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. 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.

May 7, 1898

Manchester, Kentucky
I was 75 years old today, am in robust health, am enjoying my work as well as at any previous time in my life. I am not as active as when younger, but I enjoy work as much and can accomplish more mental labor in a given length of time as ever before. In the last year my power of endurance has greatly improved.
I preach with less fatigue than before and recuperate from prostration much quicker. It is a source of great gratification to me to be able to ride a circuit of 100 miles and enjoy the exercise. After so many long years of forced retirement from the itin-eracy, this marks a wonderful exhibition of God's kindness to me. I have lately felt that the circumstances would compel me to resume teaching again for a short time, but I trust that God will make it possible for me to continue in the itinerancy. I am still trying by correspondence to get a man to come to Manchester and do the work of teaching which must be done by someone qualified by Christian character to lift up the youth of our country, may such a one be found. I inherited a fine constitution, and only for the abuse I gave it by sedentary life I might today be as strong as ever. When I was born my father was 37 years old and my mother 33. I was the 5th child; my brother James, next oldest, was six years my senior. I count it a great mercy to have enjoyed a parentage of such vigorous constitution, so free from any vicious habits, so chaste and pure in heart and life. What an inheritance! Again it was good fortune to have a country home rather than a town or city residence. This gave me exemption from the pernicious influences of town life. The town fosters idleness and idleness breeds vice. The town imports an idea of superiority which is very hurtful to the young, and they lose interest in the great masses that have not the advantages of culture and refinement that town people enjoy. I know not how much of life is in this world yet for me, but whatever it be I am resolved to devote it to the great work of helping humanity up to God. I place myself afresh in the hands of my Master and say from the depth of my soul "not my will but Thine be done."

May 14, 1898
The Anderson Home
I came to this home last Saturday afternoon. Mr. Edwin McElroy Anderson was fast approaching death. I went to Corinth on Benge and preached twice Sunday and returned here. Tuesday afternoon, the 10th, Mr. Anderson died. He professed religion in the morning and died at 6:15 p.m. He gave a very decisive testimony. I preached his funeral from the text recording the conversation of the thief on the cross. A large audience was present. He was buried by the Masons. The family have given me a cordial invitation to make my home with them. Yesterday and today I have been helping the people of this district to carry an election by which a (the) graded school was to be established. The proposition was lost by two votes. I have never examined the law before, and I am glad my attention has been called to it, as I see in it the great possibilities for many localities in this country and other counties of the mountains.

May 17, 1898
Manchester, Kentucky
I preached Sunday morning on "Grow in Grace," and at night on the Judgement. Had a large attendance at Sunday School, larger than for several months. Have been visiting, reading and writing this week. A tide in the river, the first this winter or spring gladdens all hearts. There are at least 10,100 logs ready for market in this county, worth $150,000. Half of this has been paid for part of them, those that float, while those that are rafted are all unsold. Fifty years ago salt was bringing annually $100,000 into this county, but the population was not one fifth as great as now. Then there is much more stock taken out of the county now than at any time.
I got a room today in which to open up my library. I fear the rats or mice have injured them. I think I can order a Picket Library, as I can keep them in the same room. It is Judge Dickenson's office in the yard of his residence.
The war between Spain and the United States goes vigorously on. There have been a few naval battles, but seven men have been killed on the American side while perhaps 1,000 men have been killed of the Spaniards. The Government asked for 125,000 volunteers and 700,000 offered. It would be easy to raise a million for this war. It has been the policy of the United States to acquire territory ahead. Now the question of holding the Phillipine Islands is being discussed, while the Hawaiian Islands are asking for admission into the Union. In our present condition these Islands seem important to us and the disposition to hold them seems to be a wise one. It may be that time has come for us to take part in the affairs of the East in order to advance the cause of human freedom. The nations are apprised by arbitrary powers. Man needs religion, also liberty.

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