People of Sage

Martha Burrell

Martha Burrell passed away on January 5, 1908. She was born enslaved in 1849, in North Carolina, as were her parents, and brought to Missouri by the Williams family. She was united in marriage at the end of the Civil War, as many emancipated slaves were by a lawful marriage, to be paid for by her former master, to another former slave, Walter Enoch Burrell. He had been born in Virginia, as had his parents, and brought to Missouri by the Keithly family of O’Fallon.

Walter and Martha had at least two children we know, a son also named Walter Burrell ( who lies buried in the Father Dickson Cemetery in St. Louis) and Alena Burrell ,  who was born October 1868 and who died and was buried in Sage Chapel Cemetery on July 27, 1925. Walter and Martha’s daughter Alena had married John Rafferty  born  on August 12, 1860, and who died on April 7, 1954, the son of John and Ann Rafferty who is also buried at Sage Chapel Cemetery.

The Raffertys, John and his sisters, Frances, Ludy, Elsie, and Lizzie had all been slaves of the Samuel Keithly who had come to Missouri in the early 1800s. When John Rafferty (Senior) passed away about 1881, his former master Samuel Keithly (Senior) had already passed away as well. Burials had already been taking place on the former Keithly plantation, on land that had been inherited, and was then owned in 1881 by his daughter  Mahala Keithly Castlio and her husband Jasper N. Castlio.

On August 20th, in 1881, Mahala (Keithly) and her husband Jasper Costlio had transferred to the Trustees of an African Methodist Episcopal Church for the use by the  Conference, one acre of land, which became known as Sage Chapel Cemetery. This was done so that the former slaves of  Samuel Keithly could continue to be buried in this cemetery. That same deed conveyed a one-half acre parcel on Sonderen Street to be used for a church known as Sage’s Chapel. The members of Cravens Methodist, and Wishwell Baptist, also located on Sonderen Street, also used this cemetery to bury their families. None of these churches or their records exist anymore. Sage Chapel Cemetery is a former African American community cemetery that is  maintained by the City of O’Fallon, Missouri, located at 8500 Veterans Memorial Parkway.  It has 117 documented burials of which only 37 have headstones, of these we know that 17 were born enslaved. (2018) May they rest in peace “As long as a name can be spoken, that person shall not be forgotten.

Please share your comments on this post!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s