Kentucky Genealogy From Dr. John J. Dickey's Diary

Editor's Note: We continue our series of interviews taken from Dr. John J. Dickey's famous diary. Dr. Dickey of Fleming County, founder of several schools and churches, traveled throughout Eastern and Central Kentucky some 100 years ago, interviewing older residents. In most cases, he wrote down their very words while compiling a diary of several thousand pages. Each month we include a few lines from this remarkable man's diary, which he kept faithfully for over 50 years.


James Madison Walton

Hyden, Kentucky

May 27, 1898

I was born in Knox County, Kentucky, July 7, 1864. My father was William Isaac Walton. He was born in Washington County, Tennessee. He was a son of George Walton, who came from Rockbridge County, Virginia to Washington County, Tennessee, thence to Union County, Tennessee. His father came from Warwickshire, England to Virginia.

My father had brothers and sisters as follows: Henry Coleman, lives in Union County, Tennessee; Maverick; Effie, died young; Harriett (Samuel Hudson); Calvin, a Methodist minister, lived in Rockcastle County, Kentucky, but his present residence unknown. His children are at Cole Creek, Tennessee; and James Jackson, killed in battle of Murfreesboro, U. S.

Father married Rhoda Hudson, and lived in Knox County. He died June 10, 1896. My brothers are: John Harris Walton, lives in Livingston; and Thomas Franklin, a minister of the Presbyterian church, present pastor at Columbia, Kentucky, a graduate of Centre College and Danville Seminary. He married Miss Ada Franklin of Barbourville, Kentucky.

I graduated from Centre College and Danville Seminary in 1888 and 1891, respectively. I was the pastor of the Presbyterian church at Greensburg, Kentucky, for five and a half years; then at Livingston for 18 months. I came to Hyden from there in January 1897, as principal of Hyden Academy and pastor of the Presbyterian church. My maternal grandmother was Elizabeth Hopper Hudson. Her father was William Hudson, a Baptist minister. He came to Knox County, Kentucky, either from Virginia or North Carolina, at an early date; was one of the pioneers. He was active as a minister and founded many of the Cumberland Valley Baptist churches. He died at an advanced age. Two of my cousins, sons of my mother's brother, Harris Hudson, are ministers in the Presbyterian church. Their names are Edward and Leslie Hudson. Edward is the pastor at Wichita Falls, Texas and Leslie is living at Danville, Kentucky, without a charge, but expects soon to be at work. They both graduated at Centre College and Danville Seminary.

Uncle Joe Hopper of Perryville, so well-known as an evangelist in Kentucky, is the son of Blackgrene Hopper and a nephew of Rev. William Hopper.

Rev. James Walton of Hurricane Branch, Tennessee is my first cousin. He was the son of Henry Coleman Walton; himself an exhorter in the Methodist church. James Walton is a Baptist minister. He has charge of the Baptist church at that place.


John Fee

Hyden, Kentucky

May 27, 1898

My great-grandfather was David Fee. He was born in the state of Pennsylvania. He got in trouble with a schoolteacher, and came to Harlan County, Kentucky. He was a young man. My grandfather was born in 1814. I do not know when my great-grandfather came to Harlan County. I do not know when he married. His wife was Miss Noe. They had a large family: John, Abner, Preston, Hiram, Henderson, Polly, Charlotte, Pattia, and Delia. They all married and raised families. Henderson went to Arkansas; Polly married Presley Melton and lives in Cutshin; Charlotte married William Melton on Cutshin; Abner lives in Harlan; Hiram and Preston are dead; and John is my grandfather. My father is David Pennington, and he lives in Leslie County, on Middle Fork. My great-grandfather came from Ireland. His father brought his family here. My great-grandfather was six years old at that time.

John Melton says that Henderson Fee, son of David Fee, Sr., went to the Bluegrass. I have heard my father and my grandfather say that John G. Fee of Berea, or as I knew it, the John G. Fee who was tarred and feathered in these mountains during the war, was a first cousin to my grandfather. The Fees are nearly all Republicans, though I am not. My father and all my brothers were and are Republicans.

William Fee, son of Abner Fee, is a Baptist preacher living in Harlan County. The trouble in which my great-grandfather got into with the schoolteacher grew out of the following circumstances. He was attending school, and the teacher told his younger brother to trim his fingernails. The boy did not obey whereupon the teacher began to break them off with a paddle. When the blood began to flow, my great-grandfather struck the teacher over the head with a chair. The young man fled, and never knew whether or not the teacher died.


