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.

John S. Milton
Hyden, Kentucky
April 23, 1898

I was born in Johnson County, Indiana, May 1, 1834. My father was Terry H. Melton. He was born in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, 17__. My grandfather lived and died in Knoxville, Tennessee. I do not know where he was born. My grandmother, Polly Pollard. Both Melton Pollard are Irish. I have heard my father say so. I do not know when my ancestors came to America. My mother was Sallie Templeton. She was born in North Carolina on New River, Ash County. Her father, James Templeton, was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was English. His father came from England. He died on Bad Creek, Leslie County, aged 105 years about 1859. His wife died first at the age of 109. She was 13 years his senior. My mother lived to be 96. My youngest aunt to be 96, also. My father served in the War of 1812. He came to Harlan County, now Leslie County, Kentucky, and married. I have the record. He had seven children all are living in this county except one which is dead. I was elected assessor in Perry County in 1866. I was chosen the first county clerk of Leslie County in 1877. My opponents were R. I. Wooten, Mc-Roberts, Matt Howard, and John C. Dickson. I got 81 votes more than all of my opponents. James Duff was chosen sheriff but failed to give bond, and Mac Napier was appointed in his stead.
John Hyden came to my father's house on Wooton Creek on Cutshin in June 1853. He had $60 worth of dry goods and notions, which he carried on two small horses. He was accompanied by Ferguson. Each had a horse. The bundles were small. He opened his goods in a small round log storehouse, in which my father and old James Dixon had sold goods. He exchanged his goods for hides, bear and deer furs, ginseng, and other produce as feathers, beeswax, etc. and transferred them to Jonesville, Virginia, on horseback, 80 miles. Ferguson would go to Jonesville with the produce and return loaded with goods. He prospered greatly. He remained at my father's two years. He then married Elizabeth McIntosh and removed to the mouth of McIntosh Creek. He then took in James L. McIntosh, his brother-in-law, as a partner, and enlarged his business. He went to Maysville for his goods and brought them from Clay's Ferry in canoes and freight boats. These were made in Cutshin and loaded with produce and taken down to Clay Ferry. I have gone many a trip with them. Later, he went into partnership with Joseph Eversole, father of Capt. William Eversole. They were not together long. He sold out and moved to Sextons Creek, Clay County. I pushed the boat down Middle Fork up South Fork to the mouth of Sextons. His wife was in very delicate health.
He was a man of fair complexion, blue eyes, and weighed 175 pounds. He was a fine looking man and would be easily taken for a man of force among a thousand men. He was very industrious, economical, had no bad habits, was the soul of humor, and was fair, just, and equitable in all his dealings. I have worked for him a great deal, had dealings with him in various ways and always found him true to the principles of a high standard of manhood. He was very prosperous and popular as was clearly shown by his election to the Senate in 1877 without opposition in a Republican District, while he was a Democrat, he was ambitious, held himself up among the first class of people. He would have liked to go to Congress. He amass-ed considerable wealth. I knew his father, John Hyden. He used to visit his son at my father's. He spent a winter there. They called him Jack. I also knew his brother, Wilson. Old John was poor but a high-minded man. He said he had a poor mountain farm in Lee County, Virginia, on which he reared his family.

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