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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 6 years, 10 months, 18 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... (651)[Leave Message]
Carl Catherman
Charles Pontius
Thank you very much for editing his memorial.
Added by Carl Catherman on Aug 26, 2015 5:15 PM
helen lehman
Find A Grave Memorial# 33247851
Could you perhaps take a photo of Captain John Parkinson's grave? Find A Grave Memorial# 33247851
By the way I was reading your seems we have a lot in common. My ancestors came to America because they were Quakers; however they also descend from the Plantagenet Kings. Actually I (as probably many of the people in America...who do not know it yet) Descend from all the Kings and Queens of England; Ireland; Scotland; and France. In fact my 3rd Great Grandmother's oldest brother should have been King of Scotland. Too bad the English Kings had so much say in the situation. Especially since they were cousins.
It is a lot of fun finding out about our roots. You may contact me at: Helen A (Wills) Lehman
Added by helen lehman on Aug 22, 2015 8:52 PM
Transfer Memorial

Could you transfer the Carl Wingerson memorial to me. He is a 2nd cousin once removed to me. This is no connection between Carl and you.
Added by Snake on Aug 19, 2015 8:21 AM
mel truman
RE: Jacob Lorenz Elsesser Co. B 9th Pa.
Congratulations Dr. Owston on your degrees and sorry to hear about the illness. I do believe you are correct saying Randy was here, it was very long ago though I do recall quite a pleasure, please give him my regards. Any info on Jacob would be appreciated and anything I have is certainly yours. I have a copy of Campfires and Battlefields that belonged to Jacob as well as a copy of The History of Allegheny County that lists a Roll of Honor of those killed in the regiments of the county during the war. Thanks for getting back to me as I'm sure you're quite busy. Thank you also for all the work with the 9th. Another relative was a 1st Lt. with the 139th, if it's of any interest.

As always,
Regards Mel
Added by mel truman on Aug 17, 2015 1:23 PM
mel truman
Jacob Lorenz Elsesser Co. B 9th Pa.
James, I met you quite a while back after emailing back and forth concerning my 3x great-grandfather Jacob Lorenz Elsesser private Co. B Garibaldi Guards #95832455. I manage his memorial and have included an informative bio. I believe I gave you copies of his wartime diary and other official papers concerning his service as Justice of the Peace and Secretary when Centreville became Etna, Pa. We walked Allegheny Cemetery and I recall you mentioning a book in progress. I'd appreciate hearing from you again, and possibly share any new information. I'm new to and the find a grave memorials and computers again for that matter. My #48799799. Thank you and hope to hear from you soon. Regards Mel Truman
Added by mel truman on Aug 14, 2015 5:17 PM
Scott Fife
Request for transfers

I was wondering if you would transfer 5 family members from the Sheppard family in Allegheny Cemetery? They are George #33811679, James #33811689, John L #33811698, Thomas H. #33811726, and Harry R. #33811684.

Thank you,

Added by Scott Fife on Aug 02, 2015 10:29 PM
Thank you , for Harris Focer
You put up a page and photo for my relative Harris Focer back in 2010. I wanted you to know that your act of kindness let me locate him. He was my aunt Roses' husband.
Added by E. on Aug 02, 2015 7:11 PM
Request for transfer
Would you be willing to transfer the following to me?
#33407008 and #33405879. These are my parents.

Thanks in advance.
Added by JustDabblin on Jul 22, 2015 1:06 PM
RE: Also
Thank you for the transfers, Jim.
Added by Jan on Jul 21, 2015 10:16 AM
Would you please consider transferring memorial 34537751 to me. She is my grandmother. Thanks again. Jan
Added by Jan on Jul 19, 2015 5:44 PM
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