"a woman named Sarah Borginnis led them to seek out the brother. She was a huge woman with a great red face and she read him riot."
Depiction of Sarah Borginnis entitled The Great Western as Landlady (c. 1846)
Public DomainDepiction of Sarah Borginnis entitled The Great Western as Landlady (c. 1846) - Credit: Samuel E. Chamberlain
More commonly known as Sarah A. Bowman, Sarah Borginnis was an innkeeper and madam who gained fame as a camp follower of Zachary Taylor’s army during the Mexican American War.

Her statuesque physique (6 feet tall and weighing some 200 pounds) earned her the nickname the ‘Great Western’, in reference to the SS Great Western, for a time the largest ship in the world. She also became known as the ‘Heroine of Fort Brown’, after her bravery in continuing to provide the besieged American soldiers of Fort Brown with their daily schedule of three meals a day, even after bullets struck both her bonnet and bread tray.

After her death in 1866 from a spider bite, she was granted the title of honorary colonel and buried with military honours in the Fort Yuma cemetery.