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.

General Hugh White, when drinking, fell into a salt kettle and came near losing his life from the burn. He sent for Dr. William Reed, father of Dr. Stephen Reed. He refused to come. "Let him die and go to hell," the doctor said. He had refused him his daughter, Susan, in marriage. "Old Alex White, himself a great drinker, a brother-in-law of Dr. Reed who married sisters Brauners, persuaded him to go. After he had dressed the burn, General White handed him $100 bill expecting him to give him change. He held out his hand, "Another," said Reed. "No by the heavens, do you mean to break me up?" said Reed, and he did so. When Garrard was perhaps 75 years old, he went to Beattyville and proposed marriage to Priscilla McGuire, a daughter of James McGuire, sister of John G. McGuire's wife, and half-sister of Mrs. Harvey Lucas, deponent. She was an old maid, 50 years old. She declined his offer. General White was a noble specimen of manhood, one of the handsomest of men. He could primp his mouth and give to his face a peculiar charm. He was a heavy drinker but quit later in life. General Garrard was in the legislature when his sister married James White, son of General Hugh White. So bitter were the feelings between the families that he wrote to her that he would sooner see her go to her grave. Old Alex White drank heavily. He was the father of Mrs. Captain Byron. Mrs. James White is still living. She lives in Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky. She visits Clay every summer. I was overseer for several of the Whites, and I knew them well. They were great moneymakers. I worked for James and Dougherty White. My stepfather, Pearce Cottongin, used to steer salt boats, but I never did. My grandfather, Richard Lucas, was a man of great physical power. He was a drummer in the militia. A man named Butts from Tennessee rode 400 miles to whip him. He rode up to grandmother's saddler shop and called, "Does drummer Lucas live here?" "Yes sir," the man said. "Well, I live in Tennessee, 400 miles from here, and I have come to whip you," Butts said. "What have I done to you?" said Grandfather. "Oh nothing, I am the bully of Tennessee, and I understand you are the bully of Kentucky. If I whip you I will be the bully of the world," stated Butts. "Well, do you want to fight tonight or will you wait till morning? Well, get down and go in, I keep a hotel and stay with me, it shall cost you nothing," said Grandfather. "No, I won't whip a man and live off him, too," stated Butts. He went to another hotel. The next morning they fought after the manner of the times, and Grandfather was victorious. The Tennessean seemed perfectly satisfied and returned to his home. My grandfather afterwards joined the Methodist Church. He was hospitable and big hearted.
My maternal grandfather was John Cundiff. My father died when I was six years old; it was about 1821. Grandfather Cundiff was a loyal friend; he would do anything in his power for a friend, and he was a great power in elections. My uncle, John Cundiff, killed Eli Bowling. Bowling was a bully, a man of great power. He led my uncle to old Bill Dincel's house where old Millie Henson lived. They had a quarrel about the woman. Bowling kicked my uncle, who was a small man. He went away and came back with a dirk knife and called Bowling to the door and plunged it into him. He died in a few minutes. My uncle left the country and never returned. Uncle Sam Lucas took his wife to him. Eli Bowling was a bad man. His son, James Bowling, was hunting for my uncle, John, when he met Grandfather Cundiff. "John put that gun down. We have gotten rid of two bad men and let the matter stop," Grandfather said. He did so. The Cundiffs of Breathitt County, Kentucky, are the same stock.

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