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, June 26, 2009


Thursday, June 25, 2009


This is a photo of Gerald Self, left, and his brother, David Self, sons of Woodrow Wilson (Red) Self, who was buried May 27, 2009 in Brashears Cemetery, Arab, Alabama.


Woodrow Wilson (Red) Self, age 91 died May 23, 2009 following a courageous battle with cancer. He spent many years of his life with the Birmingham, AL Police Department and worked as a private investigator. He was a member ofthe East Lake Masonic Lodge, Shriners and Fraternal Order of Police. He was a member of the Pinson United Methodist Church. He was born April 27, 1918 in Pinson, Jefferson County, Alabama to the late Rupert Sylvester Self and Alice Darden Self. After attending school inPinson, he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Cowell and was wounded during the Pacific Campaign of WWII. He is survived by his wife Mary Frances and his brother Alfred; his sons Gerald (Carole) Self, Maryville, Tennessee and David Eugene (Jeanie) Self, Dunnellon, Florida and his stepchildren Dot (Roger) Butler, Morris, Alabama; Gary (Kay) Buchanan, Janet (Kenneth) Kiley and Shirley Green all of Pinson, Alabama. In addition, he is survived by many grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. Visitation will be at Ridouts Roebuck Chapel, May 26, starting at 5:00 to 7:30. Funeral services for Mr. Self will be at 10:00, May 27, 2009 at the Chapel. Graveside services will follow at Brashers Cemetery, Arab Alabama. We would like to thank all of the staff of the New Beacon Hospice for theirhelp and support.

Note: Mr. Self was the father of my "DNA Cousin" David Self. David and I met a few years ago at a gathering of the Self Family Newsletter members in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was at that reunion where we tested our DNA to try to link our two Self families. We ended up being very closely linked as far as the DNA is concerned, but the search goes on for our common ancestor. There are a few theories, but we have yet to connect the paper trail. David and his brother, Gerald are great guys. It is an honor to call them cousins. Gerald and his wife have attended the Self Family reunion we have each September in Maryville Tennessee.

Friday, June 19, 2009


More pictures will come later.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Ralph Corbin Tucker, of Plymouth, MI, passed away June 10, 2009 at the age of 91. He is the beloved husband of Thelma "Lillian" for over 66 years, they were married on November 28, 1942. Dearest father of Ralph Thomas(Carolyn)Tucker, Barbara (Dennis) Liske, Sandra(Dennis)Sweet and Lori(Kevin)Sullivan. Dear grandfather of 8 and great grandfather of 3. Dear brother of James(Sharyn)Tucker, Grace Tabor, Lila Ramey and Mary Bailey. Ralph retired from Ford Motor Company in 1980. He served his country in the Air Corp during WWII and he loved to spend time gardening. Funeral services will be held Monday, June 15, 2009, 10am at Schrader-Howell Funeral Home, 280 S. Main St., Plymouth, MI. Friends may visit Sunday 2-8pm. Memorials may be made to the Alzheimers Association. Following the service at the funeral home, interment will take place at Michigan Memorial Cemetery with military honors.

Mr. Tucker was the son of the late James Willis Tucker and Lou Shaw Tucker and the grandson of Martha Lavada Self Tucker and Rev. Elisha G. Tucker. Martha Lavada Self Tucker was the daughter of John J. and Lydia Avaline Self.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Thanks to Cousin Duane Hill for sharing these great pictures from the Self Reunion that was held last Saturday. I have more pictures to post a little later.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


I think if someone had the ability and told me they'd give me a million
dollars and erase my mind of these memories. I'd have to tell them to keep your money! Money cannot buy these memories...

