Blog · News Release

Slave Dwelling Project Conference

The story of Sage Chapel Cemetery will be presented at the National Slave Dwelling Project Conference this Thursday, October 25th, 2018 by historian and author Dorris Keeven-Franke. For more information about the Conference see The Slave Dwelling Project at http://slavedwellingproject.org/ on the web.

As Joseph McGill states, its the people who lived in these dwellings, and who are buried at Sage Chapel Cemetery that need to be acknowledged and know that the world knows “I’se was here”. Sage Chapel Cemetery has at least 117 burials, of which ONLY 37 are acknowledged with a headstone, and we know that many were born enslaved. As long as someone remembers, these people are not to be forgotten.

 

People of Sage

Leo Hart

 

Leo Hart was born June 25, 1931, and passed away on March 12, 2007. He was a Veteran of the U.S. Army and served in Korea. He was the son of Charles Hart and Dorothy Edwards.

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.

People of Sage

Cora Thornton

Cora L. White Thornton was born Cora LuLurean White on April 20, 1922 the daughter of Simon and Cora E. (Abington) White.  She passed away on December 18, 1990.

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.

People of Sage

Betty Norris

Betty Mae Norris was born March 4, 1933 and passed away on December 28, 1981. She was born Betty Mae Elizabeth Hart, the daughter of Charles Hart and Dorothy Edwards. She is the sister of Mrs. Mary Stephenson and she is buried in Sage Chapel Cemetery.

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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.

People of Sage

Elizabeth Hayden

Elizabeth Hayden passed away at the age of 86, in March of 1978. She was born Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ashley was born on August 4, 1891, the daughter of Samuel and Rosa (Halley) Ashley. Her dear husband, Thomas Sandfort Hayden, whom she married  on November

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Photo of the Hayden Family from the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society (Mary Stephenson Collection)

15, 1911, in St Paul, Missouri, preceded her. They lived on the Salt River Road, west of O’Fallon. They raised nine children, Lovetter (Thomas), Virginia, Mamie, Elmer, Charles, William “Willie”, Mary Jeanette (Woodson), Nellie Jane (Clay), and Rose (White). The family used the Callahan Funeral home at 206 East Elm, and she was buried at 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.

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.

 

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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.

People of Sage

Leslie H. Luckett

Les Luckett – Mr. Lester H. Luckett of 1831 Randolph St. in St. Charles passed away yesterday at the St. Charles Nursing Home at the age o 74. Born April 12, 1898 in St. Charles County to Mr. George and Mrs. Phyllis Luckett, he was retired from Lindenwood College where he worked from 1958 to 1969. He was a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church. Mr. Luckett is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Lawrence (Nellie) France and a sister, Mrs. Marie Williams,

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Daughter of Les Luckett is the first to the left, Nellie Luckett. Photo from the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society, Mary Stephenson’s collection and Jim Frain.

both of St. Charles. He is survived by three grandchildren, Mrs. Carol Brown of St. Louis County, Ralph R. Cooper of Los Angeles, Calif and Albert L Cooper of Vietnam. Mr. Luckett is also survived by seven great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other relatives. Mr. Luckett was preceeded in death by his first wife, Nellie Rafferty Luckett who he married the February 21, 1914, and she passed in 1933 and his second wife Margaret Hughes Luckett in 1953. [Both are buried at Sage Chapel Cemetery in O’Fallon] . He was also preceded in death by six children in infancy, three brothers, Albert L, George F. and Joseph M. and a sister Mary M.. Funeral services are pending and will be arranged later by the Arthur C. Baue Funeral Home. Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Paul United Methodist Church.

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.

Sage Chapel St. Charles Daily Banner-News 20 Apr 1972
St. Charles Daily Banner-News 19 April 1972 shared by Justin Watkins
History of Sage

Community

A cemetery is the collective memory of a community. 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, Jefferson Sage (2)which became known as Sage Chapel Cemetery. This was done so that the former slaves of Samuel Keithly could continue to bury here. That same deed conveyed a one-half acre parcel on Sonderen Street to be used for a church known as Sage’s Chapel, as preacher Jefferson Franklin Sage was a traveling minister with the A.M.E. Conference. 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.

