People of Sage

Lucy Hughes White

Lucy Hughes White passed away on January 22, 1958. She had been born enslaved in O’Fallon on the 16th of February 1864.  Lucy married Leonidas “Lee” Hughes as Lucy Singleton, on November 28, 1881 in St. Charles, where his family farmed.  They had five children, son Reverend Fred Hughes (1885-1966) who served as Pastor at several  African Methodist Episcopal Churches in St. Louis and California, daughter Viola Mae Hughes (1887-1975) who married  Alexander Lewis from Howard County and moved to California, daughter Margaret “Maggie” (1889-1953) who  married Spherrel Claiborne (Junior),  and daughter Georgia (1891-1974) who married Wheeler Lewis and later moved to St. Louis. After Leonidas Hughes passed away, she and Thomas St. Clair (1852-1908 buried in Greenwood Cemetery-St. Louis) had two daughters, Rhoda (1902-) and Clara (1904-). After Thomas St. Clair passed away, in 1908 she married Rufus White (1852-1919) who was also born a slave, who had several children by his previous marriage to Millie Sallee, Simon, Sherman and Ethel. By 1920, Lucy was living near Lincoln Street in a log house that was near where the Krekel Civic Center is today. She worked as a laundress, by taking in wash, and taking in boarders, to support her loving family of children and grandchildren who lived with her. She lived there for many years and is still fondly remembered. She had gone to live with her daughter Georgie in Kinloch, Missouri, before she passed away and then brought home to 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.

Lucy Hughs OHS
Lucy White holding her granddaughter, Juanita (later Juanita Sanders), in front of her log cabin. Photo  (circa 1925) from Mary Stephenson and the photo collection of the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society.

3 thoughts on “Lucy Hughes White

  1. Lucy Hughes is my Great Great Grandmother, Her son Rev Fred A Hughes was the NAACP president in 1923 of Sacramento, Ca Branch. It is believed that Rev Hughes worked with Hellen Keller on the “American Rescue Ship Mission “ in 1940 . A mission to rescue French Concentration refugees during WWII. He also is credited for organizing the first Black Lives Matters in 1938. He helped organized this protest in Seattle due to the death of an African American man caused by law enforcement officials. His son Lloyd (Lucy’s grandson) worked for the former Vice President of the United States, Nelson Rockefeller. Lloyd was also a foreign ambassador in Paris working for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). I myself, am a veteran from Desert Storm Era who proudly served on the USS Forrestal (CV59). The very same ship that John McCain served on.

    A lot of great history stemmed from my Great Great Grandmother’s gravesite in O’Fallon, Mo. Some would say a scrub woman from Missouri could not make an impact on the world. Because she scrubbed clothes one load at a time. Each load was prepared with love and care. Due to her hard work, many future generations will benefit. Rest In Peace, Grandmother, I love and respect you more than words can say. You are forever living in my heart and not forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

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