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 29, 1898
Yesterday afternoon with Dr. Sandlin I visited Mr. Owsley's school on Horse Creek. He had a model school for 52 pupils. He is related to Governor Owsley's family. He had perfect order and model work. Everybody was interested. In the district there are 83 children in the school age, and he made an average of 61 and two-fifths for the five months term of free school which closed a month ago. He has finished a month of his subscription school.
I stayed all night with Bro. Mike Horton, a brother-in-law of General Garrard. He is 78 years old, has nearly run his race, and yet I fear he is not prepared to die.
I spent the day at Judge B. P. White's. It was pleasant indeed with such delightful ladies: his wife, two daughters, and Miss Fannie their cousin. O that they had full salvation. Tonight there is a dance in full progress at the Lucas Hotel Now at 10:00 p.m. they are dancing away in the dining room. O that this revelry may be broken up by the power of God. I am ready to endure all things for the elect's sake.
February 2, 1898
I have just returned from prayer meeting. There were three men and two boys present besides the sexton, a colored man. A letter from Bro. May this afternoon reports him teaching a singing school in the church at Hyden with 40 scholars at $1 each. This will enable him to live while he calls the people to repentance. I am making poor progress here; I am standing by faith. The zeal of the young converts has abated. The people do not attend the regular services as a rule, of course, come. I have seen a community so dead to everything like religion. Then there is so much outbreaking sin.
In this hotel, cards are being played in two rooms while I write; one the main office which I passed coming in, and in an adjoining room. I can hear the cards shuffling. I think everybody about the place swears and several of them the most blasphemous people I ever saw or heard.
The news of the R. N. & S. B. Railroad will be extended to either Pineville or Jellico, the coming season or that work will begin. The road would come through Clay County, but it is not certain that it would come by Manchester. I have already selected two points in the county where I want to plant churches viz. at the mouth of Big Creek and at the junction of Goose Creek and Red Bird. I'm sure God wants the people there saved and I think these points will be centers by and by. I see no way to do this work but to get godly, young men and women to come and teach in such neighborhoods and use them to teach winter schools in the churches.
February 15, 1898
Last Monday, a week ago, hearing that Judge Parker was very ill I went to see him. His wife and himself pressed me to stay from day to day as the judge was dangerously ill and unsaved. I remained until Sunday morning. The judge was somewhat anxious about his soul. I prayed with him a great deal, read the Bible to him, and helped wait on him. He is full of promises to reform. He seemed a little better Sunday morning when I left to meet my appointment in Benge.
I preached at Burning Springs Tuesday night. It is only two or three miles from Judge Parker's house. That was the only time I left the place, save to visit a poor blind woman in the neighborhood. I preached at Benge Sunday morning and attended a Union prayer meeting at Bro. Lewis' of the Disciples Sunday afternoon. I reached home today with a boil on my ankle, which greatly retards my locomotion. I spent the week doing all I could to lead people to Christ. Praise God.