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.

William Landsaw Hurst
Campton, Kentucky
October 27, 1898
I was born on Quicksand in Breathitt County, Kentucky, on December 5, 1829. It was near where Linville Hagins now lives and where my grandfather settled when he came to Kentucky from Russell County, Virginia, about the year 1819. My father, Samuel Henry Hurst, was born September 19, 1799, on Clinch River, Russell County, Virginia, in the edge of Cassell's Woods, about three miles above John Bickley's mill. His father was Henry Hurst, and he was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia, in the year 1762. Henry Hurst was a son of John Hurst, at least that is my recollection as received from my father. John Hurst was the father of Thomas Hurst, and the father of John Hurst was Henry Hurst who emigrated from England to the United States, but at what date I cannot tell. John Hurst had a brother, William, who was called "Brendle" on account of his red hair. He is the ancestor of B. F. Hurst of Corrydon, Indiana. John Hurst married first, Nancy Nunn. To them were born Elizabeth, Thomas, Henry, Aboslom, John, James, George, Elijah, and Jessee. John Hurst married a second wife, Biddle. To them were born Susan, Rhoda, Nancy, Rachel, Mary, Joseph, Isaac, and William, a total of 17. Henry Hurst, my grandfather, married Elizabeth Kiser of Shenandoah, now Page County, Virginia. She was of Dutch descent, or I suppose, properly speaking, German. She could read German and had a German Bible, which my father kept until about 1865 when it was misplaced. After several children had been born to them, they removed to Russell County, Virginia, where my father was born as above stated. Five of my grandfather's whole brothers settled in eastern Tennessee about Claiborne County. The Hursts of Harlan, Bell, Knox, and Jackson counties are descendants of them. There was a Colonel Hurst of Tennessee regiment in the Civil War. I suppose he was of that stock. Two others of Henry Hurst's brothers settled in Indiana who have numerous progeny. The colonel of the 79th Ohio Regiment was named Hurst. I do not know his ancestry. He married Miss Mary Trimble of Chillicothe, Ohio. She was a descendant of Kentucky Congressman Hon. David Trimble. To my grandfather Hurst and Elizabeth Kiser were born children as follows: Harmon, Andrew, Elisha, Esther, Elizabeth, and Samuel Henry. My father, Henry Hurst, after all his children were born, immigrated to Kentucky in 1819 and settled on Quicksand. Here his wife died in 1832. He never married again and died in Morgan County, Kentucky, in 1844 on Cana Creek and was buried there. His youngest daughter had married first a Childers and afterwards Absolom Haney, and he was living with her when he died. He was faith, a member of the Baptist Church, and spent his latter days in reading the Bible and visiting the churches. My father, Samuel H. Hurst, was married to Sallie Landsaw in 1826 on Stillwater Creek, Morgan (now Wolfe) County, Kentucky, near the mouth of Landsaw's Branch where C. O. Caldwell now has a store. To them were born children as follows: Andrew Kiser, William Landsaw, Elizabeth, Esther, Daniel Duff, Dulcena, Henry C. Harris, and Emily Jane. A. K. died of typhoid fever before he was 21, unmarried. I was born, as above noted, on December 5, 1829, on Quicksand, near where my grandfather is buried. When I was two years old, my father moved from Quicksand and settled near the mouth of Boone's Fork on Frozen Creek near where the railroad station is agreed to be established.
In my boyhood days, game was abundant and population sparse. Men would go 10 miles to a logrolling and 20 to 30 miles to make roads. My educational advantages were meager. Schools were few and indifferent. My father had ciphered to the rule of three and had been constable for ten years in Perry County and in this way made enough money to buy two slaves. Being a great deal in the courts and coming in contact with judges and lawyers, he became anxious to give his children an education, but the facilities were poor. Jefferson H. Johnson was my last and best teacher. He taught first at Hazel Green and later at Stillwater Baptist Church. I attended both places. All told, I went to school only two years and one month, 25 months, and at least one-half of my tuition was wrong. In that time, I learned to be a good speller and am one yet. I completed Pike's arithmetic, which counted money by the English method of pounds, shillings, and pence. I also completed Kirkman's grammar and Mitchell's geography. I took one book at a time, and I believe that to be a good plan. These were my only studies. I assisted my father on the farm until I reached my majority. I was no hunter, and I never killed a turkey or a deer. It was hard to get started to school, but after I got started, I fell in love with my books, stuck close to my studies, and made rapid progress. Ever since, I have been fond of books. Soon after I had reached my majority, I felt inclined to study law, but I was timed in starting so there was no good preceptor near.
Harvey Burns had located at West Liberty, Kentucky. My father had employed him in some cases, and in passing from West Liberty to Breathitt Court, he stopped at my father's house on Frozen. He told me that he would take me to his house and prepare me for the bar, and I might pay him when I became a lawyer. I went to West Liberty in 1851 and began the study of law. I continued with him about two years. John W. Kendall, Wesley May, and Harry G. Burns, his son, were in the class. I got licensed first. Judge William Moore of Mt. Sterling examined me. Afterwards, Judge Green Adams at Breathitt Circuit Court signed it. I then located at Jackson, Breathitt County, and at once began the practice of law. I made a living out of my practice until the War of Rebellion. The Breathitt Bar, at that time, was composed of John Hargis, Sr.; and I. N. Cardwell, a young attorney whose parents lived there. James Hannah had recently left.

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