Following these comments is a copy of John Leonidas Vick’s 12 page Vick family history. I hope it is of use to the Vick family and related families.
My name is Lannes Melvin Ray Vick. I am a nephew of John Leonidas Vick b 11 Feb 1834 in Livingston Co., Ky. John Leonidas wrote a history of the descendants of Shadrach Vick who left Virginia and settled in the area of Livingston County, KY in the early 1800s. Shadrach Vick was a great grandson of Joseph Vick who immigrated to Virginia about 1670.
I first became aware of his Vick history in the 1980’s when a 2nd cousin Mary Salyers sent me a newspaper article from the Livingston Ledger in Livingston Co, KY where the Vicks lived. The newspaper summarized and quoted parts of John Leonidas’s story. The paper said they got their copy of the document from a granddaughter or great granddaughter of his, a Mrs. Ina Riddell of Hayward CA. I have never been able to find Ina Riddell.
I got my first full copy of his story about 1985 from a cousin, Billy Ray Vick of Sturgis, Ky. This version is single-spaced and does not have parenthetical comments by Ben Vick or any of Ben’s own info discussed below. It has the name Calvin Vick printed at the top, who I think is Sidney Calvin Vick b 1919.
I got my second copy from Delores Vick in 2006. She got her copy of the history from The Old Courthouse Museum in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was 25 double spaced pages retyped by Benjamin David Vick about February 1939. Ben was a grand nephew of John Leonidas. It also includes an incomplete history of Ben’s own his family. We do not know if there was more written by Ben. The document in The Old Courthouse Museum was provided to the museum by William Elvis Vick b. 1917, who got it from his uncle Ben.
I received a third electronic copy from Mary Vick Graves, his granddaughter, in June 2006.
All these versions have differences but it appears to me that the first one I got from Billy Ray Vick is the most original that is the language seems a bit more archaic and there is more information. It seems to me there are various versions because copies were made as it was written or revisions were made to update the vocabulary.
The version I have posted is basically the electronic copy I got from Mary Vick Graves. At some point I hope to edit it to return it to more of its original form. I have not attempted to correct any of the grammar or spelling.
Beatty and Vick reference John Leonidas’s Vick history in their genealogy book Joseph Vick of Isle of Wight Co, VA. It uses his history as a basis for the connections between John’s branch of the family and those immediately following Joseph Vick.
My impression of John Leonidas’s history is that it is an amazing document. It brings alive the 1800’s in which most of it takes place. When I read it I feel connected to those past generations in a way that is quite different than looking at impersonal family data like birth dates and marriages.
It is also amazing to see the very well written way John Leonidas communicates.
Although the date on one version says Cullman, Alabama, December 1895 I believe that is incorrect or the date of an earlier version. My reason is that John Leonidas mentions late in the history that he is 25 years beyond his 60th birthday, which would make the date of the final version about 1920 based on John’s birth date of 11 Feb 1834.
One item of note is that John mentions three original sons who came from England and that his family is related to two of them. This is a confusion of two facts, (1) the three brothers from England were actually John’s grandfather, Shadrach and Shadrach’s two brothers all of whom were born in Virginia, and (2) the two brothers who were ancestors were actually the father of these three men, Arthur Vick, and his brother William who was the grandfather of John’s mother Nancy Reese.
One of the versions of John’s history mentions it was written in Cullman, Alabama. This was because John went to Cullman to live with his oldest son Arthur.
John Leonidas Vick’s History of His Vick Family Cullman, Alabama, December 1895
My Dear Children:
I have long thought I would write a short sketch of the Vick family, yet neglected it. My knowledge of the origin of our family is quite meagre; and I now regret I did not inquire of my father more concerning our ancestors.
My information however is that three brothers named "Vick" came from England and settled in the Colony of Virginia, about seventy-five miles south east of Richmond in Southampton County. The date of their coming or whether they were married when they came or married in Virginia, I do not know. But two of these brothers became my great grandfathers and your great-great-grandfathers.
