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.
December 8, 1897
Last Sunday a number of the leading young men of the town and
county were drunk on the streets, fighting, yelling, and brawling.
Yesterday Sheriff-elect Bev White, Jr., and William Treadway,
ex-marshall, emptied their revolvers at each other; but nobody
was hurt. Today some man was drunk and shooting on the street.
He met Mrs. Burchell and the girls coming to church tonight and
shot on the highway. Thus things go. Monday the petition was
filed but this cannot relieve us for 12 months. O that we might
get the saloon keepers converted.
I have been at Col. D. Y. Lyttle's the last 24 hours, writing
up his life and much else of mountain history. He is in his 80th
year. I got much valuable information. This afternoon Bro. L.
L. Pickett and Dr. McDonald came to receive Dr. Burchell's three
daughters and Miss Emma Lyttle into the Presbyterian Church.
They were converted on one meeting. He goes back tomorrow. I
got him up a good audience by going to each house after sundown.
Bro. Pickett is feeble. He sang tonight and talked a minute or
so at my request at the close of the service about the meeting.
We must have it, or we fail. But He has promised it, if we only
believe. O for the faith of an Abraham! Nothing short of it is
equal to the work here. Sin and the devil reign. The town is
under a curse and has been for 50 years. O for its deliverance
from these hard masters. O for the holy fire to fall on my heart
and fit me for this work. God send the fire on us all!
December 9, 1897
We had a small audience but a good meeting this morning, 15
to 20 present. Tonight there were 75. Bro. Pickett preached on,
"If ye being evil, etc." Prayer had liberty. One-third
of the audience came and shook hands with us as a pledge that
they would pray for the salvation of sinners. The call for those
who wanted prayer to come and shake hands was not responded to,
but the audience was serious.
Last night Robert Lucas, 20 years old, eldest son of Mrs. Amanda
Lucas, proprietress of our hotel, was drunk yelling like an Indian.
He was cursing the "sanctified preachers." This morning
he was up and out early doing the same thing throughout the forenoon.
Abe Pace, recently pardoned out of the penitentiary where he
was serving a life sentence for killing Allen Lewis, a hotel
keeper in Hyden, was here and was raising a disturbance this
morning. Sam Kash, his attorney, lives here, and he told me that
Pace ate some sort of soap until he spit blood and made the physician
believe he had consumption and was about to die. The physician
wrote this on the certificate and Governor Bradley pardoned him.
Now he is here ready to kill somebody and put the state to a
We held strict meeting this morning after the second bell rang
and invited the crowd on the street to come to church, but they
did not come. We had 25 or 30 women and a-half dozen men. Bro.
Pickett preached, "And ye shall receive power after that
the Holy Ghost has come upon you." Most of the congregation
came forward to pray for power. Bro. Pickett told the audience
that they ought to take the preachers out of the hotel, that
they could not pay their bills and were unwilling to leave till
their bills were paid. He said when he was put at a hotel he
felt that he was an intruder in the community. He has been with
us at the Lucas Hotel since he came. At the close of the service
Mrs. Dr. Burchell invited two of us to stay at her house. So
did Mrs. Dr. Manning, the latter only for lodging, but she would
see that our meals were paid for at the hotel. Mrs. Burchell
lives a mile in the country. Mrs. Manning lives in town. I hope
to get a room at Mrs. Jefferies in town as soon as she and her
son get fixed up in their house. I am sure God will take care
It is commonly remarked that Manchester is more wicked than
ever before. Another saloon was opened in town this week, making
five in all. The devil is loose, but God is mightier than he
and will give us the victory. Glory be to His name!
Bro. May is having some success in selling Bibles. He went to
Benge this morning to fill my appointment for tomorrow. We are
expecting victory in our meeting. Bro. Pickett is in fair working
order, is full of faith, hope, and love. We are claiming the
victory faith though the devil is raging around. This is a noisy
day in town; drinking, carousing, cursing, laughing, shooting
firecrackers, and other pyrotechnics. But Glory to God for peace