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, April 29, 2007



The oldest living direct descendant of John J. Self and Lydia Avaline Waters Self, has died. Van Lowry Self died Saturday, April 28, 2007 at Sanctuary Hospice House in Tupelo, MS, near his home in Pontotoc, Mississippi. He was 96 years old. Van Lowry was born February 7, 1911 in Mt. Vernon, Tennessee to J.R. Sherman Self and Lillie Plaster Self. He celebrated his birthday each year on April 10 for some unknown reason. He had 6 siblings; one sister and 5 brothers. All of them are deceased.

Van Self was the oldest known direct descendant of John J. Self at the time of his death. He was quite possibly the oldest Self in America, but this has not been determined for certain.

Van spent most of his life in Illinois and Wisconsin where, as a young man, he moved in order to find employment. His childhood years were spent living in the mountains of Tellico Plains, TN. Around 1937 Van hopped a train in Monroe County, TN and went to Waukegan, IL to look for a job. He found good jobs there and stayed until 1973 when he and his wife, Louise, retired and moved back to her hometown of Pontotoc, MS to be near her aging parents. Louise passed away in 1993.

Van had a wonderful memory almost to the end of his life. He was very knowledgeable about our Self Family history. I will always treasure the stories he told me of playing and working around the Hoffard Mansion along the banks of the Tellico River. Van trimmed the hedges and did yard work at the mansion. He also had the task of catching minnows and crawfish for Col. C.F. Hoffard, who was from England, to use when he had visitors coming from Knoxville to fish. Col. Hoffard would pay Van 50 cents a day to work for him. Van still laughed every time he recalled how Col. Hoffard acted. Mrs. Hoffard would go into Tellico Plains to play Bridge with the ladies. She would leave Col. Hoffard a list of chores to do. When she would return in the afternoon, Col. Hoffard would run to her and say “Oh Sadie, come see what C.F. has done while you were gone.” He tried to make his wife think he had done the yard work when it was actually Van who did it. Van also recalled raising game roosters for Dr. Rodgers in Tellico Plains.

Van once told me he probably grew up as poor as any human ever did. He said he did not have anything until he was about 30 years old. He stated that he had given away a lot of the money he earned over the years to anyone he saw in need. He once swore if he ever did have anything he would give to those he saw in need. He said he never hurt by giving to someone in need.

In March 2006 Van suffered a broken leg as a result of a fall in his home. After the accident he moved into the Church Street Health Care Center in Ecru, MS. It was there that I spoke to him for the last time by telephone on April 10 of this year. I called to wish him a happy birthday. He invited me to come see him and I promised to try to make it down there sometime this spring. Little did I know this would be the last time I would get to talk to Van. I certainly will miss him. I am grateful to have known him.

A son, Dale Self, of Marion, IL and three grandchildren, survives Van.

The family will receive friends 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday, April 30, 2007 at Baldwin, Nowell & Clark Funeral Home, Pontotoc. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. at the funeral home. Interment will be at the Pontotoc Memorial Gardens following the service.