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.

January 3, 1898
Manchester, Kentucky
I have just returned from A. W. Baker's place. He is a member of the new Board of Trustees, sworn in today. His brother and brother-in-law are two others, so they have a majority. I went to talk to him about closing the saloons. He and his brother own one of the five that curse our town. I found him not only willing, but anxious to talk on the subject. I found that he was sick of the business. He opened the first saloon last May. He expected a monopoly for the county. Judge William Parker was his partner, but there was such a pressure brought to bear on the judge that he was forced to do something, so he appointed a Board of Trustees for the town, composed of men whom he believed would not grant license. In this way he and Baker would keep the monopoly, but the Board gave two licenses and then resigned. In the meantime the judge sold out to Mr. Baker and his brother. The judge then gave license to two others so that there are now five, and everyone is losing money. The saloons have made so much disorder that Mr. Baker is thoroughly disgusted with himself, as well as the whiskey business when he remembers that he really got the thing going by accepting the judge's proposition. I went to ask Mr. Baker to say he was willing to quit if the rest would, and they would not. So they put the license at $500 so that they would be compelled to quit. Praise the Lord he made exactly that proposition without my asking him to do so. I offered him my good offices to get the others to accept his proposition. He said he thought I was the proper one, as I would not be suspected of having any mercenary motives. Tomorrow morning D. V. and I shall go to each saloonkeeper and ask him to close up and thus put an end to the iniquity. I believe that God is in it all that will be done.
Saturday evening I delivered for Bro. May Mrs. Burchell's Bible and remained all night. I was rejoiced to find her and Miss Evans growing in grace, taking up the cross, and following the Master. O what a blessing God will make them to this community. Miss Evans consented to conduct Sunday School for me next Sunday afternoon, as I expect to be in Hyden.
Sunday morning I had a remarkable experience. I had prepared a sermon from the words, "If any man offend not in word the same is a perfect man." I began to read the first chapter of James as a lesson, paused to comment on the second, third, and fourth verses and never got any further. With these as a text I preached one of the most effective sermons of my life. Persons came and thanked me for it. Evidently all were deeply interested. It was a God-given sermon. My soul was filled throughout the service. The Lord is so ready to help those who ask Him and trust Him for the answer.

January 4, 1898
Manchester, Kentucky
I have been at work today looking into the saloon business. I find the dealers deceived into the belief that the town cannot tax them, now that they have license from the state, and the two who have license from the old corporation or board think the new board cannot collect what is behind; what has accumulated since the old Board of Trustees resigned. I know of but one way, that is for the present board to put up the license of $500 and proceed to collect the old and the new. This is the only plan. Mr. A. W. Baker said last night the Board was ready to do this. In my investigations today I found a lot for sale that I wish to buy. I have been looking at it ever since I have been here, as the place or part of a place when we would want to put up our school building. It ought to be bought before it is improved. It lies opposite the Baptist church. The old Dr. Reid place, where Judge John Wright now lives, is the place for the school, and this is a part of the property. I will do what the Lord leads me to do in this matter.

January 5, 1898
Manchester, Kentucky
Tomorrow we are to go to Hyden. The day has been beautiful. The prospect for good weather tomorrow is favorable. I have 17 members for the Library Company. I will get the 20 when I return.
At the prayer meeting tonight there were 17 persons, but sad to say the Christian people were scarce, mostly sinners. The Christians are mostly women, and it is not convenient for them to come. As the work develops we will have more men, I hope. Praise God the work has commenced. We have some firm Christians for young connections. There are souls innumerable about me perishing. May God save them, speedily. When the Lord's time comes the work will be done. He seems to be slow in many instances. He uses means, has seed time and harvest.
I have been exercised today about buying the lot mentioned in my last entry. The money is in sight, I think, and if it comes I feel like I ought to buy it. God will want it.

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