One of them had a son named Shadrack who married a girl named Martha Barnes, and they were my grandparents on father's side; and one of them had a daughter named Piety, who married a man named Rivers Reese and they were my grandparents on Mother's side.
As to the number of children those Vick brothers had, I never learned; yet there certainly were several, for "Vicksburg" Miss. was settled by, and named for "Newatt" a son or grandson of one of them: and now nearly every state in the union have some of the name who can trace their origin back to those brothers.
My grandfather, Shadrack Vick, must have married about 1779 for his oldest child was born in 1780 and named Temperance, and the second child was born in 1783 and named Tabitha. Grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and was broken down in health, when he returned home, and only lived a few years. He died in November 1787 about three months before my father's birth. However he told Grandma that when the baby was born, he wanted it named Arthur; if it was a son, and Virginia if it was a daughter.
On the 12th date of February 1788, my father was born in Southampton County, Va. about twenty miles from the North Carolina line. Grandma's family then was Temperance 8 years old, Tabitha 5 years old and Arthur, the baby. She was poor and a renter and had a pretty hard struggle raising her children. She never remarried and lived to see Aunt Temperance grown and married. In the year 1797 Aunt Temperance married a man named Thomas Fires, a kind hearted good man, a shoemaker and farmer.
In the year 1799, Grandma Vick died and Tabitha and father went to live with their sister. Father was then eleven years old; he remembered that the whole country went into mourning in Dec. that year for General Washington who died on the 14th of that month. My father only lived about two years with the Fires.
He became disgusted with Fires' bad management. In my father's thirteenth year he entered into a contract with one of his uncle's widows named Bettie Barnes, to work for his food and raiment and three months schooling each year. This good woman owned a farm and there was the means of my father obtaining a fair English education. Father lived with Aunt Bettie Barnes till he was about seventeen years old. He then hired to a man named Rawls, a farmer and a blacksmith, he was a good man, a leader in the Society of Friends or Quakers that dwelt in that County. Father worked for Mr. Rawls about three years, working nine months and going to school three each year. While Mr. Rawls was a pious man, he had a son a year or two older than father named Burrell, who was very wild and wicked. Father regretted in his old age that he contracted the habit of profane swearing from associating with young Rawls.
One of father's uncles, named James Barnes, owned a farm and lived in the neighborhood, he had a large family; two sons named Newson and James and a daughter named Polly, they were near father's age and father spent much of his leisure time at this Uncle's and his cousins and he became great friends and associates. About the time father was grown, his uncle sold his Virginia farm and bought and moved to a farm on Tar River in Edgecombe County, N.C. After their removal, the Barnes family often wrote to my father urging him to visit them, so at Christmas 1810 father paid them a visit and while there his uncle and cousin made him up a school and father taught his first school in North Carolina in the year 1811. At the close of this school he returned to his home in Virginia.
I must now bring up the other branch of the family tree. About 1794 or 1795 an Irishman named Rivers Reese, married Piety Vick (a cousin to Grandpa Vick) and they were my grandparents on my mother's side.
I do not know whether grandfather Reese was born in Ireland or America. He owned a farm and several negroes and was a local Methodist Preacher and a good man. On the 2nd day of February 1796 their first child, a daughter was born in Southampton, County, VA and named Nancy. She was my Mother. My grandparents had another daughter born in 1798, named Lucy. I do not know the exact date of grandfathers Reese's death, but I think he died about the time grandma Vick died in 1799. Grandma Reese remained a widow several years and then married a cousin of her first husband named Joseph Reese. He was a wild drinking man, but kind to his step-children. They had two sons born to them, John W. (for whom I was named) and William Reese. My parents had formed an acquaintance and became lovers before father taught the school in North Carolina. Their intention was to marry about Christmas 1811 but Grandma opposed the marriage. My step-father was in favor of the match and tried to prevail with Grandma to consent, but in vain. Father finally told Grandma that they intended to marry any how, she became terribly enraged and ordered them both off her place and told them never to darken her door again and they never did.
