Category Archives: Prescott

Letter From Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks to William Duff – 19 Oct 1846

Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks (1823-1856) was my 3x great-grandmother.  She was born 10 Dec 1823 in Dartmouth, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, one of three daughters born to John Eleazer Fairbanks and his wife Ann “Nancy” Prescott.

Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks c1855, courtesy of Catherine Duff

Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks c1855, courtesy of Catherine Duff

In the Halifax National Archives there is a letter written by Jane to her future husband, the Reverend William Duff.  It was listed as “2007-061/002 #40: Fairbanks letter, Jane E to Wm Duff before their marriage”.  They were married in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in January of 1847, so it was likely sent in the early to mid 1840’s.

William Duff c1870

William Duff c1870

This letter, a reply to Rev. Duff’s letter of 25 Sept 1846,  is nothing earth-shaking in content, and I’m quite certain the rules of polite Christian society of the time would not have permitted any thoughts that would have been of a too-personal nature between unmarried people.  Nevertheless, it’s written in her hand and it’s remarkable for that alone.  It’s not often one can find writings from a 3x great-grandparent.  I have transcribed it to the best of my ability (others may have better luck with a few of the missing words).  A part of the letter is missing, so some of the content is gone, and she wrote perpendicular text for part of it, which makes transcription more difficult.  My transcription follows the letter itself.

JaneFairbanksLetter_p1 JaneFairbanksLetter_p2

Woodside, October 19

I received your note by the steamer, my dear friend, and felt most surprised to learn from it that my own [letter] had failed to reach its destination. I can hardly imagine what could have become of it, as it was sent with others to the post office, but as it is possible the mistake may have occurred here, I thought I could send a few lines of explanation this time, in case nothing more should be heard of it.   I’m happy to say that we are all quite well, and although expecting to have seen you upon the arrival of the Unicorn, were not very much surprised to hear that you were not among the passengers, as Mr. Robb seemed to think there was a strong probability of your being detained, if it was in the power of a number to do so; I have heard inquiries made frequently about your intentions of exchanging for Newfoundland, but did not get very uneasy about that, although I suppose the want…

[missing part of page]

…has seen occasionally a dreadful storm to add to the distress before existing, I should think the approach would be much dreaded by the inhabitants; we have had remarkably mild and pleasant weather and as yet none of the gales that we frequently get this season. I think it may continue so and that your homeward passage may be accomplished safely.  The voyage will be … cold and unpleasant but I look forward to seeing you… in days, therefore I will not extend … believe me my dear friend.

Yours ever affectionately,

Jane E Fairbanks

A Very Interesting Document From the Revolutionary War

I stumbled across this today while researching my 6x great-grandfather Tristram S. Folsom (1761-1811).  Here’s a short bio of Tristram as recorded in the book “Genealogy of the Folsom Family: A Revised and Extended Edition, Including English Records 1638-1938)” by Elizabeth Knowles Folsom:

Tristram S. Folsom (Capt. Benjamin, Nathaniel, John), b in Deerfield, N.H. 1761; d. in New Sharon, ME 10 Apr 1811, ae 50; married first abt 1784 Mary Gordon (Ithiel, Daniel, Thomas, Alexander), b 17 Oct 1761 in Raymond, NH; she died and he married Sarah Gordon, sister of his first wife, d 1845.  He served in the Revolutionary War in Captain Simon Marston’s Company, Col. John Waldron’s Regiment in the Continental Army until April 1st 1776 (NH Rev. War Rolls, Vol. XXX, pp 455, 456).  Also in Capt. Nathan Sanborn’s Company, Col. John McClary’s Regiment of Militia, joined General Start at Bennington, 8 Sept 1777; also, in same Company, Col. Stephen Evan’s Regiment at Saratoga, 1777 (NH Rev. War Rolls, Vol. 2, pp 300, 302, 305, 309).

Children by 1st wife:

Peter, b 29 Oct 1785
Gordon, b 10 Oct 1786
Tristram, b 9 Sept 1788

Children by 2nd wife:

Joseph G. b 1804; drowned in Bartlett Pond, Livermore, ME, 5 Sept 1813 ae 9 years.
Hannah, b 5 Jul 1807; married Henry Wood of Augusta, ME.

So, one of the items of interest is that Tristram was present (at the age of 16) at the Continental Army’s victory at the battle of Saratoga in October of 1777.

Surrender At Saratoga, 1777

Surrender At Saratoga, 1777

I started looking for records of his service during the Revolutionary War, and came across a payroll document from Capt. Sanborn’s Regiment from 1777.