Decoration Day was a big event when I was a child…something…my kids don’t really know about…
Our society is now getting away from that…and it appears to
be fading rapidly away in the past…
Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day, an occasion for
decorating the graves of Civil War veterans who had died in service.
The old folks in my family always stuck with the holiday's
original name, although they did not stick to that limited purpose.
After hearing the name for so many years, I still think of it as Decoration Day.
I vividly recall those pleasant Decoration Days of my youth
in the Citico Cemetery in the Hills around Tellico
Plains…my Aunt Bessie…with her boxes full of homemade flowers…
We’d gather…visit…decorate…eat…then in the afternoon…everyone
would gather in the church building and sing….
The older adults would be standing around the graves…catching up on talk and seeing friends not seen since last year…or not seen…(as they would say… “In ages”…
Always someone talking group pictures (with those little box
cameras…no digital…back then…) The subjects would be…of someone or groups…standing around tombstones…. Some smiles…some dare not….
The white little church building…(I close my eyes and can
still see it)…sitting up on the top of a steep hill…and the crystal clear creek running down below at the bottom of the hill…(I can see it now…)
We had come to that tranquil place to pay respect to our
great-great-grandparents and cousins…and the rest of our deceased family.
We came to visit….
Although most of those in the graves…died many years before
I was born…I felt as if I knew them… because of the stories told by my
grandparents and parents…they talked about them often in stories…(good
stories…funny stories…sometimes sad one too…).
Some had small, American flags graced on their graves (for
service in WW1 and WW2…(I think one was from the Civil War…)
I remember the pictures at my home (in a shoe box) of much
earlier days…showing many deceased relatives…(younger days) standing around the same graves that I was now standing around…
I used to try and stand in the exact same spot…that I’d seen
them stand in the picture….
My earliest remembrance of our annual pilgrimage was about
1954, when I skipped happily along the cement tombstones that still surrounded the Self grave plots.
They seemed so big back then…but when I went to see them 2
years ago…they now seem small…I see them…with small cracks and chips in certain places and now some are hard to read…(I never cease to be reminded at how fast time is passing us by)…and some day…some ancestor…will be standing looking at my own grave…in the same way….
Back then (I think I remember)…a black cast-iron fence with
a curved entranceway coming up the hill announcing the name of the cemetery.
Standing like sentinels were stately trees and numerous
bushes…mostly gone now.
Driving up that hill…was like entering a magical place where
you could almost reach out and touch
the peace…no one talked too loudly…and everyone seemed to have a sad, reverent looks on their faces…however…occasionally you could hear hushed laughter and smiles…as old friend met for the first time in years….
On one particular day in the 50’s…grandma wasn’t feeling well and she was accompanied by other relatives…the day was sunny, but a brisk wind blew the older women’s black dresses against their legs, which were covered with those old tan-looking cotton stockings.
It was the peaceful look of my Grandma Mary that caught my
attention on that day…so I stopped running around (chasing the other kids) to
watch them. I felt secure in the presence of these simple-living country
women. Their weathered faces were framed by plain black hats that partially hid gray-to-white hair, which they wore, pinned in simple buns.
The hems of their dresses nearly touched the tops of their
black high-top shoes.
As somber as they might have looked to the casual observer…these
women were happy to see each other again and were full of peaceful joy…
Why? Because…they lived their religion…Jesus was a daily companion to them…they didn’t just attend church and think of Jesus on Sunday…
Mindful of their surroundings, they smiled conservatively while discussing the general condition of the graves and speaking quietly of
their parents and siblings.
Wise, hardworking, righteous older women…they possessed a
kind of rural nobility that automatically commanded respect…(though they were
all quite lacking in fancy material possessions )…they were tough…they’d
weathered poverty and the Great Depression.
I saw love…in those women…they were full…of it…but…you
know something…no one said it out-loud…there wasn’t much hugging back then…
I never heard Grandpa tell Grandma… “I love you”…
But…you could see it…no one doubted it…you could see it in
their eyes…the old, tired worn out eyes…that had seen too much…seen to much
heart-ache and hard times….
And…you could hear the love in Grandma’s stories she would
tell…and oh how could she tell them…she was a master story teller….handed
down to her by her mom….Great-Grandma Nichols…who’d been a Ledbetter….
The old family stories, some familiar and some not, were
told…as I listened…
Oh…and how now…I wish I’d had a tape recorder…or a video
camera back then….!
It seemed as if…nearly all of my Grandpas…had been some type
of preacher…some Baptist…and some Methodist…
Each…(as stories were told)…shown love for the Lord…no
matter how differently they interpreted the Scriptures or what name they called themselves…besides Christian….
More stories were told…as we met to eat…down by the
creek…where all the women contributed to the simple but hearty spread…no
plastic bottles or coolers back then….
I was told that back in the early 1900s, Grandpa Self had
built a little home across not far down the road from the Citico Cemetery…to
accommodate his growing family.
On my last visit to that place…the old house was gone…It had
stood in that place for (I guess) nearly a century…near the resting place of
its builder and the comings and goings in another old cemetery…Mt. Zion….
But…now no traces of the house exists….
Religion…was what kept them going…their belief sustained
them in hard times…it was ingrained into their way of life…
Throughout my adult life…I still treasure those days…I wish
to someday go back up to that place to
hold to family tradition; to pay my heartfelt respects; to remember people,
places and stories; and to be near the resting places of those who have gone
before me.
I strive to have that kind of faith that gets me through the
hard times…I want my religion to be real…for me to show it by the way I live…
Now time has left me…getting closer to being one of the older members of the family. With the rapid pace of everyday life moving so fast…it seems if…the Decoration Day pilgrimage might all end with me…with us….
Our Grandfathers steered our families through good and
sometimes difficult times with determination and integrity.
My Grandpa Emery…was a subtle hero (to me) he lived his life
with a humble heart…a point not missed by those who knew him.
I watched him intently as a teenager in the 1960s, and I loved
his relaxed style and good manners, his sameness and caring (as he sat on his
poach…smoking the pipe and spitting his tobacco…).
He never talked too much about his younger days…however,
whenever pressed; he would tell the same tales…the easy ones.
I'm sure there were other stories, personal ones that only
his old buddies could share with him.
But…My Grandpa, who died in 1983, was the greatest kind of
hero to me -- a quiet one. A Godly man.
I have nothing but happy memories of my childhood days
on his farm near Vonore, Tennessee.
What I had then was very precious: A family which
demonstrated a love for God…who weren’t ashamed to talk about it…who displayed Christian principles…two good and loving parents…
It was a tough time back then…it had been a tougher
time for them…the Great Depression, and things were tough, but each year had
many highlights that brought them pleasure and made wonderful memories.
As you can tell…the highlights just keep coming.
I'm thankful for such good memories of simple things that are really treasures in disguise.


Saturday, June 6, 2009 was the date for the annual Self Family Reunion for the descendants of Emery and Mary Self. The reunion was held at the home of J.L. and Edna Self in Maryville, Tennessee. The reunion has been held at their home for many years. This year, there were at least 50 family members in attendance and maybe a few more. We shared a wonderful lunch. (Thanks ladies!) Afterwards ,we were entertained for a little while under the shade trees, by J.L. Self who sang "I'd Rather Have Jesus" and Tommy Self, who sang a song his mother used to sing in church. (He could not think of the correct title of the song).Another highlight of the afternoon came when cousin Duane Hill shared an essay of sorts that he had written about his memories of the decoration days at Citico Cemetery. Everyone enjoyed the essay very much. I asked Duane to email me a copy of it to post on this site and he sent it to me a couple days ago. It is posted on this site (unedited) for everyone to enjoy. Some photos from the reunion will follow in the near future.