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History of Terre Haute, Vigo Co., IN - 1880 - page six


The year 1832 opens a new page in the history of Terre Haute. By virtue of an act of the legislature approved January 26, 1832, it became an incorporated town. In pursuance of this act a meeting of the citizens was held at the court-house on the 25th day of March, 1832, at which James McCALL presided and Wm. TAYLOR acted as clerk. The meeting proceeded to divide the town into five wards, and to elect a trustee for each ward. The following persons were chosen: James WASSON, James B. McCALL, Thomas HOUGHTON, James ROSS and William HERRINGTON. These trustees, on the 7th of April following, proceeded to organize and put in operation the new municipal government, by appointing as officers; James B. McCALL, president; James T. MOFFATT, clerk; Charles G. TAYLOR, assessor; Samuel CRAWFORD, treasurer; William MARS, constable and collector. WILLIAM MARS was one of the earliest settlers, a man of marked character and a genius in his way. He was porter in the Branch bank when first organized, and was often sent to Cincinnati and Louisville on business connected with the care of large sums of money. His integrity was undoubted. When Terre Haute began to put on "city airs" Mr. MARS was chosen its first marshal, and the way he administered justice was a warning to evil-doers. If any of the town ordinances were violated, on notice thereof to him he left his gun shop, with sleeves rolled up and apron on, and sallied out in quest of the culprit. When found Uncle Billy propounded to him the solemn questions affecting his guilt, and that being admitted, he "then and there" imposed such fine as the nature of the offense demanded, and straightway collected the money, and repaired, stick in one hand and money in the other, and handed over to "Sammy" CRAWFORD, the town treasurer. Uncle Billy had a great contempt for writs, summonses and mayors� courts, and did the whole of that kind of business himself. He fined the man wherever he found him, and, what was remarkable, there never was an appeal taken from his judgments.

The new corporation entered upon its existence under very favorable circumstances. The population numbered about 600, and included some very able and energetic men � men who were untiring in their efforts to promote the interests of the town in seeking new avenues of business while they were enlarging the operations of those branches already established. The bulk of the population was confined almost entirely to the row of blocks surrounding the public square. On the out streets there were but few houses. The residences of John S. BEACH, corner of Ohio and Sixth streets, of James HITE, Poplar, between Sixth and Seventh, and of Harry ROSS, on Cherry, between Sixth and Seventh, were then the eastern outposts.* Their occupants were regarded as country gentlemen, living in quiet retirement from the bustle of business. Wild deer could be seen gamboling where the Terre Haute House now stands, and the prairie wolves had a preemption claim on all the country east of that point. On the north Horace BLINN occupied a residence, being the first house beyond what was called "Sand Hollow," and resting on the hill on Market street. He was regarded as quite an "outsider." All that part of the city north of Mr. BLINN�S was then a dense forest � the "range" for cattle and horses, and the resort for those who could spare an hour in shooting the feathered tribe with which these woods then abounded. These suburbs were constantly vocal with the ringing of cow-bells, and many of the citizens could be met, morning and evening, in search of their cattle, listening for the familiar sound of the musical instrument appended to their necks.

* "Quarter Centenary Celebration," pamphlet printed 1859.

A block south of where the Methodist chapel stands Judge TILLOTSON had his residence, surrounded by stately forest trees, which he called "Jackson�s Grove." Mrs. HODGE was his nearest neighbor. These, with the residence of Wm. McMURRAN, were the only houses in the south part of the town. In 1834 there was but one house north of where the canal was cut, and it was so concealed by the big trees and brush that it was "nearly past finding out." It was built by one of the SIBLEYS.

The leading business men of Terre Haute were:

