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.

November 27, 1897
Manchester, Kentucky

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 Kingdom.
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.

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