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, March 31, 2010


Miss Ella Miller, of Madisonville, TN, turned 94 today. I want to wish her a big Happy Birthday. "Happy Birthday young lady!"

Monday, March 29, 2010


Giles-Roberts Cemetery, Rafter, Tennessee
Saturday, March, 13, 2010
11:00 A.M.

Self relatives buried at the Giles-Roberts Cemetery, Tellico Plains, TN:

John J. Self, born circa 1825, died March 5, 1910. He was about 85 when he died at home at Rafter, TN.

Lydia Avaline Waters Self, born circa 1836, died May 12, 1915; wife of John J. Self. Lydia's father may also be buried in this cemetery. Lydia was about 79 when she died. Her death record states she was “about 90” and that she is buried at Macedonia Cemetery. It is believed this was an error on the record. John and Lydia had 11 children; 5 girls and 6 boys. 2 of their sons were preachers; Cicero (C.C.) and John Simpson Self. All but one of their children are buried in Monroe County, TN. One daughter, Sarah Louisa Hartness, is buried in Zion, IL. She married William Harvey Hartness.
Other relatives buried here include: (shown by order of death)

Joseph M. Self, died 12-20-1886; no date of birth is shown on stone. ‘Gone But Not Forgotten”. It is not known for certain how he is related to our family. I have a theory, but it is not yet proven. He may be a brother to our John J. Self. His name may have been Joseph MARION Self. The late Lila Hunt said Marion Self was a brother to John J. Self and he was the father of Sylvania Self Veal. She also said she thought he was buried in Monroe County, possibly at the Giles Cemetery. Edith Young told me Henry Veal, son of Sylvania Self Veal, always referred to her father as “Cousin Mark” Self. Some researchers believe Sylvania’s father was named Job Marion Self.

Lawson L. Self, born September 14, 1886, died March 16, 1910. He was 23 when he died from fever; son of Martha Lavada (Vade) Self Tucker. Lawson had a twin brother, William Floyd Self, who is buried at Cane Creek Cemetery, near Tellico Plains. Lawson died 11 days after his grandfather, John J. Self, died.

Tommy L. Self, born Nov. 1909, died March 23, 1911; son of Marcus and Mattie Self; Tommy is believed to be buried here. His grave may be the one that has a broken marker. Several years ago, this marker appeared to have some initials and “Self” engraved on it. It is now in too poor condition to read. Lamarcus (Marcus) Self was a son to John and Lydia Self.

Inez Self, born May 13, 1910, died Nov. 15, 1911; daughter of Marcus and Mattie Self; Inez is believed to be buried here, possibly near her brother, Tommy L. Self.

Jobe S. Self (Jr.), born 2-10-1894, died 3-3-1912 at age 17 years from pneumonia; son of Jobe S. Self and Anna Margaret Self.

Ora Tucker, born July 14, 1904, died Nov. 9, 1912; she was 8 years old. She was a daughter of Martha Lavada Self Tucker and Rev. Elisha Tucker. She died from asthma. She was a granddaughter to John and Lydia Self.

J.L. Miller, born 2-27-1895, died 8-11-1916; age 21; buried to the right of Wm. Thomas Miller, his father. His name was Joseph L. Miller. He is a grandson to John J. and Lydia Self. (Masonic emblem or other emblem is engraved on the stone).

Travis Elmer Self, born March 11, 1917, (stone reads 1918) died May 12th or 17, 1922. He was 5 years old; son of William Floyd and Mary Mae Bryson Self. William Floyd Self was a son to Martha Lavada Self Tucker, who was a daughter to John and Lydia Self.

Martha Lavada (Vade) Self Tucker, born Feb. 20, 1861, died Nov. 18, 1922; she was 61. She was a daughter to John and Lydia Self; wife of Rev. Elisha Tucker. “She has gone to her home in heaven and all her afflictions are o’er” is engraved on her stone.

Rheulla Tucker, born May 6, 1923, died July 7, 1924. She was 14 months old; daughter of James Willis Tucker and Lou Shaw Tucker. Willis was a son of Martha Lavada Self Tucker. Several Shaw family members are buried near Rheulla’s grave. They are probably relatives of Louie (Lou) Shaw Tucker.

