I get asked from time to time by Self cousins who our earliest ancestor was or how far back I have been able to trace our family tree. I usually begin by telling them about our earliest documented Self ancestor. Anything beyond him is for the most part speculation or at least it is right now.
John Jones Self was my great-great-great-grandfather. He was born in 1825 according to the 1900 Census. One record shows September as the month of his birth. He died March 5, 1910. The best I can determine he was probabably born in North Carolina. He died at home in the mountains of Tellico Plains, Tennessee in a small community called Rafter,possibly named so because it is high up in the mountains of east Tennessee. He died of "old age". He was 85 years old. It is believed that John was a son to Job Self, who was born circa (about) 1790 and died in 1881. This has not been proven with documentation. This is a commonly held theory among several researchers.
John married Lydia Avaline Waters on October 23, 1851 in Union County, Georgia. Blairsville is the county seat of Union County and it is a beautiful area of the country as are the mountains of Monroe County, Tennessee where they eventually settled and lived out their final years on this earth. Lydia was born in 1833 and died May 12, 1915, 5 years after John passed away. According to Lila Self Hunt, a granddaughter,who is now deceased, John and Lydia are buried at one of the four cemeteries at Rafter. She said they are buried at the Giles or Roberts Cemetery as it is often referred to. Their graves are marked only by field stones. John and Lydia had at least 11 and possibly 13 children.
It appears John and Lydia Self moved to Monroe County, Tennessee from north Georgia around 1883. I have not located a deed in Monroe County records indicating that John ever owned property in Monroe County, but we know from verbal accounts and other records that he lived in the mountains above Tellico Plains at Rafter.
The accompanying photograph was taken around 1900 I have estimated. It is likely the only one that exists of John and Lydia. I know of one other copy of this photo that a relative has. Other than that, I have never seen another. This particular picture of them was cropped from a group picture that also includes John and Lydia's daughter Dovie and daughter-in-law Lillie with grandsons Onie and Will Self.
Job Self, the apparent father to John J. Self, is believed to have lived until 1881 when he died in Lumpkin County, Georgia. His grave has not been located. He was married teice we think. First to Sarah_____ and secondly to Susan Oaks, who he married on August 1, 1878 when he was 80 years old and she was 75. They married in Lumpkin COunty, GA. Two newspaper articles that have been found help document Job's last few years.
"Married. On Thursday evening last Mr. Job Self to Mrs._____Oaks, all of this county. The age of the contracting parties renders the affair somewhat remarkable. The bridegroom being eighty years old and the bride about seventy-five."
This was taken from the Mountain Signal Newspaper, Dahlonega, Georgia, August 2, 1878.
"Mr. Job Self, (of whose sickness we made mention last week) died on Wednesday last, at his residence near Jones' Chapel. He had been sick for some time and finally had to succumb to extreme old age." This was taken from the Dahlonega Signal Newspaper, June 10, 1881. My thanks to Judy Cardwell, who graciously sent me these pieces from the newspapers. She is no relation by the way.
I am not sure if there is a cemetery for the Jones Chapel Church or not. I plan to make a trip to Lumpkin County, Georgia perhaps this coming Fall to look into it. Jones Chapel was a Methodist Church that once stood adjacent to Bethlehem Baptist Church on Camp Wahsega Road, north of Dahlonega, Georgia. Bethlehem Baptist Church was established in 1839. I have not been able to find any information on Jones Chapel Church other than what I have mentioned here. Mr. Job Self may be buried at the Behtlehem Baptist Church Cemetery if it was nearby his residence. He apparently lived closer to the Jones Chapel Church than he did the Baptist Church, since the news article of his death referred to Jones Chapel instead of Bethlehem Baptist Church. My thanks goes to a Mr. Jimmy Anderson for information on Jones Chapel.
Beyond this, there are several theories that different researchers have come up with to link this Job Self to Robert Self, who was born circa 1637 and who is believed by most to be our first Self immigrant to the United States. Documentation does not yet exist to prove direct lineage to Robert, often referred to as Olde Robert. As far as I know no one doing Self research anywhere in this world has been able to positively link to Olde Robert. Oh, how we would all love to. If and when someone does, the rest of the clan will beat a path to their door no doubt. It is yet to be done.
This is as far back as I can personally go. John J. Self is as far as I can document and show proof that he is my ancestor, but I am still looking to be able to prove one day on back to Job Self. We are pretty sure he is the next down the line for our particular Self line, but it needs to be proven. It may never be done, but is sure is a lot of fun looking.