Families - Sage

Horace L. Sage
From the 1883 William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas - Marshall County, Clear Fork Township, published by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.
HORACE L. SAGE, P. O. Barrett, born in New York, April 27, 1810. His father died in 1813; then Horace was sent to Massachusetts, where he remained until sixteen years of age. He then went back to his mother on the farm in New York, and remained there until he was twenty-two years of age, and in that State till 1827, when he moved to Knox County, Ill., and bought a half section of land, and remained there till 1869. He then removed to Kansas, where he has lived thirteen years, and has bought considerable land and settled others others on it, and when they gain enough to buy the land, then he sells it to them; they pay cash rent. Mr. Sage has accumulated a handsome fortune for his old age, now being in his seventy-third year.
Horace L. Sage
Authored and contributed by descendant Keith Jones.
Born 27 Apr 1810 in Copenhagen, NY
Married 22 Aug 1839 to Guli "Julie" Mosher in Copenhagen, NY
Died 02 Feb 1901 in Kansas
The Sage-Jones farm was once surrounded by much activity, but it now stands alone, the last remnant of old Barrett, Kansas. In addition to the farmstead, the Barrett Schoolhouse and the Barrett Cemetery are also located on that farm. Local history claims that the first Barrett schoolhouse, school district #1, was built on Andy Osborn's farm in 1858. The Sage family didn't locate to Barrett until 1869, so there may have been other previous owners as well. The first school house was a frame construction, and it burned down near the time that the Sages arrived. At that time they donated additional land 100' south of the old burned school for the construction of the stone schoolhouse which was completed in 1870 and still stands today. The Barrett Cemetery was started in 1877 when Margaret McConchie died. She was a close friend of the Sages and they donated the southeast corner of their farm for a burial ground. Horace L. Sage lived a substantial time in the states of New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois prior to coming to Kansas at the age of 59. He was born in New York in 1810, and his family history is recorded back to 1652 when 13 year old David Sage first came to America.
David Sage and his widowed mother Elizabeth, sailed from Wales, and they arrived at a settlement on the Connecticut River later to be known as Middletown, Connecticut. At the age of 20, David was working as a servant to John Kirby who had settled at Hartford on the Connecticut River. At the age of 25, David married Elizabeth Kirby, the daughter of his employer. Elizabeth died three years later, and at the age of 32 David married Mary Wiley. Mary was also born on the Connecticut River at the settlement of Watertown just south of Hartford in 1647. Horace's lineage is through Mary and her son Timothy. The descendants of David were soon numerous, and as a result, many of them have been immortalized in American history. David Sage died March 31,1703, and his tombstone is still standing after nearly 300 years in the historic Riverside Cemetery at Middletown, Connecticut.
Timothy Sage was born in 1678. He remained at Middletown near his father's home in the north part of Middletown known as the Upper Houses, and now know known as Cromwell. This generation branched into ship building, shipping and merchandising as well as farming. Colonial statute required Middletown to have a militia of at least eight armed men and a sergeant acting as guard at any assembly. That meeting house was a structure 20 feet square enclosed by a palisade. Middletown merchants developed an extensive trade in the West Indies and experienced booming times while that trade lasted. These early generations of David Sage were known as Puritans, and unlike the Quakers, they did not oppose slavery which was brought to Middletown in 1661. Timothy married Margaret Hurlbut and Horace's lineage is through their son Deacon Solomon.
Capt. & Deacon Solomon Sage was born in 1719 and like Timothy, he also remained at Middletown. One third of Middletown's population was engaged in maritime trade, and for much of Solomon's lifetime that trade went uninterrupted. Those conditions changed in the later part of Solomon's life resulting in the Revolutionary War. The Congregational Church was then a popular religious choice, and Captain Solomon became a Deacon in that church. Solomon was living in Middletown during the Revolution among other of David Sage's descendants participated in that war. Captain Sage, of the sloop Lucy, was living at Middletown when he and his crew were captured by the British sloop Mars. As they were being hauled to British Court, Captain Sage and his six crew members overpowered the Mars crew, took control of the sloop, and beached her near Newport. Another notable descendant of David's was General Comfort Sage of Middletown.. Gen. Comfort Sage served with George Washington at Valley Forge and he was also an early friend of Benedict Arnold. When Benedict Arnold was found to be a traitor, maddened crowds swarmed Middletown and hanged Arnold in effigy. During the excitement, Gen. Comfort Sage hid Benedict Arnold's two small sons in his home on Cherry Street to protect them from mob violence. Comfort Sage remained a close friend of George Washington, and many years after the war, he entertained Washington at his home in Middletown. Capt. & Deacon Solomon Sage married Hannah Kirby in 1745, and Horace's lineage is through their son Stephen.
