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.

Friday, November 24, 2006

"Mountain Memories" Page 22

brothers and sisters he had not seen for thirty-some years, still living in Oklahoma.

They left in an old model-T Ford in late spring and Ada and Mary Hartness Miller never saw their father again. In a few months he died of some kind of problem with his throat. We think now it was cancer of the throat. He was buried in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Louisa and her three sons returned to East Tennessee lived at Walland, in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

Ada and her husband, Wiley Miller (brother to Joe), were also living at Walland but then some of Wiley and Joe's brothers had moved to northern Illinois. Wiley and his family decided to move also. They moved to a little town called Zion, close to the border of Wisconsin. Soon after Ada and Wiley moved, Louisa and the boys moved north and lived there the rest of their lives (although McKinley came back to Tennessee a few years before he died). Kin is buried in Tennessee, but the rest are buried in Illinois. In 1937, Mary and Joe also moved to Zion and Joe pastored the First Baptist Church there. It was the first Southern Baptist Church on the Great Lakes and the first in northern Illinois.

Joe baptized on the shores of Lake Michigan and the waves swept him off his feet and he could not swim, but he kept getting up by the help of the young woman from Scotland he was trying to baptize.

After World War II, the family moved back south to Monroe County, Tennessee, and again Joe pastored several churches around and about the county. It was in the early fifties that Joe and Mary went to visit Mark Self. He was living at Ballplay and he was very sick. He knew he was going to die and he said he wanted to hear Joe preach one more time. Without a text or any premeditation, Joe sat down by his bed and preached him a sermon.

A few days later Mark Self was dead and his family sent for Joe to preach his funeral. Unusual as it may seem for a man his age, Joe had mumps and could not preach the funeral. He did not like to preach funerals anyway, but he said that was one funeral he wanted to preach because he knew the man so well and loved him almost like a brother.

For Joe Miller, the depression years seemed to never end. He would not preach for a salary. He only wanted what the people wanted to give him, not what the majority voted to give him. After he could afford an old car he could scarcely afford gas for it, and sometimes Mary would sell one of her chickens to buy gas so they could go to Wednesday night prayer meeting.

Joe's last church was Cedar Valley, outside of Sweetwater. He encouraged the members to build a new church building and they


"Mountain Memories" Page 21

There was an epidemic of a disease the mountain people called "bloody flux," a type of dysentery or diarrhea, and it swept through the mountains like a whirlwind, killing all the babies under two years old. My sister Marian died at age thirteen months and was buried on a hill above the home of her grandfather, Jim Miller.

It was along about this time that Joe Miller started preaching after some years of resisting the call. The family moved out of the Cherokee Forest to a community called Belltown. There was a post office there at that time, but it no longer exists.

This is where my younger sister and I were born. Uncle Mark Self came for a visit shortly after my sister was born and asked if he could name her Masie Edith, and he did. Mark also has a daughter named Edith. My brother Stanley was also born at Belltown.
Austin, the youngest, was born in Reagan Valley, close to Mt. Vernon.

The family moved a lot because they owned no home and Joe pastored churches at many different places; however, he didn't always live close to those churches. Sometimes the churches were away back in the mountains from where he lived, eighteen miles away. In those days preachers pastored more than one church at a time because the preachers had to walk. Churches only had preaching services once a month; at other times they just had Sunday School. Joe had two churches and each one was eighteen miles away. He had no car, no buggy, and the horse or mule he owned had to be left at home for his oldest son, Boyd, to use to plow the crops. So he walked, and walked, and sometimes his feet blistered. One time his feet blistered and the blisters broke and blood oozed up through the tops of his shoes. He stopped and sat down on a rock and pulled off his shoes to let his feet rest. Along came a backslider and saw him sitting there with his shoes off and his socks all bloody. That had more effect on the backslidden man than any words could have had. After he had repented he told how he couldn't get the sight out of his mind and called Joe Miller "An old pilgrim of God," though Joe wasn't old at all.

The preachers in these times were in it for something more than money, for they got no money. They didn't expect to get money; it was in the days of the Great Depression and people didn't have money to give.

