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Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 6 years, 6 months, 10 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... (608)[Leave Message]
Judy Jones
Thank you for connecting up Sarah Fannin Baxendell#33245998 with John Baxendell1379606. All of the Baxendell Children of Pittsburgh area that are in your memorials are children of John and Sarah Fannin Baxendell. This was his 1st wife. I have had another member who wanted them connected to show Sarah's children, but you are the one who has these memorials. Please connect

Caroline Baxendell #34600603
Frederick Baxendell #34600604
Henry Baxendell #33245996

Children of
Sarah Fannin Baxendell #33245998
John Baxendell was my Great Grandfather married to his 2nd wife Sarah Elisabeth Mardis whom I have all her children connected. This family member wanted them to also show Sarah Fannin's children as John Baxendell's children. thank you.
Judy Jones#48127956
Added by Judy Jones on Apr 20, 2015 7:53 PM
David Hobbs
RE: Seastedt Family McKeesport Versailles Cemetery
Thank you Jim. Our family and I appreciate you honoring the request and the work you have done.


Added by David Hobbs on Apr 09, 2015 3:20 AM
David Hobbs
Seastedt Family McKeesport Versailles Cemetery
Weould you be kind enough to transfer the Seastedt records Ida, Walter, Eric, Ada, Ann)to me. They are maternal family relatives. Thank you in advance.
Added by David Hobbs on Apr 07, 2015 3:05 PM
Margaret Tomer
RE: Lawton Family
Thank you for the transfer. I made a few edits. Thanks for approving them.
Added by Margaret Tomer on Apr 05, 2015 6:03 PM
Margaret Tomer
Lawton Family
Could you transfer Matthew Lawton's memorial to me? I descend from his daughter, Sarah.

Memorial: 46818293
My Find A Grave identity: #46982274

I'd like to try to find and add his children.
Added by Margaret Tomer on Apr 05, 2015 11:07 AM
August Schmitt FAG # 33730752
Can you please link August Schmitt Memorial # 33730752 to his family? His father was Joseph Schmitt memorial # 114567363 and his mother was Katherine Satter Schmitt memorial #114567362. Thank you!
Cathy Napolitan
Added by CathyNaps on Mar 19, 2015 7:39 PM
Connie Hicks Mazerov
Mae Jean Mazerov
There is a listing for Mae Jean Mazerov in Find-A-Grave McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery. I am wondering if you are a relation or if you just were listing all of the names in the cemetery.

Connie Mazerov
Added by Connie Hicks Mazerov on Mar 19, 2015 7:07 PM
Netti Schreiner-Yantis
RE: Emanuel Ruper # 36990271
Thanks so much!

Added by Netti Schreiner-Yantis on Mar 19, 2015 4:58 AM
Netti Schreiner-Yantis
RE: Emanuel Ruper # 36990271
Dear Dr.Owston,

Oh, yes! I would like that! Thanks! I own his mother's--or grandmother's--bible. It was printed in 1803 in Germantown and all her children's names and dates of birth are listed on the flyleaves. Emanuel is one of those listed but he had a son who was also named Emanuel so I am not sure which one is buried in Allegheny Co.

I wasn't able to see his tombstone at all. Is there one?

I want to leave a flower on the grave with some information about the family on it. The owner died in 1872 in the county where I was born at age 102.

Thanks so much for contributing your time to Findagrave. I have found information on various lines of mine which I would never have known about except for it.

Added by Netti Schreiner-Yantis on Mar 17, 2015 4:58 AM
Netti Schreiner-Yantis
Emanuel Ruper # 36990271
Dear Doctor,

I found a mention of Emanuel Ruper on your site, but am not able to pull up anything about him. I know quite a lot about him and would like to share the information with his descendants if possible. Have a German Bible which shows his birth date as 26 Mar 1810 and know from census records that he married Julia. In 1870, he is listed in 3rd ward of Allegheny City as Emanuel RUGH, age 60, with wife Julia and children Emnauel, Cornelius & Martin. For some reason, the family seems to have changed their name to Ruper between 1870 and 1880. In that census, it shows the head of the family as Julia with a SON Martin.The 1880 Mortality Schedule which shows names and data on those who "died during the year ended May 31 1880 and Emanuel Ruper is # 816, was 73 yrs, born in PA and both his parents were also, was a blksmith and died of consumption.

My ancestor was his brother -- Peter Rugh, b. 1816. I am trying to trace his brothers and sisters who are also in the bible on the flyleaf.
Will appreciate any help you can give me.


Netti Schreiner-Yantis
Added by Netti Schreiner-Yantis on Mar 16, 2015 10:20 AM
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