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.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


The Tellico Plains (TN) Chamber of Commerce is seeking help from the town's Board of Mayor and Alderman to get most of the town recognized as an historic place. The group wants the the town's governing body to help get it on the National Register of Historic Places. At a recent meeting of the Board of Mayor and Alderman, citizens for and against the proposal argued their case. Some fear the designation would place restrictions on their property, and they are not in favor of this possible outcome. Others said it would position the town to get grant monies for impovement projects. The matter was tabled and is yet to be settled.

Tellico Plains is a very special place for the Self Family. It is uniquely historical to our family, since many of our ancestors lived in the area at one time. It is where the family settled when they left north Georgia. Many Self relatives still live in and around Tellico Plains. We have a lot of history in those Tellico Mountains as evidence by Mildred Thomas in her writings in "Mountain Memories", which is being shared on this site.


The annual Self Reunion was held Saturday, September 23 at Camp Tipton Park in Maryville, Tennessee. According to my wife, it was a very nice gathering in spite of the heavy rain that fell a couple of times. Thank goodness the pavilion protected everyone from getting soaked. I was not able to attend due to my work schedule. I really missed being there. There were approximately 60 to 70 in attendance this year. The reunion has been an annual event fo over twenty years. No one is quite sure when the first reunion was held at Camp Tipton by the Self Family. It was held one year at another location in Maryville, but except for that one reunion all the others have been at this same location. Ruth Self Bryant, who hosts the reunion, isn't even sure when the first reunion was orgainzed. I have personally been attending it on and off for at least twenty to twenty-two years, so I know it has been held at least that long. Hopefully I will be able to attend next year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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heard that he liked the way "moonshine" made him feel but didn't like the taste. So before he took his dram of "moonshine" he would send one of the kids to get him a chaser (buttermilk or something like it). Nancy and Tom had a little son (I don't know his name), but they supposed he drank some of the moonshine and was poisoned by it and died. Nancy grieved for him for years and told of how he always brought in her kindling wood. Many years after he died, she would cry when she talked about him. Could you wonder why these people sing such melancholy songs that sound almost like a wail. . . "Was I just born to die". . . "and wipe my weeping eyes, and wipe my weeping eyes."

Dove Self had her share of bad luck with husbands. She first married Joe Miller's cousin Sam. He didn't like work but he loved money, so somehow or other he managed to work just enough to get money to sew up in his clothes so nobody could get it without his knowing it. Outside of that, he was a kindhearted man, but his wife and little son Ernie got hungry. Dove said when she got hungry she got to thinking of Louisa's table. She would gather up Ernie and go visit her sister and go into the kitchen where Louisa kept her leftover food on the table with a tablecloth over it. When she turned back the cloth, "There it was!" Sam Miller died at an early age. I don't know the cause of his death.

Dove was still young. She married again, this time to a good­ looking man named Alan Butler. He was good to her at first and she had no way of knowing he was a man with a split personality. The marriage turned into a nightmare for Dove. Alan was abusive to her and the children. She had four children before she left and one time he almost smothered one of them to death before he was stopped by Dove's brother Sherman.

Dove and Alan lived in a remote section of the forest and there was no way to escape, but Dove said she would fight as long as she could move her little finger. When Alan began to contemplate ways that her son Ernie might be "accidentally" killed, Dove became frightened and started praying for God to make a way for her to escape. And He did. There was a forest fire. This wasn't unusual in these mountains, but people were having to leave their homes and men were fighting the fire. Dove saw the chance to take the children and run. She carried the baby Alvin and told Ernie, Obie, and Howard to follow. They got out of the fire to freedom, leaving everything behind.

Dove tried marriage one more time, to John Ellis. It turned out no better than the other two so she never tried it again. She had a daughter from this marriage, though, her first daughter. She named her Mayme.

Louisa Self met her husband-to-be at a quilting bee. I don't know what he was doing at a ladies' quilting bee, but I know


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Next it was Vade's husband Elisha's turn to grieve over a favorite child. Vade and Lige had a little girl named Orie and she was the apple of his eye. She liked to sing, and Lige would sit down by her and say, "Orie, sing me a song." Her clear sweet voice would ring out with an old hymn she knew her "Paw" liked. When she was eleven years old, Orie got a rash in her mouth which they thought at first was nothing to be concerned about. But as days went by and Orie was no better and then grew worse, her parents began to wonder if she was poisoned. They asked her to take them to the tree where she got her toothbrush.

