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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 7 years, 4 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... (670)[Leave Message]
Nettie Smitth Find A Grave Memorial# 33856018
Dr. Owston,

Do you know if the Nettie Smith, Find A Grave Memorial# 33856018, is the wife of Charles Henry Smith, 9th PA, Company C ?

Some Smith researchers say Charles Henry had a wife Nettie and daughter Blanche.

There was a Nettie F Smith that died in Mifflin Co, PA in 1912, but the Allegheny Cemetery Nettie Smith does not appear to be her.

I am having trouble tracking Nettie and Blanche.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Added by TT on Oct 13, 2015 10:10 AM
RE: Ann Taylor # 33555756
Greetings, Jim -

Thank you very much for the transfer of Ann's memorial.

Being a common name, the Taylor family has proven challenging.

I have recently received Civil War pension records which revealed two marriages, both wives named Ann. At least this supplies some previously unknown information.

I look forward to discovering more information and being able to post it on her memorial for other family members to peruse.

Best regards,
Added by jvtree1 on Oct 12, 2015 5:56 PM
Ann Taylor # 33555756
Greetings, Jim -

I am writing to request a transfer of the memorial for Ann Taylor, wife of my 2nd great grandfather, Samuel P. Taylor. Although I have successfully linked them as spouses, I am doing some in-depth research with frequent updates as I obtain more Civil War records, hospital records, etc.

For an example of the type of research I do and which I have posted to my 3rd great grandfather (whose memorial you were kind enough to transfer), please see Tilly Potter, #37980648, at Allegheny Cemetery.

I thought this is another case where it may be more expeditious to be able to make these updates if the memorial is available to me.

Thank you for your consideration.

Added by jvtree1 on Oct 11, 2015 9:32 AM
Carl Catherman
Ida Pontious
Thank you very much for updating her memorial.
Added by Carl Catherman on Oct 11, 2015 7:34 AM
Added by LAURA PATTERSON on Oct 04, 2015 11:22 AM
Heidi Walburger
Henry Nicklas, 1903
Hi Dr. Owston,
Do you have any more information on this Henry Nicklas, died 1903, buried in McKeesport, PA, Findagrave#34742434. I am looking for an ancestor by that name, who came here from Germany, born there 1862-1864. I wonder if he is the same person. Thanks, Heidi
Added by Heidi Walburger on Oct 03, 2015 6:42 PM
Madeline Hamel
RE: 46818387 Liberi
All I know is that Audrey was the wife of Joseph and the mother of Lori. She died on the 26th of Sept, but I can't remember the year. Both of her parents area buried at Allegheny and their last name is leupold. Her dad's name is Adolph and I think her mother was Henrietta. I'm sorry I can't tell you more. I would like Audrey to be named with her loved ones. Thank you for your efforts. Madeline Hamel
Added by Madeline Hamel on Sep 30, 2015 4:28 PM
Madeline Hamel
46818387 Liberi
Thank you for locating Joseph Liberi and his daughter Lori. Joe's wife Audry is buried with them and she is not listed. Her death date is 9/26 but I can't remember the year. It would be nice if we could add her to her loved ones. Thank you. Madeline Hamel
Added by Madeline Hamel on Sep 26, 2015 9:20 AM
George Ross #36992467
Today I was at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo photographing the Ross family. There is a George S. Ross buried there next to Laura Ross (who you have listed as her spouse). I see on his Find A Grave page that he was buried in PA but his plot was removed and I also see that someone created a Find A Grave burial for him at Woodlawn. I'm not related, but wanted to let you know that his grave is in Toledo, Oh.
Added by meeganm on Sep 23, 2015 2:17 PM
Lincoln Lowery
33812274 Charles Shuty
Thank you for all of the work you have done here, and a special thanks for linking Mr. Shuty's family.
Added by Lincoln Lowery on Sep 19, 2015 4:44 PM
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