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.
March 29, 1898
I was born in Perry County, Kentucky, February 9, 1838. I am a son of Jesse Barger born in Perry County, November 6, 1811. His father was Abraham Barger. He was born in North Carolina and came to Kentucky a few years before my father's birth and settled on the Middle Fork. He was among the first settlers on that river. Henry Gay came about the same time and settled on the mouth of Gays Creek. Ratliffs and Bowlings settled there about the same time, also Peter Devees. My father is still living at 86 years of age. I do not know that our name was first Steambarger. My ancestors were German. I do not know how far back they came to America.
T. M. Gay
I am a son of Nelson Gay, a son of Henry Gay. He is 82. He was born in Perry County. His father, mentioned above, Henry Gay, was in turn a son of Henry Gay, my great-grandfather's name was also Henry Gay. He came from Ireland, and he was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He enlisted soon after he came over. Hon. Edward Gay M. P. of Congress from Louisiana was my father's cousin. He died while in Congress. His father's name was John Gay and was a physician.
I was born in Leslie County on Middle Fork. My father was John Chapel. My grandfather was George Chapel. He came from Abingdon County, Virginia. He was the first settler on the Greasy Fork of Middle Fork. I think we are of Dutch descent. I have so understood it. My grandfather was fond of Dutch dishes. My grandfather had two brothers who settled in central Kentucky 20 years ago. They were on Dix River. My father had one brother, George. He died in Oregon unmarried. My father had 15 children. He married Betsey Wilson.
John F. McCarty
Big Creek, Kentucky
March 30, 1898
I was born in Laurel County, Kentucky, July 25, 1865. My father was William McCarty. He was born either in Laurel County or Tennessee in 1840. I think he came from Tennessee. My great-grandfather was James McCarty. He came from Ireland when a boy. I am not certain, but I think he came from the south of Ireland. I do not know when he came, or where he settled. They were all Protestants as far as I have any knowledge. My mother was Susan Seaborn before her marriage. She was born in Laurel County, I suppose about 1840. Her father was Thomas Seaborn. He was born near Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1805. He came to Clay County with his father when small. I think not more than ten years old.
My great-grandfather was Jacob Seaborn. He came from Germany to America when small with his parents and settled in New Jersey. He was living there during the Revolutionary War but ran away from his home at the the age of 16 and enlisted. He continued to the close. He emigrated to Kentucky and married Anna Griffith near Frankfort. He came to Clay County to operate salt furnaces. My grandfather was small when he came to Clay County, yet he was a wood chopper before coal was used, and that began in 1832. My great-grandfather died in Clay, my grandfather in Larue County. I took my degree from Marion Simms (Ewins?) Medical College in 1890. My grandfather was a pensioner for years. When he enlisted, in order to evade his father, he enlisted in the name of Alex Seaborn. His father came to the camp seeking him, but he could not find his name on the rolls. He was hidden till his father left the camp. He came to Kentucky on a flatboat.