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
John S. Melton
April 23, 1898
I was born in Johnson County, Indiana, May 1, 1834. My father
was Terry H. Melton. He was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 17??.
My grandfather lived and died in Knoxville. I do not know where
he was born. My grandmother was Polly Pollard. Both Melton and
Pollard are Irish. I have heard my father say so. I do not know
when my ancestors came to America. My mother was Sallie Templeton.
She was born in North Carolina on New River, Ashe County. Her
father, James Templeton, was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
He was English. His father came from England. He died on Bad
Creek, Leslie County, aged 105 years, ca. 1859. His wife died
first at the age of 109. She was 13 years his senior. My mother
lived to be 96. My youngest aunt lived to be 96 also. My father
served in the War of 1812. In 1914 he came to Harlan, now Leslie
County, Kentucky, and married. I have the record. He had seven
children. All are living in this county, except one who died.
I was elected Assessor of Perry County in 1866. I was chosen
as the first County Clerk of Leslie County in 1877. I got 81
votes more than all of my opponents. James Duff was chosen Sheriff,
but failed to give bond, and Mac Napier was appointed in his
John Hyden came to my father's home on Wooton's Creek on Cutshin
in June 1853. He had $60 worth of dry goods and notions which
he carried on two small horses. He was accompanied by Ferguson.
Each had a horse. The bundles were small. He opened his goods
in a small round log storehouse, in which my father and old James
Dixon had sold goods. He exchanged his goods for hides, bear
and deer furs, ginseng, and other produce as feathers, beeswax,
etc.; and transferred them 80 miles to Jonesville, Virginia,
on horseback. Ferguson would go to Jonesville with the produce
and return loaded with goods. He prospered greatly. He remained
at my father's home for two years. He then married Elizabeth
McIntosh and removed to the mouth of McIntosh's Creek. He then
took in James L. McIntosh, his brother-in-law, as partner and
enlarged his business. He went to Maysville for his goods and
brought them from Clay's Ferry in canoes and freight boats. These
were made in Cutshin, loaded with produce, and taken down to
Clay's Ferry. I have gone on many a trip with them. Later, he
went into partnership with Joseph Eversole, father of Capt. William
Eversole. They were not together long. He sold out and moved
to Sexton's Creek, Clay County. I pushed the boat down Middle
Fork and up South Fork to the mouth of Sexton's. His wife was
in very delicate health.
He was a man of fair complexion, had blue eyes, and weighed about
175 pounds. He was a fine-looking man and would be easily taken
for a man of force among 1,000 men. He was very industrious,
economical, had no bad habits, was the soul of humor, fair, just,
and equitable in all his dealings. I have worked for him a great
deal, had dealings with him in various ways, and always found
him true to the principles of a high standard of manhood. He
was very prosperous and popular as was clearly shown by his election
to the Senate in 1877 without opposition in a Republican District
while he was a Democrat. He was ambitious, held himself up among
the first class of people. He would have liked to go to Congress.
He amassed considerable wealth. I knew his father, John Hyden.
He used to visit his son at my father's. He spent a winter there.
They called him Jack. I also knew his brother, Wilson. Old John
was poor but a high-minded man. He said he had a poor mountain
farm in Lee County, Virginia, on which he reared his family.