This is the story of a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church who was born a slave in Missouri in 1854. His father had been born in Virginia, and his mother in Kentucky, and they were brought to Pike County before the Civil War. After the end of the Civil War, he made a life in Jonesburg and the AME church. He appears on the Missouri State Census in Montgomery County for 1876, with his wife Eliza and their two small sons Dick and John. From the records of the AME Conference reports made by Brother Samuel Jenkins on November 28, 1878, we see in his handwriting that “Local Preachers, where as
Jefferson Sage of Jonesburg” it clearly indicates Sage is a Minister of the St. Charles Conference being held at St. John’s AME Church on Washington St. in St. Charles. In 1880, Preacher Sage has come to St. Charles and is supporting his family by working as a clerk at the largest St. Charles manufacturer, the American Car Foundry which makes railroad cars. Something occurred in Jefferson’s life, when he lost his young wife Eliza and their son Dick between 1876 and 1879. He remarries in 1879 to a beautiful young woman named Mary and they have young son John, and a brand new son named James Arthur who born in March. Jefferson’s youngest sister Sallie who is only 18 years old, lives with them as well.
Preacher Sage is noted in the records of Grant Chapel, an AME Church in Wentzville, as a traveling Pastor just a few years later in 1886 and in 1888. Apparently he set out along the Circuit from St. Charles, and would preach among the towns between St. Charles and his former home of Jonesburg. Other Ministers of the Gospel with the A.M.E. did this as well, such as M.E. Smith who preached at what is Smith Chapel in today’s Foristell. Each minister was apparently given certain town’s to minister to. That’s all recorded in a small little record book at the St. Charles County Historical Society, at 101 Main Street, in Saint Charles, Missouri.
Jefferson Franklin Sage was well loved, and called to minister as far away as Kansas, and as close as St. Louis. He leaves St. Charles County by 1894 we know, because his daughter Ruth is born in Kansas in May of 1894. In 1900, the couple is living in Ottawa City, Kansas and two of their nine children have died. They are later is at Independence, and then Lexington apparently. His wife Mary dies in 1905. Jefferson Franklin Sage is living on Market Street in St. Louis in 1914. Later in 1920, he is still preaching and living in Lexington where he passes away on May 22, 1922 in Lexington, Missouri.
On the 20th of August 1881, Jasper N. and Mahala (nee Keithley) Costlio sold land in what is now O’Fallon, in St. Charles County, Missouri to three Trustees named Walter Burrel, Joel Patterson and Taylor Harris. On this land they were to build a house of worship for the “African Methodist Church”. Mahala had inherited the property from her father Samuel Keithley, Jr., a former slave owner in O’Fallon when he died in 1871. These were two separate parcels: 1/2 acre of land on “St. Peter’s Road” or Sonderen Street which perhaps had a building already, and another one acre of land to be used as a graveyard, that being the exact same parcel of land we call Sage Chapel Cemetery in 2018.
African-Methodist Church Book, Donated by Wardell Reed to the St. Charles County Historical Society, St. Charles County, MO. in 2010. These are Conference Records of the St. Charles African-Methodist Episcopal Churches in St. Charles County.
1880 U.S. Federal Census, St. Charles County, Saint Charles, Enumeration District 201, Roll 714, Page 72A
1900 U.S. Federal Census, Ottawa Kansas, Enumeration District 0086 Ward 2, Franklin Roll 480, Page 10A
1920 U.S. Federal Census, Lexington, Ward 3, Lafayette County, Missouri Page 4A Enumeration District 117
1910 Missouri State Census, Montgomery County, Roll MOSC_4716
U.S. Social Security Applications & Claims Index, Ancestry.com
U.S. City Directories 1822-1995, Ancestry.com
Descendants of family members of Rev. Jefferson Franklin Sage