Stephen Sage was born at Middletown in 1752, but unlike the former Sage generations he did not remain in Middletown, and he moved to the landlocked mountains of western Massachusetts, known as the Berkshire Hills. He settled among a group called the "Society of Friends" at Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Stephen married Esther Hollister in 1777, and Horace's lineage is through their son Solomon. Stephen died at his home in Sandisfield, Massachusetts at the age of 90.
Solomon Sage was born in 1783 in Sandisfield, and at the age of 25 he married Amy Loomer who was also born in the Berkshire Hills at Partridgefield. In 1800, Solomon's uncle Colonel Elias Sage moved from Sandisfield to Copenhagen, New York. Copenhagen is located a few miles inland from Sacketts Harbor on Lake Ontario. Elias worked as a farmer and carpenter, and later became involved in land speculation which made him the most extensive land owner in that area. Solomon and Amy joined their uncle Elias at Copenhagen, and that is where Horace L. Sage was born. Sacketts Harbor was then a large ship yard, and it became headquarters for the U.S. military operations on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. Solomon's first three children were born prior to that war with the following dates of birth: Aura (1808), Horace L. (1810), and Hiram (1811). When the war began in 1812 the Brig Oneida was sent to Sacketts Harbor to patrol Lake Ontario and to enforce U.S. Embargoes. As hostilities increased, land forces were brought in, and Zebulon Pike's Fort was constructed on the shore of the harbor. During the winter of 1812-13 the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario were frozen over, but in early spring hostilities resumed, and the Governor of New York drafted all qualified men into the state militia. 750 of those militia men were stationed at Sacketts Harbor to reinforce the 400 regulars already at Pike's Fort. Solomon Sage died March 13, 1813 during that military build up, and his cause of death is unknown. Four weeks later on April 6, 1813, Solomon's fourth child was born and he was also named Solomon.
The tactics of the Lake Ontario campaign changed in April, and General Dearborn commanded the entire naval fleet and 1700 men to sail to York, Canada, leaving Sacketts Harbor poorly defended. General Dearborn became ill in route to York and turned the command of the assault over to Brig. Gen. Zebulon Pike. York was easily conquered, but Zebulon Pike was killed in that battle. One month later on May 27, 1813, the British attacked Sacketts Harbor which was left undefended on water. The British broke through two lines of defense and burned the town stores and part of Pike's fort. For the next two days they continued inland burning surrounding villages before being forced back to their ships and out of the harbor. Solomon's widow Amy and her four small children, aged 6 weeks to 5 years, were living in that area during that attack and she then decided to send 3 year old Horace to his grandparents in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. He remained with his grandparents Stephen and Esther until he was 16, and then returned to his mother's farm at Copenhagen. He remained on Amy's farm until he was 22, and he remained in New York until he was 27. It isn't clear what Horace did between the ages of 22 and 27, but he may have ventured into land speculation during that time. Land speculation was Horace's occupation later, and at the age of 27 he joined several enterprising young men bound for the distant prairie of Knox County, Illinois.
Knox county had previously been a part of the U.S. Military Tract "bounty land" reserved for veterans of the 1812 War, but that inducement to settlement failed miserably, and there was only one veteran that had claimed land in Knox County. In 1820 the U.S. Congress made provisions to sell that Military Tract to the general public for $1.25/acre. That created a rush of settlers from New York in the 1830s, and on July 25, 1837, Horace L. Sage bought his first property in Illinois which was located 25 miles southeast of Rock Island, and located in Section 31, Walnut Grove Township, Knox County. It contained 212 acres and was located along the “Galena Trail” which was the first trail through Knox County. Horace made necessary improvements to his property and then he returned to Copenhagen, New York where he married Guli "Julie" Mosher on August 22, 1839. Guli was born May 19, 1815 to Quaker parents in Chester, Warren County, New York. Her father Nathan Mosher was a descendant of the early Mosher family that had settled at Newport, R.I. in 1635. One month after Horace and Guli were married they moved to his property in Illinois.