It was in the year of 1925 that Louisa Self Hartness moved with her family to Oklahoma. Ever since their marriage Harvey had begged her to move back with him to Oklahoma, but she refused. Now he was sick and she was afraid he was going to die. He told her if he died here in Tennessee he would die unhappy because he wanted to see his family again. The father and mother and


Friday, November 17, 2006

"Mountain Memories" Page 20

well as brains. Brains, because on such a job one had to do some planning and quick thinking to avoid injury or death to men or animals. It was learned later that the loggers had been using oxen instead of horses for pulling logs. The logs were lined up in the "running slide" and they started sliding too fast, but the slow moving oxen didn't jump in the "jay hole" quickly enough and they were dragged down the mountain with the logs. The logs were sliding at such a high rate of speed the oxen's horns were torn off and they were badly bruised. The company bosses had told the loggers not to work oxen any more, especially for pulling skidding log, but they had done it anyway.

The little mountain choo-choo trains ran on steam made by burning wood in the earlier years of the lumber company, but in these "modern" days had started burning coal. As I remember it being told to me, the loggers had the engines named "One spot," "Two spots," and so on.

The Babcock Lumber Company was living on borrowed time. The forest was stripped of all the virgin timber. Huge stumps throughout the hills were all that was left to prove that the tales told by these people were true.

Hearing the mournful sound of the train's highball whistle echoing up and down the valleys was a lonesome sound but that too was only a matter of time. With most of the forest already cut over and only the young timber left, the lumber company knew it would soon have to close down and move to another location. With this in mind they began to neglect their job; the railroads were going down from the lack of upkeep, they were not being cared for as they had once been and the trestles were getting dangerous.

A man by the name of Wade Caughorn had been the chief train engineer for a long time. Now he was afraid to take his train across the weak bridge, but he still wanted his job so he came up with the idea of getting out of the train and sending the engine across to see if the bridge would hold it up. When the train got across he would somehow catch up and swing back on and take control of the engine again. This plan worked fine for a while but the engineer became careless after the train continued to go across the trestles and nothing happened. He started riding the engine across once again, but tragedy was the end. One day the trestle collapsed and Wade Caughorn died.

It makes one think how strange life is. It's as if the man was put here for one purpose and his job was finished. By this time the Self family had scattered, mostly to different places in Monroe County. Louisa and Harvey, along with their three sons Sherman, McKinley and Arthur, had moved to Madisonville. The two daughters Ada and Mary were married and still living in the mountains, but not for long.


"Mountain Memories" Page 19

valuable timber, burning it to charred waste. The smoke rose and hung in a huge pall over the mountains and hid the sun till it was a like a cloudy day.

Everyone abandoned their usual work and set to fighting fire. The lumber company forgot their job and used the trains to haul the people out, but the slow moving little locomotive was shrouded in a red-hot fury as flames lapped themselves over the blackened engine and the cars carrying the frightened families. Two men leaped to their death in the wild burning forest while others were carried to safety.

It seems to me that my older brother and sisters were the lucky ones: living in this wild and wooly land of lumber camps and shanty cars sitting between the river and railroad; of fishing in the swift water of the Little Tellico, using pins for fishing hooks; of putting nails on the tracks so the train would run over them and flatten them out so they could be twisted into small plows. They’re not many toys in the mountains.

To their young innocent minds the kids were fortunate to live in this desolate part of the country where hogs and cattle ran wild. Every day held something more fascinating than the day before. Although the hogs were marked with slits in their ears, someone stole Joe and Mary Miller's hog anyway. They knew who did it and talked about it. When the man came to their home one day, their son Boyd looked at his parents and said, "That's the man that stole our hog."

On this particular day the wide-eyed children were amazed by what they saw and heard coming down the road which was made only by the many wagon wheels, horses’ hooves, and hobnail shoes of men. There was the rattle of chains, squeaking of leather and men's voices yelling excitedly as it all came into view. It was a team of oxen -- not so plentiful in those days. What really fascinated the kids were the looks of the animals. Their heads were bloody messes and blood streamed down their faces. Their eyes were walled and mud covered their backs and sides. They heaved as if they had been running. The men came behind, their clothes filled with dirt mixed with resin. Their faces were beardy and their hair long and unkempt, disheveled on their heads or sticking out in shaggy spears from their slouched hats.

These "bull-whackers" were handling the fear-crazed oxen, the "grab-drivers" with their "grab-skippers" and the other loggers and choppers with ropes and axes and saws and tools of every description that only woodsmen could identify. They went lumbering by with a lot of noise, scarcely glancing at their little audience of gingham-dressed girls and an overall-clad boy with black hair standing up on his head. The woodsmen were a rough bunch of men with rough clothing, from spiked shoes to denim jackets. They were doing a rough job that took muscles as


Friday, November 10, 2006

"Mountain Memories" Page 18

cattle to eat.

