Barry's Genealogy Diary

This online genealogical diary is hosted by Barry T. Self. It is primarily for information pertaining to the SELF surname, more particularly for descendants of John J. and Lydia Avaline Waters Self, who were married in Union County, GA in 1851. Barry Self is the SELF proclaimed family genealogist and historian, having spent over 20 years researching this Self line. This diary is dedicated to preserving and sharing the findings of his research.

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Location: Madisonville, Tennessee, United States

I am married to a wonderful and sweet wife, Svitlana, who is from Ukraine and we have a beautiful daughter, Lydia Elizabeth. I have worked in the funeral business since 1988 and thoroughly enjoy researching my family roots.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Mountain Memories" Page 2

into the forest and were never caught. I imagine Thomas Self was paid money for his help in the round-up and money was something the people in the mountains always needed; however, I would not have wanted the job.

The Indians no doubt were frightened. Thomas told of how the young Indian maidens cried and begged the white men to marry them so they would not have to leave their beloved East Tennessee mountains. Many of the Indians died. What a sad tale.

Could it be that was the reason the Selfs wound up in Georgia? That Thomas was there hunting Indians and saw the beautiful countryside and decided to bring his family and stay?

There's some controversy about the next happening with the Self family. Was it Thomas or was it John? My thoughts are that it was Thomas who, with his family, went to Atlanta one day -- to replenish the family larder, I suppose. (Back then folks only bought what they needed, not what they wanted; and what they could pay for, not what they could get on credit.)

The wife and mother riding beside her husband saw a little Negro boy playing alone and she exclaimed at how cute he was and said she would like to have him. The husband stopped the wagon, picked up the boy, and they took him to their home and made him a part of their family. He ate at their table, slept in their house, and did the chores with the other children. He was probably a little slave boy from some nearby plantation. At any rate, he grew up a free man, for the Selfs did not believe in slavery.

Louisa (my grandmother), who had played with him as a child, said she loved him as she did the other members of the family and she often spoke of "Nigger Jude" as they called him. But the story ends very sadly. "Nigger Jude" grew up with a white community and became interested in the white girls. Trouble brewed. Something had to be done. One day they gathered up "Nigger Jude" and all his belongings and took him back to Atlanta and set him off, never to see him again.

When the Civil War started, the Selfs sided with the north, but
it caused them a lot of trouble. The mountain people owned no plantations, owned no slaves, and had very little money. When they were sick neighbors came in and helped them. They wanted everybody to be as free as they were, and they especially didn't want the" government telling them what to do.

Just the same, this was a time when you had to choose sides. So like thousands of other young men, John Self marched off to join the side he chose, only it didn’t work out that simply for my great-grandfather. For some unknown reason he was turned away and sent home.


"Mountain Memories" Page 1

My mother, Mary Lydia Hartness Miller, was named after her grandmother, Lydia Avaline Waters Self, and was the daughter of Louisa Self, who married Harvey Hartness. From time to time throughout her life, she talked of her childhood and of the young adult life she spent with her parents, members of her family, and her friends living in the Turkey Creek area of the Cherokee National Forest of East Tennessee. She told it over and over again until it almost seems like I can remember it myself.

It's a story about a rugged people living in a rugged land, and I don't know if I can put into words the drama of the life these mountain people lived; however, I am going to try because for
years I have thought it should be written down and preserved for future generations of Selfs, Hartnesses, and Millers, and the offspring of other families living in that small area of the Cherokee Forest.

If you could see the old time Selfs gathered together in a group, you would remember them as small people with dark hair and dark beady eyes setting deep behind large cheek bones. (Of course there were exceptions; Nancy Self was heavy-set and Louisa Self had blue eyes.)

Thomas Self was born in North Carolina as was his son John Self, though John left that state before he married Lydia Avaline Waters because their marriage is registered in the state of Georgia. This leads me to believe that Thomas Self moved his family to Georgia before John was married. In those days, as a general rule, siblings didn't leave the family nest until after they married.

I have often wondered how they came to be living in Georgia. I have heard the old timers tell how Thomas Self (my great-great-grandfather) helped "run" the Indians out of the Cherokee Forest. "Run" is the word they used but probably it was more like herding them than running.

