Use your imagination briefly and think back with me to March, 1910. Let’s place ourselves at a small, mountain cemetery in Appalachia 100 years ago. We are there for a funeral. We see the horse-drawn wagon coming up the hill, bearing the simple, wooden casket. The family members are walking behind the wagon, followed by friends and neighbors. A few of them are dressed in black. Others are in their Sunday go-to meetin’- clothes. It is a beautiful day. It is an ugly day. The patriarch of the Self family has died. He was 85. His widow and daughters are sobbing softly. A new, hand-dug grave waits nearby. The minster, dressed in overalls and a black coat, holds his Bible near his chest. He is ready to offer a few words of comfort to the family. Six men unload the casket from the back of the wagon and carry it to the gravesite. Someone faints, as the casket is placed over the grave. Everyone gathers in closer for a look. One of the daughters is overcome with grief. A few of the men-folk are standing off in the distance, in the shade of the nearby trees. The minister reads from the Bible and offers a prayer. The casket is lowered slowly into the grave with ropes. The dirt is heaped up high all around the grave. (It had to be six feet deep back then, you know.) The pallbearers start to shovel in the dirt. At last, John J. Self can claim a piece of Monroe County real estate as his very own. It is a small piece, but it is his and it shall forever more be his, here in this peaceful spot of the Appalachian Mountains called Giles Cemetery, at Rafter, TN.
Friday, March 5, marked the 100th anniversary of the death of our ancestor, John J. Self. On Saturday, March 13, 2010, at 11:00 a.m., several of his descendants will gather at Giles Cemetery, at Rafter, in Monroe County, TN , to dedicate a monument to the memory of John and his wife, Lydia Self. We want to commemorate this historic day in a special way. Everyone who wishes to attend will be welcome. More information is available on this blog. Please see previous posts concerning this event. Directions to the cemetery are included in the previous post. I look forward to seeing many of you there.