In those days, these mountain people did not have "store bought" toothbrushes, so they just did the best they could by breaking off a short piece of a limb from a blackgum tree. They chewed the end of the stick until it was soft and pliable and this they dipped in soda and brushed their teeth.

Orie took them to the place where she got her toothbrush and showed them the tree. It was a "he" huckleberry, as the people around there called it, and it was very poisonous. Before she died, Lige came into the room and sat down and asked Orie to sing him a song. She looked at him and said, "Paw, I'll never sing to you again." Then she died.

It was Mark and Matt that had a little girl that got burned and died. They had gone somewhere and left their children at home alone with a fire in the fireplace. The girl's name was Nellie. Her dress caught fire as she was playing around the fireplace. When Mark and Matt were on their way home, he said that he saw Nellie standing in the road just ahead of him, but before he got close enough to speak to her she disappeared. It was only a vision, but when he and Matt got home they found Nellie badly burned. Mark said he knew from seeing the vision that she would die. And she did.

I was more acquainted with Nancy Self than with any of my grandmother's other sisters. She would come to my parents' home and sometimes stay for weeks. Usually she would bring us kids something, like a Baby Ruth candy bar. Once she brought my younger sister Edith a doll she had wrapped in pink silk. She gave me the piece of silk cloth and I have it today.

Nancy was a jolly old woman when I knew her. She would tease and frolic with my teen-aged brother Boyd, but she wasn't afraid to scold us kids. When Edith and I drank coffee she would say, "It will stunt your growth." Since I seldom saw my grandmother I had to be reminded now and then not to call Aunt Nance "Grandma."

Nancy married Tom Miller (no relation to my family; he was not Catherine Miller's son). I think he was from Georgia. I've


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Picture of Ada Smith Henegar and Mary Louisa Self Smith

Cousin John Henegar sent this picture to me. It is of his mother, Ada Smith Henegar and her mother, Mary Louisa Self Smith. Mary was a daughter to C.C. Self and Mosurie Whitmore Self. This picture was taken at the homeplace according to John. I am not sure which homeplace he was referring to. It was before January 5, 1954, which was the date of Mary's death.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


This just in... Cousin Edwin Hill, and wife Julie Hill are the proud parents of a bouncing baby boy. Ethan Lee Hill was born August 8, 2006. He weighed 8.4 lbs. and was 22" long. Edwin is the son of Duane and Vickie Hill of Tullahoma, TN. Duane is the son of the late Howard and Lucy Self Hill. Duane also shared that his daughter, Karie Large, will be having a baby girl next month. CONGRATULATIONS TO THIS FAMILY and welcome to the world little Ethan Lee Hill.

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tape. They said things like, "says he and says she." They had a quaint way of talking that has gone out of existence and will probably never be heard again.

Mark was very ticklish. One could jab him in the side and yell out a certain word and he would repeat it. One day he and Joe Miller, along with some other workers, were on the railroad trestle that carried the train across the river. The men noticed Mark cutting off a chew of tobacco and thought they would have a little fun. One of the men poked him in the side and yelled, "The train's coming, Mark!" Mark jumped and answered, "Train's coming Mark" and threw his tobacco into the river below.

There's no doubt that Aunt Matt's ancestors were part Cherokee Indian and that not very far back. She, and her daughters had habits like the Indians. If they were working the field and got tired, they just sat down in the field right where they were.

Louisa Self was the oldest daughter in her family and in those days the oldest daughter not only had to help with the housework but also took care of the younger children. Vade was five years younger and somehow got involved with a married man, in spite of the talking and pleading of her parents.

One day, Louisa and Vade had gone to the woods to hunt rich pine for kindling. Remember, they cooked in the fireplace back then, winter and summer. The girls heard someone cutting wood off in the distance. Vade told Louisa she knew who it was and that she was going to him. Although Louisa begged her not to go, it did no good. She disappeared into the forest, leaving Louisa alone with nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees and the distant chop. . .chop. . .chop of the ax.

