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
November 27, 1897
There is a dance in town tonight at Dr. T. M. Hill's. He and
his wife are members of the Presbyterian Church, converts of
Dr. E. O. Guerrant at Jackson, Kentucky, when I lived there.
Dr. Hill told yesterday that he intended to leave Manchester
in January, that the town was too wicked for him and his family.
They have but one child, a son, who is about 22 years old. He
was in business here, and a few months ago he sold his goods,
put the money in his pockets, and left his creditors to bewail
their folly. Dr. Hill said a party of men shot in front of his
house recently and scared his wife, and he could not afford to
live in such a town. He told me of his efforts to enforce the
law here as a member of the Board of Trustees and how he failed
and resigned. He poses as a reformer but acts as an enemy of
morality. His wife was very bitter toward our meeting, I learned.
These are the people who block the way of the progress of the
Dancing has been the religion of this county for about 100 years.
The best people of the county have always danced or patronized
dancing. What is the result? This is one of the wickedest counties
in the state. A county seat so godless and lawless that the people
of the county visit it only when compelled to do so. In it are
two church buildings and neither has a pastor. The county government
reeks with corruption, and the town has no government. Education
is at a lower ebb than perhaps any county in the state. In the
county seat are four saloons and in other parts of the county,
six, while divers distilleries dot the county which are to all
intents and purposes saloons; as all the whiskey and brandy they
make is sold on the ground for consumption.
Drunkenness is almost universal. These are the results of dancing
Christians. All the dancing Christians in the land could not
lead a single soul to Christ. They have no moral power. They
are recognized by the world as its allies. They are never pious,
never zealous for God, though they may be for their church. They
are the stumbling block over which the world is stumbling into
hell. They are not Christians at all. The dance is simply a means
of intoxication as is alcohol, tobacco, opium, and all the long
list of stimulants. The pleasure it produces is animal, just
as is that from the other causes mentioned. The thrill of the
music, the regular movements of the body, and the content of
the sexes produce delightful sensations. So does the morphine
habit, the opium habit, the tobacco habit, and the whiskey habit.
Everyone of these minister to the sensual or animal nature. The
cohabitation of the sexes does the same. In all these the nervous
system is exhilarated, a sort of delightful delirium is produced
and the individual is lost to the consciousness of physical suffering
or mental suffering. "All goes merry as a marriage ball,"
"What harm is there in the dance?" is constantly asked.
We might answer what harm is there in any of the other forms
of intoxication? God always seems farther away. He is farther
away. The soul has been insulted by giving supremacy to the animal.
There is a conscious decline of spiritual power.