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History of the Sage Family
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Goodnight, Mary Ann: The LiveS of Mary Ann Sage Former Innkeeper of the Bed & Breakfast, Debra Stufflebean, devoted a great deal of time to studying the history of the inn and the surrounding Mission Creek & Dover area. Fascinated with the lives of the wives of Alfred Sage, both named Mary Ann, she wrote the book, "Goodnight, Mary Ann: The LiveS of Mary Ann Sage" The book is a heart tugging adventure of the Sage's arrival into Kansas, a must read for anyone who loves Kansas history. The book is available at the Inn or for sale at the Dover Café across the street for $12.95.  Included is a special section on Sage Inn recipes. 1878 Historic Sage Inn and Stagecoach Station, a Kansas Bed and Breakfast
The Sage Family immigrated from Sommersetshire, England to Skenateles, NY in 1848. In 1854 John and Alfred Sage and their wives, Elizabeth and Mary Bassett, sisters, moved to Iowa.

In 1856, two of the Sage brothers, Alfred and John, moved by covered wagon to the Indian territory that was claimed by the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854. A proviso of that bill was that settlers themselves might determine the question of slavery. The Sages, being active abolitionists, were ready to fight for a Free State Kansas, eventually admitted to the Union as such on Jan. 29, 1861. 

During the two year period between 1854 and 1856, pro-slavery inhabitants from Missouri, known as "Border Ruffians," infiltrated the eastern border of Kansas. Immigrants from the northeast traveling the main route up the Missouri River from St. Louis to the mouth of the Kaw River were greatly endangered and many died at the hands of hostile pro-slavery vigilantes.

A safer route, "The Lane Trail," was opened due to the efforts of General James Lane, a cohort of John Brown, who marked a wagon trail by erecting stone chimneys along the way across Iowa to Nebraska City, then south into Kansas. John and Elizabeth, Alfred and Mary were among the first thirty wagons to travel "Lane's Trail," being met by John Brown himself in Nebraska City and escorted to Topeka in July 1856.

Elizabeth and Mary stayed in Topeka while John and Alfred established a claim in Mission Valley, on Mission Creek, which joined the Kaw River. Through the years there has been much speculation that the Sage's were involved in the underground railroad efforts to aid slaves seeking freedom, including when a buried stone chamber -- either a hideout, ice house, or cistern -- was discovered behind the Sage Inn in 1996. Regardless, there are at least two other sites along Mission Creek that have been documented to be underground railroad locations.

Alfred Sage enlisted in the Kansas Battalion of the Union Army in the resulting Civil War (1861-1865), following the death of his wife Mary. He re-married Mary Ann Buell in 1864, who was fifteen years his senior. She actually preceded the Sages in arriving in Kansas, having come in 1854, was very involved in abolition, and lost her husband to Border Ruffians. Mary Ann's family owned the Sage Inn land before she and Alfred were married.

An equally volatile issue at that time was the displacement of Native Americans. Many tribes were moved from eastern states to the grasslands. Basically, the Kansas territory had been given to the Indians. Tribes such as the Delaware and the Shawnee were not native to Kansas, but were crowded in to live among the Osage, Kanza, and Pawnee. With the government's passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, even that land was taken from them.

At the time of the Sage's settlement in Kansas, the Massasoits, the Kanza, and the Shawnee all populated Mission Valley and the surrounding area. Echo Cliff, one of the natural landmarks found two miles southwest of the Inn, has produced Indian artifacts dating to the Grasshopper Falls phase 1000 A.D., when Woodland Indians were in the area. Some family stories reference Indians walking into their homes and helping themselves to whatever provisions were needed. The year following the Civil War was a year of Indian uprising, protesting their displacement.

Alfred Sage was the original owner of the Sage Inn, but it was Mark and John Sage, his brothers, who are believed to have crafted the beautiful stone building. Mark, especially, became a well known stone mason in the area and built many of the stone farm houses, barns and bridges in Shawnee and Wabaunsee Counties in Kansas. His signature tended to be in making stone arches. The Sage brothers were masons for the original Kansas Capitol (east wing) in Topeka from 1866-1869. They also built the Crane farm which is the administration building for the Topeka Cemetery. 

The Sage Inn was built along Mission Creek in one of only two places where a wagon could ford the creek. The Inn's location also constituted one day's journey by horseback from Topeka, and another day's journey to Council Grove. This Southwest Trail was used to cross over from the Oregon Trail in Topeka to the Santa Fe Trail in Council Grove, saving time for travelers rather than going due south to join the Santa Fe Trail.

The Inn was an ideal stopping point to rest or trade out horses, get a bite to eat, and spend the night. It was built in two stages:  the north half without the front porch in 1865 and the south half with the porch in 1878, after the Southwestern Stage Company was purchased by Root Brothers of Wichita Transfer Company. Unfortunately, with the turn of the century when the railroad later chose Harveyville over Dover, the era of the Inn Stagecoach Station came to an end.

Alfred Sage operated an Inn and stage station from 1865 until his death in 1905. There was a large barn in the location of today's garden. The corral and livery stable were where the Dover Fire Station stands, and the garage is built on the foundation of the blacksmith shop. He built the General Store south of the Inn around 1895, behind which he had a grist mill. He was the first postmaster in Dover, KS; raised sheep and cattle; and prided himself on having a fine Percheron-Norman stallion, which was imported for $2,000.

The Sages are credited for being the founding fathers of Dover, which was named after their beloved community in England where the white cliffs of Dover are found. The father, Samuel Sage; six brothers, Arthur, John, Alfred, Mark, Samuel Jr., and Aaron; and two sisters, Ann & Elizabeth, eventually settled in Dover. Tombstones of early Sage family members may be found in the Dover Cemetery. Many Sage descendants still live in the community today.

Old Stone Bridge        

If you would enjoy doing more research on the history of Kansas and the persons that settled the state, use the links below.


                                                          Early Dover 

The Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places.