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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 6 years, 1 month, 14 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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Messages left for Dr. James M. Ow... (566)[Leave Message]
Rich Vance
Edward Dias in McKeesport
Hello Dr. Owsten,
I sent you a bio addition through the Edit tab for Edward Harrison Dias on Oct. 16.

Perhaps it got misdirected to your spam folder?

Info for the bio:
Son of Elmer William & Elizabeth "Betty" Dias; brother of Dorothy, Elmer, & Raymond.
Husband of Gertrude Luella Dias; father of Marilyn Joy, Edward William, Connie Lee, Sheryl Lynn, & Terry Wayne Dias.

WW II Veteran, PFC, U.S. Marine Corps
Mar 1, 1943 - Mar 15, 1945

(sources: 1930 U.S. Federal Census, McKeesport, Allegheny, PA; PA Veterans Burial Card; PA Veterans Compensation Appl, WWII)

Thanks, Rich
Added by Rich Vance on Nov 18, 2014 5:41 AM
Miles Layng
Dr. Owston -

Your ancestry is very similar to mine. Interested in your FindaGrave site for Miles Layng, my great, great grandfather. There are at least four researchers, counting me, working on his family tree. Are you related to him? Any suggestions?

Thank you, Dr. George H. Schauer
Added by sagesteps on Nov 14, 2014 8:03 AM
Kathi Lynn King
thank you so much I really appreciate
Added by Kathi Lynn King on Nov 02, 2014 11:09 AM
Kathi Lynn King
Would you please transfer these 2 memorials they are direct relatives of mine. 34537845 John Ridinger Kuhns. 34537844 Edna Irene George Kuhns. My Find A Grave ID# is 47574305. Thank you for any help with this.
Added by Kathi Lynn King on Nov 02, 2014 9:43 AM
Chris and Susanne Eliasen
RE: Jack Foley
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Added by Chris and Susanne Eliasen on Nov 01, 2014 6:21 PM
Chris and Susanne Eliasen
Jack Foley
Would you please transfer your memorial # 46544957 to me so I can add dates and family links ? My I.D. # is 46991799. He is a direct relative of mine. You may have more to. Thanks for all your outstanding work !!! Appreciated by many.
Added by Chris and Susanne Eliasen on Nov 01, 2014 12:24 PM
Thank you for the correction. :-)
You're obviously familiar with it. I was a member before it changed names. Haven't contributed much, tho. One thing I don't like is it's hard to make edits once you've typed in something.
Thanks, Carol

Added by Carol on Oct 29, 2014 4:52 PM
Your Family War Heros
Have you heard of They want names and bios of anyone in any war.
I am also from the Haplo group H and I know nothing about it.
Added by Carol on Oct 28, 2014 7:32 PM
Albert Ross
Could you add middle initial H.
I enlarged the photo.
I am looking for an Albert Ross, architect. Don't know where he ended up or who he married. My Albert Ross' father is buried 4 blocks from my house.
Added by Carol on Oct 28, 2014 7:26 PM
Family Transfers from Allegheny Cemetery
Hello James,

You created many memorials for my family in Allegheny Cemetery. There are quite a few actually.
This is all my direct family or their children and I would love it if you could transfer them to me. I have much I could add to the memorials.

If you would please let me know and I will put in a request for transfer on each memorial.

They consist of the all the graves in section 9 lot 67 most surnames Wright and 2 Kern.

Thank you for considering the transfers
Cora Lee 'Dawn' Carlisle
Added by DC on Oct 28, 2014 4:49 PM
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