The first recorded "white man" in Knox County, Illinois was Andy Osborn, and he settled there in 1828. The rolling prairie contained an even mix of grass and woodland, and the first court house was built in the winter of 1830-31, by William Lewis, Parnach Owens and Andy Osborn. It was two stories high, 20'x28', and built of hewn logs as there was no sawmill. The first mill in Knox County was built by a man named Barrett in 1834.
In 1841, at the age of 31, Horace had his farm paid off and he began buying more land. The western frontier had pushed west of the Mississippi at that time, and that's where Horace's cousin Rufus Sage began making history.
Rufus B. Sage made an excursion into Indian Territory in 1841, and he documented the scenes around him for the following three years. He was one of the first to travel the Independence Trail, and his journals describe the Vermillion and Blue Rivers along that trail. Among the several topics covered in his journal were the habits of the Indians in the Rocky Mountains. He described how the Indians used gold to make bullets when they ran out of lead, and he also wrote about gold flakes in the mountain streams. His book SCENES IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS was published in 1846, and due to popular demand, it was reprinted in 1856. His book included a detailed map which eventually led prospectors to the gold in 1858 creating the Rocky Mountain gold rush.
As settlement increased in Knox County, Horace and Guli were joined by many of her ten brothers and sisters from New York. Her brothers David and Reuben Mosher, and her sister Elizabeth Mosher Parmentier located on land nearby. In 1849 a family of Scottish immigrants named James and Margaret McConchie located on property adjoining the Sage farm. Among the McConchie children were William, Robert, J. B., and Samuel. The Sages and McConchies became life long friends, and later Guli's niece Rebecca Mosher married J. B. McConchie [March 28, 1858 in Knox County]. The township of Walnut Grove was organized in 1853. Horace moderated the election and was elected Assessor of that township. In 1854 the town of Oneida was founded on the west end of Horace's farm. That same year, the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad was completed through Oneida connecting it to the Knox County Seat at Galesburg 12 miles away. This was a great public improvement, and 1854 also brought a personal change to the lives of Horace and Guli when they adopted 6 year old Anna Jacobson and renamed her Amy Ann Sage. Amy Ann's parents Henry and Breta Jacobson had sailed to America from Sweden in 1852, but they were routed into Ireland for ship repairs during the time of the Irish famine. During the two week stay in the Irish harbor they were exposed to an epidemic of disease, and upon arriving in America, Henry and Breta both died of cholera. Their daughter Anna lived at the home of Cyrus Robbins in Rock Island until she was adopted by the Sages two years later.
Two decades of pioneering had now changed the Knox County wilderness into a thriving civilization, but now the United States of America was on the brink of catastrophe. The morality of slavery had been a heated topic in the U.S. Senate as early as 1856, when several southern senators threatened to secede from the U.S. if John Charles Fremont was elected President. Fremont's anti-slavery position had angered many southern Senators as well as his father-in-law Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Fremont lost that election, but the abolitionist cause continued to strengthen. The vast majority of Knox County citizens were against slavery and they supported the new "Radical Republican" agenda. Abraham Lincoln was one of those "Radical Republicans", and in 1858 he came to Knox County campaigning for the U.S. Senate. Lincoln was running against the incumbent Senator Stephen A. Douglas and they had scheduled a series of debates throughout Illinois, one of which was held at nearby Galesburg. At the beginning of those debates Lincoln declared "'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other." Lincoln lost that election, but two years later he was again opposing Douglas in a race for the U.S. Presidency. Oneida, Illinois was incorporated in 1859, and Horace was elected town trustee. Horace now owned six farms, and his life was prosperous. Guli was working for a doctor curing skin cancers. The pioneer days were behind them now, but despite the many improvements in place, many of the first pioneers to Knox County began moving west to Territorial Kansas. One of the first to leave for the Kansas Territory was Andy Osborn.
