People of Sage

Cora White

Cora E. White passed away on Thursday, November 23, 1972. She had been born Cora Abington on September 10, 1882, the daughter of Louis and Mollie Abington. She grew up in the community of the Hopewell Baptist Church, a very old African American Church south of Wentzville on Hwy N (the Boone’s Lick Road). We know she had brothers and sisters named Fred, Ardalia, John, Oregon, Tennessee and Troy. When she was a young girl of 18, she married Simon “Samuel” L. White on June 3, 1901 and they made their early home in O’Fallon on Main Street. near the home of the town’s founder, the  widower Nicholas Krekel, where he lived with his daughter Bertha Krekel. Simon and Cora had several children, some whose names we will never know, because there were no records. We do know there was Margaret “Flossy”, Arthur, Sylvester, sweet  Jessie who they lost when she was just 19 years old, Frona, Beulah, Tommy, Eugene, Robert, Corine (Thornton) and LuLurean (Vardeman). By the 1920s, Cora and Simon had moved their  family over to “the Hill” which is today’s Sonderen, and were members of Wishwell Baptist Church.  There they had more room for their family, and could raise chickens and have a larger garden because O’Fallon was growing and changing. When she passed, she joined her dear husband Simon who had preceded her in death, at Sage Chapel Cemetery.


Eugene White: picture taken at age 4 months (1918). Son of Simon and Cora White, Grandson of Lucy White. Portrait was taken at Maxwell Studio, 2007 Lawton Ave. Photo from the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society.

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.

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