On the 31 day of January 1812, Arthur Vick and Nancy Reese went in a buggy across the line into North Carolina and were married. They returned the same day to a farm father had rented. Mother had to give up all her goods except the clothes she wore. Father Arthur Vick was twenty-four years old and Mother Nancy Reese was sixteen when they married. Father had a good English education and Mother could read and write but never studied arithmetic. Father was 5ft. 9in. high, weighed 135 pounds, had deep blue eyes, dark hair and beard, a small mouth, heavy eye brows, a serious look, did not laugh and talk much, his sense of smell was acute, he was an excellent reader, loved books, was regular in his habits. He never studied music, but had a good voice and knew a number of tunes. He never drank to excess but kept spirits and generally took a moderate dram before meals. He was remarkably strong and active for a man of his size. Mother was nearly as tall as father, she weighed 130 pounds when young, had large hazel eyes, light hair, full round rosy cheeks, fair skin, rather large mouth, with full lips, a pleasant look, but was subject to spells of despondency when she looked sad. She had a musical voice, and knew many tunes, but never studied music. She was not a good reader and read but little. My parents lived alone the first year, made a good crop, paid their rent and rented the same farm for the next year. On the 31st day of Jan. 1813 just one year from the day they married, their first child, a daughter was born and named Lucy Jane. On Friday the fifth day of June, 1813, father was drafted into the army and was required to report at Jamestown, his county seat, 11 miles from where he lived, the next morning for duty. He spent Saturday and Sunday trying to hire a hand, but failed. He urged Mother to go back to her Mother, but she refused. He succeeded in getting a little negro girl to stay with Mother, and she and the child finished the crop and got along all right.
The captain of father's company was named Dillard and that was where your Uncle Dillard got his name. Father was stationed at Norfolk, Va. and served from June till November. He was not in any battle. My parents lived in their native county and state until the fall of 1815 when they moved to Edgecombe County, North Carolina where they lived on a rented farm for four years. They had two children born while they lived in North Carolina. The second child, and first son, born January 21st. 1816 and named for his grandfather Shadrach Rivers; the third child was a daughter born April 14th 1818 and named Martha Reese. In the fall of 1819 my parents moved to Livingston County, Kentucky. They arrived there on the 21st day of December 1819 and bought land and settled at what is now known as the Adam's Spring, and where the Adams Schoolhouse is located. On the 12th of February, 1821 their fourth child, a daughter was born and named Piety Temperance. She was thirteen years old when I was born and was my nurse and I had a greater attachment for her than for any other brother or sister. On the 12th of July 1823 their fifth child, a son was born and named Arthur Dillard, his nickname was Dick. You all recollect uncle Dick. In 1824 my parents bought and moved to the farm on the bluff in Livingston County, Ky. where they lived and died and were buried. I still have the title to our acre of ground where my parents are buried. On the 2nd day of June 1826 their sixth child, a daughter was born and named Tabitha Ann. She was strange and droll even after she was grown. On the 28th day of February 1829, their seventh child, a daughter was born and named Mary Euphemia, she was a beautiful girl, intelligent and kind. On the 23rd day of July 1831, the eighth child, a daughter was born and named Nancy Adela. This my youngest sister was the brightest one of us all. She had a wonderful voice and had the power of imitating any voice she heard. She often called from another room so exactly in the tone of some neighbor's voice that our parents would ask why the neighbor did not come in, when perhaps the person would be miles away.
