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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 7 years, 11 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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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... (761)[Leave Message]
Rosie Byard
C Henry Myers McKeesport
C Henry Myers and his wife Wilhelmina D are buried in Sec. E, Lot 34 of McKeesport & Versailles Cem. I find it a bit unusual that their death dates are the same. My records show that Wilhelmina died 4 Nov 1857. Could you please verify the death dates.

Added by Rosie Byard on Sep 18, 2016 11:22 AM
Rosie Byard
C Henry Myers McKeesport
Added by Rosie Byard on Sep 18, 2016 11:19 AM
Robin Coles
Charles Palmer
I wanted to make a 4th Request because it really means a lot to me.

I am writing you to request a transfer of my ggrandfathers memorial.
Find A Grave Memorial# 37982261 Charles Palmer. I would be very grateful for the transfer. years ago i found him in the cemetery with a very bad unreadable headstone... I worked with the Allegheny Cemetery to purchase a new one for him. I have been working on his family tree an traced it back 4 generations and I would be very appreciative if you transferred his memorial to me. I don't plan on changing your stuff but I want to link him to his wife and children and post photos and obituaries

Thank you for your consideration.
Robin Coles (#47322744)
Added by Robin Coles on Sep 09, 2016 10:56 AM
Fran Determann
37214522 Conrad Reutzel
It says plot removed on the cemetery site in Pa. You set this record up and wondered what this means
Added by Fran Determann on Aug 31, 2016 2:10 PM
Gene Meier
Gustaf Henning Higgins
The heading says "Gint Higgins"
This is incorrect
At hand is the death certificate of Gustaf Higgins,date of death May 12,1909
He was born 1863 in Stockholm, was a student of the Art Academy there before he emigrated to USA in 1879
He settled in Chicago in 1885 and worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, among other publications, participating in a lively group of Swedish-American writers and writers in the 1880s and 1890s. He claimed to be the only Swedish-American to exhibit a work in the Swedish pavilion in the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Higgins moved to McKeesport,Pennsylvania shortly after the turn of the century (more on AskART)
Added by Gene Meier on Aug 29, 2016 2:24 PM
susan rausch
Leona Roy
Dear Dr. Owston,

My name is Susan Craig Rausch. I have gone through my mother's family of births and deaths and found my Aunt Leona Gladys Smith Roy's birthday. I put an edit on Find a Grave but don't know if it will take. My Aunt Leona was born 29-October-1904. Aunt Leona was the Fifth of seventeen (17) of the Smith family in Harrison or Natrona Heights.

Susan Craig Rausch
Added by susan rausch on Aug 23, 2016 2:11 PM
Gerald Deckard
Walter Byron Tillinghast - 40397019
Walter Byron Tillinghast - 40397019
Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231) - Leave Public Message

Hi Jim,

Since Walter is my grandfather. Would you transfer the maintenance of his memorial to me? If you prefer to not transfer, would you make the following changes to it?

b. 28 Mar 1896 - North Stoning ton, New London, Connecticut, USA

Replace the 'bio" with the following:

Benjamin T. Tillinghast (1854-1904)
Emma Preston Tillinghast (1851-1937)
h/o Ruth H. Day (1890-1935)
f/o: Julius Preston Tillinghast (1907-1971)

Walter Tillighast and Ruth Day were both born and raised in Connecticut, They were married on 27 May 1907. On 18 Dec 1907, they gave birth to their one and only child, Julius Preston Tillianghast.

At the age of four Julius was adopted by Reverend Walter and Gertrude Ledlie Deckard at which time his name was changed to Julius Russell Deckard. "Russ" never liked the name Julius so he always went by the name J. Russell Deckard.

In a letter Walter Tillinghast sent to Reverend Deckard and his wife, he said he regretted having to put is son up for adoption. The reason he and his wife did it was because his wife, Ruth, did not want to be a mother. That was the only explanation he gave for them doing it. He thanked the Deckards for taking their son in and were sure he was in good hands,

Some time after the adoption. Walter and Ruth headed West ending up in Minnesota. And they did as they promised; never tried to to contact Russ again.

J. Russell Deckard's son - Gerald Allan Deckard.

Add links to:
Father - Benjamin - FG # 17546008
Mother - Emma - FG # 127749077

Gerald Deckard (#47609545)
Gerald “Jerry” Deckard

Added by Gerald Deckard on Aug 19, 2016 4:26 PM
Gerald Deckard
Lydia D. Day Gorton - FG # 32592817
Lydia D. Day Gorton - FG # 32592817
Dr. James M. Owston -


Lydia is my great grandmother. Wouold you trasnfer her memorial maintenace to me? If you prefer to not transfer, would you make the following changes to it?

Thomas Wesley Day (1843 - 1918)
Amy Alice Champlin Day (1845 - 1888)

w/o Frank F. Botham
Elmer Ernest Botham
Ruth Day Tillinghast*

w/o William H. Gorton
William H. Gorton
Harold R. Gorton
Mary Gorton

Lydia had five children:

*Confirmed by DNA testing as being her daughter.

Than you
Gerald Deckard (#47609545)

Note 1

George Day
in the 1920United States Federal Census
Name: George Day
Age: 54
Birth Year: abt 1866
Birthplace: Connecticut
Home in 1920: Plainville, Hartford, Connecticut
Street: Camp Street
House Number: X
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Head
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Alma Day
Father's Birthplace: New York
Mother's Birthplace: Connecticut
Able to Speak English: Yes
Occupation: Machine Worker
Industry: Screw Factory
Employment Field:
Wage or Salary
Home Owned or Rented: Rent
Able to Read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes

View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
George Day 54
Alma Day 44
Ethel Gomme 30
Myrtle Day 17
Eva Day 13
Mary Day 7
Charlotte Day 6
Ethel A Gomme 3

Note 2:

Smart Matches™ (1)Ruth Tillinghast (born Day)FamilySearch Family TreeBirth:Dec 22 1890 - Gales Ferry, Ledyard, New London, Connecticut, United States
Death:Feb 18 1935 - Rochester, Olmsted, Minnesota, United States
Parents:Frank E. Botham, Lydia D. Botham (born Day)
Husband:Walter Byron Tillinghast
Son:Julius Russell "Russ" Deckard
Added by Gerald Deckard on Aug 18, 2016 7:32 PM
France T. Joseph Memorial
Hi Dr. Owston. I sent a couple of requests to edit the subject memorial of my great uncle Frank Joseph. Would you mind transferring the memorial to me? Thank you for your time. Kathy "BayKat"
Added by BayKat on Aug 16, 2016 5:42 PM
Gerald Deckard
Ruth H, Day Tillinghast - FG # 40396153
Ruth H, Day Tillinghast - FG # 40396153
Dr. James M. Owston - Leave public message

Hi Jim.

I just got a Web Hint from "Ny Heritage - Smart Match" that Ruth H. Days parents are:
Frank E. Botham and Lydia D. Day Botham. I have never heard of Frank E. Botham. Any comments?

Jerry Deckard
Added by Gerald Deckard on Aug 09, 2016 7:17 PM
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