Vade lived to regret that day, but she put her life back together as few people have the chance to do when they have made such a big mistake. She married a man who later became a preacher (Lige Tucker) and Vade made a good wife and mother.

She only raised one of the twin sons she bore. One day as she and her mother walked down a path, the twin boys were running and playing just ahead of them. Avaline said, oh, Vade, let me keep Will!" After that day, Vade never took the boy to keep any more. Vade thought the sun rose and set on Lawson, her favorite child. Unfortunately, Lawson was prone to bouts of pneumonia. With no doctors, no medicine, and no knowledge of how to treat the problem, Lawson died at the young age of nineteen.

Almost every morning, Will would come to his Aunt Louisa's house and teased young Mary by gently whipping her legs with his whip. On this particular morning he came as usual but did not use his whip on Mary's legs, and he seemed very sad. When someone asked him what was wrong, he said, "Lawson's dead."


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lumber from a single tree. He sold it for a mere two hundred dollars.

In those days there were still hostile Indians in this country, though most Cherokees were on friendly terms with the white people. Catherine Miller (my grandmother) told of the time she and her family heard the moccasin feet of the Indians pattering on the roof of their cabin. It was a frightening experience, but no harm was done. The Indians were probably just curious.

Catherine Cassidy Miller's father, Caleb Cassidy, was a friend to the Cherokee medicine men. The Cherokees showed him the herbs that made good medicine for certain diseases. Caleb taught it to James Miller, husband of Catherine. Jim planted a ginseng garden under a grape arbor because the plant needed shade. Jim was a friendly old man and a preacher. When anyone passed his house he would callout, "Come in and eat wimme," much to the dismay of his energetic little wife, who had to do the cooking when she would much rather be out on the mountainside picking berries.

Jim had lots of bees and in the spring when they swarmed, he tried to gather them all back into a new hive he had ready for them, but it wasn't always easy. One time he saw one of his swarms taking off into the wild blue yonder. He ran into the house, grabbed Catherine's dishpan, and dashed down the hillside beating the pan with all his might, not paying any attention to where he was going. He wound up in a creek, looking up at the bees roaring on out of sight. He said, "all right, go on if you don't want to stay wimme."

All this talk of the Millers may be getting off the Self family history a little, but to explain: Louisa Self Hartness's daughter married Jim and Catherine Miller's youngest son Oliver (Joe) Miller, my father.

Speaking of marriage, the Self clan began to pair off with mates of their own. Most people living in the mountains at that time married young, especially the girls. I remember hearing that when Louis Self got married and brought his bride home, someone asked her how old she was and she answered, "I'm fourteen going on sixteen."

Jobe Self married Margaret Stephens. I knew her as Aunt Marge
(pronounced not as "Marj", but as half of her name). She had a strange way of speaking, especially when she got excited. When one of her daughters told her that another daughter had run off and gotten married, Marge was distraught and began, "Well. . .now. . .was. . .what meaning. . . we’ll see. . . here now.”

I can't remember all of the great uncles and aunts and the in-laws, but Mark (Uncle Mark and Aunt Matt) came to our house lots of times and I just wish I had some of their conversations on


Friday, September 08, 2006

Self Cousins Visit Tennessee

Several days ago I had the priviledge to visit with cousin Daisy Murray, her daughter Cambria and her sister Eve at the Cracker Barrell Restaurant in Lenoir City, TN. Cousin Daisy and her daughter live in Washington State and Eve lives in Georgia. They had come to Tennessee to do some research on their father's side of the family tree (Hawk Family). Svitlana, Lydia and I had a great time visiting with these three ladies. I had never met Cambria or Eve. It was a pleasure. Cousin Daisy visited here last year and attended the Self Family Reunion with us in Maryville, TN. It was good to see her again too. Daisy and Eve are the daughters of Roy Hawk and Arkie Self Hawk. The accompanying photo shows left to right: Eve King, Daisy Murray and Cambria Dunithan.

