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 28, 1897
I attended Sunday School at the Baptist Sunday School at 9:00 a.m., preached at 10:30 a.m., superintended our Sunday School at 2:30 p.m., and preached tonight at 6:30. The congregation, this morning, was chiefly young people. Thank God I have their ear, for there is little hope of reaching any other class. God gave me liberty to talk to the young converts, many of them present. Tonight there were not more than 12 at church and at least half of them left the house while I was preaching. But I had four or five that were deeply interested in my discourse, which was the experience of Daniel and his companions at Chaldea.
This afternoon the Negroes were drunk on the street yelling and hollering, though perfectly harmless. This was sufficient cause for everyone to stay, though tonight the town was as quiet as a graveyard. There is such a lack of fidelity in these people. They are controlled by impulses. The animal or lower nature is all they seek to gratify. This is the result in the long neglect of their moral and intellectual training, especially the former. There are no nobel aspirations, no lofty purposes, and no grand designs. How sad to see a people so capable, yet so worthless. I have made out a list of the mature young men and women of the town, to whom I will propose the formation of a Literary Society. Their thoughts must be turned to something higher than mere animal. There is material here to make a good club, if I can enlist it. We would meet every two weeks.
Then there are the younger ones. What shall I do for them? They need something. God give me wisdom and understanding to lead them to a higher plain of living and thinking. I need help. I hear that Miss Laura Bullock is at McWhorter, Laurel County. I will write to her to come and see if she can make up a music class. She could help me some. He will lead. I have only to follow. He lays the plans and I execute them. Praise His name, for He is good. His mercy endureth forever.

November 29, 1897
Well, the dance Saturday night was a failure. Praise the Lord. Only four women were there: Miss Daisy Potter, Mattie Marion, Miss Joplin from Louisville, and another one. It was adjourned early. One of the converts were there. This is a victory as great boasts were made by the devotees of Terpischore that they would capture all the girls that were saved.
An amusing incident occurred Saturday. I was visiting the editor's family, Alabama people, but very poor. I asked Mrs. Horton what her relation to the Lord was. "I am an Episcopalian," she answered in a clear shrill voice.
Bro. May came in from Benge today. Two miles from town he met a young man and a young woman in the road. The man was Gabe Potter, a handsome boy about 20, drunk and down off his horse, holding the bridle of the young lady's horse with one hand, while he was trying to pull the girl off the horse with the other. As Bro. May approached, Potter told him to go on, drew his revolver, and told him if he looked back he would shoot him. He did look back, and the girl says that Potter leveled his pistol at him, and she knocked it down. The girl told Bro. May to tell Mr. Carnahan, who lived at the next house, to come to her relief. The girl was employed by Mr. Carnahan's family as cook and house girl, a very good-looking young woman. Mr. Carnahan, Bro. May, and another man, who chanced to be at Mr. Carnahan's house, came back.

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