But now I must try to tell you the terrible tragedy that visited our people. Grandmother Reese still lived in Virginia with her two sons, John and William, both fine portly young men. Grandpa Joe Reese had long since died and Aunt Lucy had married a man named Biddle and had moved to herself. Grandma also had seven or eight negroes, some grown and some children. That you may more fully understand what follows, let me explain that, at that time there was a great many more negroes than whites in Southampton County, Va. In the spring or summer of 1831, Uncle John Reese visited my parents and was at my father's in KY. when the negroes rose in Va. An old negro man known as Nat Lee, (Nat Turner) had secretly organized a negro mob and in the latter part of July 1831 more than one hundred of the black demons got together with old Nat at their head, and after dark on Sunday night they started and murdered every white person they found, going from house to house, plundering and butchering as they went. They travelled all night plundering fifteen or twenty houses, killing all the whites, and compelling the blacks to join them. The bloody black mob got to Grandma Reese's about four o'clock Monday morning just at daybreak, there was more than three hundred of them. Uncle Billy Reese was up and dressed when the mob began to enter the yard, he met them at the door with his gun and killed and wounded three or four but he was quickly overpowered and slain and left lying dead on the door step. Grandma got out of bed in her night clothes only, and knelt by the bedside, and in that position she was shot to death by the negroes. The mob made Grandma's negroes go with them. They only butchered two other families after leaving Grandma for they were met about sunrise by about two hundred armed white men and completely routed. This mob had killed about one hundred white people, mostly women and children. Had Uncle John been home, he too would doubtless have been killed. More than five hundred negroes were executed or put to death being accused of taking part in the insurrection and Grandma's negroes among the rest, though they pled innocent.
On the 11th day of Feb. 1834, my mother gave birth to her ninth child, a son, and my father named him John Leonidas, the John was for Uncle John, and Leonidas was for some great Grecian hero my father had been reading about. Well this completes the list of living children born to my parents, but on the 16th day of May 1840 my mother gave birth to the tenth child but it was still born and never saw light of day, a boy. Had this child been born alive, he would have been named William Henry Harrison. This was the first death occuring in my father's individual family and was the first to be buried in the old family lot, in the graveyard on the bluff in Ky.
On the 20 day of Dec. 1832 my oldest sister Lucy J. married Wilkerson Dixon. Their first child was born before I was, They lived in Ky. till two of their children were born and then moved to Ill. and settled on the line between Jefferson & Hamilton Counties. They had six children, the oldest a daughter, Mary Phenetta; second a son Tilman; third a daughter named Angeline; fourth a son Arthur Vick; fifth a daughter named Martha; sixth a daughter named Piety Jane. Wilkerson Dixon died about 1860, and sister Lucy afterwards married a man named Stull. He did not live long and she was a widow for many years. She died Dec. 1891 almost 79 years old. Lucy was a member of the Baptist Church more than 40 years. Some of her children are dead and some live in Ill. December 15, 1836, sister Martha married Alexander Dixon, nephew of Wilkerson Dixon, thus sister Lucy became sister Martha's aunt-in-law. Sister Martha had five children; first a girl named Piety who died in infancy; second, a daughter named Nancy; third a girl named Julina Ann; fourth a son named Uriah Berry; fifth a son named Alexander. Of these Uriah is dead. Others live in Ky. Alexander Dixon died with pneumonia April 9, 1856. June 20, 1859 sister Martha died with consumption. Both were members of the Methodist Church.
On December 13, 1838, my oldest brother, Shadrack R. married Catherine Hanie and had five children; first, a son named Arthur Robert; second, a son named Davis Leonidas; third a son named Wm. Henry; fourth a girl named Nancy Seusion, and fifth another girl named Mary Jane. Brother Shadrack died with consumption on June 8, 1847. He was first to die of us nine brothers and sisters. He was a good man, a sweet signer and a class leader in the Methodist Church when he died. On March 31, 1841, sister Piety T. Vick married William Tillery. They had six children; first a girl named Sarah Ann; second, a girl named Mary Jane; third a son named John Thomas; fourth, a girl named Leatha; fifth a girl named Lundy and sixth a daughter named Eliza. Sister Piety died in Missouri in 1880. She was a member of the Baptist Church, a precious good woman and a sweet singer. I boarded with the family six months in 1858 and taught school in Ill. Her six children ranging from 2 to 16 years of age were all at home. We spent evenings singing and they were the finest singers to take the whole family I ever heard. I have lost trace of Wm. Tillery and do not know if he is living or dead. Some of the children are dead, the others are in Ill. Mo. and Ark.
