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.

Sampson Wilder
Clay County, Kentucky
May 9, 1898

I was born in Whitley County, Kentucky, February 21, 1834. My father was Jesse Wilder. He was born either in Virginia or Kentucky. It was in 1805 and about the time my grandfather, Sampson Wilder, emigrated from Virginia to Kentucky. My grandfather had children as follows: Solomon, Jesse, Sampson, John, and Joseph. My grandfather removed to Alabama and took his three sons, Sampson, John, and Joseph, with him. He died in Mississippi.
Sampson was living in Texas the last I heard. Joseph died in Alabama, and John went to Missouri. We have not heard from him since the Civil War. Solomon and Jesse lived and died in Whitley County. There are Wilders in Whitley, but I do not know whence they sprang. I know they are not from my grandfather. My grandfather once had a brother, William, who once lived in Whitley County, but his family was not with him. I do not know what became of him. My father had a sister who had children without being married. Several were boys and of course bore her name. One of them came to Corbin a few years ago.
Ed Wilder of Louisville, the patent medicine man, resembled the Wilders of our family and no doubt are kin. My grandfather came to Whitley and owned a farm and kept house by himself. His dog lived with him, and when the old man died the dog, which was shut in the house with him, barked till someone came to the scene. The Wilders are a small people. I do not know what nationality we are.
My father, Jesse, had children as follows: George Washington, Elijah, Sampson, William, Jesse, Solomon, Joel, Mary (Prewitt), Susanna (Jones), Sarah (Judge Harrison), Elizabeth (William Kidd), and Ann (Haginbottom). These all lived in Whitley. Some are dead. My father lived seven miles below Williamsburg on Jellico Creek. His house was a preaching place for the Methodists. He was a religious man. My mother was Sarah Prewitt. She was the daughter of Elijah Prewitt. He had a brother, John Prewitt. They were early settlers and reared large families. My grandfather, Elijah Prewitt, was a class leader in the Metho-dist Church. His brother, John, was a strict member of the Methodist Church. They were all good people. In Whitley County much of the first settlements were made on the poorest land. The people were afraid to get near the large streams on account of sickness. They kept away from the Cumberland and got on to the high table land and ridges. My paternal grandmother was an Adams. My maternal grandmother's sister married John Prewitt. My maternal grandmother was a Moss. Dr. Moss of Williamsburg is a different stock, I think. His father was Henry Moss, who came from Manchester to clerk for Barton Potter. He died of drink. Potter had a store in Williamsburg.

Lewis Renfro
Lewis Renfro, who lived at the Ford of the Cumberland, was a Baptist preacher. Others who lived there were the Campbells, Perkins, Whites, Finleys, Silers, Tyes, Mackeys, Boyds, Davises, Stephenses, Gillises, Craigs, Kings, Gatliffs, and Dutch Snyders. The first Methodist preachers I remember were Wilton Pyles, Jesse Locke, John L. Gregg, Hubbard Kavanaugh, Ely, John Burnett; these were before the war. After, there was Demsy Perkins, who organized the Methodist Episcopal Church, and her preachers have served ever since. I moved to Laurel County after the war, and the first preacher was Rev. William Wyatt. He served two years. He was a strong preacher. Others have been McDaniel, Travis, Judd, Bullock, Ingram, and Anthony.

Only $2.50 per issue!
Purchase your copy today at your favorite newsstand, grocer, or book store. Subscribe Online and save 70-cents per issue (excluding postage).

This Entire Site Is Under Copyright Protection - © 2012

Home | Back Issues Available

Links | Visit Message Board | Subscribe | Kentucky Explorer On CD

2000 Issues | 2001 Issues | 2002 Issues| 2003 Issues| 2004 Issues | 2005 Issues

2006 Issues | 2007 Issues| 2008 Issues | 2009 Issues| 2010 Issues