“Pay Roll of Captain Nathan Sanborn’s Company in Colonel Stephen Evan’s Regiment which [..] marched from the State of New Hampshire [in] September 1777 and reinforced the Northern Continental Army at Saratoga”:[Click on the image to enlarge or download]

Pay Roster, Capt. Sanborn's Company, 1777

Pay Roster, Capt. Sanborn’s Company, 1777

What I found extremely interesting about this document are the following items:

Jeremiah Prescott, Lieutenant, enlisted 8 Sept 1777, discharged 15 Dec 1777.

Simeon Fogg, Corporal, enlisted 8 Sept 1777, discharged 15 Dec 1777.

Jonathan Fogg, Private, enlisted 8 Sept 1777, discharged 30 Nov 1777.

Samuel Prescott, Private, enlisted 8 Sept 1777, discharged 15 Dec 1777.

John Batchelder, Private, enlisted 8 Sept 1777, discharged 15 Dec 1777.

Tristram Folsom, Private, enlisted 8 Sept 1777, discharged 15 Dec 1777.

Jonathan Judkins, Private, enlisted 8 Sept 1777, discharged 15 Dec 1777.

I am related to the Prescott and Fogg families directly [Nancy Prescott is my 4x great-grandmother] and through marriage [Fred Thomas Sr. married Irene Fogg after my great-grandmother Delia Bacon died], so that is of mild interest.

More interesting is that my 6x great-grandfather, Jonathan Judkins (1753-1830), who was from New Hampshire, married Elizabeth Batchelder, my 6x great-grandmother.  It seems likely that, if the Jonathan Judkins listed above is my grandfather, his wife may have been related to the John Batchelder listed above who served with him.

Having seven people who are possibly related to me on one roster is quite amazing, and could explain a lot about how these families came to be related through marriage.  War bonds men together like very little else does.  When they came back from battle, perhaps they stayed in touch and the families ended up being joined by marriage too.




Grandpa Had a Gun

I found a reference in a book on Prescott Family Genealogy which indicated that a musket owned by my 10x great-grandfather Jonathan Prescott [1604-1681] was here in Madison, Wisconsin.  I wrote to the Wisconsin Historical Society, which confirmed that they did indeed have his musket in their collection.  They have indicated I can stop in and see it by appointment, which is kind of exciting. Here are the photos they sent me along with a lovely explanation of how they acquired it and the history of the item.  There’s not much left of the old girl, but it’s still cool to think it was used by my 10x great-grandfather to defend his land in the 1600’s.

Mr. Thomas,

We do indeed have the musket you mentioned.  Its catalog number is 1947.1066 and I have attached some images of it.  Here is the information we have about it in our collections database:

“An Ancient Gun. — Presented by Prescott Brigham.  This gun was the property of John Prescott, and was brought by him from Lancashire, England, who went first to Barbadoes, and owned land there in 1638, and came to New England about 1640.  In 1645, Sholan, the Indian proprietor of Nashawog, offered to him and other persons a tract of land ten miles in length, which was accepted, and the General Court subsequently confirmed the deed.  The town was named Lancaster, in the present county of Worcester, Massachusetts.  John Prescott had occasion to use this gun during King Phillip’s Indian War of 1675.  On one occasion, as tradition has it, a number of Indians made their appearance at Prescott’s old mill, hoisted the water-gate, when Prescott took this gun, heavily loaded, and started towards the mill, when the Indians retired to the hills close by; Prescott having fixed the mill, thought it prudent to retrace his steps, but did so backwards, with his eye upon the foe, until he reached his house.  At that point the Indians raised a whoop, Prescott concluded to give them a specimen of his gunmanship; and as he shot, they scampered off.  Afterwards visiting the spot where the Indians were when he shot at them, blood was found on the ground. The Indians ever after kept clear of the Prescott neighborhood.  Mr. Prescott had at least seven children; and among them was Hon. Benj. Prescott, the father of Col. Wm. Prescott, who commanded at Bunker Hill, and grandfather of Judge Wm. Prescott, of Boston, and great grandfather of Wm. H. Prescott, the historian. The old gun in question was given by [Jonathan] Prescott [III 1672-1749] to his daughter Tabitha, wife of Silas Brigham, who in her old age gave it to her grandson Prescott Brigham, born in 1780, now a resident of Sauk county, Wisconsin, and by him to the Society [in 1858].  Prescott Brigham is the elder brother of the pioneer settler of Dane county, Col. Ebenezer Brigham, of Blue Mounds.”

[Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, for the Years 1857 and 1858, 1859, vol. iv, pp. 55-56.]

The following infomation appears on the catalog card which was typed c. 1947:

“Seventeenth century military matchlock musket converted to flint.  Said to have been used in King Phillip’s War 1675 to 76.  Carried by John Prescott, of Lancaster, Mass.  Would be valuable piece if we had more of it.  Pins missing or replaced with nails, ramrod missing, lock missing but recess has been filled with wood insert.  Part octagon barrel 48″ long and about .85 or .90 caliber.  63″ overall.  Only visible mark of identification on the gun is a mark on the barrel near the breech which looks like a trident but is not completely clear.  Gun is not in too bad [of] shape considering what it’s gone through, but wood stock is beginning to get beat up and should be treated with respect.  Lock is missing and a wooden plate has been inserted in the inlet.  Would be a very nice piece if it had the lock.”






Photos and explanation courtesy of Paul Bourcier, Wisconsin Historical Society

A Letter From John Fairbanks to Nancy Presott, 30 Aug 1825

As these letters go, this one is rather thoughtful and philosophical.  We find John Eleazar Fairbanks (1793-1860) in a reflective mood as he recounts his journey through Holland and contemplates his imminent departure for home after a long business trip abroad.  He writes, “Such, unhappily, is the fallibility of man, that civilized society has never yet made him in practice what we ought to expect him to be”, which I find to be a delightful dollop of world-weary wisdom.  It gives me great pleasure to read his words and discover what a kind, generous, and loving person my 4x great-grandfather seems to have been.

Mrs. John Fairbanks
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Born of Cap’n Smith
Schooner Reliana

Thank heaven my dearest Nancy I have at length accomplished all the objects which brought me to this country and tomorrow I once more turn my face towards home.  I have just taken my place in Coach to Bristol and thence go to Falmouth where I join the Halifax Packet and again embark on the tempestuous ocean where I hope the almighty may still continue to protect me as he has hitherto done. I think I have great reason to be grateful that I have escaped thus far so well though all the perils and dangers of traveling.  You may believe me when I say how happy I feel at the thoughts of once more meeting you and my dear children.  The desire of doing so will make me very impatient should our voyage be protracted beyond the usual 30 or 35 days.  Your late affectionate letters I have read over and over again.  I need not say how grateful I am for them.  You have most religiously performed your promise to me when I left you as reflects writing.  If it were possible for me to love you more, I should do so for this.  I am much interested in your account of our little ___ with their pens in their hands writing to papa to come home.  Tell them he is coming and will bring them some pretty books and will not leave them again –

My last letter to you was from London.  I sent it by way of the St. John’s MB and hope it may have reached you as this arrives.  I have written so much lately that I forgot what I said in that, but I suppose I gave you some account of the countries I visited.  My stay was limited to fewer days at each place than was necefsary even to obtain the commercial information I was seeking.  However, I obtained some, which I think will be useful hereafter.  I found the people very civil and attentive wherever I went.  I was obliged to speak French, which I found I have too much neglected, and was sorry for, as I was introduced to many interesting and well-informed men and women.  I first went to Hilvoetsberg, then to Rotterdam, The Hague, Hailaam, Amsterdam, Leyden, and back to Rotterdam.  Then to Antwerp, Michlin, Bufsols, Waterloo, then Burges and Ostend.  In my route the finest collections of pictures in the world were through open to me, the most magnificent buildings, even the palaces and private apartments of their royal family was thrown open.  I had an opportunity of seeing many very interesting objects.  The trip on the whole was pleasant, but given missing home and I envy not others all the enjoyment of ___ the Dutch.  I found a different people from what I expected.  They

have made great improvement in the arts and sciences and surprising advances in the different manufactures.  Their houses and furniture are magnificent and their towns excefsively clean and neat.  The canals which run through their streets lined with nobel trees which offer a delightful shade in summer, give to their cities an appearance totally different from anything of the kind in England.  But I must defer a further account of my visit till we meet.  I came over to London from Ostend in a steam boat.  We had a heavy gale of wind all the way which kept us 28 hours on the passage instead of 15 which is normal.  I remained a week in London after my return and then came here by boat in 28 hours.  I had a pleasant ride, but was a little engaged, as at home, nursing young children – a widow lady in great distress was a fellow pafsenger.  She had just returned from India where she had lost her husband.  Brother and sister the poor creature was very sick and you may suppose very much fatigued with the care of the children.  On her arrival she went immediately to Ireland where her friends are.  I saw Edwin Collins in the same boat and requested him to take care of them which I am sure he would do.  It is difficult to conceive how much wretchedness and misery the world contains.  I have in the