On December 25, 1845, Arthur D. Vick married Mary Ann Buchanan and had 8 children; first a girl named Lucy; second a girl named Ann who died in infancy; third a son named Wm. Reese; fourth a son named Patrick; sixth a son named John Franklin; seventh a son named Elza Ross and eighth a son named Silas. Brother Dillard was stricken with paralysis Dec. 10, 1892 and died the 11th of same month. He was a man of strong intellect, was surveyor of Linvingston, County Ky. for 8 years and was Justice of Peace when he died. He was a member of Masonic Fraternity. His widow and 6 children still live in Ky, the youngest son in Ill. On February 17, 1848 sister Mary Euphemia Vick married Hugh Alexander Hinton. A son was born in the Spring of 1849 named Arthur. Sister Euphemia Vick died with Typhoid Fever on August 29, 1849 when her baby was only 5 months old. She was a member of the Baptist Church and a precious good woman, her only regret when dying, was leaving her baby. Mother kept the baby till he was 2 years old. Hinton married again and took the child. He was a heartless man and never permitted the child to visit us afterwards and he abused the boy. Hinton left his second wife and went to Mo. with the boy and the boy died when about 14 years old. Hinton became an opium eater before he died.
I must now record the greatest affliction I had yet experienced. My dear mother had grown very fleshy, the last time she weighed, I think in the summer of 1849 she weighed 240 lbs. In Nov. 1849 her right side was paralysed and she lay for weeks unable to move her right hand or foot. She finally got a little better and was able to walk by dragging that foot. She could sew and knit and superintend her household duties. On Saturday night, January 10 1852 set in one of the worst snow storms I ever saw. The snow fell steadily for nearly 24 hours, and was 18 to 20 inches deep when the storm ceased Sunday. That night it was cold and I dreamed my father and I were cutting out a fence row and along the row I saw a plum tree in full bloom and said to my father we will get to the plum tree by dinner if we work hard. Monday AM I told my dream at breakfast. Mother said to me, son:
"To dream of anything out of Season You will soon see trouble out of reason"
That day my dear old Mother was struck dead apoplexy or paralysis. Thus father and I had reached the greatest grief of our lives at dinner and Mothers words had come true. Mother was a member of the Methodist Church and in the absence of father she held family prayer at night. The 12th of January never passes without my Mothers sudden death being again seriously impressed upon my mind. On the 4th of August 1853 my youngest sister Nancy was married to James Osburn Trail. On the 13th of August 1855 sister Adela died with child bed fever, the little girl infant was still born so my two youngest sisters have no living issue. Sister Adela was a member of the Methodist Church and a sweet singer.
On the 28th day of Nov. 1855 John Leonidas Vick was married to Martha Bethenia May. To them were born seven children. The first, a son born April 17th 1857 and named for his grandfathers Arthur Jacob. The second, a son born March 14th 1859, named Robert Willis, the third a daughter born February 15th 1861 and named Lizzie Jane, the fourth, a son born Jan 31st 1863 and died Feb 2nd 1863, this little one only lived three days and was not named, the fifth, a son born Jan. 11th 1864 and named Leroy Franklin. The sixth, a son, born March 8th 1867 in Smithland, Ky. and named John Alexander, the seventh, a son born March 12th 1869 named Charles Adolphus. These children were all born in Livingston County, KY. and the six who are living have all grown to years of maturity and have been married. I must now go back in my history and bring up some thread I have left. My Aunt Lucy Reese, my Mother's only sister married a man named Biddle and after his death she married a man named Simmons. He squandered her property and deserted her and afterwards died so Aunt Lucy being left in destitute circumstances in Virginia in 1847, my parents had her removed to their home in Ky. and she became a member of my father's family. On the 17th day of Feb. 1853 my father and Aunt Lucy Simmons were married and she became my stepmother and I did not treat her as well as I ought to have done and this afterwards became a source of regret to me, as it was a grief to my dear old father.