Merchants � William C. LINTON, David LINTON, Samuel CRAWFORD, Wm. W. WILLIAMS, John D. EARLY, Ralph WILSON, Joseph C. EARLY, B.R. McILVAINE, John F. KING, Chauncey ROSE, John SCOTT, Chauncey WARREN, Asa L. CHASE, James TRABNE, D.D. CONDIT, William EARLY, R.S. McCABE, A.C. KING, L.H. SCOTT, John CRAWFORD, John F. CRUFT, Wm. LINDLEY, Daniel S. JOHNSON, Wm. THOMPSON, James B. McCALL, B.M. HARRISON.
General Business men - - Henry ROSS, James ROSS, Bateman ROSS.
Hatters � Robert BRASHER, R.S. McCABE, Wm. HAYNES.
Druggists � Richard BLAKE, John BRITTAIN.
Coopers � Samuel EVERSOLL, Joseph V. HAMER.
Lawyers � James FARRINGTON, Amory KINNEY, Greer B. DUNCAN, E.M. HUNTINGTON, Salmon WRIGHT, Theodore C. CONE, Thos. H. BLAKE, R.D. SKINNER.
Physicians � E.V. BALL, Alexander ROSS, Thomas PARSONS, John W. HITCHCOCK, Septer PATRICK, Chas. B. MODESITT, Richard BLAKE.
Law students � S.B. GOOKINS, Geo. W. CUTTER.
Hotel keepers � James WASSON, Francis CUNNINGHAM, George HUSSEY.
Bricklayers � Mathew STEWART, James BRADT, Thos. DURHAM Jr., Wm. DURHAM Sr., Gabriel DURHAM, Zenas SMITH.
Silversmiths � Elijah TILLOTSON, George W. HARRIS.
Pork packers � John D. EARLY, Joseph N. HAMAR, Benj. I. GILMAN.
Carpenters � Enoch DOLE, Wm. FRANCIS, Oliver HICKCOX, Horace BLINN, John N. JONES, Samuel W. EDMUNDS, Wm. TAYLOR, Thos. PARSONS, Z.H. WOLCOTT, Thomas HOUGHTON.
Tailors � Wm. P. BENNETT, Jacob RYMAN, Wm. R. TRIBBLE, George W. RUBLE, Macom McFADDEN.
School teachers � The Misses HARRIS, Cyrus FISHER.
Saddlers � PROBST & ELLIOTT.
Painter � Wm. RAMAGE.
Millers � J.B. & J.S. WALLACE.
Tinners � John & Noah BEYMER.
Auctioneer � C.R. KING.
School commissioner � William WINES.
Postmaster � Francis CUNNINGHAM.
Judge circuit court � Amory KINNEY.
President town board � James WATSON.
Associate judges � Elijah TILLOTSON, Moody CHAMBERLAIN.
Marshal � Wm. MARS.
County surveyor � John BRITTON.
Editor and publisher � Thomas DOWLING.
Sheriff � Chas. G. TAYLOR.
Tax collector � Ezra M. JONES.
Clerk and recorder � Curtis GILBERT.
Magistrates � R.D. SKINNER, Chas. T. NOBLE.

WILLIAM C. LINTON died at Philadelphia, January 31, 1835. He was one of the fund commissioners of Indiana, and as such was on his way to New York, traveling by stage. He had been several days and nights on his way when he was seized with the sickness which resulted fatally, cutting him off in his forty-first year. Mr. Linton settled in Terre Haute in 1823 when he entered upon his business life. Although he commenced poor, yet by the exertion of the talents that nature had so freely bestowed he became among the wealthiest citizens of the town. He was the worthy cotemporary of the men who gave Terre Haute a bright name for mercantile and business honor. He represented the counties of Sullivan, Vigo and Clay in the Indiana senate and acquitted himself with great credit in that position. The announcement of his death was received with deep sorrow by the citizens of Terre Haute.

By far the greater part of the names recorded in the list of the business men in 1832 are now inscribed among those who are sleeping their last sleep, and others have arisen to take their places.

The publication of "The Wabash Courier" was commenced in Terre Haute by Thomas DOWLING, June 14, 1832. It was a large six-column paper and was ably conducted. The "Courier" was a continuation of the "Western Register."

