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
December 22, 1898
General Hugh White, when drinking, fell into a salt kettle and
came near losing his life from the burn. He sent for Dr. William
Reed, father of Dr. Stephen Reed. He refused to come. "Let
him die and go to hell," said he. He had refused him his
daughter, Susan, in marriage. Old Alex White, himself a great
drinker, a brother-in-law of Dr. Reed, married sisters. Brauners_______
persuaded him to go. After he had dressed the burn, General
White handed him a $100 bill, expecting him to give him change.
He held out his hand.
"Another," said Reed.
"No. By the heavens, do you mean to break me up?"
said Reed, and he did so.
When Garrard was perhaps 75 years old he went to Beattyville
and proposed marriage to Priscilla McGuire, a daughter of James
McGuire, sister of John G. McGuire's wife, and half sister of
Mrs. Harvey Lucas, deponent. She was an old maid, 50 years old.
She declined his offer. General White was a noble specimen of
manhood, one of the most handsome of men. He could primp his
mouth and give to his face a peculiar charm. He was a heavy drinker
but quit later in life. General Garrard was in the Legislature
when his sister married James White, son of General Hugh White.
So bitter were the feelings between the families that he wrote
to her that he would sooner see her go to her grave. Old Alex
White drank heavily. He was the father of Mrs. Captain Byron.
Mrs. James White is still living. She lives in Richmond, Kentucky.
She visits Clay every summer. I was overseer for several of the
Whites, have known them all well. They were great money makers.
I worked for James and Dougherty White.
My stepfather, Pearce Cottongin, used to steer salt boats. I
never did. My grandfather, Richard Lucas, was a man of great
physical power. He was a drummer in the militia. A man named
Butts from Tennessee rode 400 miles to whip him. He rode up to
grandfather's saddler shop and called, "Does drummer Lucas
"Well, I live in Tennessee 400 miles from here and have
come to whip you."
"What have I done to you?"
"Oh, nothing. I am the bully of Tennessee and I understand
you are the bully of Kentucky, and if I whip you I will be the
bully of the world.
"Well, do you want to fight tonight or will you wait till
morning? Well, get down and go in. I keep a hotel and stay with
me. It shall cost you nothing."
"No, I won't whip a man and live off him too."
"Well, it may not turn out that way," said Grandfather.
He went to another hotel.
The next morning they fought after the manner of the times and
Grandfather was victorious. The Tennesseean seemed perfectly
satisfied and returned to his home.
My grandfather afterwards joined the Methodist church. He was
hospitable and big hearted.
My maternal grandfather was John Cundiff. My father died when
I was six years old. It was about 1821. Grandfather Cundiff was
a loyal friend. He would do anything in his power for a friend.
He was a great power in elections. My uncle, John Cundiff, killed
Eli Bowling. Bowling was a bully, a man of great power. He led
my uncle to old Bill Dincel's house, where old Millie Henson
lived. They had a quarrel about the woman. Bowling kicked my
uncle, who was a small man. He went away and came back with a
dirk knife, called Bowling to the door, and plunged it into him.
He died in a few minutes. My uncle left the country and never
returned. Uncle Sam Lucas took his wife to him. Eli Bowling was
a bad man. His son, James Bowling, was hunting for my uncle John
when he met Grandfather Cundiff.
"Jim, put that gun down. We have gotten rid of two bad
men and let the matter stop."
He did so. The Cundiffs of Breathitt are the same stock.
Old George Stivers, a Methodist preacher, taught school. I went
to school to him. He was a man of much prayer. He held family
prayers, night and morning, and also at school. He said he did
not sin. At family prayers, his son, Simeon, put a pin in the
toe of his sock, and while I was kneeling at family prayer, he
stuck it into my body. This made me jump and I struck Brother
Stivers. After prayers the father said, "I will pay you
for that, Simmie," and he did give him a severe thrashing.
This was in Manchester in 1847. I was 29 years old. I went to
school to Milton Pigg, a crippled man. Marshon was a teacher
in the county also.
READ MUCH MORE IN THIS MONTH'S ISSUE OF THE EXPLORER.