On Sunday evening the 11th day of May 1857, about six o'clock my father was attacked with pain in his head. The doctor called it congestion of the brain and fifteen minutes before twelve o'clock that night, he died. I was at my Mother's-in-law about four miles away, was sent for but did not reach my father till a few minutes after he died. He had been so anxious to see me when he was dying, that the anguish I experienced when I realized that he could never speak to me again, was the greatest I have ever known. Father was sixty-nine years old and three months when he died. He had been a strict member of the Methodist Church for more than twenty-five years. He held family prayer every night regularly. After I was twelve years old, my father required me to read a chapter from the bible and lead in signing a hymn all of us standing while singing, then all kneeling while he offered up prayer, before retiring at night. Sometimes a wild associate would spend the night with me and then it was a heavy cross for me to read and lead the singing and some of them after we would retire called me "Preacher" and this was very mortifying to me then; but I now look back to those as the most blessed days of my life. Aunt Lucy, for we all called her "Aunt" and not "Mother", lived till the 20th of January 1863, when she died, she was about sixty-five years old, she was a member of the Methodist Church, and was a good woman, but had strange childish ways.
Sometime between 1867 and 1870 my sister Tabitha Ann Vick married an old man in Pope County, Ill. named Thomas Dowling. They had two children, a son named Thomas and a daughter named Sarah. Mr. Dowling died when the children were small. They grew up and the daughter married a man who lived on a shanty boat on the Ohio River; I never learned this man's name. However, my sister and her son went to live with them on the boat. They started to move from Pope County, Ill to Cottonwood Point, Mo. by floating in their boat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and it was reported that they were overtaken by a storm on the Mississippi River, their boat wrecked and they were all drowned. At all events we have never heard of them since. Sister Tabitha Ann was a member of the Baptist Church and while she was always strange and droll was a good woman. My dear children, I have now traced my father and his family from the "Cradle to the Grave". My parents had forty grandchildren in all and a small army of great-grandchildren. I have no means of ascertaining the number.
Your mother was born in Livingston County, Ky. on the 12th day of March 1838. Her father, Jacob May, died when she was a small child, she being the youngest of a large family of children. The Mays were of German descent and very good people. Your grandmother, Jane May was a Hosick before her marriage, she was of Scotch descent. She died at my house in Kentucky on the 6th day of March 1880, in her eighty-fourth year. She was a member of my family for sixteen years before her death. She was a member of the Methodist Church and one of the best women I ever knew. You all remember your Grandma May.
I ought now to close this desultory sketch perhaps, yet like most garulous people, I am tempted to talk a little about myself, for we are all more or less selfish.
Being the youngest of a large family of children and loving a book above any other plaything, I was taught the alphabet as soon as I was able to lisp the letters and therefore have no recollection of learning my letters. I was sent to Country Schools some part of each year from my sixth to my nineteenth year. My first teacher was Miss Frances Proctor, she called me Leonidas and was the only person that ever addressed me by my middle name. Among other teachers that I can now recall was my father Arthur Vick, my Uncle John Wesley Reese, my father's cousin Newsom Barnes, a Mr. Oliver, Wm. Clanahan, E. H. Angle, Jefferson LaRue and my last teacher was James T. Padon. He gave me some lessons on surveying and advised me to get books and study surveying which I did. I learned without effort on my part when is school often in a class of six or more I would learn the lesson and have an hour or more to read some interesting book while my classmates still struggled with the lesson. I worked on the farm and only attended school in fall and winter.