I suppose soldiers were sent there to see that the Cherokee Indians were moved out and sent to Oklahoma. I doubt if Thomas Self traveled on the Trail of Tears, but according to what I have been told, he, along with other mountaineers living there at that time, helped gather the Indians together at the start of the Trail of Tears.

It would have been pretty well impossible for people who were not familiar with the territory to hunt down all the Indians living in those mountains; the terrain was so rough they would have become lost in the laurel thickets. Those mountain men were equal to the Indians, knowing every trail and tree and probably had no trouble rousting out hiding Indians and turning them over to the army. Or did they? As we all know, some Indians escaped


NOTE: Mildred mentions that the father to John Self was Thomas Self. This has not been proven with documentation. I am still searching for documentation to prove what his father's name was. (Barry)

"Mountain Memories" To Be Posted to This Site

In 1991 and 1992, Mildred Miller Thomas penned down some of her thoughts and recollections about her family history, particularly her Self and Miller family history. She entitled it “Mountain Memories”. I was privileged to receive a copy of this collection of stories. I first received a handwritten copy from Mildred. Sometime later she presented me with a typed, spiral bound copy. The handwritten copy contains 63 pages. The typed copy is much shorter, with only 23 pages. I have enjoyed reading it over and over many times. Now I would like to share it with the readers on this site. Mildred gave me permission several years ago to reprint it. It contains some very interesting material, some of which I had never heard before about experiences various members of the Self, Miller and Hartness families had during their lifetimes.

I will be adding a couple of pages to the site every week or so, as time permits me to scan it and upload it, until all 23 pages have been shared. I will also be making notes or comments from time to time to go along with what Mildred has written.

To be sure everyone has a clear understanding of who Mildred Thomas is, allow me to explain that she is the daughter of Mary Lydia Hartness and Oliver Conway (Joe) Miller. Mary Hartness was the daughter of Sarah Louisa Self and Harvey Hartness. Sarah Self was the daughter of John J. Self and Lydia Avaline Waters Self.

Mildred is married to Hugh (Tommy) Thomas. They reside in Madisonville, Tennessee.

May I suggest that if you enjoy reading what Mildred has written, please copy it off to keep and share with other family members. Also, your comments are welcomed concerning this material just like I welcome comments concerning anything that is posted to this site.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Mark your calendars now... the annual Self Family Reunion will be Saturday, September 23, 2006 at Camp Tipton Park in Maryville, Tennessee. Directions to the park are: Take Hwy 411 North toward Maryville, TN. Turn right onto Hwy. 129 South at the red light and the Rite Stop Market. Go about 2.5 miles (two point five, not twenty-five). Turn left onto Walker School Road. Go about 5/10 of a mile. Turn right into the park. There is an arch over the entrance to Camp Tipton.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Stella Miller, age 94, of 405 Community Drive, Madisonville, TN, passed away 12:47 P.M. Wednesday, August 16, 2006 at Sweetwater Hospital, Sweetwater, TN. She was a member of South Madisonville Baptist Church. Survivors, sisters & brother-in-law: Ella Miller, Mildred & Tommy Thomas;
brother & sisters-in-law: Stanley & Loretta Miller, Ann Miller, Dot Miller, all of Madisonville, TN; nieces & Nephews, Carol Jean & Eugene Caines, Jacksonville, FL, Jeanette Harlow, Chicago, IL, Ronald & Billie Miller, Ronnie & Angie Miller, Andrew Miller, Danielle & Brittany Miller, all of Tunnel Hill, GA, Stephen & Suneetha Miller, Kirren & Kyla Miller, all of Knoxville, David & Tammy Miller, Crossville.
Preceded in death by parents-Rev. Oliver C. & Mary Lydia Hartness Miller, sisters, Edna, Edith and Marian Miller, sister & brother-in-law, Jessie & Floyd Harlow; brothers-Boyd and Austin Miller.

Funeral was 7:00 P.M. Friday, August 18, in Biereley-Hale Chapel, Rev. Rick Harris and Rev. Larry Gibby officiated. Interment 11:00 A.M. Saturday, Piney Grove Cemetery. Family received friends 6-7 P.M. Friday at Biereley-Hale Funeral Home, Madisonville, TN.

Note: Stella was the oldest of 10 children. Her maternal grandparents were William Harvey Hartness and Sarah Louisa Self Hartness. Her maternal grandparents were John J. and Lydia Avaline Self.