Tag Archives: Krekel

Sage Chapel Cemetery

Near the center of the largest city of St. Charles County  sits a quiet little plot of ground that transports a visitor to an earlier time when many of its residents were enslaved people. Samuel Keithly brought his family and property to  what is today’s City of O’Fallon, in the early

Sage Chapel
a wonderful sign which was the original idea of Jim Pepper and it was constructed as an Eagle Scout Project by Jim’s grandson, Jackson Pepper.

1800s at the same time that the friends and followers of American pioneers like Daniel Boone, Jacob Zumwalt and Francis Howell were settling the area. Keithly was one of the largest slave owners in St. Charles County according to the U.S. Slave Schedules of 1850 and 1860. Among those slaves were John Rafferty and his sisters Ludy, Elsie and Lizzie according to oral history.

 

In 1855, a German born attorney named Arnold Krekel, purchased 320 acres of land on thwhich he platted a town named O’Fallon, naming it after the railroad magnate John O’Fallon in hopes that it would become a stop on the westward push of progress. He set up his younger brother Nicholas as the Station Agent and Postmaster, giving him credit as the town’s founder. This created the unlikely neighbors of the Keithlys and the Krekels, with yet one common denominator. Both Samuel Keithly and Arnold Krekel owned slaves in 1860. Yet there their stories parted. Arnold Krekel, President of Missouri’s Constitutional Convention would go on to sign its’ Emancipation proclamation ending slavery in the State on January 11, 1865.

Samuel Keithly didn’t free any of his slaves. Oral tradition states that he gave the land that we call Sage Chapel Cemetery to his slaves, where they worshiped in a field of Sage.  We do know that in 1881, his daughter Mahala and her husband Jasper Castlio legally transferred  property that included a small church building of the African Methodist Episcopal Church on today’s Sonderen Avenue and the cemetery which lay at its southern

Jefferson Sage (2)
Preacher Jefferson Franklin Sage

terminus  to three A.M.E. Trustees. At the same time there was a traveling minister with the A.ME. Church Conference named Jefferson Franklin Sage that preached along the route of today’s Interstate 70 between the city of St. Charles and further west in Jonesburg. He would preach there for many years before moving on to Kansas in the late 1890s. And by that time, there were two other black churches along today’s Sonderen Street, where a large African-American community lived.

Wishwell Baptist Church was begun in 1891 and was a plant of Hopewell Baptist Church that had begun in the 1850s south of Wentzville on the Boone’s Lick Road. Wishwell was near the creek, on the east side of Sonderen, close to Sage Chapel Church. The other African-American Church was Craven’s Methodist, begun in 1871, near the corner of Elm and Sonderen. Next to Craven’s, on the corner, was the town’s African-American school, and across the street was the “Colored Odd Fellow’s” lodge that met in Willis Thornhill’s house until Henry Obrecht purchased the property in 1910. All of these lay on today’s Sonderen Avenue, which ran north to south from the Wabash Railroad to Sage Chapel Cemetery near the former Keithly plantation. This was also the dividing line between the property of the Krekel Addition and the former Keithly’s until 1951 and the City’s annexation of property. This was the line for  segregation.

Even though all three of these African-American Churches are no longer standing, and the buildings that once housed the black school and the Odd-Fellows lodge are largely

bill-hayden-8
O’Fallon residents

remodeled, Sage Chapel Cemetery still exists. Significant in today’s world where such places are so often lost and forgotten. A peaceful and quiet testament to a difficult time and such families as Hayden, White, Edwards, Thomas, Rafferty and Ball. While many of the community of African Americans left O’Fallon in the late 1950s and early 1960s in search of better job opportunities for their families, some remained. And while many of Sage Chapel’s residents died living in St. Charles, St. Louis or even as far as New Orleans,  they were brought home to Sage Chapel when they passed. Eventually all three churches would use Sage Chapel to bury their families.

Today the City of O’Fallon sees that the grass is cut, trees cut and that Sage Chapel is well maintained. The City truly understands that this place has a collective memory that is an  integral part of its’ City’s rich history. Its’ Historic Preservation Commission shares in this mission and is working to see that Sage Chapel is preserved for future generations.