The year that I was sixteen, the patrons of our school district employed the teacher for ten months commencing in Sept. and closing in June. I attended this school until March when I was compelled to stop and go to work on the farm, yet I applied so close to my books every leisure moment that at the examination in June, which I attended, I was fully up with my class that had attended the entire school. I do not give this in a boasting spirit, but to show my wonderful love of books, and also what close application will achieve out of school. My father was a great help to me in my home studies for he was well versed in arithmetic, geography and history and was excellent in spelling and reading. He took pleasure in answering all my questions and correcting any fault detected in reading. I was a stout healthy boy, but in my fourteenth year had the measles, which affected my throat and injured my voice which was never as clear and strong afterwards. About this time my father had a very severe attack of pneumonia which affected his hips and back, disabling him more or less as long as he lived. He wasn't able to work as constantly as he had and he could not plow as formerly. The spring that I was seventeen, my father hired a young man to work through the crop season and we prepared ground and planted as much as we thought he and I could cultivate. After all was ready to begin the cultivating, the hired man quit, and we could not find another to fill his place. Father said we would have to give up part of the crop. I told him I believed I could cultivate it all and I did. As soon as it was light enough to see in the morning I was at the plow and only lost the time occupied in eating my meals, my father furnishing me a fresh team when needed. In August 1853 while still under age, I began teaching school in my home district and closed my school Christmas after which I visited my oldest sister in Jefferson County, Ill.
In the year 1854 my brother-in-law Trail and I cultivated my father's farm in partnership. This was the year of the first severe drouth in Ky. and our crop was short. Mr. Trail and I were discouraged so that fall in October we sold out and moved to Jefferson County, Ill. In February 1855, Mr. Trail and his family and I all got homesick and moved back to old Kentucky. My father had rented out his farm before my return from Ill. I went to my brother A.D. Vick and made a contract to raise a crop on the shares with him. The year 1855 was a splendid crop year in Ky. and we made an abundant crop of corn and tobacco. I put in most of my Sunday evenings this year in sparking your Mother and sometimes the chickens would be crowing for day, before I would get to bed at my brother's Monday morning. I was now twenty-one years old and desperately in love, so in November I prevailed with the family that had my father's farm rented to give up the houses, and on the 28th day of that month your Mother and I entered into a partnership that has now lasted forty years and the 29th "Thanksgiving Day" we began housekeeping.
I taught another school in the Fall and Winter of 1856 in my home district. In 1858, I commenced my scramble for office by becoming a candidate for County Surveyor, but I was defeated by Geo. G. Rappoll. I taught a six months school in Pope County, Ill. in 1858 beginning in January and closing in June and the teacher in my home district getting sick the first of September when his school was half out, I was employed to finish the five months sessions, making eight and a half months taught in 1858. On the 15 of Nov. that year at the close of school, my youngest brother-in-law, S. F. May and I took a trip horseback across the States of Ill. and Missouri and into the indian Territory. The chief wonders we saw on this trip was the great "Mississippi River" a "Railroad" an "Iron Furnace" a "Lead Mine" some "Indians" and the "Great Prairies." In 1859, after laying by my crop, I taught a school five miles from my home and traveled the five miles night and morning on horseback. It was this year I entered as guardian for my sister Martha's orphan children and this was the first great mistake of my life, as it finally involved me in trouble and loss. After finishing my crop in 1861, I again taught a five month's school in my home district. It was this year the great Civil War broke out, and the whole country became demoralized.
Before my crop was laid by, in 1862, the Trustees of a large school district lying about six miles from my home visited me and engaged me to teach their school, beginning September 1st. In the meantime my friends were again me for County Serveyor and on the first Monday in Aug. 1862, I was elected to said office. The Trustees, however, insisted that I must teach their school and they agreed that if I had more surveying to do than I could do on Saturdays, I should have the privilege of dismissing my school long enough to attend to it. Upon this statement and arrangement, I taught three fall sessions of five months each in that district, one in 1862, one in 1863, and one in 1864.
