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 30, 1898
My father was John Joseph. He was born in Wise County, Virginia, and came to Leslie County, Kentucky, about the time peace was made. His father's name was Clemmie Joseph, my grandfather. He came to Leslie County with his family. William Joseph of Magoffin County is related to us.
John C. Lewis
Wooton's Creek, Kentucky
May 31, 1898
Yesterday morning, Monday, I left Hyden to come to this neighborhood to see about getting permission to furnish a teacher for this school district. There are 109 scholars in the census. I want to put a Wilmore teacher here, full of the Holy Ghost, to get the people saved. As I passed near the schoolhouse, there were 10 or 12 men sitting at the roadside on blankets or coats playing cards. There were two games on. I stopped and warned them mildly; they never stopped playing or made any reply. I went to see Harrison Napier, a trustee, a merchant living two miles above the mouth of Wooton's Creek. He is 44 years old or nearly so, and five weeks ago he married a girl not quite 14 years old. He has grandchildren; several children at home. She came to the store, looked as she is, a little girl, with short dress on, very childlike in her manner and appearance. Mr. Napier told her to go back to the house as that was the place for the children. He is a bright man and is considered the best salesman in the county. He said that he would employ any teacher that the district wanted, but I am told he has a man whom he wants to put in. He gave me no encouragement and was not disposed to talk about the matter. He is very mean, and his impurity led him to kill a man whose wife's affections he had alienated; a man named Bailey. His excuse for marrying a child was that he knew that she was pure, and being a child she and his children would get along pleasantly together. This is a hard community, though there are some good citizens in it. There is a lawless element; two stills were cut up a few days ago.