history reveals 69 years have elapsed since John Morgan’s
raiders descended on Gallia County, pillaged and wantonly destroyed property,
Mrs. Sarah Pierce Brookins of 220 Tappan Street, then a girl of l9,
remembers the incident as though the yellowed pages of time had automatically
been turned back.
The very fact that she brewed some tea
for three officers as well as a number of Morgan’s raiders, not because
she wanted to, but fearing some bodily harm, is one of the outstanding memories
of her life, and although she celebrated her 88 th birthday Sunday, December
18, she still vividly recalls the incident.
near Harrisburg, Gallia County, December 18, 1844, she later, along with
her parents, brothers and sisters moved to a farm about four miles west of
Gallipolis, where she received her first education in the"3
the then Little Red School house.
I remember the winter months, when we were forced to walk long distances
to school. Old Chickamauga creek used to rise like a full fledged river during
the rainy seasons, and on numerous occasions my older brother, Calvin, carried
us smaller children across the stream on a log foot bridge,” she related.
on the farm was pretty much of routine, until after my father died, when
the greater part of the work was assigned to myself, two sisters and six
“Later we moved to Gallipolis. That
morning word reached us early that Morgan’s men were headed toward
our community. All of the able bodied men set forth with every conceivable
kind of weapon, intent upon beating the rebels back.
the meantime my mother had sent me to the home of an acquaintance about a
mile away to look after three small children in the absence of their father.
The children’s mother had died previously
and they were being cared for by their grandmother.
after I arrived at the house, someone in the village sighted the rebels on
a distant road. Unfortunately the men folk of the town had been misled and
had started out to heads the rebels off on another road.
ran from the house just as a traveling preacher brought his horse to a stop.
I borrowed the animal and raced toward home fearing that some harm had befallen
my mother. Fortunately she was alright and told me that two of my brothers
had hidden our horses in a ravine away from the house where they would not
“Later I learned that my brothers
had fed the horses just as long as they would eat, to keep them from whinnying
at the approach of the rebel’s
mounts. And the best part of it was that it worked.
I started my return trip to our neighbor’s
house at the direction of my mother, I was headed off by an advance guard
of the raiders, who asked me where I lived. I lied to him, pointing out my
destination, a white house located down the road” she continued.
rebels rode beside me and when I entered the house it was overrun with
men, who were helping themselves to whatever foodstuff there was. Having
baked bread the day before, there was a quantity of salt raised bread in
the cupboard, but this was all devoured.
of the men asked me if I could brew some tea for them, which I did. A short
time later three of Morgan’s
officers entered and they too asked for tea and their requests were fulfilled.
they were eating one of the the officers asked how old I was and I answered ’19,
and barefooted.” Looking
me over carefully, he arose from a chair, walked outside and returned with
a pair of boots which he directed that I wear.
I was awfully mad at the rebels for eating everything in the house, I was
thankful for the boots and for the fact that they did not molest any women
“While the rebels were in the
house, the children whom I was to look after hid beneath a bed.
the band left the village they pillaged stores for money, foodstuffs and
whatnot. After the last of them crossed Raccoon creek they set fire to the
bridge, destroying it. So intense was the heat that it threatened to destroy
a house located near the creek banks.
A group of
2 women and children who, armed with kettles and buckets, obtained water
from a nearby tannery, saved the structure from destruction,” the
veteran Ohioan related.
She recalled that about two
hours after the raiders had departed the men of the community returned and
set out in pursuit of them, overtaking them near Cheshire, where a skirmish
Ít was at this point that a number
of the invaders were killed and buried in an orchard.
the village of Vinton had been deserted by the raiders, I met an 11 year
old boy who told me that he had been picked up at Owensboro, Ky and forsaken
“He asked me to write to his mother
telling here where he was. I talked this over with my mother, but she warmed
me against it, saying I might be charged with conspiracy. The letter was
“Later word reached us that
several boys in attempting to ford the river had been shot and killed in
a fight. I don’t
know whether the boy who had requested that I write his mother was one of
them or not. If so, his mother probably never learned what became of the
son that was carried away from her.
A short time
later while visiting at the home of a friend, she by chance became acquainted
with Fred J. Zehring, a native of Leipsic, Germany, who enlisted in the Second
West Virginia cavalry about three months after landing in the United States.
Zehring left to join his regiment he vowed that after he was mustered out
of service he would return and marry me. He was in the army three years and
On one occasion, while he was on furlough
he visited me at the home of my mother.
“I received numerous
letters from him while he served the colors but they were so “dutchy” that
read them. Fortunately, I had an older sister who was a school teacher, who
could make out some of the writing for me.
to his word when he was mustered out of service he returned and on one of
the most bitter cold days that I can remember we drove 18 miles to my mother’s
home where we were married.
“That was a gala
occasion. All the members of my family, friends and neighbors dropped in
to wish us well. A short time later we went to housekeeping, in a single
roon, one mile west of Gallipolis,” she
In the spring, Zehring obtained a position
with a wholesale grocery company, later engaging in a private grocery enterprise.
from illness Zehring later disposed of his business and went to the Dayton
Soldiers’ home for treatment.
In the meantime
his wife moved to Columbus and opened a boarding house at 33 North Third
Street, where she, remained for 37 years. Zehring died in Dayton and on July
31, 1901 she was married to Oscar Brookins, who had seen service with the
Seventeenth Regiment during the Spanish American War, and who had been a
roomer at her boarding house.
Mrs. Brookins’ daughter,
Mrs. Nena Embody, makes her home with her. A number of men prominently identified
with business concerns in Columbus have at some time or other boarded at
the rooming houses operated by Mrs. Brookins.
Submitted by Dorothy Frazier