My mother has told me about one fire that became a nightmare to some people and may have cost some of them their homes. Joe and Mary Miller were living in a remote section of the forest, which was not unusual. Because of his work, it was also not unusual for Joe to be away from home. The fire to which the mountaineers had paid no particular attention began to spread out over the forest until it was hopelessly out of control. The people became alarmed as it crept up to their cabin doors. Husbands and wives gathered up their children and got out of the path of the oncoming flames, leaving their homes to burn to ashes.

At first Mary Miller was unaware that any danger approached them. She was going about her daily activities, and Joe, on his job in the opposite direction of the fire, did not know that his family was in danger. Harvey Hartness, Mary's father, was at the lumber camp and heard the talk of the men with news from the front where the fire fighters were trying in vain to stop the uncontrollable fire. Harvey asked the direction in which the fire was traveling and became worried when they pointed toward his daughter's home. He wasted no time listening to the excited talk of the men but immediately set out on foot to rescue his daughter and grandchildren, knowing Joe would be at work.

As he had suspected, Mary did not know the fire was heading in that direction. They grabbed up the children and rushed back toward the camp with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Before it was time for Joe to come home from his work he heard about the fire and the evacuation of his family, so he didn't return to his home but went to where Mary and the children were staying with her parents at the lumber camp. There was excitement and confusion, with people running and yelling here and there. Someone said a boy was lost in the fire. Mary was upset over the things she had left behind, especially a hen setting on eggs in the corner of the garden, and Stella (their little daughter) was screaming for her doll that was left in the house to burn.

Harvey and Joe talked it over and decided to return to the home place to bring out the livestock and to get the things they were in desperate need of. Mary told them to bring back Stella's doll. They left down the trail in the smoke and flying ashes and their wives watched them go, not knowing but what they would be trapped in the smoldering forest. As it turned out, the fire was brought under control before it ever reached Joe and Mary's cabin, and the lost boy was found safe.

Even though that was a bad forest fire, I remember the old people telling about another one that was worse. It was as if the forest became a volcano of fire and the roaring flames leaped from one mountain to another and licked fiery tongues around tall


"Mountain Memories" Page 17

Gentle as some of them were, they all had a stubborn streak. Sometimes they would work just fine, then suddenly they would balk, or "sull," as the mountain folks called it. I have been told by these "old timers" of the different ways they had tried to get the animal up and going after a spell of sulling. One man built up a fire by the side of his steer. Another man put cockleburs in his ox's hair.

One of the Self brothers, I believe it was Simp, became so
furious with his ox that he packed mud on" the animal's head thinking that if he was unable to breathe he would surely jump up; but the ox was extremely stubborn and refused to get up from the ground. After a little while, Simp noticed the steer wagging his tail back and forth as if he were in the throes of death. Uncle Simp became very worried at the thought of losing his only work animal, and began to scratch frantically at the mud pack on the ox's head, saying, "Lord God Almighty, he's smothering to death!" Did the ox ever get up? I don't know.

By the time my father Oliver (Joe) Miller was old enough to have a family and work animals, the days of using oxen for work was about a thing of the past. One time Joe Miller owned a mare that would not pull. In a field of corn she worked beautifully, plowing as peacefully as any horse; but as soon as she was hitched to a heavy object she would balk every time. One day Joe had worked her in the field all morning and it was dinnertime. The mare was smart enough to know this, and Joe knew that she knew it, so he took her loose from the plow and hitched her to a large log. When she felt the tug of the heavy log on her harness she stopped in her tracks and would not move another inch. Joe simply walked down the hill a little ways and took a position behind some bushes to wait and watch.

The mare stood still for a while but it wasn't long until she became restless and began to look for her master. When she could see no sign of him she looked behind at the enormous log fastened to her traces. Joe stood motionless behind the bushes and laughed to himself at the intelligence of the animal. The mare could not understand why her master had deserted her, but she could understand the empty feeling in her stomach and she knew that down at the barn there was something to take away that feeling. Suddenly she gave one long heave, and she and the log went scooting down the hillside like a snake scooting over hot boulders. And Joe, with a smile of victory on his face, came up behind. He was heading for home with a mare that had been outwitted by her two masters, Joe Miller and her stomach.

