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
Hell For Certain For
March 27, 1898
I preached at a schoolhouse on the Hell For Certain Creek about
2 1/4 miles. The creek was 7 1/2 miles long. It was Brother Apperson
Sizemore's appointment. He holds monthly meetings there. The
house is 28x24 feet gables covered with clapboards. There were
about 75 persons present, 50 indoors and 25 out. There were the
following names present: Sizemore, Woods, Osborne, Wooten, Griffin,
Jones, Begley, North, Munsey, Roberts, Napier. These are all.
They began to go out when I began to preach, but I turned a boy
back and stood in the door to prevent anything further of that
kind. I said, "It must be settled right now. Who is going
to stay and who is going?" There was no further effort to
go out. I preached 40 minutes on "Son, remember." I
read part of Psalm 139, Mark and the rich man and Lazarus. Luke
16 "Memory is a blessing in Heaven and on Earth, a curse
in Hell" was the theme. After showing that memory was the
undying worm and the unquenchable fire I urged them to read often
Luke 16 and always remember when they read it that "That
is Hell for Certain." Daniel Wooten conducted Sunday School
before service began. He called the roll of scholars and required
them to come out and take their places in a line when their names
were called. Standing then, he examined them on the lesson, "The
Syn, Phoenician Woman," asking questions from the quarterly.
At the opening he had his little ten-year-old son read the second
chapter of Matthew and lead in prayer. The little boy could not
speak nor hear well, his hair hung down in his eyes, cut straight
across like bangs. This school existed two years ago, but last
year it was not kept up. They have begun it this year of their
own accord. Blevins Huff, the Superintendent, was not present.
His P. O. is Confluence. There was good order and good attention
during the school exercises. Mr. Wooten lined and the congregation
sang "I Am Not Ashamed Of My Own Lord." Other songs
during the services of the hour were, "Amazing Grace, How
Sweet The Sound," "Am I A Soldier of the Cross,"
and "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone." They sang well.
I saw five women chewing tobacco and spitting on the floor. The
men did likewise. The superintendent spit amber all the time
he was hearing the class. The faces of the congregation were
as good looking as the same number of people in almost any audience
in the state. They were fairly well dressed. Several of the men,
including Mr. Wooten, would look well in any audience. The house
was at the side of the branch not far from the main stream, high
mountains rearing their heads on either side. The hills are covered
with timber. The house had no glass, just an open window in the
front gable and a long window on the side. Brother Sizemore and
I dined at Brother John North's. His mother is 85 years old.
Her father was a Wilder, her mother a Sizemore. She told me much
of the early times. We had an excellent dinner: chicken, eggs,
blackberry pie, dried apple roll, biscuits, etc. At 3:00 p.m.
I preached at Brother Felix Begley's one mile from the mouth
of Bull Creek. I preached on "John, the Baptist." The
people listened with great attention. God gave me liberty. One
joined the church at the morning service. Sister Sizemore shouted
at the afternoon service.
Tonight Brothers Sizemore and John North came down to Brother
Begley's, where I am staying, and talked, sang, and had three
prayers, Brothers North, Martin, and Sizemore. Thank God for
today. (J. J. D.)
Families living on Hell for Sartin: three Begleys; three Jones
(brothers); two Griffins; Dan Wooton; John Napier; Hiram Osborne;
John Munsey; two Woods; Father Wade and Carol, son, Will Osborne;
15 families; about 75 souls.
The Name "Hell
Two hunters parted to meet at the mouth of this creek. It had
no name. One waited at the mouth until his patience was exhausted.
When the other came, the impatient man asked, "Which way
did you come?" "Down this Hell Creek," was the
reply. "Well, it is Hell for Sartin," replied he. The
date of this is not known but was early in the settling of the
country. Bull Creek got its name as follows: John Amis shot a
big bull buffalo as he stood under the shadow of the great rock,
fighting the flies. This gave it the name. (Felix Begley tells
me that old Aggie Sizemore, the wife of "Old George of All,"
used to roast terrapins alive as the Indians used to do. Other
things that he told me made me sure she was the Cherokee instead
of Sizemore. J. J. D.) Old Aggie wanted to take a skull which
was found under a cliff for a soap dish.