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Ceremony for the laying of a new memorial for Veteran Howard Morris

Members of the community are working to see it placed on the National Register of Historic places. One of the largest cities in Missouri, O’Fallon is setting an example of how to honor its history, even the more difficult stories. This in turn leads to a greater understanding and a richer dialogue for everyone. Thank you O’Fallon, Missouri, a great place to live!

Today research tells us that Sage Chapel Cemetery has 38 marked burials, yet is estimated to have an  115 grave sites on this small one acre which lies next to O’Fallon’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5077 at 8500 Veterans Memorial Parkway in O’Fallon, Missouri. It is estimated that nearly twenty percent of its burials were former slaves. To watch a video by O’Fallon’s Communications about Sage Chapel Cemetery CLICK HERE.

phyllis-and-george
Phyllis Hayden meets her new relative George Abington

 

 

 

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O’Fallon Town Plat

Recent research with Justin Watkins when doing research on the Krekel House in KrekelHouse1O’Fallon MO in preparation for a session on researching property turned up an interesting Plat map of the Town of O’Fallon. An interesting deed we came across is the deed for the Krekel House, where Nicholas Krekel, purchased it from KR1020his brother Arnold Krekel. He purchased “the house and lot” for Seven Hundred and Seventy Five Dollars on August 11, 1857.  (Book G-2, Page 133, St. Charles County Recorder of Deeds). Nicholas Krekel had come to O’Fallon on August 6, 1856 (Diary belonging to family), and apparently completed the house, just in time to bring his new wife Wilhelmina Moritz, the daughter of Casper and Sophie Moritz, to their new home on  their wedding day, August 15, 1857. In researching the deed we came across the original plat for O’Fallon (Plat Book 2, Page 38 & 39) with some interesting landmarks that I think everyone will enjoy.  A Public Sale of Lots was held on July 22, 1870. But though the plat was used, it was not officially recorded until 1871. Presented a copy to the O’Fallon Preservation Commission.

Large Plat

Clio

Bertha Krekel

Born in O’Fallon, on December 25, 1859, she was the second child of O’Fallon’s founder Nicholas Krekel who had founded the town on August 6, 1856. Her father had been born Berthain Germany on August 30, 1825 and had emigrated with his family at the age of seven. His father had brought his family to America in 1832. Nicholas purchased the land where he would build a home for his wife, and live together after their marriage on August 15, 1857. By the time Bertha was born, O’Fallon had its’ own Post Office and Train Depot, which her father managed.

Bertha spent her entire life in that same house on Main Street (today’s Cleo Bridal Shop) where she would be surrounded by her family and in the center of the community. She and her father were very close. Her sister Mary would marry William Westhoff on October 13, 1892 and after their father’s death on February 6, 1910 Bertha would continue to live in what became William and Mary’s home, the Westhoff place.  A real hub of the community, it was just across the street from the Westhoff Mercantile (today’s McGurks). There the young lady, who never married, took a liking to writing about the bustling town’s events, and wrote about the daily life and its’ eventual history. As the City had a newspaper, and her uncle Arnold Krekel was also involved with two of St. Charles’ newspapers, there was an easy outlet for the young muse’s talents. She wrote under a pen name, which was a custom at that time – of Clio – the muse of history, who inspired the development of liberal and fine arts in ancient Greece.

From the newspaper clippings of Bertha Krekel’s that bring the history of O’Fallon to life.

June 1912  History of O’Fallon

This was written by Miss Hortense Keithly and read at the graduating exercise of the O’Fallon High School.

When the railroad came through this portion of the country O’Fallon began its growth as a town. Previous to that event, Cottleville and Flint Hill, with the exception of St. Charles had been the most rapidly growing towns in this county.

