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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 6 years, 15 days
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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... (556)[Leave Message]
Karen Simon
RE: Frank Bastian
Thank you first of all for the transfer and also thank you for taking the time to post Frank Bastian's gravesite on Find a Grave. I was thrilled to find him and it was all because of your efforts!
Added by Karen Simon on Oct 23, 2014 9:49 AM
amy bigler
Never Seen Before Photos
My name is Amy Boettin Bigler and I would just like to say thank you for all the information. I am seeing photos and reading things that are brand new to me about my Owston history. My grandmother was Viola Owston Boettin. God Bless.
Added by amy bigler on Oct 23, 2014 6:46 AM
Karen Simon
Frank Bastian
Find a Grave Memorial #34527991
Frank Bastian is my great grand uncle (my grandmother's uncle). Can you please transfer ownership to me? He is listed in the
Versailles McKeesport cemetery which matches his death certificate and his date of death of Mar 9, 1927.

Thank you!
Karen Simon
Added by Karen Simon on Oct 22, 2014 10:29 AM
Mark Russell M.
RE: Forgotten Transfer
Thanks again! -Mark
Added by Mark Russell M. on Oct 17, 2014 2:12 AM
Mark Russell M.
Forgotten Transfer
Hello Dr. Owston. I forgot two other transfer considerations - they are both my ancestors.

I sent messages through their profiles, but I'll leave them here as well...

John Mackey: Memorial# 33246436
William Henry Mackey: Memorial# 33246446

I believe that it's so far.

Thanks again! -Mark
Added by Mark Russell M. on Oct 15, 2014 1:50 PM
Mark Russell M.
Mackey-Todd Transfers
Thank you very much for the transfers Dr. Owston! -Mark
Added by Mark Russell M. on Oct 14, 2014 9:35 PM
glenn kinter
Albert Burnside
Hello Dr.
Albert was my great uncle on my dad's side His sister, Louise Blanche Burnside was my grandmother.
Thank you
Added by glenn kinter on Oct 12, 2014 8:37 PM
Mark Russell M.
Hello Dr. Owston. Please consider transferring these FindAGrave memorials to my care as they are my family:
# 34528641 (Margaret Todd),
# 34528640 (George Todd),
# 36781897 (Mary Strauss Mackey),
# 33246446 (William H. Mackey),
# 33246445 (Susan Mackey),
# 33246440 (Mary Mackey),
# 33246437 (John L. Mackey),
# 33246433 (David A. Mackey),
# 33246431 (David Mackey)

My Profile (# 47224901)

I would be very grateful! Thanks! -Mark
Added by Mark Russell M. on Oct 12, 2014 3:01 PM
Thank You For Your Efforts
Dearest Dr. Owston,

On a rare whim, I Googled my maternal grandfather expecting to find nothing (he died in 1938). But lo' and behold...there he was, listed in the McKeesport Cemetery because of your loving efforts.

I wasn't born until much later so obviously I never knew him, and he was rarely talked about. In those unfortunate days, when Catholics and Protestants weren't supposed to marry, my grandfather, a Protestant, married my grandmother, a Catholic. After the stock market crashed they were destitute and his wealthy family disowned him. My mother was only three years old when my grandfather, depressed and overwhelmed, committed suicide. My grandmother and her children suffered much after his death, but God kept them in His loving care and eventually did give them a much better life.

God bless you, and thank you for documenting the life of a man who did live, as documented by his death. Your efforts were truly a labor of love, and I am very grateful for this information.


Dayton, Ohio
Added by Grateful on Oct 08, 2014 8:56 AM
Memorial 34527189
Dear Dr. Owston - I am respectfully submitting a little more information for George Henry Heffner in the hope that it might help another researcher down the line.

Birth: 26 Feb 1849, Maryland
Death: 29 Sep 1933, McKeesport, Allegheny, PA
Parents: Samuel Heffner
Mary Elizabeth Welsh
Spouse: Amanda (Unk)
Children: Jessie G. Heffner (1882 - )
Pearl A Heffner (1890 – )
Irwin S Heffner (1892 – )
Clayton C Heffner (1895 – )
George S Heffner (1898 - )

Thank you.

Added by TheSeeker on Oct 02, 2014 1:04 PM
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