Samuel Keithly had come to Missouri in the early 1800s, from Kentucky, bringing several slaves with him. John Rafferty, his sisters, Frances, Ludie, Elsie and Lizzie, had been born in Kentucky, and were brought to a community only slightly different from what they had known before. Missouri had entered the Union on August 10, 1821 after a lengthy battle over the issue of slavery. This would become a larger issue when thousands of  German immigrants like the Krekel family would arrive in 1832. In 1855, German born Arnold Krekel had purchased 320 acres that adjoined Keithly’s and set up his younger brother  Nicholas Krekel as station agent for the railroad, naming it after his friend John O’Fallon. German abolitionist, Arnold Krekel would be the

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Photo from the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society, Jim Frain and Mary Stephenson.

President of the Missouri Constitutional Convention that signed the Proclamation for Emancipation of Missouri’s slaves on January 11, 1865 in Jefferson City. This was Emancipation day for John Rafferty, Priscilla Ball, Winston Davis, Martha Burrell, Mary Edwards, Maria Brady, George Sanders, Lucy White and all the other former slaves buried at Sage Chapel Cemetery. This was also the same  community that these people would continue to make their home “after freedom”.

After the Civil War, the community between between the railroad and the former burying ground on Keithly’s farm grew. Emancipation meant freedom, but it did not mean equal. As education of blacks had always been prohibited, having a school was very important, but it would

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Photo from the collections of the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society, Jim Frain and Mary Stephenson.

not be equal. A school for just the black children, was housed in a small building that sits on the northwest corner of Elm and today’s Sonderen. Next to that was Cravens Methodist Church, named for a Mr. Craven who had donated the land. This was a Northern Methodist church that had begun in 1871, and would become the only black church for the next ten years. Across the street (Sonderen) was Willis Thornhills place, a social

 

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Across the street to the left is a corner of the Black School, in the distance is the Williams family home, and to the right is Cravens Methodist Church. The photo of the children are from the Obrecht family to which we are greatly indebted.

gathering place for the community. This is where the Colored Odd-Fellows Lodge met regularly.  (This is the Thornhill-Obrecht house at the northeast corner of Elm and Sonderen and listed on O’Fallon’s Historic Register). As you proceeded south along this roadway, you went downhill to the creek,  a branch of the Peruque Creek, where later in 1891, the Baptists from Hopewell Baptist Church (south of Wentzville on Hwy. N) had planted a new church naming it Wishwell Baptist Church.  Just south of Wishwell you

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O’Fallon Community News photo from the collections at the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society. Date is unknown.

found the home of Liberty Abington (buried in Sage Chapel Cemetery) who had purchased his 1/4 acre of land from the Trustees of Sage Chapel Church, which was sold off from the 1/2 acre they had received from Mahala and Jacob Costlio in 1881. This was apparently done to enable the Trustees of Sage Chapel to pay off their $150 Deed of Trust debt with the Castlio family. There one began to climb a steep hill. The road was dirt. And along it lived the families of Sage…Edwards, Thomas, Abington, Luckett, White and many others. The road led directly to Sage Chapel Cemetery on top of the hill. Near here was where  the churches gathered each summer for their rally, bringing friends from as far as St. Louis to Mexico Missouri. It is said that the blacks loved to worship in this field of Sage.

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Enter a cPhoto of Simon and Cora White and their grandchildren from the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society- The Mary Stephenson Collection and Jim Frain. Michael is in the shadow on the porch, Arlene, Betty and Michael are children of Pete and Mae White, son of Simon and Cora White.

 

After Samuel Keithly’s death, his property which was directly east of O’Fallon, was eventually owned by George Sonderen, whose name had been given to the road that went from the railroad to St. Peters. Sometimes it was referred to as St. Peters Road, and in the early 1900s, it became known  as “The Hill” although the U.S. Census taker of the 1920s and 1930s, added an additional derogatory slang word. This shows how the 20th Century had brought segregation even to the small town of O’Fallon. The Great Depression would affect everyone, both black and white alike. But following World War II, even small towns would begin to grow. And as the white population grew, the black population left, seeking jobs and better opportunities. America was changing, and it had grown impossible for blacks to find any chance for decent jobs or homes, whether in a large city or small town. The larger the city the greater the chances.

