Thomas Clarence was born in Kentucky in about 1877. He and his brother William were a Baptist family who had come north looking for work. Married and divorced he had worked many jobs, at the shoe factory, as a steelworker, and even as a carpenter. Previously he had lived in St. Louis, but had come to live with family in Gilmore, a railroad town in St. Charles County west of O’Fallon. He had been ill with pneumonia for over three months when he died of a lung hemorrhage on October 23, 1923. Served by the Keithly Funeral Home, he was laid to rest in Sage Chapel Cemetery.
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.”