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.

June 27, 1898
Manchester, Kentucky

Arrived here at 6:00 p.m. Dined at Carlo Brittain's on Red Bird. It has been a very hot day. My horse has stood it well. I am tired tonight but not worn down. I go to London tomorrow to attend to some business. Yesterday morning County Judge William Dixon of Leslie County started to Lexington with 38 men. He had a commission from Governor Bradley to raise a company of 103 men. Emmanuel Wooton is still in Leslie County recruiting the company. Persons joined them all along the road, yesterday. I learned today as I passed over the same road. He leaves his office, his family, a very delicate wife, and his farm. Two of his brothers also enlisted and a cousin, John Dixon, the attorney. The volunteers are nearly all single men. There are now 20,000 troops in Cuba and more moving for that place. The Spanish Cadiz fleet has again gone to sea, and it is thought that its destination is Manila. President McKinley is reported to have determined to send Commodore Schley with a flying squadron to bombard the coast of Spain if the report of the destination of the Cadiz fleet is true. It is believed that a severe battle was raging around Santiago Saturday and Sunday. We have cable communication now, but General Shafter reports nothing. It is thought he is too busy with the battle. Our nation is a unit on the war. Political differences are obliterated. God give victory and peace.

June 28, 1898
Manchester, Kentucky

Last night I passed through an awful ordeal, the most terrible I have ever experienced. I was assaulted right here in my room in the hotel. The agony of both mind and body was fearful indeed. I thought of all the notable events in which human suffering was great: Charge of the Light Brigade, The Black Hole of Calcutta, Andersonville Prison, Dante's Inferno, and diverse other similar things. It is hard to tell when I suffered most, while the attack was on or when it was over, and I walked the floor with a mind agitated like the ebbing of the tide beating the rocks with less and less power. As I thought of the ingratitude of the one who was the principal cause of the awful suffering, it was with difficulty I refrained from tears. How could one who had shown me so much kindness ever be a party to such cruelty. She was a woman, too. Who would have supposed that she, who had fed and sheltered me for six long months, could be led, ensnared or enticed, to do me such a wrong. How could she ever allow herself to so neglect her common everyday plain duty to such an extent as to be even the innocent cause of so much evil to me. What an enigma is man, whether dressed in paper collar or petticoats. Today he overwhelms with the most tender attentions, and tomorrow murders one by his cruel neglect. Oh, thou bundle of inconsistencies. Thou art indeed the tenderest and yet the cruelest of God's creation.
Then the inexpressible anguish I experienced before I fully realized what was being done I never can express. Excruciating pain, violent exercises of the body, and a sense of hopelessness growing out of ignorance of the surroundings gave to me such a feeling of loneliness as I never felt before. I writhed, I raged, I sighed, I groaned, and I despaired half asleep and half awake. I was suffering worse than a nightmare. The house was as still as death. My body seemed to be in a profound slumber. The light of the moon stole in at my open window, and the cool air came gently over me but gave me no sense of relief. I seemed to be on fire, but it was an inextinguishable flame. Like the fire of hell it burnt on but was not consumed. At length, rousing from my semi-consciousness, I sprang into the middle of the room, struck a match, lifted my lamp, looked into my bed, and ten legions of bedbugs were marching and countermarching over the desolated battlefield with an air of triumph that the imps of the inferno could not have surpassed.

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