 

By the 1960s, the African American community of O’Fallon had dwindled to a few families. It was the family of the beloved Bill “Willie” Hayden who still remained in O’Fallon, and took care of Sage Chapel Cemetery. He and his children cut the grass, pulled

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From the Friends of Willie Hayden Facebook Group

the weeds and maintained it as long as they could. In 2012, a friend of the family and long time resident of O’Fallon, Jim Frain, joined Phyllis Hayden making sure that the cemetery was preserved. In 2017 countless other volunteers from the community joined them in their efforts. Two local historians Dorris Keeven-Franke and Justin Watkins are seeking to have the cemetery placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This website is a result of the research done for the nomination. Today (2018) 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. The story of Sage Chapel Cemetery belongs to the entire community. It tells of the struggles of these African-Americans, and seeks to give a greater  understanding of their lives. We welcome others to join the community.

O'Fallon Map
Portion of a 1930 map of O’Fallon showing the community residents.

 

 

 

People of Sage

Clyde Dierker

Claude “Clyde” Dierker died on October 27, 1967 when his four-room frame home on West Wabash caught fire. He was found on the floor, from a fire that had started at ten minutes past 9 p.m. The fire had been extremely difficult to contain and threatened nearby homes. Clyde lived alone and was the only one in the house at the time. Even though Fire chief Bill Steiner battled the blaze for several hours, the entire house was destroyed, and Clyde died. It was terribly difficult to keep the fire from spreading to the neighboring buildings.

He was born July 5, 1922 to Edward and Betty (Williams) Dierker. He had  brothers, Harvey, Allen, Louis, Frank, Bill and Julius Dierker and two sisters Arie Harvey and Mae White.  He had

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Clyde Dierker’s brothers Allen, Frank and Harvey Dierker when small children. Photo courtesy of the O’Fallon Missouri Historical Society, Mary Stephenson Collection.

grown up living on “the hill” where his mom’s brother, his Uncle Tom Williams lived next door, and Henry Obrecht lived across the street with his large family. He had gone to school at the black school at the corner of Elm and Sonderen until the fifth grade. When he was 19, he was already working at the O’Fallon Rock Quarry. He worked other odd jobs, and at the local sawmill. He often dug the graves for burials at Sage Chapel.

 

O’Fallon Community News, 1 November 1967

City Man Dies in House Fire:  Clyde Dierker is Victim of Fire Here on Friday

A 45-year-old O’Fallon man died Friday night in a fire which destroyed the victim’s four-room frame house, located on Wabash Street just three blocks west of Main Street in O’Fallon. Clyde Dierker, a lifetime resident of O’Fallon, apparently died in his bed as the smoke and flames enveloped the small house.  The victim was alone in the house at the time of the fire. According to O’Fallon Fire Chief Bill Steiner, the house was almost completely in flames when city firemen arrived on the scene.  The origin of the fire has not been determined. The fire department received the fire call at 9:10 p.m. Friday and battled the blaze for several hours to keep the fire from spreading. Dierker was born in O’Fallon on July 5, 1922 and had lived here all his life.  He was employed at the sawmill here for several years and later held several odd jobs. Graveside rites were held here on Monday at 11 a.m. Survivors include four brothers, Louis of O’Fallon, Frank of St. Paul, Bill of Wentzville, and Julius of St. Charles; and two sisters, Mrs. Ethel Mae White of O’Fallon and Mrs. Arie Harvey of St. Louis.

Funeral services were held on October 30th, by the Parish Priest from nearby Assumption Parish, Father Diermann. Everyone was so distraught as Clyde was well-loved and single. This was not a solemn burial, but one full of emotional outbursts from many of the women attending that day. He was well loved and would be missed by many. His neighbors in life were the Edwards, Claiborn and Whites, who would soon  lay alongside him 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.

Sage Chapel O'Fallon Community News 1 Nov 1967-2
O’Fallon Community News, November 1, 1967. Newspaper provided by Justin Watkins.