Begin New Search
Refine Last Search
Cemetery Lookup
Add Burial Records
Help with Find A Grave

Top Contributors
Success Stories
Discussion Forums
Find A Grave Store

Log In
Dr. James M. Owston (#47059231)
 member for 5 years, 9 months, 21 days
[Add to MyFriends]
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.
 Contact: Leave Public Message
Contributions to
Find A Grave
 • 96,627 Memorials Added
 • 95,906 Memorials Managed
 • 318 Memorials/week
 • 1,196 Photos
 • 3 Volunteer Photos Taken
 • 36 Virtual Flowers
 • 33 Virtual Cemeteries
 • 10 Sponsorships
 • 9 Friends
Search Contributor's Records

First NameLast Name

Virtual Cemeteries
Akerberg and Related Fami... (21)
Brakeall, Breakall & Jaco... (119)
Broadcasters I've Known (3)
Company A, 9th Pennyslvan... (36)
Company B, 9th Pennyslvan... (9)
Company C, 9th Pennyslvan... (11)
Company D, 9th Pennyslvan... (13)
Company E, 9th Pennyslvan... (14)
Company F, 9th Pennyslvan... (5)
Company G, 9th Pennyslvan... (12)
[View all Virtual Cemeteries...]
Find A Grave Friends
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... (515)[Leave Message]
Pat Johanson
Edits sent to you?
I sent some edits for you a bit ago, and wondered if you could accept them. I have a lot of edits out to various people, and I would love to unclog my edit and email box. Thanks for your consideration!
Added by Pat Johanson on Jul 29, 2014 11:59 AM
Pat Johanson
Edits sent to you?
I sent some edits for you a bit ago, and wondered if you could accept them. I have a lot of edits out to various people, and I would love to unclog my edit and email box. Thanks for your consideration!
Added by Pat Johanson on Jul 29, 2014 11:59 AM
Jeff Grever
Grave transfer request...

Would you mind transferring my great grandfather's memorial over to me? His name is Walter Runyon, and his record number is #36990267.

Thank you for your time and God bless!
- Jeff Grever
Added by Jeff Grever on Jul 25, 2014 7:08 AM
Stanley Tykarski
Mr. Owston,
I know it's only been 3 months, but I was wondering if you've had the time to look at my requests and edits. I know how very important you are and how very busy you are in your big life. Also, I do understand that you really don't need to be bothered by someone as common as myself. Perhaps I am out of line in making these requests to someone of your high standing. However, if you are able to carve some time out to look at my messages, I would consider it a miracle.
Added by Stanley Tykarski on Jul 18, 2014 9:05 PM
Karen Sykes
Sykeses of McKeesport-Versailles
Hello Dr.Owston,
I resepecfully request the transfer of all the Sykes located in the McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery (PA). They are my great aunts and uncles and 1st cousins 2X removed. I'd like to connect them to each other and to other family members.
There are about a dozen:
Leon Sykes #34537330
Charles W Sykes #33249194
Kenneth L Sykes #33249200
Dorothy Sykes #33183264
Edna Sykes #33249195
Elizabeth Sykes #33249196
Elizabeth Sykes #34537329
Elmyna Sykes #33249197
Helen L Sykes #33249198
infant Sykes #33249199
Lloyd Sykes #33249201
Mamie Sykes #33249202

My Find A Grave member number is #47493701
Thank you for all your time and care of these memorial pages.
Sincerely, Karen Sykes
Added by Karen Sykes on Jul 15, 2014 7:49 AM
Anna Ramin
John Pernyak
Again, I respectfully request the management of John Pernyak.

Mr. Owston, do you even check these messages?
Added by Anna Ramin on Jul 07, 2014 5:47 PM
Joseph Boland
Thomas Taylor
Thank you for fulfilling my photo request for Thomas Taylor.

I'm not certain that this Thomas Taylor is definitely the one that I'm searching for and was hoping that the headstone, or surrounding graves, may have shed some light. It's a shame that there was no marker.

Thanks for going the extra mile and posting the document, as well. I'm assuming that this is all that the cemetery has in regards to this grave? I was hoping to confirming a birth year - or anything really.

Thanks again!
Added by Joseph Boland on Jul 07, 2014 2:18 PM
Anna Ramin
John Pernyak
Please transfer management of John Pernyak's memorial to me, his grand daughter, so that it can be updated with the correct information. It seems as though you do not relinquish management easily of those whom you have no personal ties to.

I respectfully request this transfer.

Kind Regards,
Added by Anna Ramin on Jul 03, 2014 10:37 PM
Stanley Tykarski
Eicholtz transfer
My member ID is 48380016.
In April, I left a public message asking for the transfer of John E Eicholtz #35533499, John F. Eicholtz #35533500, and Ellen Eicholtz #36646177. You never responded. In May, I emailed you with my request. Still, no response. Are you THAT Busy. Or are you just rude?
Added by Stanley Tykarski on Jun 28, 2014 9:43 PM
Harry Cannon
Memorial # 31056640
Again Sarah Elizabeth Andrews is my Grand Aunt, could you please link her to her parents please

dad Thoams Brown Andrews Memorial # 58491605
mom Marila A. Pollard Memorial # 58491874

Harry Cannon (#47816059)
Added by Harry Cannon on Jun 26, 2014 4:47 PM
[View all messages...]

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service