Inspired by the NBC series, “Who Do You Think You Are?” I set out to do a little digging on my husband’s family, who supposedly arrived in this country sometime in the 1600s. I enlisted the help of Ancestry.com, an incredibly useful tool.
My husband, Daryl Self, is a direct descendent of Francis Self, the first Self of this family to be born on American soil in 1668 in Westmoreland, Va.
Five generations later, Allen Richard Self and his son, Matthew Gilbert Self, farmers in Tennessee, were apparently drafted at gunpoint to fight for the Union Army in the Civil War.
Both father and son died of war injuries in Bledsoe County, Tenn., in October of 1862 within 16 days of each other; Allen was 49, and his son Matthew was 26 years old leaving behind 7 young children, including Chesley Sylvanus Self, Daryl’s great grandfather.
Another surprise came in researching Daryl’s paternal grandmother’s family. Tracing her family directly back five generations yielded the name James Sparks, a confirmed Revolutionary War soldier with the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and listed in the “Roster of Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution Buried in Indiana, Volume II,” published by the Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution in 1966.
On Nov. 15, 1833, James Sparks filed a petition to receive a Revolutionary War Pension which states that he “kept himself in continual readiness for service and on every occasion when the United States needed his service, he never waited to be drafted.” It further states that during one tour “the troops nearly starved and suffered much,” living on roots and hides, which Sparks roasted and ate.
These are only a couple of the fascinating stories that we’ve come across in researching just a small portion of our family. Being able to present this kind of history to our children has been a valuable tool in teaching American history, and instilling in our children a sense of pride in themselves and their Country. What’s your story? You may be very surprised to find out.