The issue of slavery had caused armed conflict in Kansas as early as 1854, and as the 1860 Presidential campaign progressed, several southern states now threatened to secede if Abraham Lincoln became President. During this time before the Civil War, a young man named O. R. Jones drifted into Oneida looking for work. He had immigrated from Anglesey Wales in 1855 at the age of 20. He first stayed at his brother's home in Minnesota, and then wandered down to New Orleans where he found work on a plantation. With the possibility of civil war eminent, he traveled back north which brought him to Oneida. He soon found work as a farmhand and he remained in Oneida until the outbreak of war.
After Lincoln won the 1860 Presidential election, seven southern states had already seceded from the Union prior to his inauguration in March. President James Buchanan, while departing the White House, is said to have remarked "I was the last President of the United States." Fort Sumpter was attacked by southern forces in April and the Civil War was declared. William McConchie and O. R. Jones joined the 42nd Illinois Regt. on August 10, 1861. Samuel and J. B. McConchie joined the 102nd Illinois Regt. in August of 1862. Both regiments were with Sherman at Resaca, Georgia in 1864, and William McConchie was killed at Resaca May 13th. Both regiments then proceeded to Atlanta, and after burning Atlanta, those regiments were divided. J. B. and Samuel continued with Sherman on his 'March to the Sea", and O. R.'s regiment was routed to Nashville, Tennessee. O. R's regiment began with roughly 1000 personnel, and over the duration of the war, his regiment reported 13 Officers and 168 Enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 5 Officers and 201 Enlisted men dead from disease, bringing the total mortality count to 387. O. R. Jones, Samuel and J. B. McConchie survived their battles, and they all returned to Oneida after the war in January of 1866. Four months after returning, O. R. Jones married H. L. Sage's daughter Amy Ann [May 10, 1866 in Knox County] , and at that same time, Samuel and J. B. took their wives and children west to Marshall County, Kansas.
Now the children in Sage's life were those of Guli's nieces and nephews, but many of those children were also taken away to Kansas when the Moshers and Parmentiers followed that migration. In 1867, O. R. and Amy Ann's had there first child and named her Josephine, and two year later, H. L. Sage, O. R. Jones, and James McConchie decided to join their former friends and neighbors who had moved to Marshall County, Kansas. H. L. Sage and O. R. Jones located in section 31 of Vermillion Township at the village of Barrett. Barrett was founded by Quakers in 1854 when A.G. Barrett built the first sawmill in Marshall County at that site. It was located a short distance upstream from the old Oregon-Independence Trail on the Black Vermillion River. The Quaker pioneers had made many improvements throughout that valley, but the most significant improvement was the new railroad passing through town. The Central Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad came to Barrett in 1868, and a side track and depot was built there in 1869. Back in Illinois the train depot was a short walk from the Sage home, and the railway depot at Barrett was now equally close to their new home in Kansas. Household goods and furniture were now easily shipped by rail, but their cattle were brought on hoof to Kansas. Horace, Amy Ann, James and Margaret McConchie drove covered wagons, while O. R. rode horseback herding the cattle. They arrived at Barrett in October of 1869. It isn't known to what degree the Sage farm had already been improved before they arrived, but a house was likely already in place. Winter was approaching and Amy Ann was separated from her two year old daughter, so it is likely that they settled quickly. Amy Ann's daughter "Josie" was being cared for by Guli back in Illinois during this time, and they came to Barrett by train after their families got settled.
An autograph book kept by Horace's granddaughter Edith includes this quote from Horace Sage: "Whatever you win in life, you must conquer by your own efforts and then it is yours, a part of yourself. Poets may be born, but success is made."
