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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 7 years, 1 month, 20 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, Michael Millike..., P.R.V.C. Histor..., Pam Owston, R. Pinkerton, Suzanne Damien, Todd Walker, Tracy Francis
Messages left for Dr. James M. Ow... (684)[Leave Message]
Camille Harden Glancy
RE: James J. Owston # 155476005
I have deleted the duplicate entry of James Owston. Thanks for the information.
Added by Camille Harden Glancy on Nov 29, 2015 6:56 AM
Kelly M
# 33183620 James H. Gamble
Would you please transfer this memorial of my G.G.Grandfather to me? Thank you very much.
Added by Kelly M on Nov 28, 2015 10:02 PM
Kelly M
Memorial# 33183621
Would you please transfer this memorial of my G.G.Grandmother to me? Thank you Mr. Owston.
Added by Kelly M on Nov 28, 2015 9:59 PM
Thomas Family in Allegheny
Thanks again for the speedy updates.
Added by Deb on Nov 27, 2015 5:13 PM
Sperry Romig
Laura Claire Kinsman
I have a copy of the newspaper obituary for Claire Kinsman. It says she was born on June 6, 1887 which does not agree with the grave stone. If you send me your email address I will sent you a copy. You might be able to get some additional information from it. I can be reached at
Added by Sperry Romig on Nov 21, 2015 7:53 AM
Joan Peters
my grandfather, great grandmother, and great grandfather
Thank you for posting Harry H Fisher, my great grandfather, Harry R Fisher, my grandfather, and Helen W Fisher, my great grandmother. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have found out where they were buried.

My mother's cousin just contacted us letting us know that he has a Nazi helmet that Harry R Fisher brought back from WW11 and his brother has a war museum and wants to display it with a picture of my grandfather in uniform.

I have had trouble finding his death date, as their are many Harry Fishers in Pennsylvania.

Harry R Fisher's birthdate was September 12, 1911
Helen W Fisher's birthdate was Nov 1890
Harry H Fisher's birthdate was June 1882

Hope these dates help, and there was no record for their birthdates on their memorials on Find a

Hopefully someone can post pictures of their graves on Find a Grave.

Added by Joan Peters on Nov 17, 2015 5:45 PM
Memorial# 34540402
Hi, it has come to my attention that there are three memorials for my great grandmother. Lillian Johnson Snyder. Two memorials created by you, and one by me. Your memorial #'s are:34540402 & 34539952, my memorial #42730283.

Lillian is my great-grandmother, and I would appreciate if you could delete your two memorials, as she is my family, and I have more info on my memorial. Also, don't think death certif's should be added to Find A Grave. That's personal info to my family.

Thanks so much for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely, Terri H
Added by Terri on Nov 17, 2015 1:25 PM
John "Jack" Regar
Find A Grave Memorial# 37172422
Jacob V Oglevee, is this diagram shown a tomb or mausoleum? Can one get a picture?

Added by John "Jack" Regar on Nov 15, 2015 11:00 AM
Ehrhardt in McKeesport
Thanks for all the quick updates.
Added by Deb on Nov 10, 2015 5:08 PM
RE: Edwin L. Peterson
Thanks for the transfer! I appreciate it!

Added by MPL on Nov 05, 2015 6:32 AM
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