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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 8 years, 4 months, 13 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... (775)[Leave Message]
E Russell
Elizabeth Winters
Are you related to Elizabeth Winters you listed in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburg,PA? As the name is so similar, could this possibly be Dr. S. Elizabeth Winters, born December 1868 in Tennessee and did August 8, 1938 in Media, PA?
Added by E Russell on Feb 01, 2017 2:19 PM
William James Mence III
Harry Henry Mence
Harry Henry Mence and Ethel L Burns Mence (my Grandparents) they are both on one headstone in the same lot, McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery McKeesport Allegheny County Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Section V, Lot 9

Would you please move Harry Henry Mence's profile to Ethel's profile, and Harry was born in West Virginia not Ohio as I posted his Birth Cert from WV. This request also come from my living father as well, William James Mence Jr..
Added by William James Mence III on Dec 31, 2016 9:12 PM
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you Dr. Owston, my Find A Grave friend! Take care, and please let me hear from you!
Added by KATHY on Dec 25, 2016 1:58 PM
Find A Grave Memorial# 33462888
I sent an original bio complete with a source last November 7th, 2016. Would you

1) prefer that I resend it to you?

2) Transfer the memorial to me?


3) Request an admin add the bio for my ancestor?

Added by Bernadette on Dec 07, 2016 5:01 AM
Nancy Brantingham
Joseph Wright
I'm sorry. I did not know how to edit the first message. I meant to say that after Jeanne's birth, Bill left again, and never came back. He died in 1934 in Pittsburgh of TB. He had remarried, and had more children, whom his sisters in Ohio never knew. They were notified when he died, and went to the funeral. Jeanne died in 1948, but her sister Dorothy married my husband's Uncle, and she told me these stories. However, no one in the family knows anything about the Wrights. Thank you.
Nancy Brantingham
Added by Nancy Brantingham on Nov 06, 2016 1:29 PM
Nancy Brantingham
Joseph Hamilton Wright
I found you Find A Grave post for Joseph H. Wright in the Allegheny Cemetery. Are you a relative? He is something of a mystery to our family. His son, William Kenneth Wright, came from Pa. to Alliance, Ohio about 1914. He played football there, and met Rachel Edith Stratton. Rachel was a Quaker girl, and Bill was a handsome lay about. They got married, had a child, he left, he came back, they had another child, my husband's mother Jeanne Louise Wright. My husband, Bob Brantingham, was descended from a whole line of New Jersey and Pa. Quakers, including the French family, whom I see are also ancestors of yours. Some of the names are: Carr, Holloway, Painter, Branin, Elkinton, and many more. I can trace most of the people back to England, but the Wright information ends with Joseph Hamilton Wright's parents. If you have any information that you could share, I would be grateful.
Nancy Brantingham
Added by Nancy Brantingham on Nov 06, 2016 1:22 PM
Keziah Ogg Evans & Elizabeth Ogg Evans Memorials
Dear Dr Owston,

I am an Ogg family historian and this is a line that means a great deal to me. Several times I went through the edit function that Find A Grave provides in requesting transfer of memorials. I didn't hear from you. I know my relationship to these two persons does not fall within the Find A Grave suggested guidelines for memorial transfer. But realizing those are suggestions, I am asking if you would consider transferring two memorial to my care: that of Keziah B Ogg Evans (memorial #33247176) and of Elizabeth Ogg Evans (memorial #33247168). Keziah's father Joseph Ogg of Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County, Pa, and my 3X's gr grandfather are one in the same. I understand if these memorials are of sentimental value to you or are part of your family, you would want to keep them. If they are part of your family, I would love to hear from you. Very sincerely, Ardith Mauck
Added by aam on Nov 06, 2016 12:36 PM
Ginny (Womack) Howard
Charles W. Shaffer #33810857

Here is the info from his obituary that was published in the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette," dated 9 January 1969:

Ex-official, Charles W. Shaffer, retired Executive Vice President and Secretary of the Pittsburgh Convention Bureau, died yesterday at his home at 112 Lilliecrest, Gravenhurst, Beaver Falls, Beaver County. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the A.P. Campbell Funeral Home, 14th Street and Eighth Avenue, Beaver Falls. Mr. Shaffer retired from the convention bureau on Feb 7. He had been a past president of the Int'l Association of Convention Bureaus. He was a member of Washington Lodge 25, F&AM.

Surviving are his wife, Eleanor (Murphy) Shaffer and son Charles William Shaffer, Jr. two daughters: Mrs. Donna (Gerald) Fisher and Mrs. Margaret (Seth Thomas) Farley, four brothers: John, Robert, Richard and Edward, two sisters: Mrs. Bernice (Russell) Wilmoth and Mrs. Margerite (Dewain) Phillips, six grandchildren and one great grandson. Friends will be received at the funeral home from 7-9 p.m. today and 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. tomorrow. Burial will be private.

Thank you,
Ginny (Womack) Howard (findagrave member # 47947030
Added by Ginny (Womack) Howard on Oct 30, 2016 7:36 PM
Chere Thrasher Athey
Dear Dr. Owston,
It is a remarkable story that is too long to go into in detail but my cousin never met her biological grandmother. In 1973, my cousin found out who she was and phoned her. They had a wonderful conversation and 2 days before my cousin and her sisters and brothers were to drive to Pittsburgh to meet her, the grandmother passed away. My cousin lives in Virginia and has health issues. She has asked for a photo from the cemetery but none has been forthcoming.
May I please request a photo of my cousin's grandmother's grave marker to be posted?
With Kind Regards,
Chere Athey
Birth: unknown
Death: Jul. 2, 1973
Allegheny Cemetery
Allegheny County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Section 61 Lot 259-C Grave 2

Created by: Dr. James M. Owston
Record added: Jan 31, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 33406260
Added by Chere Thrasher Athey on Oct 28, 2016 8:52 PM
Allegheny cemetery
Dr Owston

Again your work at Allegheny cemetery has made thing easier. May I request a transfer of two memorials: Evelyn Margaret Evans 37034103 & her 2nd husband Harry Rae Evans 37034083?

Thanks again for all the great work you do
Phil 46855181
Added by Lasherp on Oct 23, 2016 7:48 PM
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