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
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
William M. Combs
July 19, 1898
I have called on a large number of persons. I met James Lewis
Moore who gave me a fuller account of the "Cattle War"
than I have had before. He was able to give me the names of many
of the participants. I am glad indeed to get it as it is one
of the most thrilling incidents in the early history of Kentucky.
Brother Ragan the P. E. came up today to help Brother Taylor
in his collections.
I am staying tonight with William M. Combs, the grandfather of
Samuel E. Hager, our beloved missionary in Japan. This man educated
Sam, carrying him through Jackson Academy, where I was teacher;
Kentucky Wesleyan College; and the Theological Department of
Vanderbilt University. He is 72 years old nearly, is hale and
hearty, and has his second wife, Miss Araminta Cardwell.
James L. Moore, once a local preacher of the Methodist Church,
living just across the street, a wreck morally, killed his brother,
Dan, a few years ago. What havoc sin makes.
July 21, 1898
I stopped at J. M. Snowden's last night. He had regained his
health, so long lost. He lives two-and-one-half miles up the
river from Jackson. He has such an interesting family. The children
are good, and the home is happy. He holds family prayer, has
all these years. I dined at Judge E. C. Strong's. He is 74 years
old. He is a man of strong mind and has a vast deal of information
of the times in which he has lived. I have met no one better
informed than he. He made, perhaps, the best judge the county
has ever had. His management of the Strong and Amis warriors
terminated the war by bringing them all into court and making
everyone give bond. Henry Duff lives in a house that has been
standing perhaps 100 years, built of pine logs. The logs are
as sound today as they ever were. Here is a spring never known
to go dry, and an apple tree supposed to be 100 years old, planted
by old Billy Strong. Old Ned Callahan settled at this place and
afterward moved to Bull Skin. Samuel Davidson built the house.
He lived here until he went West. Henry Duff moved here in 186l.
He is a man of fine intelligence, and his wife is a sister to
Capt. Bill Strong, daughter of Edward Strong. She is a fine-looking
woman. They had a large family, one-half dozen daughters celebrated
for their beauty. Here has been a place for the gathering of
the young people of this section. A large house, porch running
the whole length. Everything about it is attractive. Scenes of
mirth and gaiety have been witnessed here, giving the home a
local celebrity that will long remain.
Mr. Duff is now in the early 70s and his wife only two years
behind him. One daughter, Miss Doshia, remaining at home, an
interesting woman, fair to look upon, perhaps 25 or 23 years
old. There are 85 acres of bottomland belonging to the farm.
A mile above the farm is Grapevine where Mr. Duff's father, John
Duff, reared a large family. His wife, a daughter of Gen. Elijah
Combs, still lives, aged 94 years. Her mind is gone.