Dickey's Diary


Editor's Note: Readers of The Kentucky Explorer have been introduced to the Rev. John J. Dickey in past issues. Remember that he was a traveling preacher throughout the eastern part of the state during the years between 1880 and 1925. He helped to establish numerous churches and at least two colleges. He was also a teacher and a newspaper editor. However, his most enduring gift to us today may well be his diary that he kept faithfully during some 50 years of his later life beginning in the 1880s. In all, over 6,000 pages written in his own hand make up this interesting digest.
In this journal of his, Dickey often wrote down accounts of events daily. Much of the material concerns his day to day life. However, during the late 1890s he began to gather family history on various families he met in his travels. Beginning in this issue we are offering these interviews to our readers in the hope that they will be appreciated in the sense that Rev. Dickey intended. These interviews were written word for word as they were given to Rev. Dickey. Nothing has been changed.

November 26, 1897
Manchester, Kentucky
As I study more closely the state of things here, I am appalled at the magnitude of my work. The people are the first to be saved then to be kept in a saved state. The latter is the more difficult. They are to be taught how to live Christian lives. There is not an earnest, consistent, intelligent Christian in town or in the community, one whose life is what I wish the rest to be; a model worthy of their imitation. Pray to God that I had a wife that would furnish such a model. There are to be taught the scriptures, historical, doctrinal, ethical, the Christ life. They must be educated in science, in art, in literature. They are to be inspired with zeal, after they are saved, for without this earnest effort for God's cause they will fall away and perish. The question that confronts me is, how shall I accomplish these things?
First get them saved, protracted efforts by earnest gifted men has always been God's plan. Revival of religion has always been the promoter of godliness. This I have begun and am arranging to continue. There is an apathy that is alarming and indisposition to attend church. The trumpet of the gospel will not awake one who sleeps beyond the sound of its notes. They must be reached in some way. If they will not come to it, it must go to them. The bugle of the gospel ought to be sounding all over the country. More men are needed. We must have more laborers, and I do not see where they are to come from unless God raises them up here on the ground. I pray God that He might do so. We have the talent here, praise the Lord. The Lord has no good material here to draw upon as He did the Pentecost. O for Pentecostal power. Then the people need books. They must read to be intelligent. Some will buy, the others will have to be supplied by donation. I need tracts for gratuitous distribution. God give them to me. Honestly, truth piety, benevolence, truthfulness, and all the virtues must be cultivated. "Who is sufficient for these things?" May God give me wisdom.
Most of the nights since I have been here have been made hideous by the yells of drunken men and the noise of their revolvers. Some nights hundreds of shots have been fired. While I am writing tonight the crack of the rifle is heard making a startling report. Drunken men are seen on the streets daily and along the highways leading into town. The law is not enforced against shooting on the highway or nor against drunkenness. There is no fear of the law or its officers. "Might is right" here, the weak must yield to the strong.
Another obstacle to the evangelizing of Clay County is the White-Garrard feud that has existed here for 50 years. They are two leading families. The Garrards are the descendants of Governor Garrard, the second governor of Kentucky. His son, James, located in this county early in the century. General Theopholous Garrard, now 84 years old, still lives in the county. He and his descendants made a strong element of society. General Hugh White from Virginia settled here early in the century and has a large posterity here, much larger than the Garrards. The factions take sides in all the political struggles, business enterprises, and even in litigation. They are always on opposite sides. What one side favors the other side opposes. General Garrard said that his people have spent $500,000 fighting the Whites. Both sides are intelligent and wealthy people of the county.

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