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
Coon Creek, Leslie County
January 17, 1898
I was born in Perry County, Kentucky, February 3, 1814, on Leatherwood
Creek. My father's name was Archibald Cornett. He was born in
East Tennessee on either Little or Big Moccasin. His father's
name was James Cornett, who came to Perry County, Kentucky, when
my father was a boy seven to ten years old. My father was 84
years old when he died in 1873. This would make the coming of
the Cornetts to Kentucky from 1796 to 1799. My grandfather was
married twice, once to a Gillam and once to an Everedge. He had
children as follows: Nathaniel, Samuel, Roger, Archibald, William,
John, Robert, Lucy (Woolery Eversole), Elizabeth (Campbell),
and Nancy (Samuel Combs). Archibald, my father, married Judy
McDaniel. Robert married a Combs. Roger married Charlotte Callahan.
I have been married three times. First, Nancy Mainyard; second,
Rebecca Morgan; third, Malinda Garrison. Most of these families
were large. There were eight in my father's family, and they
all lived to have grandchildren. I was the oldest and am the
only one living.
I believe I have killed 30 bears in my life and from 500 to 1,000
deer. I killed 21 in one season at a lick and never missed a
shot. My father-in-law said he killed 705 in five years. He kept
tally on his gun stock. He sold the hams and the hides and said
he made more money than at anything else he ever did. Wild turkeys
were abundant. There are a good many in this country yet.
Old Frederick Lewis was the first teacher I ever had in school.
Old David Fee is the best teacher I ever went to. Brashears was
Old Robert Hicks was the first preacher that I remember. He was
a Baptist. My father and mother were members of the Baptist Church.
My grandfather, Lewis (Cornett?), was not a member of the church,
but his wife was.
We had hand mills when I was a boy. We also had pound mills run
by a sweep and later pound mills run by water power. Stories
are told of mice, rats, and many things getting pounded up with
the meal. One story is told of a cow who learned to take out
a mouthful while the pestle was lifted. We used graters when
corn was soft.
My great-grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier. I do not know
whether he was a private or an officer or what regiment he was
My grandfather was in the War of 1812. He was in the Horse Shoe
Battle and in the Battle of New Orleans. Robert Cornett married
Charlotte Callahan. Roger married Zilpah Callahan. Robert lived
in Benge. His son, Isaac, moved to Madison County.
January 18, 1898
I was born in Letcher County, March 5, 1840. My father was born
in Virginia. When he was a small boy, my grandfather moved to
the Poor Fork of the Cumberland. My father's name was John, my
grandfather's name, Sam-uel. My grandfather's children were David,
Samuel, John, Moses, James, Reuben, and Rebecca, who married
Boggs, the father of Jesse Boggs of Hazard, now wife of John
S. Combs near Hazard. Another daughter, Margaret, married an
Adams, and they removed to Missouri.
January 20, 1898
I am a brother of Reuben Maggard. I was born in Harlan County,
now Letcher, January 20, 1826. I am 72 years old today. I think
my grandfather came from North Carolina. My grandmother was a
Robison. My mother was an Adams. In 1847 my father removed to
Cutshin, two miles below the Fords. My father's children were
Henry, Isaac, Moses, Samuel, Jesse, John, Reuben, Gilbert, Polly,
Rebecca, Nancy, and Sallie. Polly married a Boggs, Rebecca married
Basil Lewis of Harlan, Nancy married John Melton, and Sallie
married Jackson Baker.
READ MUCH MORE IN THIS MONTH'S ISSUE OF THE EXPLORER.