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

3 brothers OHS
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 Dr. Jasper N. Costlio had transferred to the Trustees of an African Methodist Episcopal Church for the use by the  Conference, one acre of land, known as Sage Chapel Cemetery. Done so that the former slaves of Mahala’s father Samuel Keithly would continue to be buried with their families. It became the burying ground for many African Americans, including those from Wishwell Baptist, and Cravens Methodist (Northern) in Saint Charles County throughout the 1900s. The same deed conveyed a one-half acre parcel on Sonderen Street (known as The Hill) to be used for an African Methodist Episcopal church known as Sage’s Chapel A.M.E.. The cemetery is located at 8500 Veterans Memorial Parkway and is owned and maintained by the City of O’Fallon, Missouri. The cemetery has 117 documented burials of which only 37 have headstones, of these we know that 17 were born enslaved. The Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 2018. May they all rest in peace and “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.