That quote accurately describes Horace's work ethic, and upon arriving at Barrett at the age of 59, he quickly resumed speculating in land. The Union Pacific Railroad provided a quick trip from Barrett to Irving, and Horace soon started buying small farms in the valleys of the Black Vermillion and Big Blue Rivers south of that railroad. The post Civil War era brought several settlers to Kansas looking for small farms, and Horace found a brisk market for those properties. He also acted as the mortgage lender on his properties, and his banking activities soon produced a small fortune. An 1883 biographical sketch of Horace L. Sage written in Cutler's THE HISTORY OF KANSAS reads as follows:
"... He then moved to Kansas, where he has lived thirteen years, and has bought considerable land and settled others on it, and when they gain enough to buy the land, then he sells it to them; they pay cash rent. Mr. Sage has accumulated a handsome fortune for his old age, now being in his seventy-third year."
Meanwhile Guli was practicing medicine in their home. The doctor that she had worked for in Illinois gave her the formula for his skin cancer cure with the provision that she wouldn't use it east of the Mississippi River. It isn't known how many patients she treated, but the process required 10 days, and the patients remained at the Sage home during that time. A chemical formula was mixed into a salve and then placed on the skin cancer. Ten days later the cancer was dead and it could be pulled out by the roots. Guli then preserved those skin cancers in glass jars, and later Guli's granddaughter Josie was so disgusted by the jars of pickled cancers that she took them all outside and smashed them.
Guli died in 1884, and six months later Horace deeded his farmstead and surrounding acreage to his daughter Amy Ann Jones with the provision that he would still maintain "full use and control of the four rooms on the east end of the stone dwelling house during his lifetime". O. R. Jones became the manager of Horace's farm, while Horace continued speculating.
The "dwelling house", as Horace called it, is a 2 1/2 story stone house still standing on the farm. It contained 12 rooms, and many of Amy Ann's children were born in that house. The origin of that house is not known. Some family members believe it was inspired by O. R. Jones, and it is similar to most of the stone buildings in his Welsh hometown of Aberffraw. There are interior partition walls made of stone, which may indicate that the house was enlarged. The exterior walls are of a rubble stone construction, much like the Barrett Schoolhouse. The lintels and sills in the doors and windows are made of cut stone throughout. The only exterior anomaly is on the east gabled end which has a coating of stucco that was scored to create a cut stone appearance. Horace's four room quarters occupied the first and second floors on that east end.
Horace didn't spend much time at home, he was busy selling his properties on the street corners of town. He didn't wait for customers to come to him . Barrett was already in economic decline in the 1890s, and the towns of Irving and Frankfort were now more prosperous. Horace began banking at both Frankfort and Irving, and he sight of him promoting his properties on the sidewalks of those towns earned him the nickname "the curb side banker". In the early 1890s he owned several lots in Irving as well as many small farms located south of town along the Big Blue River. His property inventory was then scattered over five townships and contained forty small farms. Horace was not the most extensive land owner in that area. There were several large ranches containing hundreds of acres in the Blue Valley, but most of Horace's properties were 80 acre parcels ready for market. Hard times hit in the 1890s, and the market for all farm ground soon slowed down, but that didn't deter Horace from trying.
Horace was 83 years old when the U.S. economy went into "Panic" forcing many families into bankruptcy. Those negative conditions were compounded by an extended drought throughout the plains states. During that time, uprooted families were seen traveling through Irving in buggies and canvas covered carts looking for a new and unknown homeland. Among the victims of that Panic and drought was the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder. In 1894, she and her family fled their Dakota homeland traveling south in search for a new start, and that journey took them through Irving, Kansas. Laura's diary of that journey was published seven decades later in the book ON THE WAY HOME. In that book she described burned-up corn fields and drought conditions throughout Nebraska and Kansas. Her book contains many descriptions along their route, but the only place that she mentioned land prices was just beyond Irving along the Big Blue River in the following excerpt:
"August 8 ........ Irving is a tiny small town but it has an Opera House with a round roof, It looks like an engine boiler. Then we crossed the Blue again. Every time we cross it, it is lovelier than before. Improved land here is from $15. to $25. an acre. Could buy an 80 on the Blue bottoms, well improved, for $3,000. The bottom land is all good farms. The bluffs are stony. We camped near Spring Side, well named. There are springs on every side. I got water from a spring that boils up out of solid rock, cool and clear."........
