1896 ... We had a big meeting at the mouth of Grapevine Creek Sunday from 10:00 a.m. til 5:00 p.m., two hours for dinner. There was a crowd – the schoolhouse was packed – and it was so hot I could hardly get my breath. Papa preached morning and evening; thirty-five joined, and he had to baptize most of them, as they had never been baptized. Some people had to stand out in the rain.
Monday morning we bade all goodbye, and started to Big Creek. The roads were worse and worse. One man went along to hold the buggy. We went up the Kentucky River then up Campbell’s Creek, then across an awful mountain to Forked Mouth Creek. Oh, me! A bad boy would say it was “forked lightening.” We got down it alive, by walking and climbing and leading and holding the buggies. The mountains and rocks just covered up the road entirely. We passed a little school-house and all the children ran out to see the buggies. They were curiosities to them. One little boy said he lived up a creek, but didn’t know its name. He saw big rattle snakes up there too. One funny man was riding an ox, and he had a bed quilt for a saddle and bark for a girth. Another man had an ox geared up like a horse and it was plowing for him. An old lady was carrying her baby and a little pig was following her like a dog. When she stopped, it lay down at her feet. One little house had a pole put up in the front yard, covered with egg shells, like a snowball bush. It was funny to me.
Well, after a hard journey over mountains and more creeks we reached Big Creek. Papa had been there before, and the good people came walking up the road to meet us. I never saw cleverer people, though they are not rich or proud. Kate and I stayed at Mr. Field’s up on Big reek, and Papa and Mr. Little had to stay down at Mr. Wiley Couch’s, as there was not room for all of us at one house. Papa preached in the school house for four days, and twenty-seven joined the church. We met some nice girls at Big Creek. One of them told us she could sing twice as loud as we could, and I believe it. We went fishing and caught some nice fish and ate them. The people were so clever, we enjoyed our visit there. The little deaf boy who joined the church before was there; he is a smart boy, and can talk a little. He is going to the institute at Danville. His name is Willie Fugate.
On Friday evening we crossed the mountain and went to Hazard, the county seat. It is a little town of about one-hundred people. It used to have a bad name, because so many people were killed there. It is better now. The Methodist Church is not quite done, and ours is just begun. The river runs between the town and the mountains. They never had a church here before. Papa preached in the Court House. Many people came, and twenty-three joined. He preached in the jail one day, and three poor prisoners joined. It was an awful place, and I felt sorry for them. The doors were iron bars, with big locks and bolts to hold them safe. A mountain preacher came to church, and he had been shot in the ear by some bad men. They said he killed their hogs. A big freshest came down the river and carried away hundreds of saw logs. They said a water spout broke on a creek called “Kingdom Come.”
We walked up the river one day and met two men carrying a hundred fish, called red horses. They were very pretty. We climbed to the very top of a big mountain with Mr. Sawyers, and he said we could see the Cumberland Mountains away off. There were some Indian graves up there. The mountains were covered with trees broken down by the snow. On Tuesday morning Papa preached in Hazard the last time, and we started after dinner, to Jackson, forty miles away, over the mountains. They have no regular hotel in Hazard. Somebody burned up the hotel about a year ago.
We drove twenty miles Tuesday evening down the river, up Lotts Creek, down Lost Creek, to Mr. Watts’ which we reached about dark. The road was pretty bad. We were almost turned over in Lost Creek once, in a hole full of big rocks. Mr. Little’s harness kept breaking, until he tied it with wire. One clever old lady said I looked the “naturalist” ; I don’t know what she meant. Maybe she thought I favored Papa. When we played the organ, they wondered why we used our feet. They couldn’t understand, but they are as clever as can be, and one of them told Papa that they were poor, but their souls were worth as much as a rich man’s soul. We saw no churches, and met few preachers, and they were not educated. We got up at 4:00 this morning, and started to Jackson at 6:00 a.m. and by hard driving, reached here at 12:00. So our journey over the mountains is ended and we are alive. 1896...