannon
Memorial # 31056640
Again Sarah Elizabeth Andrews is my Grand Aunt, could you please link her to her parents please

dad Thoams Brown Andrews Memorial # 58491605
mom Marila A. Pollard Memorial # 58491874

Harry Cannon (#47816059)
Added by Harry Cannon on Jun 26, 2014 4:47 PM
Harry Cannon
Memorial 31056440
Anne Sophia Andrews is my Grand Aunt, can you link her to her parents please

Father Memorial # 58491605 Thomas Brown Andrews
Mother Memorial # 58491874 Marila A. Pollard
Added by Harry Cannon on Jun 26, 2014 4:44 PM
Vicki Sanow
Ellen Soderberg & daughter
Thank you for updating Ellen and Joy's memorials.
Added by Vicki Sanow on Jun 24, 2014 6:08 PM
Raymond Ford
Janet Ford
Hi Jim
I am Ray Ford, you know me as the great,great grandson of Brig. Gen Charles Ashel Barnes of the 9th PA.
The last correspondence I had with you I lived at 2124 Middle Rd Glenshaw PA. My cousin Ruth Barnes and I met you at a Mayflower meeting where you were demonstrating the gear a re-enactor had to have for Re-enactment shows. As I recall I sent you some information on Charles. I also have a picture of the 38th Plaque at the PA Monument in Gettysburg with you ancestors name on it.The reason I an contacting you Jim is I'm doing some work on my family and on the find-a grave for Janet Ford your name is listed. she would be a "cousin" but due to a schism in the Ford Family long before my time there was a parting of the ways and I'm trying to find any body left from that side. her Grandfather and mine were brothers
Can you help me
Best Regards Ray
Added by Raymond Ford on Jun 20, 2014 5:48 PM
John Leach
Margaret Laughlin
Hi. I'm perplexed by two listings that seem to be for the same Margaret Laughlin but have different information. You manage one of the listings, and someone else manages the other. Here are the numbers: 46817994 and 117914648. Your listing for Margaret Laughlin in Section 8.5 says that she died in 1849. That's consistent with the listing on the Allegheny Cemetery's website. However, the other listing, which shows that she died in 1833, also has a photo showing the 1833 date on the gravestone. However, the Allegheny Cemetery records do not show a Margaret Laughlin with an 1833 death date. The Section 8.5 Lot 34-37 graves are for the Laughlin family of James H. Laughlin, co-founder of Jones & Laughlin Steel Co., who also is buried there. Margaret is one of his sisters. Thanks for your assistance.
Added by John Leach on Jun 13, 2014 1:14 PM
Richard Cochran
Gertrude Leech in McKeesport
Hi Dr. J!

You have registered one of my grandfather's cousins on findagrave. Would you mind adding her obit. as well?

Here it is:

Mrs. Gertrude Matilda Leech, 72, of 2917 State St., Versailles Twp., died today
at 8:50 a.m. in the McKeesport Hospital. A resident of McKeesport for 41
years, she was a member of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The
daughter of the late John and Matilda Pollock Jamison, Mrs. Leech was born on
Aug. 24, 1874, in Indiana County.

Friends are being received at the Willig Funeral Home, where services will be
held on Friday at 3:30 p.m. with the Rev. Dr. E. C. Weaver officiating.
Interment will be in the Versailles Cemetery.

In addition to her husband, John N. Leech, she is survived by two daughters,
Mrs. Henry H. Gaffron and Mrs. Harris F. Little of McKeesport; three sons, John
N. Jr. of East McKeesport and Clifford W. and Walter V. of McKeesport; 16
grandchildren and one great grandchild; a sister, Mrs. Mary Harter, of
Mehaffey; and a brother, H. T. Jamison of Strongstown.



Richard Cochran
Big Rapids, MI
Added by Richard Cochran on Jun 06, 2014 8:05 AM
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