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.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


71 year old Gertrude Sewell is a Monroe County, Tennessee native, but McMinn County, Tennessee is her home. She was born Gertrude Self on November 21, 1937 in Vonore, Tennessee, daughter of Charles Lawson and Sarah McMahan Self. Her mother died on May 7, 1943 following the birth of twins. Gertrude had an older brother, Charles Luther. Their father remarried in May, 1944 to Geneva White and they together had two sons. Gertrude moved to McMinn County to live with her aunt, Lucy Self Hill, and her husband, Howard, when she was 16 years old. Lucy and Howard Hill had just built a new house in the Hillsview Community of McMinn County and they had one son, Duane. Howard and his father built the house. They finished it in the summer of 1954. The date scribbled in the concrete of the front porch, near the front door, reads July 28, 1954. Gertrude moved in with them in October, 1954. She recalls that they had not lived in the new house very long when she went to live with them.

Gertrude met her future husband, Herman Sewell, while living with the Hill family. Herman lived less than 5 miles away and after a courtship, they were married on September 15, 1956 in the living room of Howard and Lucy’s home. Gertrude was 19 at the time. Rev. Robert Maxwell, from Madisonville, was holding a revival at the Mt. Harmony Baptist Church, which was not far from where Gertrude lived. He came to the house and married the couple in the living room.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited my aunt Gertrude and we went to see the home of aunt Lucy and Gertrude got to reminiscing about the time she lived with aunt Lucy and Howard. (Lucy passed away on July 7, 2003. Gertrude’s son, Ricky, bought Lucy’s house after her death. The house is currently vacant.)

The afternoon we dropped by the house to look around was both pleasant and sad for me. I was happy to walk around the yard and think about the visits I had there with my parents when I was growing up. I was also sad, because the warm welcome we would always receive from aunt Lucy and uncle Howard was missing. They are both deceased and only their memories remain.

Gertrude showed me where she and Herman stood in the living room when they got married. They were married for over 44 years when Herman passed away in May, 2001.

I convinced Gertrude to pose for a picture for me, standing in the living room, almost in the exact spot, where she was standing when she got married. The picture did not turn out too clear, however. I also took a picture of the house from the outside. It looks a little different now than I remember it as a child. Cousin Ricky has done some remodeling to it since he acquired it, but it still holds a very special place in Gertrude’s heart and mine too.

The pictures shown above are one of Gertrude and Herman Sewell in the front yard at aunt Lucy's just after they were married and of aunt Lucy's house from the front yard as it looks today. The "wedding picture" may not be too clear. I scanned it from a photocopy my uncle C.L. Self gave me several years ago.