Forest fires were a common thing in these mountains and the people didn't pay much attention to them most of the time. They said it was good to burn out the old brush and leaves and let new growth come up and there would be more for the free grazing


Friday, November 03, 2006

"Mountain Memories" Page 16

whistles, and when they heard a certain train blowing they would say "Here comes old 97."

The people walked the tracks a lot of the time, especially if it was wet and muddy, because it was easier to walk the crossties than it was the rough, muddy roads; however, the trestles were dangerous because the roar of the river made it hard to hear the train coming.

One time Mark Self, Joe Miller, and his sister Dan were walking on the trestle when the train was almost upon them before they realized it was coming. They didn't have time to get off the trestle so they just hunched down between the crossties. The train passed over them and they didn't get a scratch.

There was entertainment in the mountains, even if it came as a result of another person's misfortune. My mother told me of the time she and her older children/watched a man trying to get his family across the river on foot. One by one he carried the children across and sat them down on the bank, then he went back to get his fat wife. Everything was going smoothly until he got to the middle of the river and his wife suddenly became frightened and began to kick and scream. Then all the children on the opposite bank started screaming and the poor man in his confusion dropped his wife in the water. The onlookers had a good laugh!

Life couldn't have been more exciting than living in a shanty car with a partition and a knot hole and an old fellow living on the other side who liked to sing. He probably sang because he had left his wife and family in the "flat lands" and was lonely. He would sing while cooking his breakfast and the song always stopped when he tossed his pancake high in the air because he had to concentrate on making the pancake land upside down in the skillet, which it always did. Then he would resume his song, picking up the words exactly where he left off.

It has been told (I don't know if it is true or not) that one time a storm was coming through the mountains, with strong winds that were uprooting trees. The old man looked out his window at the fierceness of the storm; he became very frightened when he saw a large tree coming down right toward his shanty car. He cried out in terror, "Lord, help!" The tree missed the shanty car and in a calm voice he said, "Never mind; it missed."

In. the early years of the century these people used oxen as work animals. By the time of the Babcock Lumber Company days, it was mostly horses and mules. Mules were stubborn but oxen were both stubborn and slow. It was in the days of my mother's girlhood that her father, Harvey Hartness, owned an ox so gentle that she could push herself in between his long curved horns and he would not move or hurt her.


"Mountain Memories" Page 15

where they were sleeping. Another time, Ada Hartness Miller was in bed at the birth of her daughter. The little train derailed and dumped a load of logs on the opposite side of the rails from where the shanty car sat.

These were the fortunate ones. There's no end to the tales that could be told of the dangers, troubles, and sorrows these people went through.

Not many loggers were killed by timber. They had lived in the
forest all their lives and were experts on felling trees. But
there were many accidents on the railroad, and the women back in the shanty cars never knew if it was their husband that was killed when the train whistle gave out a long mournful wail which was the signal the engineer gave when a man was killed. No matter what time of day or night it happened to be, if there were problems on the railroad, workmen had to get up and go. Many were the times my parents were awakened by the yell, "Preacher, preacher, get up! Trouble on the railroad!"

The little trains that traveled up and down the rails that wound around through the mountains were, in some ways, a blessing to these mountain people. Whenever they needed supplies from Tellico Plains they simply made an order, fastened it to the end of a long pole, and stuck it out to the fireman or engineer; the man on the train grabbed it, took it to Tellico when he took a load of logs, got it filled, and brought it back on his next trip.

In Tellico there were company stores. If they would rather have it, the company gave the men scrip for the time they had worked out and they could take it to the company store. Sometimes a man would go to the company store for groceries only to find someone else had bought on his time. There was no way of knowing who had done it, and the man just had to work out some more scrip to get what his family needed.

The men rode the train to and from their work place part of the time. It was easier to swing onto a moving train than it was to jump off. My father has told me of the first time he ever jumped from a moving train, saying it was the hardest fall he ever took. He was knocked from his feet and spread out on the ground. He finally learned to jump in the direction of the moving train so his balance was sustained, and then he could laugh at the amateurs fall. It became an old saying with my family about the man who jumped from the train with his lunch bag in his hand. He hit the ground and rolled down the hillside and found there were no bones broken. He grumbled that he had "Broke a brand new teacup and a little blue bowl."

The trains were numbered and each whistle had a different sound. Even the children caught on to the different sounds of the