Emma Pauline Byers, born 1927, died 1928, is possibly a daughter to Dovie Self Byers.

Oscar Tucker, born 7-9-1891, died 5-30-1930, at age 38; son of Martha Lavada (Vade) Self Tucker and E.G. Tucker. Oscar’s son-in-law, Lester W. Freeman, born 3-27-1911, died 2-14-1977, at age 65, is buried in Giles Cem. too. He married Alma “Morer” Tucker, born 4-24-1919. (It is unclear if she is still living. No death date is on the stone and she would be 90 years old if she is living.)

Angress Kimbrell, died Dec. 13, 1932. Funeral home records show he died in Dec. 13, 1931. His birth date is not known. He was the husband of Nettie Self, who was a daughter of Jobe Smith Self and Anna Margaret Stephens Self. Nettie later married John Yates and is buried by him at Lakeside Cemetery, Vonore, TN.

J .R. Sherman Self, born March 19, 1865, died July 26, 1934. He was 69; son of John and Lydia Self. It is believed that he may be buried at the foot of his father’s grave.

Dovie Self Byers, born June 6, 1901, died February 17, 1944. She was 42. She was a
daughter of Jobe Smith Self and Anna Margaret Stephens Self; wife of Jack Gaston Byers. According to Dillard Self, Dovie Byers taught his father, William Floyd Self, how to play the banjo.

George W. Miller, born 8-7-1895, died 6-29-1944, age 48; son of Nancy Self Miller and William Thomas Miller. He is buried on the front side of the cemetery, away from the rest of the family.
Census records show he was born in 1897.

Rev. Elisha G. Tucker, born Sept. 28, 1870, ( per census records) died March 30, 1946; husband of Martha Lavada (Vade) Self, who was a daughter of John and Lydia Self. His stone indicates he was born in 1868. He was approximately 75 when he died.

Nancy Ann Self Miller, born May 6, 1863, died May 25, 1952. She was 89. She was a daughter of John and Lydia Self; wife of William Thomas Miller. He is buried to her left.

Vernon Oscar Byers, born October 12, 1925, died May 9, 1956. He was 30 years old. He was the son of Dovie Self Byers and Jack Gaston Byers. Jack is buried at Beaty’s Chapel Cemetery, Tellico Plains, TN.

John B. Miller, born 5-13-1892, died 12-31-1977, age 85; son of Nancy Self Miller and William Thomas Miller. (He appears to be the last Self relative to be buried in this cemetery.)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sylvania Self Veal, and her husband, D.M. Veal, Jr. are buried at the Macedonia Baptist Church Cemetery, about 1/2 a mile from Giles Cemetery, (turn left at the fire hall). Sylvania was related to John J. Self. She may have been his niece. Sylvania was the mother of Henry Burns Veal, a well known Madisonville businessman and a former state representative for Tennessee, 66th General Assembly. His wife was Cora Tallent Veal.

D.M. Veal, Sr. born 9-11-1835, died 3-12-1922, at age 86 years and his wife, Lucinda (Lucie) Veal, born 6-4-1838, died 2-12-1911, at age 72 are buried in Giles- Roberts Cemetery. They are the parents of D.M. Veal, Jr., husband of Sylvania Self Veal. D.M. Veal, Sr. had a general store at Rafter for many years.

Nancy Veal, born 2-9-188___, died 7-12-____, age not determined, is buried about 20 feet up the hill from D.M. and Lucie Veal. The stone is in poor condition, but you can make out “bornd” and “DC” for deceased. Her relationship to D.M. Veal is not clear.

Several other Self relatives are buried at Hardshell House of Prayer Cemetery, located on the Rafter Road. Some of the Self family lived over the ridge from Rafter, at Turkey Creek, during the early 1900's. Many of them attended church at Miller's Chapel Baptist Church. Mark Self and his family were attending church there in 1919. Cicero Self once lived at Turkey Creek. It is located east of the Giles-Roberts Cemetery. You travel across Shaw Mountain Road from Rafter to get there. The first land Cicero Self owned in Monroe County, TN was located at Turkey Creek. He may have been pastor Mt. Isabella Baptist Church, located along the Rafter Road. It was a branch off the Miller’s Chapel Baptist Church.(We passed Mt. Isabella on the right on our way here today.) Some of the Plaster family is buried at Mt. Isabella. The Plaster family were relatives of Lillie Plaster Self, wife of J.R. Sherman Self.

