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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 5 years, 6 months, 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... (485)[Leave Message]
Stanley Tykarski
Transfer request
Would you be kind enough to transfer management of John E. Eicholtz memorial (#35533499). He was my grandmother's second husband and had 2 children with her. She was pregnant with the second child when he was killed. My member I.D. is #48380016. Thank you for your consideration, as well as the work you've done for Find - A - Grave.
Added by Stanley Tykarski on Apr 21, 2014 9:42 PM
Tina Seymour
Hi my name is Tina Seymour my maiden name is Merriman,Im almost positive we are related I remember seeing the names you listed in my family tree book which my sister currently has and won't give it back haha. But I would really love to know all you know about the Merrimans.Thank you
Added by Tina Seymour on Apr 21, 2014 8:37 PM
Pat Bennett
Is that German name part of your lines?
Added by Pat Bennett on Apr 15, 2014 10:22 PM
Janice Rosenthal
John Webb Patterson buried in McKeesport Cemetery
Just wondering where the middle name "Webb" came from. His stone is inscribed "John W. Patterson." His mother's name was Mary Watt so I'd assume the "W." stood for "Watt." See Hist. Allegheny Co., PA (Chicago: A Warner & Co., 1889, Part 2, p. 708). I'm writing a long paper on this line of Pattersons and would like to get my facts straight! Hope to hear back from you about this, and thanks for all your wonderful work.
Janice (Patterson) Rosenthal
Wilmette, IL
Added by Janice Rosenthal on Apr 07, 2014 7:31 AM
Sheila Duplaga
Gardner ? Gardiner
I see you have listed a relationship to Gardner. Is this the same family as Lion Gardiner of Gardiner's Island? I am a descendant of that line.
Added by Sheila Duplaga on Mar 28, 2014 11:47 AM
Margaret 68
I sent a request on Feb. 8, 2014 for this memorial, but I did not get an answer so thought I would try again.
Could you please add a parents link for Emma Yeske

Her full name is Emma H Gustkey Yeske.
Her parents are:
Whilhelm Gustke #122362373
Caroline Behnke #122362368
All of the Yeske's in this cemetery plot is one family. If you check the request on Feb 8 you can connect them all will links.
I appreciate this very much,
Find A Grave Info:
Added by Margaret 68 on Mar 27, 2014 4:52 PM
Kathy Powell
John Watt - Allegheny Cem.
Thank you for all the extensive work you have done Dr. Owston. I was hoping you could tell me where you found the info you listed about my ggg-grandfather's...John Watt b. 1814 in Ireland...regarding "The organizer and patron of the Iron City Guards that became Company C of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves. His brother-in-law, James T. Shannon, was its second Captain."
I would love to read more about him and find who his siblings were. Thank you. ~Kathy P.
Added by Kathy Powell on Mar 27, 2014 9:33 AM
Mary H and Samuel Weir in same grave?
Hello, Dr. Owston:

I am trying to figure out why, on his death, Samuel Weir's body was brought back to PA from Montana, where he'd been for 44 years. So, to try to find some family, I looked through all the Weir's in the Allegheny Cemetery in which Samuel Wier was buried. I found Mary H. Weir buried in the same grave, 12 years after he died: Section 31, Lot 786, Grave 1. Is it odd for two people to be buried in the same grave? If not, is it usually a spouse? Is it not also odd that for none of the Weir's in this cemetery a birth year or location is known? Thank you for your help on this and all the time you have given so we may have access from around the country.
Added by Morrell on Mar 23, 2014 1:21 PM
Wendy D
Joseph Rinehules
I am posting this again since you have such a large following and I feared that my request might get overlooked. Joseph Rinehules
Joseph is on a branch of my family tree. I have some information that I would like to add to his memorial. Would you consider transferring his memorial to me? Joseph's surname is actually Rinehuls. He fought in the civil war with the NY Dragoons. I have verified this as the correct person via his pension file that listed his location and date of death. Thanks for your hard work. Joseph Rinehules #37215813
Added by Wendy D on Mar 19, 2014 4:31 PM
Judy Jones
John Baxendall memorial #33245997
I am requesting a transfer of this memorial to me. John Baxendell was a direct line ancestor of mine being my great grandfather. I have a letter from the McKeesport Vesalles Cemetery dated April 19, 1989 giving me the information on him. They did have his name spelled as Baxendall, but the family was noted for changing the spelling or perhaps it was an error on some of the records. There are no headstones.
The other members buried on the lot are from his 1st wife, so they are not my direct line, but he is. There are other members of this family buried in Allegheny County. They have tombstones and the spelling is "Baxendell".

Thank you for your consideration.

Judy Jones
Added by Judy Jones on Mar 14, 2014 10:38 AM
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