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 8, 1898
Bro. May and I found the church with doors standing open, though there was a good lock on it and the key not lost. Still the house was not abused. We swept it out, put in two wooden window panes, borrowed an organ and moved it in, and are ready to go to work tomorrow. Tonight I preached at the Presbyterian Church, it being the closing service of the week of prayer, subject, "The Universal Church." God gave me liberty. The Holy Ghost was there. Bro. Walton, the Presbyterian pastor, told me that he preached in town every Sunday morning and night and expected to continue to do so. The town is small and there are not people enough for two congregations. But we will see what we will see. Bro. May, I think, should preach twice a month in the town and twice in the country. The school is doing a good work. I expect God's mercy on our labors. He knows the reason we are here, because he has led us here. We are pleasantly located at Bro. Abner Eversole's. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
January 19, 1898
Our meeting continues but no break yet. We are still holding on to the promise and shouting victory. Last Friday I went to the mouth of Cutshin and preached at Bro. Felix Begley's, grandson of William Begley, one of the first settlers of the county. He is 60 years old and professes sanctification. His neighbors say he lives it. I found a local preacher there named Jefferson Sizemore, who moved here from Floyd County a year ago. He has organized a society here of 69 members, and they have appointed a building committee to build a church. I praise God for this work. I knew nothing of it when I came to the county. I hope to put a young man at that point from Wilmore to teach the day school and push the building of the church, and also to conduct a Sunday School and help Bro. Sizemore and Bro. May or whoever the circuit rider may be next year.
Friday night I stayed at Capt. William Eversole's, one-and-one-half miles up Cutshin. From him I got the genealogy of the Eversoles. They are a German people from near Berlin. Jacob and Joseph came to America. The former settled near Grapevine on the North Fork of the Kentucky River because of the game, being fond of hunting. The other settled at Covington where he became the proprietor of a nail mill and wealthy.
Saturday I went up Cutshin, eight miles to the mouth of Wooten's Creek. Here the Methodists have been preaching for 25 years. The last few years the place has been neglected. I found seven Methodists, the Baileys and Greens being the principle ones. I stayed Saturday night at John Bailey's, two-and-one-half miles to the mouth of Wooten's Creek. Sunday morning Elder Clair of the Camp-bellite Church preached at the schoolhouse near Bro. Bailey's home. I had known him in Breathitt County. He invited me to preach, but I declined taking the opening and the closing exercises at his request.
I preached in the afternoon in the same schoolhouse. It is at that point the Methodists had their meeting at old Bro. Bailey's house, where services were held often. Sister Mint Bailey told me that Reverend W. B. Gooley baptized 12 people at old Bro. Bailey's house at the fork of the creek, the first sermon he preached on the creek. Sister Creech and others told me he baptized 30 at one time, all by sprinkling. These were eyewitnesses.
At the suggestion that there ought to be a church built at the mouth of Wooten's Creek, Bro. John Bailey said he had 50,000 feet of logs cut and rotting in the creek that he would give and help them for that purpose. The proposal was made just as I had gotten up from my knees, when I prayed most fervently that God would make it plain to my mind whether or not it was his will for me to take up the work at that place. I never felt more willing to leave a matter entirely to God, feeling no preference as to how he would decide the matter. At the afternoon meeting I mentioned the matter and it enthused everybody.
I stayed Sunday night with John C. Lewis one-half mile above the mouth of Wooten's Creek. I had known him for eight or ten years. He is the father-in-law of B. F. French, the feudal warrior. His wife was a Muncey, relative to Dr. E. Muncey, the great orator of our church. I noticed a storeroom at the mouth of Wooten's Creek, vacant (40x20x15 feet). I found it belonged to J. B Lewis and son. I got an option on it for three months at $300. There is a second floor, but that can be taken out and used in the ceiling above with church windows in it. If it were papered, it would make a good room for a church. I told the people if they would pay for it, I would bring a young preacher to teach school for them next July, and if they wished a winter school they could hold it in the church. This would give such an impetus to education that they could easily build a large schoolhouse for the district, maintaining a school all year round. I think it may develop into a good place for the women's parsonage and home mission society to plant a small school at the tributary to London. This whole community can be easily brought to the Methodist church and many of them to Christ.