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.

Melville Johnson
Horse Creek, Kentucky
January 31, 1898

I was born in Manchester, where the Webb Hotel now stands, on August 11, 1817. My father's name was Thomas Johnson. He emigrated from the Shenandoah Valley (Louden County, I think) in 1807. He first lived at the "Old Lick" on Goose Creek, where salt was first made. He was an expert blacksmith. He made the chains that fastened Joel Elkins, the murderer of John Amis at the first court held in Clay County in 1807. He also made the first auger used in boring salt wells. The first one was bored at Mike Horton's at the Forks of Goose Creek.
My maternal grandfather was Charles House. He came a year later than my father from Virginia to Kentucky. His wife was Susan Amos. He is the progenitor of all the Houses in the mountains of Kentucky. His son, Lexious Howes, as he spelled his name, settled in the Sandy Valley in Floyd County, and he was the ancestor of the Howes of that region.
My father's name was Thomas. He had a son, John. He had 11 children. I, only, survive. Few of my father's descendants live in Kentucky. Many are in the West, a few about London. I had a sister die in St. Joseph, Missouri, 92 years old.

Joe and Millie Bledsoe were early settlers on Goose Creek. Willis was killed in Lancaster, Kentucky, by a schoolteacher, named Step. Step had punished his son, and he got a cowhide and undertook to whip him. Step killed him with a knife.

Horse Creek Named
Goose Creek was settled before Horse Creek. The people of Goose Creek used to bell their horses and pasture them on Horse Creek in the summer on peavine and in winter on cane. Hence the name.
John Murphy was an early settler in Clay County. He lived where the Lucas Hotel is and kept public house. He was a Methodist preacher. He had sons viz.: Henderson, Elhanon, William, and Jesse. He had a daughter, Betsey. I do not know when she married. My father kept hotel where Webb keeps. I knew him to take in $150 a day. There would be 12 and 15 salt wagons to stay all night. He could stable 100 horses.
Menageries and sleight of hand shows used to come. No circuses. This was when I was a boy.

Gen. Hugh White
I have seen Hugh White scattering bluegrass seed over the hills about Mr. Horton's place, riding on his horse. I have heard him talk about the "Cattle War" at Grapevine and say that he refused to send aid to the Amises and Begleys. Old Mrs. Ned Callahan used to stay at my father's for days. She loved whiskey and would keep a cup of it by her side.

Two men stayed at my father's, getting up local history. They afterwards wrote it up and published it. There was much about Manchester, and it was true. I think it was in book form.

Levington Hampton
Manchester, Kentucky
January 28, 1898

I was born in Clay County on March 5, 1825. My father's name was William Wade Hampton. He was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, in March 1780. His father's name was Thomas Wade Hampton. He was born in Germany. His wife also was German. My father was the oldest child. My father's sons were William, Wade, Thomas, Jerry, and Levinston; dau-ghters were Rebecca and Abagail. Three married in North Carolina or Tennessee. Major Hampton, of Boone-ville, was a second cousin to my father. He told me that he was a first cousin of General Wade Hampton of South Carolina. I think his name was Wade. He was born in South Carolina.


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