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
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.
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.