Our Self family has a lot of history in the Giles-Roberts Cemetery and the entire community at Rafter, Tennessee. We have at least 25 relatives buried in this one cemetery. There are probably more.

Note: Giles- Robert Cemetery is a very old cemetery. The earliest date of death found engraved on a monument is September 4, 1864, for G.J. Roberts, born 6-29-1837 (age 27 years). There are probably older graves than this located in the cemetery. This was 147 years ago, so the cemetery was likely started around 150 years ago if not longer.


(These are the notes I used when I spoke to those who gathered at Macedonia Baptist Church for the memorial service for John J. Self.)

Good morning and welcome to Rafter, Tennessee. How many of you are here for the very first time? Rafter is a unique and beautiful place. I remember the first time I came up here. It was back around 1989 I think. I was looking for ancestors of course. I came to all three cemeteries up here, looking for Self family graves. And I fell in love with this place. I guess it had something to do with the fact that I knew our ancestors once lived here and enjoyed all the beauty of these valleys and hills at one time. Our roots run deep here in this remote Monroe County community and I always enjoy coming here, even if the weather is not always pleasant. I was up here a week ago and there was about 2-3 inches of snow on the ground. So, we cannot complain too much about a little bad weather today. I want to thank Craig Stewart and Macedonia Baptist Church for allowing us to use their facilities. We appreciate them.

Relatives, friends and guests, thank you for coming today to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of our ancestor, John J. Self on March 5, 1910. He was my 3rd- great- grandfather. We have one or two great-grandchildren of John’s with us today. There is at least the 7th generation (from John) here today too. I appreciate all of you being here. It shows your interest in your heritage and what a fine heritage we do have as members of the Self family.
Figuratively speaking, it was quite a long journey from the mountains of north Georgia to the mountains of east Tennessee. John Self's journey ended in this cemetery after 85 years of life. There was a lot of adventure along the way. There is an indication that he served for the Confederacy in the Civil War. However, I have not been able to prove his service. Lydia, his wife, filed for a widow’s pension, but was denied because she could not provide documents showing that he served. She stated that he had lost his papers. John and Lydia were married October 23, 1851 in Union County, GA (near Blairsville). They raised a large family. They had 11 children and 93 grandchildren. They have hundreds of descendants living today. There are at least 3500 if I have my information correct, and possibly more. I have 4020 individuals named in my Family Tree. Isn't that amazing? There are 1436 marriages documented too. It shows the average lifespan of 57 years and 5 months, for those whose birth and death dates are recorded there. But John and Lydia lived much longer than 57 years. John is believed to have been born in North Carolina and grew up in Georgia. His family lived in Union and Lumpkin counties in Georgia for many years. Around 1886, John moved to Monroe County, TN, apparently coming here at the suggestion of other relatives who were already in Monroe County. Amos Self lived in Monroe County in 1880. He was a relative. Amos and his family are buried in Knoxville. It was here, in these mountains of Appalachia, that John spent the remainder of his life. He died at his home at Rafter on March 5, 1910, according to Lydia‘s widow’s pension application. Death records found at the Monroe County Courthouse state that he died March 6. I had the 5th of March put on the monument we are dedicating today, since this is the date Lydia officially gave. He lived not far from where we are gathered today, although the exact location of where he lived has not been determined. He apparently never owned any land in Monroe County. No deeds or tax records can be found indicating that he owned any real estate in Monroe County or in Georgia before he moved to Tennessee. Apparently, the only piece of property he could ever claim as his very own is the small plot in Giles Cemetery, where his body has rested for the last 100 years. At least 25 Self family members are buried here with him. There are likely more we do not have a record of.