At this time Gen. JACKSON was at the head of the United States government, and such topics as the bank question, the tariff and internal improvements were agitating the country. The names of Henry CLAY, John SERGENT, Thomas H. BENTON, Daniel WEBSTER, HAYNE, CALHOUN, CLAYTON, etc. were then before the American people. Political feeling was as acrimonious then as now. The men who then voiced the opinions of the day were as roundly abused, as much traduced, and their motives of conduct as thoroughly impugned, as those of the present day. We of the present generation are wont to look back at these old days with feelings of regret, and wonder at our degeneracy. The men whose names we have mentioned, and their compeers, are held up to us as models of political purity, lofty patriotism and inflexible integrity. But, as we read the political editorials of that time, we seem to be transported back to the beginning of the last fifty years, and see with great distinctness that men were very much the same then as now; animated by the same hopes and desires, governed by the same motives, and having the same aspirations. The ties of party were as strong, politicians urged as vehemently the peculiar views of opposing factions and the necessity of carrying "our distinctive measures" or ruin would overwhelm the country. In no other way can we get such vivid impressions of any period of time long past as reading the current literature of the day. Hence the value to succeeding generations of preserving "old files" of newspapers. Books may be written, describing in never so glowing language the events that have transpired; history may record them on its undying page; yet through no other medium can we enter so fully into the spirit of the time as when perusing these old and almost priceless relics of the past. Nor can we in any other way note so effectually the progress made by a community or nation in matters business or social. The style of thought; the methods of business; the means of communication between distant portions of our common country; the facilities for obtaining news, especially from foreign countries, are all real and present to us. News as "late as the 10th ult." (this is recorded June 14th) is mentioned. What would the people of the present day do � how would they survive � if suddenly deprived of the telegraph and railway, if relegated back to the days of the stage-coach and canal-boat?

It is related of Mr. J.W. OSBORN that at a time when a weekly line of stages was first established between Terre Haute and Indianapolis, he remarked that "he should not be surprised if he lived to see the time when a daily line would run over the same route; and instead of a weekly we should have a daily mail." His wife emphatically replied that he need indulge in no such reflections, for he would never live to see that time. They both lived to see infinitely greater changes. Mr. OSBORN died in 1866, and Mrs. OSBORN lived to see the year 1880.

Again, in looking over the advertisements of that day we find the name of those who have long ago left the busy scenes and cares of life; yet, as we read, they seem to have suddenly come back and to be walking among the living; the buying and selling, the going to and fro are resumed, and those of the living who once knew them know them again.

Among other topics of local interest treated of in the first issues of the "Courier" is the "Wabash bridge." Grave apprehensions were entertained that such an enterprise would prove destructive of the river interests.

The "Courier" ardently advocated the claims of Henry CLAY to the presidency, and unsparingly denounced the "arbitrary" acts of President JACKSON�s administration, discusses the "American system," and laments the disasters to follow in consequence of the veto which wiped out the United States bank.

What would the tipplers of to-day think if they were sent up for thirty days for the reason that "they could not remain at large without tippling"? Truly the rights of that generation were little respected.

We find that Elisha M. HUNTINGTON is a candidate for the state legislature.

John F. CRUFT advertises certain lines of goods. The "Wabash lottery" will certainly be drawn on the 30th instant.

Another topic of general interest is the dangers threatening the frontier from hostile Indians. At that time the "frontier" was near the state line of Indiana on the west.

The military movements, under Gen. ATKINSON, are discussed.

Among the fatal accidents recorded is the upsetting of a stage-coach, whereby one person lost his life.

The cholera is exciting general alarm. It is very fatal in Chicago, a little village on Lake Michigan, just beginning its municipal life. The "Trustees of the town of Terre Haute" are adopting measures to prevent the epidemic from reaching this place.

The excitement resulting from President JACKSON�s "veto" message is intense. Among the appropriations vetoed is one of $20,000 for improving the navigation of the Wabash.

The editor suggests that correspondents prepay postage. Two letters received from one person consumed one-eighth of the subscription price in postage.

August 30, 222,000 acres of canal lands are advertised to be offered for sale. In consequence of the "wiping out" of the United States bank, the project of establishing a state bank with branches is discussed. THOMPSON and CONDIT advertise for a large number of flatboats which they wish to purchase.

In September, 1832, a public meeting was called, to meet in Evansville, to consider the propriety of petitioning the legislature to incorporate a company to build a railroad from Evansville to Terre Haute.

From a published statement of the town clerk we learn that in February, 1833, the receipts and expenditures of the board of trustees for the previous year were: receipts $376.31�, and expenses $322.92 per contra. The expenditures for the year ending April 14, 1880, were $116,867.11.

Proposals for grading and bridging the national road were advertised in April, 1833. All the schools at the time were what are known as subscription schools. Terms $1.25 to $2.50 per quarter.

