May 31, 1898
Yesterday morning, Monday, I left Hyden to come to this neighborhood to see about getting permission to furnish a teacher for this school district. There are 109 scholars in the census. I want to put a Wilmore teacher here, full of the Holy Ghost, to get the people saved.
As I passed near the school house there were 10 or 12 men sitting at the roadside on blankets or coats, playing cards. There were two games going on. I stopped and warned them mildly; they never stopped playing or made any reply.
I went to see Harrison Napier, a trustee, a merchant living two miles above the mouth of Wooton’s Creek. He is 44 years old or nearly so, and five weeks ago married a girl not quite 14 years of age. He has grandchildren, several children at home. She came to the store, looked as she is, a little girl, with short dress on, very childlike in her manner and appearance.
Mr. Napier told her to go back to the house as that was the place for the children. He is a very bright man, is considered the best salesman in the county.
He said that he would employ any teacher that the district wanted, but I am told he has a man whom he wants to put in.
He gave me no encouragement, was not disposed to talk about the matter. He is very impure and his impurity led him to kill a man whose wife’s affections he had alienated, a man named Bailey.
His excuse for marrying a child was that he knew that she was pure and being a child she and his children would get along pleasantly together. This is a hard community though there are some good citizens in it. There is a lawless element; two stills were cut up a few days ago.
June 1, 1898
I visited the county jail, and held services twice. Monday morning last, I went to Wooton’s Creek again to see further about the school at that place. During my stay, Emanuel Wooton received an appointment to raise a company for the Cuban War from the governor. He got it the 27th and the 31st; he led 46 men. Then young men in the county were enlisting very fast. Some married men were volunteering also.
The creeks are full of timber. They have had no tides yet in Leslie County, and very little in Clay. In the two counties there are 80, 000 logs ready for market, worth $240,000 or at least $200,000. The young corn is very vigorous in the bottoms and on the hillsides men, women and children are cultivating it. I hardly past a field that did not have women in it, where work was being done. The people have an abundance of corn this year. This staple is worth little more than last year, and there are thousands of bushels in this county, and plenty in Leslie County to do the people.
The people are strong in intellect considering their lack of culture. The children are both handsome and bright. The young people make a much more attractive appearance than in former years. They have more money, more knowledge of what other parts of the world are doing, and have a greater desire to keep up with the customs and fashions of the world.
From the Diaries of Reverend John J. Dickey, a traveling Methodist minister who roamed southeastern Kentucky in the late 1800′s