The curious part of Laura's diary is the sentence "Could buy an 80 on the Blue bottoms, well improved, for $3,000." An 1893 plat map of the "Blue Bottoms" shows several large ranches along their route. The large R.J. Edwards Ranch and the Frank Schmidt Ranch dominated the "Blue Bottoms", and the only 80 acre parcels along the Blue River were owned by H. L. Sage. He had a variety to choose from. In the 80 acre category he had two farms bounded by the Blue River on the west, and he had another 80 acre farm near Springside which had a reliable spring flowing out of solid rock. Whether or not Laura Ingalls Wilder actually encountered H. L. Sage while he was out hawking his wares in Irving, would be impossible to determine. Laura Ingalls Wilder was not a famous person then. She had just begun writing and was a complete unknown.
In 1895, H. L. did have a link to a famous person, and he would have preferred to have done without it. His cousin Russell Sage had been in the news, and though Russell was a famous Wall Street tycoon now listed among the most notable Americans of the 19th Century, he was also notorious. Russell was from that branch of the Sage family still living in New York near Lake Ontario. Biographers have described Russell Sage as the most hated man in America. His ruthless and even vicious business style had made him filthy rich, and lots of enemies. One man that had been ruined by him came bursting into Russell's office with a gun and started shooting. Russell grabbed his accountant and used him as a shield. As a result the accountant took the bullets meant for Russell. The accountant didn't die of the wounds, but it left him seriously handicapped. Russell Sage then fired him for not being able to perform his duties, and gave him no severance or compensation. His accountant sued in a sensational trial and won easily, but Sage's lawyers confounded the legal process with appeal after appeal, and the accountant never did receive a dime of Sage's $70 million fortune.
On August 7th of 1895 an article was written in the Kansas City Journal accusing H. L. Sage of being a "base imitator" of his cousin Russell Sage. Horace's son-in-law O. R. Jones responded to that accusation in the Frankfort Weekly Review as follows:
BARRETT, KAN., August 18, 1895
"I cannot imagine what object the Journal, a respectable newspaper, could have in publishing such an article. I happen to be in a position to know that the whole article is false from top to bottom.......He is not worth one-eighth part of what the Journal article credits him with being, but he has calls almost every day from some poor man in distress, and he always responds if he has the means at his command ......He is a relative of Russell Sage, both of them being descendants of David Sage, who emigrated to this country from Wales in 1652 and settled in Middletown, Connecticut; they are the fifth generation...........I dare say the party who wrote the article for the Journal could not borrow enough to pay a night's lodging where he is known. Mr. Sage has been back to his old home in New York State many times since living in this county. He has friends all over the east, and he goes to see them every few years.......Mr. Sage lives in the same house he and his wife occupied for so many years. It is a large two story stone house of twelve rooms, and he has from ten to fourteen persons living with him all the time. He does not do his own cooking or washing, as he has all the help he wants and enjoys the comforts of life.....The old gentleman is now getting pretty old, but those parties need not worry about Mr. Sage cooking or washing, but they had better attend to there own business, and they will probably get along better. Mr. Sage is pretty spry for a man of his age, and when he is called to cross the River we know of no man who will be missed more than he.
Respectfully, O. R. Jones"
H. L. remained active to the very end and he died on February 2nd 1901. He owned roughly 30 farms when he died, and he left the matters of his estate to his three executors; O. R. Jones, J. B. McConchie, and Samuel McConchie. H. L. Sage's pre-obituary announcement in a local newspaper stated: "He leaves but few relatives in this state, Mrs. J. B. McConchie of Wells Township is a niece, and the Messrs. Del and Seymour Mosher of Wells are nephews. Mrs. O. R. Jones of Barrett is an adopted daughter of Mr. Sage."
H. L. Sage was a talented contract writer, and his last will and testament written in 1896 was cunningly composed. He willed that his "trust estate" be "divided into twenty three equal shares". O. R. Jones, O. R.'s wife "Anna", Samuel McConchie, Samuel's wife Jane, and J. B. McConchie each received one share of those twenty three shares. One obvious exclusion was Horace's niece Mrs. J. B. McConchie. Rebecca was awarded nothing. All decisions concerning H. L.'s estate were left to a majority vote of the executors.

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