In the month of June, 1833, the Wabash rose forty feet. It had not been navigable for steamboats for twelve months previous.

June 10, five steamboats arrived at Terre Haute and proceeded up the river. No "time-table" but a "boat list" regularly appears.

The humorous selections are the letters of Major Jack DOWNING. WARD, BILLINGS and NASBY are his worthy successors.

The political questions now uppermost in the public mind are the state bank, canals and national road. Internal improvements are commanding increased attention. It is curious to observe that the outgrowth of all this discussion and agitation is the present network of railroads that now traverse the country.

It is worthy of attention to notice the prevailing methods of canvassing for office by means of printed circulars and addresses, in which the absorbing questions of the day are discussed and the views of candidates are given at length. In 1834 the contest for the governorship was between Judge REED and Mr. NOBLE. The circulars, pro and con, are earnest, yet couched in respectful language; argument, not billingsgate, is the grand weapon used.

In 1834 Vigo county polled 1,232 votes for governor.

In November, 1834, a line of stages was established, running to Springfield, Illinois. Passengers made the trip in two days.

During the same month the state bank of Indiana, with its various branches, went into operation. The Terre Haute branch was organized with the following officers and directors. Directors: Demas DEMING, Chauncey ROSE, Curtis GILBERT, J. SUNDERLAND, J.D. EARLY, James B. McCALL , David LINTON and Samuel CRAWFORD; president, Demas DEMING; cashier, James FARRINGTON. On November 19, Gov. NOBLE issued his proclamation authorizing the "said bank and its branches, agreeably to the act of incorporation, to commence their operations of banking."

In December, 1834, the pork market was very brisk, the price ranging from $1.75 to $2.75 per 100 pounds. Over $100,000 was paid out for pork during the winter of 1834-5.

On the 27th of the same month a meeting of influential citizens of Vigo county was held at the court-house, looking to the adoption of measures to extend the Wabash and Erie canal to the Ohio river, as well as the establishment of a liberal system of internal improvements. On this subject great interest was manifested. Only one of those whose names appeared in the proceedings, Chas. T. NOBLE, is now living.

On Christmas day, 1834, a son of Rev. M.A. JEWETT, was accidentally killed by the discharge of a gun. Mr. J. had just arrived with his family, having been called to the pastorate of the Congregational church, or rather, having come to preach and organize a church.

In January, 1835, a bill was introduced into the Indiana legislature providing for a survey for a canal from Lafayette to Terre Haute (extension of the Wabash and Erie canal), and to incorporate a railroad to Vincennes and Evansville. In March a triweekly mail was established between Terre Haute and Evansville.

During the year 1835 the great want of Terre Haute was "houses to hold the people." The influx of people was very large. In this year (June) a census was taken by Chas. T. NOBLE, and the result showed that the number amounted to 1,214. Mail stages ran three times a week via Indianapolis to Cincinnati; three times a week to Louisville and Evansville; twice a week to Lafayette, and once a week to Springfield, Illinois. There were nineteen brick and twelve wooden stores. The exports of pork had increased from 100 tons in 1824 to over 1,000 tons in 1835. A proportionate increase had taken place in the quantity and variety of articles of merchandise by wholesale and retail merchants, as well as in the export of staple articles, such as wheat and flour, corn and cornmeal, oats, flax-seed, potatoes, staves, hoops, beef cattle, horses, live hogs, etc., of which no data can be given.

The Terre Haute branch bank was firmly established in a very solid structure on Ohio street, between Second and Third. The attention of the wealthier citizens was already directed to the importance of establishing manufactures, and great expectations had been based on the early completion of the canal, not only as a ready means of communication, but also on account of the water power which it was expected to furnish. The business of Terre Haute suffered some reverses between the years 1835 and 1840, but it survived the panic and depression that occurred during this period, and came out of it with as perhaps little loss as that of any other section of the country.

The Terre Haute branch bank, in common with the other branches in the state, suspended specie payment in May, 1837. This course was resorted to in consequence of the general suspension of banks in New York, Philadelphia, and other money centers of the east. A public meeting of the citizens was called and committee appointed to examine the affairs of the bank. The result of this meeting was the passage of resolutions expressing the utmost confidence in the resources and management of the bank, and a determination to sustain its credit. The examination showed a surplus of resources over liabilities of about $184,000.