The country surrounding the site of the present town was occupied by a a few very small trading places among which was Wellsburgen the Salt River Road, about 2 ½ mile south of the present site of St. Paul. It consisted of two buildings, one of which was occupied by a saloon, store, post office and a residence. The other contained a blacksmith shop. There was another store also on the Salt River Road, where Mrs. Anton F. Orf now lives, about ½ mile west of Audrain Bridge, where Dardenne is now situated, there stood a shop which contained what was know as Nailer’s Store.

While Cottleville and Flint Hill were increasing in size, the site of O’Fallon was covered with timber, excepting a small area where the convent now stands and a plot surrounding the only house in the near vicinity. This house stood on the south side of the railroad and east of Main Street, just back of where Talleur’s baker shop and Ahren’s saloon are at present. It was occupied and owned by Mr. Henry Ernst. One of the most interesting and peculiar facts known concerning the physical features of the area occupied by the town, is that at the time Mr. Ernst lived here there was a spring near his residence. The portion of the country on the north side of where the railroad now is and easrt [sic] of Main Street was owned by Mr. Joseph Boegel; that on the same side of the railroad track, west of Main Street, belonged to Mr. Arnold Krekel.

The part on the south side of the railroad track and est of Main Street was the property of Mr. Henry Ernst and the remaining portion was owned by Mr. Joseph Trevy.

The North Missouri Railroad now known as the Wasbash was located in 1855. It was completed as far as Peruque Bridge in 1858 and the first train was run over the road as far as the bridge in the summer of that year.

During the year 1855, Arnold Krekel, who was a prominent St. Charles County Attorney, who later became a United States Judge for the West Division of Missouri, laid out the original town of O’Fallon on the north side of the railroad and west of the north projection of Main Street.

The town was named for John J. O’Fallon, a prominent business man of the city of St. Louis at that time. In 1856 Nicholas Krekel, the brother of Arnold Krekel built the first house and did the first business as a merchant and Post-master in the town and was also the first agent for the railroad here. Also about this time, Mr. McIntosh built a one story house where Mr. Peter Saali’s hotel stands at present. A few years later this property was bought by Love and Callaway who built part of the house and saloon, where the residence of Henry Ahrens is at present.

In 1858 Ward & Ward [edited by crossing out] built a store just north of where the Werner Millinery Store stands. In 1854 Dr Woods built the residence owned by Mr Charley Himmelsbach. Later Dr. W.C. Williams bought the house built by Dr. Woods. He used it as his residence until he built the residence now owned by Mrs. Susie Johns. It was Dr. W.C. Williams and Dr. J. C. Edwards who bought the property previously owned by Mr. Henry Ernst and platted the part of the town of O’Fallon that lies east of Main Street and south of the Railroad.They presented the lot now now occupied by the Westhoff Grain & Mercantile Co. building to Mr. rufus Gamble on the condition tha eh build a brick house upon it. It was the first brick house in the town. The ground floor was used as a store; the second floor as a Masonic Lodge Room. The house is now a part of the Westhoff Grain & Mercantile Co.

Nicholas KrekelWhen O’Fallon was first settled there was no public road leading to or from the town. There were simply private or by-roads. For many years the road ran in front of Mr. Krekel’s business place which is now owned and occupied by Mr. Wm. Westhoff crossed the railroad west of where the present depot now stands, came into what is now Main Street in front of where Ward & Ward’s Store stood. It faced north, and ran south-westerly across what are now fields to the Mexico Road, where Woodlawn now stands. Main Street is now a part of the public road which is now a part of the public road which was afterwards located extending north to the Salt River Road and south to the Mexico Road.

 

This is from a book of newspaper clippings kept by the Krekel family. Bertha must have been quite the historian, as she took it upon herself to freely editorialize facts published by Miss Keithly, and are what are shared in this story. Otherwise, it is exactly the way it was published in June of 1912, and shares quite a bit of history by someone whose family played a prominent role. You will find more about the Krekel Family on this blog.

Note: The Wm Westhoff home is today’s Cleo Bridal Shop, and the Westhoff Grain & Mercantile is McGurks Restaurant. For more about the other locations you can visit the O’Fallon Historical Society’s new website or follow the O’Fallon Historical Preservation Commission on Facebook.