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.

December 31, 1897
Manchester, Kentucky
This is the last day of the year. It is 9:00 p.m. Bro. May is with me. Mrs. Lucas asked us to change our room after supper to give place for a man and his wife who wished to board here. She asked us to take a little room with the ceiling only four feet high on one side, but large enough to give us room to walk about where the ceiling is higher than our heads. The room is comfortable, ceiled with grate, and here we sit by a good coal fire; happy as though we were in a marble palace.
It has snowed all day. A number of men had a big time shooting Roman candles at each other. They laughed and shot and shot and laughed. It was some of our best citizens, but two became angry at length and all quit.
There was a dance at Tom White's last night and somewhere tonight. I am happy, happy, happy. I feel that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth me from all sin. I have victory every moment. O how sweet to have Christ an abiding guest.
This year I have seen the Sue Bennett Memorial School building completed and the school opened in it. The success of the enterprise is all I ever anticipated. A splendid faculty of six teachers with perhaps 200 students, next Tuesday, will be in the magnificent building. A joy of all that look upon it. The possibilities of this institution are wonderful. The turning of Clay County patronage thither, which seemed almost impossible, has been accomplished. Prof. Carnahan's going settled that question. Then I have gotten out into purely ministerial work once more this year. This I have long desired. Not until this year have I felt strong enough to do it in 17 years. Again this year I have reached Manchester and Clay County, the consummation of a purpose long in my mind, then the single victory given me in my efforts here, is cause of continual thanksgiving. The outlook is bright, looked at from a position on the promises. How wonderfully God has led me.
Sin still runs riot here. Sixteen saloons in the county, give of them in town and the consequent evil, but God is able to overthrow them all and inaugurate a reign of righteousness, and I firmly believe he will do it. I praise God that the work of redeeming the mountains is so graciously going on. There are schools in every county seat now, except Manchester. There are schools of high grade. McKee has none. What an advance in 15 years. I feel like shouting God's praises for calling me into this work. I am now beginning in the worst county in the mountains, morally or as bad, and especially the county seat, but I was never happier nor ever more delighted with my work.
I am lying in God's hands, not so anxious to do as be. I have learned that the highest attainment in grace is "to be what God wants us to be." I want to be so filled with the Holy Ghost that through me God can accomplish His will. I know not what the future will bring me, but I know it will all be for my good.

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