Friday, September 01, 2006

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Another boy narrowly escaped death when he saw his father's rifle in the hands of one of the men and vowed the man would not keep it. Fearing for the boy's life, Avaline pleaded with him to let the man keep the rifle, but by chance the man laid the rifle on
the ground within reach of the boy's bare foot. He reached out his toe and stuck it in the ring of the missing bayonet and tossed it into a mass of laurel and honeysuckle. By some miracle he escaped death.

Avaline was an herb doctor and a midwife. She had her faithful mare she called "Dovey" ever ready to ride. To keep the mare safe from the robbers, she brought her into the house each evening. While the war raged in the lowlands and the lawless ones terrorized the uplands, Avaline Self sat on the floor before a pine knot fire with her back against the forelegs of her trusty little mare and her head resting on the mare's knees.

With spirit to fight for the land they loved, courage to brave the danger around them, and faith in better things to come, the Self family (most of them) lived through the Civil War days.

In the years following the Civil War, the older children of the John Self family grew up. Like most young people, they liked to have a good time. There were quilting bees,' spelling bees, music-making entertainment, and even Saturday night dancing for those who had parents lenient enough to let them go to to such a thing; the people living in the mountains of East Tennessee considered dancing a sin. Living close to Atlanta had something to do with the attitude toward dancing, I suppose. Even if it wasn't the big city we know today, it was more populated than the wilderness of East Tennessee.

A lot of time elapsed between the Civil War and the time the Self family left Georgia. It makes me wonder if they might have gone back to western North Carolina before moving to Tennessee. Whether or not it was in North Carolina or in East Tennessee, it was Cherokee country, wild and untamed, with mountains as far as the eye could see, one piled behind the other, drifting off into the horizon. They were covered with trees -- trees that reached upwards toward the sky, tall and straight, the likes of which this young generation has never seen nor ever will see, for they were cut down and destroyed and today they are still being cut down and destroyed, and they will never have a chance to grow that big again.

There were huge chestnut trees that were filled with nuts. The mountaineers gathered the nuts to roast or boil or just eat them raw. The chestnuts served as food for their hogs that ran loose
in the forest. At the same time, they thought nothing of cutting the trees down just to gather off the nuts. Harvey Hartness (my grandfather) owned a hundred and ninety acres of virgin timber with trees so huge there were four ten-foot cuts of knotless


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In those times there were men fighting for neither north nor south but simply using the war as an excuse to perform lawless activities. These men sought to find and kill John Self. It is not known how much time he spent running, hiding, and narrowly escaping the terrifying marauders roaming the mountains, killing and robbing as they went from place to place.

Then came the time when the weather was cold and John had no
place to spend the night. Due to this band of outlaws, he could not go home. Exhausted and weary, he crawled up under a pike of brush and went to sleep.

Avaline usually kept in contact with her husband, for he had no other way of getting food. She somehow knew where he had made his bed that night. She must have been in a frightful state when she awoke next morning to see the hills and valleys robed in a white blanket of snow.

Quickly she prepared his food. To keep the outlaws from guessing her intentions and following her to where John was hidden, she tied a rope around the jar of milk she was taking to him, tied the long end of the rope around her waist, and let the jar hang down under her long skirt. When she came to the place where John spent the night she found the brush pile completely covered with snow. She called out to him but got no answer. She called his name again and again. No answer. The third time she called with no answer, she let out a scream that echoed back from the mountainsides. With that, John came crawling from under the brush and snow with a grin on his face, saying he was not only sleeping but was warm. The snow had served as a blanket for
him, holding the warmth from his body inside his snowy bed.

Is there a guardian angel watching over people when the odds are against their survival and they survive anyway? I believe there is.

The day came when the lawless crew finally caught up with John and were getting ready to hang him because he would not reveal the information they wanted. John was willing to die for the cause he believed in and stood his ground, saying, "Go ahead and hang me. You'll not hang a better Yankee." This act of bravery had a strong effect on the outlaws. They had high respect for a brave man and they turned him loose.

Nothing was safe from the mad desperados. They came into homes to take what they wanted. If anyone protested, he was shot, hanged, or killed otherwise. The Self family stood and
watched helplessly as a boy (I don't know his name or if he was a relative) was shot in the back. The heartless criminals took aim at the cross of his suspenders. He was about twelve years old.