In August, 1838, the bank resumed specie payments. January 1, 1838, a daily mail was established between Terre Haute and Indianapolis.

About the same time the "Prairie House," now Terre Haute House, was completed and opened to the public. At that time it was the largest and best appointed hotel in the state, if not in the west. It was built by Mr. Chauncey ROSE, and operated by Mr. BARNUM. It stood alone, "out on the prairie," and furnishes a striking example of the business sagacity and foresight of its owner. The building afterward stood idle for several years; yet Mr. ROSE never lost faith in his convictions, and the result has proved the soundness of his judgment. On this point we shall have more to say in the proper place.

In the meantime the citizens had not been neglectful of other interests, especially the religious element. The account of this, however, will be found under another head.

The files of the "Courier" show that its life extended to September, 1839, and then took on "new forms," which will be more particularly set forth.

During this period Terre Haute also saw another change in its municipal government. In 1838 a new charter was granted by the legislature, which provided for the election of a mayor and ten councilmen. This charter was adopted by the vote of citizens in March, and at the first election, held according to its provisions in the following May, Elijah TILLOTSON was elected the first mayor of the town.

The first number of the "Wabash Enquirer" was issued July 4, 1838; J.P. CHAPMAN editor. In politics it was democratic. In this issue appears an obituary notice of Black Hawk, the celebrated Sac chief.

Indians in considerable numbers are still living within the State of Indiana. We are told that "Gen. MILROY, the agent of the Miami Indians, has just returned from the Forks of the Wabash, where that tribe has been receiving its annuity. The Indians left the ground well satisfied."

The school trustees were J.T. MOFFATT, H. ROSE and C.T. NOBLE. They announce that a school is to be opened in the basement of the church, and all persons in the district who wish to avail themselves of its benefits may have the opportunity.

Two hundred dollars is offered for a slave woman who ran away from Louisville, and is supposed to be in Indiana.

Terre Haute has always been the home of leading men in all departments of politics, law, finance, and trade. In studying the record of their lives we may ascertain the true cause of the remarkable growth and prosperity this community has made. We should be glad to notice some of those who have passed away.

EZRA JONES, one of the pioneers of Vigo county, emigrated from Vermont with his wife and nine children in the winter of 1815. They came as far as Olean Point in sleighs, then built a boat and floated down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers to Brandenburg, Kentucky; to which place his brother Oliver, with his family and other relatives, had preceded him the year before. The families were left at that place, and the men came across from Louisville to Vincennes, and up the Wabash as far as Fort Harrison, on horseback, prospecting for a location. Having satisfied themselves of the desirability of the country they returned to Kentucky, and the following spring (1816) came out with their families. Oliver JONES, with his three sons-in-law (John and James CHESTNUT and James WILSON) and brother-in-law (Elisha BENTLEY) settled upon Honey Creek prairie. Ezra JONES settled upon Fort Harrison prairie, about one mile from the present southeast boundary of Terre Haute. He was one of a class of men always more or less prominent in a new community. He was a mechanic as well as farmer, and had to assist him in his enterprises, not only four sons, young men grown, but usually had in his employ quite a number of men who made his house their home. He built the mills at Otter Creek for Major MARKLE, and was largely engaged in boat building, and in shipping the surplus products of the country to New Orleans, that being the only accessible market. His large frame barn - the first one built upon the prairie - comfortable dwelling and growing orchards, made his home conspicuous in those early times. He was commissioned associate judge of the circuit court, by Ratcliff BOON, lieutenant and acting governor, at Corydon, and was one of the first commissioners of the county. He was well educated and fond of reading; not religious, as that term is usually understood, but a temperate, industrious and truthful man and a good citizen. He was taken sick in Natchez, and died on his way home, in 1825, aged forty-eight years. His second wife�s maiden name was Lucy ALLEN. Her father was one of seven brothers, among whom were Ethan and Ira, both conspicuous characters in Vermont and revolutionary history. Her brother Herman was president of the United States branch bank at Burlington, and minister to Chili during John Quincy ADAMS� administration. His eldest son, Ezra M. JONES, was sheriff of the county in 1835-6. He removed to Iowa in 1838, and from there to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