In the summer of 1862, about five thousand Federal, or as we called them, Yankee Soldiers took possession of our County seat and fortified it. About one o'clock on the night of the 19th of Sept. 1862, my house was surrounded by fifteen Yankee Soldiers, and I was arrested and taken from my weeping wife and babies. I was carried at the point of the bayonet, fifteen miles to my County Seat and there locked up in a loathsome dungeon with ten other prisoners. I had eaten supper at home Friday night and I did not get another morsel to eat until noon Sunday, when I was permitted to go to a hotel under guard of two soldiers, who stood over me while I ate. I was also compelled to pay my hotel bill. The prison was not furnished with water closet and the stench was horrible and the place literally swarmed with vermin of the most loathsome kind. On Monday the 22nd of Sept. 1862, the Trustees of my school came and some of the leading citizens of the town joined them in trying to procure my release. About two o'clock P.M. the Commander ordered me brought from the prison to his headquarters. He told me he had just learned I was engaged in teaching school, and as he did not wish to break up the schools, if I would take an oath of allegiance he would release me. I asked him kindly what the charge was against me. His answer made with a blasphemous oath was that I was a Rebel. I subscribed the oath of allegiance and returned to my home that evening and shaved off my beard. That was the last I ever shaved.
In June of 1863, I was drafted into the United States Army but as the Government needed money worse than men, the Authorities commuted my service upon paying them Three-hundred dollars. In the Fall and Winter of 1865 I taught a five months school in Birdsville District ten miles from my house. The trustees gave me fifty dollars a month and boarded me. This was my last school though I had a good reputation as a teacher and could have obtained a school every year. I find that I spent forty two and a half months in teaching. I generally received about thirty dollars a month. In the Spring of 1866, my friends nominated me for the office of clerk of the county court. I had a hard race against James W. Cade, who was then clerk, but I was elected by ninety-eight majority. On the 3rd day of Sept. 1866, my term as County Surveyor expired and the same day I entered upon my duties as County Clerk. My fees as Surveyor for four years amounted to about twelve-hundred dollars, yet I had more than three-hundred dollars of worthless fee-bills on hand. The fees in the County Clerk's office of Livingston County, Ky, during the time I occupied it, ranged from eight-hundred to one-thousand dollars a year, yet like the surveyor's fees, about twenty-five percent were not collectible. Therefore, about seven hundred dollars per year would be a fair estimate of my earnings while in said office.
I was re-elected to the County Clerkship in 1870-1874-1878 and in 1882, four times, making five terms of four years each or twenty years I filled the office. The school law of Ky. made it a duty of the County School Commissioner or Superintendent as he is now called, to select two well educated persons to assist him in the examination of all teachers, who applied to teach in the common school of the County. So the first year of my clerkship, I was appointed on this board of examiners and was re-elected or reappointed by each commissioner during the twenty years I was clerk. We examined generally about twenty-five teachers each year, making about five hundred teachers I assisted in examining. I was elected a member of the board of Trustees of the town of Smithland, Ky. twice. During my clerkship, I was appointed Trustee of the Jury Fund of my County and held the place for seven years.
In 1860 I joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and in 1870 I joined the Masonic Fraternity. I kept up my affiliations with these Societies for many years but have now suffered my membership in both orders to lapse.
In 1868, your Mother and I joined the Methodist Episcopal Church South and still hold our membership at Livingston Chapel, Smithland Circuit, Princeton District, Louisville Conference. In Politics I have affiliated with the Democratic Party.
Now my children, I have told you what I consider the most important features in our history. I have been fairly successful in making money in a small way but not very unsuccessful in saving it. I was never a good financier.
At twenty years old I thought I knew a great deal, at forty I found I did not know very much and at sixty I realize that it is very little we can know in this life.
For the last twenty-five years it has been my earnest desire to overcome all my evil passions and to do all the good and as little harm as possible. I want to so live that when death shall come, it is not far off now, I shall be prepared to meet it.
I remain your affectionate old Father,
John L. Vick