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.
January 27, 1898
I was born in Buncombe County, Bald Mountain Creek, North Carolina, March 1932. My father's name was Levi. He removed first to Tennessee where he stayed two years then came to Clay County in 1842. My grandfather, James Hensley, came a few years later. My great-grand-father's name was James, and I have heard him say that his father, whose name was Harry Hensley, came from England. He was accompanied by his brother, Isom Hensley, whose location he never knew. They parted to meet no more. The descendants of James Hensley are numerous. They are all through the Kentucky mountains, especially in Harlan County and in West Virginia. I cannot tell anything of Isom Hensley's descendants. Harry H., James H., and Andrew H. was born 1832.
January 31, 1898
I was born in Clay County, Kentucky, February 27, 1815. My father's name was Abraham Eversole. He was born in Ashe County, North Carolina. He died of small pox about the close of the war. My brothers came from the war on furlough and took small pox after they came home. From him they took the disease. They had been vaccinated and recovered. I was the second child, and he was 21 or 22 years old when I was born. This would make him 71 or 72 years old when he died in 1965 or 1966 and would fix his birth at 1794 or 1795. My grandfather, Jacob Eversole, came from Ashe County, North Carolina, on New River to the mouth of Cutshin, now Leslie County. My father and his brother, Woolery, helped him to grub cane and burnt it near the mouth of Cutshin. They told how the cane would pop when they burned it. I think my father was 16 or 17 years old at that time. If this be true, it would put their removal to Kentucky about 1810. The country was new. John Amis (or Amy) was the first settler about the mouth of Cutshin, but I cannot tell when. John Amis was killed at the first term of court held in Clay County which was in 1807.
My grandfather later settled about two and one-half miles above the mouth of Grapevine on the North Fork. My grandfather, Jacob Eversole, was born in Pennsylvania. He was a wagoner in the Revolutionary War. In the service, he contracted white swelling from a bruise. He recovered from it but always halted a little in his walk. He was not grown at the time, just a youth. His father came from Germany to the United States prior to the American Revolution. He came to escape the persecution of the Roman Catholics. I suppose he settled in Pennsylvania. My Grandmother Ever-sole's name was Mary Kessler. Her father was a weaver, and he learned his trade in Germany. He could weave almost any kind of warp. He took his loom with him wherever he went. He probably brought it with him from Germany. My grandfather, Jacob Ever-sole, had brothers, John and Peter, who were older than he; also, Chrisly who was a great wit. He was in demand at various gatherings to make fun for the crowd. My grandfather used to tell of a little incident that occurred in his boyhood. In the entry of the barn, they threshed their wheat and rye with flails. One of the boys, perhaps John, fell from the loft onto the floor of the entry and struck his forehead. He sprang up and rubbed the grains of wheat off his forehead that were sticking in the flesh and exclaimed, "Peter, do you think my neck is broken?" I do not know how many children my great-grandfather had. Some of my ancestors either the Kesslers or the Eversoles or both worked for their passage to America. My grandfather and grandmother read and spoke the German language. They both spoke bad English. They lived with my father part of the time. They learned English after they came. Their children spoke German. They would upbraid each other for speaking improperly. At first they would tell their children that they were too proud to speak their mother tongue. When they were old, living with Father, I heard them talk a great deal. They had a German Bible. He was accustomed to conduct the family devotions at my father's during his residence there. I have heard him preach several times, but his language was so broken that it provoked snides. I have heard men say they would as soon hear him preach as anybody. My grandmother was a Christian, also. They both were members of the Baptist church. My grandfather was a Dunkard Baptist and wore his beard. He was the only man I ever saw wear a beard during his lifetime.