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Tappen Street  Woman Remembers Day She Made Tea for Band of Morgan's Raiders

  From the December 26, 1932 Columbus Dispatch

     Although 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 memorieMrs. Sarah Pierce Brookinss of her life, and although she celebrated her 88 th birthday Sunday, December 18, she still vividly recalls the incident.
     Born 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 r’s" of the then Little Red School house.
     “Well do 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.
     “Life 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 brothers.
     “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.
     “In 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.
     “Shortly 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.
     “I 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 be discovered.
     “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.
     “As 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.
     “The rebels rode beside me and when I entered the house it was overrun with Morgan’s 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.
     “One 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.
     “While 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.
     “Although 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 or children.
     “While the rebels were in the house, the children whom I was to look after hid beneath a bed.
     “As 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 ensued.
     Ít was at this point that a number of the invaders were killed and buried in an orchard.
     After 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 at Vinton.
     “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 never written.
     “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.
     “Before 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 eight months.
     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 I couldn’t read them. Fortunately, I had an older sister who was a school teacher, who could make out some of the writing for me.
     “True 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 continued.
     In the spring, Zehring obtained a position with a wholesale grocery company, later engaging in a private grocery enterprise.
     Suffering 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