Robert Carnahan

Manchester, Kentucky

May 7, 1898

I am 75 years old today. I am in robust health, and I am enjoying my work as well as at any previous time in my life. I am not as active as when younger, but I enjoy work as much, and can accomplish more mental labor, in a given length of time as ever before. In the last year my power of endurance has greatly improved. I preach with less fatigue than before, and recuperate from prostration much quicker. It is a source of great gratification to me to be able to ride a circuit of 100 miles, and enjoy the exercise. After so many long years of forced retirement from the itinerancy, this marks a wonderful exhibition of God's kindness to me. I have lately felt that the circumstances would compel me to resume teaching again for a short time, but I trust that God will make it possible for me to continue in the itinerancy. I am still trying, by correspondence, to get a man to come to Manchester and do the work of teaching, which must be done by someone qualified by Christian character to lift up the youth of our country; may such a one be found. I inherited a fine constitution, and only for the abuse I gave it by sedentary life I might today be as strong as ever. When I was born my father was 37 years old, and my mother 33. I was the fifth child; my brother, James, the next oldest, was six years my senior. I count it a great mercy to have enjoyed a parentage of such vigorous constitution, so free from any vicious habits, so chaste and pure in heart and life. What an inheritance!

Again, it was my good fortune to have a country home rather than a town or city residence. This gave me exemption from the pernicious influences of town life. The town fosters idleness, and idleness breeds vice. The town imports an idea of superiority which is very hurtful to the young and they lose interest in the great masses that have not the advantages of culture and refinement that town people enjoy. I know not how much of life is in this world yet for me, but whatever it be I am resolved to devote it to the great work of helping humanity up to God. I place myself afresh in the hands of my Master, and say from the depth of my soul, "Not my will, but Thine be done."


The Anderson Home

Clay County, Kentucky

May 14, 1898

I came to this home last Saturday afternoon. Mr. Edwin McElroy Anderson was fast approaching death. I went to Corinth on Benge, and preached twice Sunday, and returned here Tuesday after, the 10th; Mr. Anderson died. He professed religion in the morning and died at 6:15 p. m. He gave a very decisive testimony. I preached his funeral from the text recording the conversion of the thief on the cross. A large audience was present. He was buried by the Masons. The family has given me a cordial invitation to make my home with them. Yesterday and today, I have been helping the people of this district to carry an election by which a graded school was to be established. The proposition was lost by two votes. I have never examined the law before, and I am glad my attention has been called to it as I see in it the great possibilities for many localities in this county and other counties of the mountains.


Notes From Dr. Dickey

Manchester, Kentucky

May 17, 1898

I preached Sunday morning on "Grow in Grace," and at night on "The Judgement." Had a large attendance at Sunday School, larger than for several months. Have been visiting, reading, and writing this week. A tide in the river, the first this winter or spring, gladdens all hearts. There are at least 10,100 logs ready for market in this county, worth $150,000. Half of this has been paid for part of them; those that float, while those that are rafted are all unsold. Fifty years ago, salt was bringing annually $100,000 into this county, but the population was not one-fifth as great as now. Then there is much more stock taken out of the county now than at any time. I got a room today in which to open up my library. I fear the rats or mice have injured them. I think I can order a Picket Library, as I can keep them in the same room. It is Judge Dickenson's office in the yard of his residence.

The war between Spain and the United States goes vigorously on. There have been a few naval battles, but seven men have been killed on the American side, while perhaps, 1,000 men have been killed of the Spaniards. The government asked for 125,000 volunteers and 700,000 offered. It would be easy to raise a million for this war. It has been the policy of the United States to acquire territory abroad. Now the question of holding the Philippine Islands is being discussed while the Hawaiian Islands are asking for admission into the Union. In our present condition, these islands seem important to us, and the disposition to hold them seems to be a wise one. It may be that time has come for us to take part in the affairs of the East in order to advance the cause of human freedom. The nations are apprised by arbitrary powers. Man needs religion also liberty.


November 29, 1897 to June 2, 1898

The above dates include the records of this volume. It has been written of the first six months of my stay in Clay County. God has wonderfully preserved my health during these months and given me strength to perform my work. He has fed and clothed me though, but $20 has been donated for that purpose. I am in debt for my board $35, but I believe He will give me the means to pay for this also. He has graciously kept me in peace and enabled me to fight successfully my spiritual adversaries. He has given me some success in winning souls, and I trust that the work of these months will bring a rich fruitage in the months that are to follow. I have become acquainted with the people and their environment, and I will know better how to reach them as a result of this knowledge. I praise my God that He has so marvelously sustained me under the peculiar temptations and arouse labors which I have passed through.