Only one picture of John and Lydia Self exists as far as I can determine. I have a copy of it. John was a tall slender man. Lydia was tall and slender as well. Only bits and pieces about them have turned up in my nearly 25 years of researching the family tree. They did not leave a lot behind to help us know them better. Lydia was a midwife in these mountains. John was likely a farmer, possibly a sharecropper. They probably had a rough life. Raising all those children off the land could not have been easy. We owe them a lot of gratitude, because each of us came from them. Their union resulted in us being who we are today. I am thankful I was born into the Self family as I am sure all of you are.

I wanted to come here today, to honor these two people, who, obviously, none of us ever really knew personally, and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of grandpa Self's death. 100 years is a long time to be dead. It is a long time to live for those who are so fortunate, but it is a long time to be dead. So much has happened in the last 100 years. William Howard Taft was President when John Self died. President Taft served from 1909 to 1913. Think for a moment what these mountains might have looked like 100 years ago. There were a lot fewer graves here then. There was no fire halI or community center. I am sure the burial of our ancestor was quite simple. He was likely brought here in a horse drawn wagon. His casket was probably homemade of pine or some other rough cut lumber. The grave would have been hand dug and hand filled. No vault would have been used. There is a new trend in the funeral and burial industry called “Green Burials“. You may have heard of this simple burial practice. No embalming is done; a plain wooden casket is used, and there is no vault used. The grave is hand dug and filled. The grave is then marked with a natural stone. No elaborate monuments are placed at the gravesite. People in these mountains were doing “green burials” long before it was done with the intention of being environmentally friendly. I imagine the whole community turned out for John Self‘s funeral, because he was an elder of the community. As far as I can determine, he had no obituary published in the newspaper. His wife, Lydia, died five years later. She had no obituary either. They were simple people… simple and humble in life and in death.

I am glad all of you wanted to join me today for this historic occasion for our family. I wish all the 3500 plus Self kinfolks were here with us. It would be a site to see. I invited a few of the oldest relatives, but they were not feeling up to attending. Wesley Dillard Self turned 90 this year and Dillard Glen Self turned 90 also. They both live in Tellico Plains. They are great- grandsons to John and Lydia Self.

Today, we will unveil a small monument to honor the lives of John and Lydia Self. Their graves are not marked with tombstones. To be honest, we do not know the exact plots they are buried in, but thanks to the late Lila Self Hunt, we know they are buried in this cemetery (Giles –Roberts), and we believe they are buried near their son, J.R. Sherman Self. So, the monument has been placed near his monument. I had the privilege of knowing J.R. Sherman Self's son, Van Larry Self, a few years before he died. J.L. Self knew him too. Van lived in Mississippi at the time of his death, but he grew up here in Monroe County. He lived to be 96. He shared a lot of family stories with me.

I am going to ask Gene Self, the oldest family member here today, and Lydia Self, the youngest, to come forward and help with the unveiling of the monument. We will then take a few minutes to let everyone look it over and take a tour of the rest of the cemetery to visit the graves of other relatives we have buried here. There are orange flags placed at significant graves to help you locate them. Thank you again for attending today. I hope you have enjoyed visiting this sacred place. I have been here many times, and I always feel that it is a special place to visit. We have a lot of history here. The Rafter Community is a place which holds a lot of history for the Self family.

Those of you who wish may join us for lunch at the Nut-N-Fancy Restaurant in Tellico Plains after we finish here. I can give you directions to the restaurant if you do not know where it is located. It is on the left on the Cherohala Skyway just before you reach Hwy. 68, as you go out of Tellico Plains. I have copies of their menu if anyone would care to take a look at those. They are expecting us for lunch and we will be ordering off the menu.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Marianne McLemore, age 59 of Maryville, passed away Tuesday March 23, 2010 at Blount Memorial Hospital. She was a wonderful wife and mother, and she had a heart of gold. She will be deeply missed by her family and all who knew her. Preceded in death by husband, Edward McLemore; brother in law, Jimmy McLemore, Danny McLemore; brother in law, Gunter Kessel; parents, Gerhard and Else Fiebig. She is survived by daughter and son in law, Susan and Brian Negele; fiancée, Lewis O’Gorman; brother and sister in law, Harold and Barbara McLemore; sister, Irmgard Kessel; sisters in law, Delores Webb, Marie McLemore, Agnes, Nadine; several nieces and nephews. Funeral service will be held 7:00 PM Thursday March 25, 2010 at Miller Funeral Home. Interment service will be held 11:00 AM Friday at Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery. Family will receive friends from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM Thursday at Miller Funeral Home, Maryville. (865)982-6041