DANIEL DAYTON CONDIT was among the early settlers of Terre Haute. He was born in Hanover, New Jersey, October 21, 1797, and was the second son of Rev. Aaron CONDIT. He was married February 8, 1824, to Charlotte T. COON. After his marriage he remained two years in Hanover, and then removed to New York city, where he was engaged in merchandising for some three years. Through letters from Isaac BLACKFORD, who was a half-brother of Mrs. CONDIT, and whose home at that time was at Vincennes, he was induced to come with his family to Indiana. So long a journey at that early day was a serious undertaking. They expected, however, to make the whole distance by water, but were compelled to travel overland from Sandusky to Cincinnati. From Cincinnati they went by river to Evansville, and thence to Vincennes.

In Sullivan county Mr. CONDIT found a colony of New Jersey people, who came from his father�s parish, and they insisted on his making his home among them till he should decide upon a permanent location. Accordingly a new hewed-log house was fitted up for the reception of the family. Mr. CONDIT brought his family to Terre Haute in the spring of 1831. Terre Haute, though a small village, could yet boast of her boat-yards and boat-building. Mr. CONDIT, in connection with Mr. W.A. THOMPSON, formerly of New York city, engaged in shipping corn and coal down the river by means of these flat-boats. They also established a store on the northeast corner of Third and Main streets. These enterprises were at first prosperous, but in the end proved disastrous. Mr. CONDIT continued his residence in Terre Haute till the time of his death, which occurred January 24, 1877. He left three sons: John Dayton CONDIT, of Indianapolis; Blackford CONDIT, of Terre Haute; and Aaron Dayton CONDIT, of St. Paul, Minnesota. His widow, Mrs. Charlotte T. CONDIT, still survives him, and now resides on the northwest corner of Eagle and Seventh streets, which has been the family residence since 1837.

DAVID LINTON died in August,1835. He was a merchant, and was associated with his brother William until a short time before the latter�s death.

FRANCIS CUNNINGHAM died in the summer of 1840. He had been a resident of Terre Haute from the earlier days of its existence. He served as magistrate for many years, and was postmaster from 1829 to 1839. Read more about him here.

Capt. JAMES WASSON also died in 1840. In early life he was connected with the merchant marine of New England, and for many years "followed the sea." In his personal traits of character the sailor was predominant. He was quick and impulsive, but kind and generous.

The CRAWFORDS, SAMUEL and JOHN, died in 1857, and within a few months of each other. They were model business men, and enjoyed, in an uncommon degree, the respect of this entire community.

JAMES FARRINGTON was born in Boston, Mass., December 6, 1798. He grew up to manhood and completed his academic and professional studies in his native state. In 1819, at the age of twenty-two, he came west, and first established himself at Vincennes in the practice of law. In January, 1822, he removed to Terre Haute and entered upon the practice of his profession, and here he has since resided. He soon acquired an extensive practice and attained a deserved eminence in the profession in the state. In 1825 he was elected to the legislature from Vigo county, and in 1831-2 and 1833-4 served in the state senate. He was conspicuous for his legal knowledge, and for the practical sense and untiring industry that characterized his course as a legislator. He had much to do in developing the system of common schools in Indiana and in originating the charter of the old state bank. In 1834 he retired wholly from the practice of law, having been a member of the law firm of Farrington, Wright & Gookings. He was the first cashier of the branch of the state bank at Terre Haute, and afterward served as its president. During the whole existence of the bank he was a director and one of its chief advisers. For a number of years Mr. FARRINGTON was heavily engaged in the business of pork packing, as the senior member of the firm of H.D. Williams & Co. He was prominent in all the movements made for the improvement of the city, and was connected with all the early railway enterprises. In September, 1862, on the establishment of the Seventh U.S. Internal Revenue District, he was appointed by President LINCOLN as assessor. He filled this, the last office that he ever held, with great ability and faithfulness for seven years, when he resigned on account of failing health. He was in his seventy-second year at the time of his death.

HISTORY OF VIGO AND PARKE COUNTIES, Together With Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley
H.W. Beckwith - 1880
Terre Haute, pp. 86-97

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Terre Haute & Harrison Twp. biographies.

Submitted by Charles Lewis
Data entry by Kim Holly & Elsie Simpson - used with permission.

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