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
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
April 30, 1898
I returned today from a ten day trip to Leslie and Perry Counties
traveling over 100 miles. Bro. Ragan met me at Hyden with Bro.
Taylor, our pastor at Jackson. Sunday we had sacramental service.
I preached in the morning, Bro. Ragan in the afternoon, and Bro.
Taylor at night, before the Presbyterians. Monday morning before
daylight Bob Nichols shot Ballard Begley in the back. He and
Begley were playing cards in the courthouse, Maggie Johnson,
a lewd woman, was with them, the concubine of Nichols. Begley
is still living and Nichols and Mrs. Johnson are in jail. Monday
morning we went to Hazard where the brethren began a meeting.
I visited my nephew, J. B. Shockley, his wife, and their child.
They withdrew from the church two years ago and greatly weakened
the congregation at Hazard where he had been the leader. I do
not think they have accomplished much since. They seem happy
and cultivated, are still intensely religious.
I arranged with Bro. Sizemore to preach with me on Wooton's
Creek on Saturday afternoon before the 4th Sunday of each month,
at the mouth of Wooton's Creek Sunday morning following and at
Hyden Sunday afternoon and night. I got a saw mill to come to
the mouth of Wooton's Creek this summer, so we can build a schoolhouse
large enough for church purposes or a church in which we can
teach school. Bro. Walton, the Presbyterian preacher, has begun
to preach there monthly, and one of us will have to give up the
place. It is an old Methodist stand but has been neglected. Letch
Sizemore accidentally shot James Begley Wednesday on Middle Fork.
I visited the boy Thursday afternoon.
My circuit is now 100 miles in extent. Beginning at Benge to
Manchester 10 miles, to Wooton's Creek 40 miles, to Hyden six
miles, to Manchester 30 miles, to Benge 10 miles. There are vast
possibilities within these bounds. These people have excellent
blood in their veins, hence stalwart bodies, and keen intellects,
susceptible to moral and religious impressions. From their number
will come men and women of distinction. God help me to lead them
toward him. They need moral and intellectual culture. God help
me to provide it for them. I count it a great privilege to help
them work out their destiny.
If my friends in the Bluegrass could realize what the possibilities
are of these people, they would support the work and send more
men and women into it. But they are blind to the situation and
will not support those who are willing to endure the toil and
discouragements incident to the prosecution of this work. But
God will work out the problem as speedily as he can, since he
too must rely upon human agencies.