Cousin Adam Self, son of Jeff and Brenda Self, of Maryville, TN will graduate on April 9 at Parris Island, SC and become a Marine. His initial plans are to serve one four year tour of duty, according to his mom. Adam left for boot camp on January 11. Keep him in your prayers. Congratulations to Adam for serving our country.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Here's a few more photos from the memorial service and luncheon that was held last Saturday for our ancestor, John J. Self, who died March 5, 1910.


Friday, March 19, 2010


These are some photos from the memorial service we had last Saturday (March 13) for John J. Self at Rafter, TN. I loaded them backwards by mistake. The first one should be last and the last one should be first. A few more will be added later.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Sixteen direct descendants of John J. Self and other family members attended a memorial service commemorating the 100th anniversary of his death on Saturday, March 13. The service was held at 11:00 a.m. at the Macedonia Baptist Church Fellowship Hall at Rafter, near Tellico Plains, TN. The service had been planned to be held outdoors at the cemetery, but due to the cold, rainy weather, the service was moved to the church. A total of 25 attended the service, which concluded with the unveiling of a granite monument at Giles-Roberts Cemetery, where John Self and his wife, Lydia Avaline Self, are buried. Eugene Self, the oldest descendant in attendance and Lydia Self, the youngest descendant in attendance, unveiled the monument. Eugene Self, age 78, is a great-great-grandson to John and Lydia Self. Lydia Self, age 6, who is named after John's wife, is a 4th great grandchild to them. John J. Self died at his home at Rafter on March 5, 1910.

Several who attended shared lunch together at the Nut-N-Fancy Restaurant in Tellico Plains after the memorial service. The photo above shows the granite monument that was placed in the cemetery. Other photos from the memorial service will be added to the blog in the near future.


Cousin Randall Self, of Brazil, recently sent me a picture of himself and his bride, Ingrid. It was taken on their wedding day. They were married in Brazil and celebrated their second anniversary last month. Randall is the son of Eugene and Maysel Self of Maryville, TN.

Friday, March 12, 2010


The memorial service for John J. Self and Lydia A. Self will be held as planned on Saturday, March 13. We will meet at Giles-Roberts Cemetery at 11:00 a.m. at Rafter. Those of you who will be going, and want to, may meet me at Biereley-Hale Funeral Home, in Madisonville, by 10 a.m. or at the Hardees in Tellico Plains by 10:30 a.m. to follow us up to the cemetery. Restroom facilities are supposed to be open, thanks to the fire department. Also, I have made arrangements this morning to have the Macedonia Baptist Church fellowship hall (basement) open for us to use if the rain is heavy. The church is located about 300 yards from the cemetery. We will have the service there if the weather is too bad for us to meet at the cemetery. Then, those who wish may go up to the cemetery to see the monument and other family graves. Personally, I am going to pray that this bad weather is out of here before tomorrow morning.

Svitlana and I went up there yesterday and put up a 10 x 20 tarp in case it is raining. They are calling for 65 mile per hour winds in the mountains tonight, so I hope the tarp will still be there tomorrow morning. It is supposed to be 35-40 degrees Saturday morning, so please dress warmly. Hope to see you at Rafter Saturday morning.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


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.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, 'If I could only see the world, I will marry you.' One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend. He asked her,'Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?' The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The
sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn't expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him. Her boyfriend left very sad and days later wrote a note to her saying: 'Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.'

This is how the human brain often works when our status changes. Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations. Life is a gift. Today, before you say an unkind word, think of someone who can't speak. Before you complain about the taste of your food, think of someone who has nothing to eat. Before you complain about your husband or wife, think of someone who's crying out to GOD for a companion. Today, before you complain about life, think of someone who went too early to heaven. Before whining about the distance you drive, think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet. And when you are tired and complain about your job, think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job. And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down, put a smile on your face and think: you're alive and still around.

A friend of mine sent this to me in an email. It does not have anything to do with genealogy, but I thought it was so good, that I should share it with everyone else.