course of my visit been a witness to some heart-rending scenes.  They are calculated, my dear, to make us more properly estimate the blessings we are pofsefsed of.  No country pofsefses a greater accumulation of all the advantages of civilization than this.  Freedom and education are universally diffused, but perhaps in no country do you see so great a number of the wretched victims of crime and misfortune laboring under all the accumulated ills of poverty and want.  Such, unhappily, is the fallibility of man that civilized society has never yet made him in practice what we ought to expect him to be if we only look to the advantages of improvement and cultivation in theory.  Since I have returned here I have been much at Faircloughs and my esteem for them both I afsure you increases the more I become acquainted with them.   She is indeed a charming woman.  She wishes much to become acquainted with you.  It would afford me much pleasure could I accomplish it by bringing you together.  I am sure you would find her quite to your mind, they live very retired.  F. was much from home as I am.  She only sees him at meal times and is of course much alone as the distance of the Docks is considerable.  Their child is in the country.  I fear it is not a very promising one but hope it may improve.

The time the packet should leave Falmouth is about the 11th Sept. but they are very irregular in sailing.  I hope I may not be detained there long.  I am told it is a wretched place to stop at.  Mathew Almon and his wife are to be fellow pafsengers and I have just heard that Robin has returned to London.  He may take it unto his head to accompany us but I for one can well spare him.  I am obliged to have all my luggage here to go in the Pandora.  Edwin Collins and fear I shall have to ___ at Falmouth.  Let me now beg of you dear Nancy not to look for the Packet before the 20th October.  By making up your mind to this you may save yourself some uneasinefs.  We generally look out too soon for our friends on board ships and anxiety prevents us making sufficient allowances for headwinds, detention, etc.  With best love to all friends, and once more commending you and my children to the protection of the Almighty.  I set out for home.  Yours ever, J.E. Fairbanks



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A Letter from John Fairbanks to Nancy Prescott, 13 Aug 1822

Letter written by John Eleazer Fairbanks [son of Rufus Fairbanks] to his wife Nancy Prescott [daughter of John Prescott], Maroon Hall, Preston, Nova Scotia, Canada.  “Lydia” was Nancy’s sister who later married William DeWolfe.  This letter was written when John was on a trip to the old country on business.

Envelope & Tallies

Envelope & Tallies

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Mrs. John Fairbanks, Halifax, Nova Scotia

2/3d Mr. John Fairbanks
Liverpool, 13th Augt. 1822

My Dear Nancy,
I have great pleasure in acquainting of my safe arrival here last evening after, a pafsage of 29 days – We had fair winds all the time except 5 or 6 days, 3 of which it blew a small summer Gale to the Eastward – our pafsengers were at first very sick but every fine day reunited them.  They desire their best respects to you – I was very well all the pafsage and I shall be satisfied to have as good a time out.  Our speculation does not promise to be very profitable but I am not discouraged about it.  I hope it will yet do better than I now anticipate.

I hope our dear little girls are well and that you are enjoying yourself during the summer.  Remember me to Lydia and tell her Mifs Julia Bell is just like her.  I am sorry they did not see more of each other. Mifs Bell is also a pleasant companion but sea sicknefs deprived us more of her society.  The parson got on very well in fine weather and indeed our party on the whole was very agreeable – have much to say but the Post waits for no one and I must run with this immediately – You may expect to hear again very soon.  God bless you, my dear Girl, and may we soon see each other again is the wish of your affection husband,

John E. Fairbanks

Remember me to all friends
[Down the right end left margin of the page which carries the address, is a tabulation of goods (tables, carpets, chairs, silverware, blankets, etc).  It’s not clear if this is an inventory of goods that John has purchased, or is selling.  It totals to about 300 British pounds, which makes me believe it is goods he has purchased to take home with him for his household.]

Jonathan Prescott Family Bible Pages

Five pages of important family history from the bible of Jonathan Prescott (1760-1820).

John Prescott (1760 - 1820)

John Prescott (1760 – 1820)

This was in the archives of Nancy Prescott Forrest. There is information here for Duff, Fairbanks, Mott, and other related families.

As always, you can click on the images to enlarge or download them.

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Jonathan Prescott Esquire & Ann Blackden  11th Oct. 1759

John Prescott Esquire & Catharine Cleverly 21 Aug. 1785

Jonathan Prescott & Sarah Collins 26th Sept. 1816

John Eleazar Fairbanks & Ann Prescott 9th Nov. 1816

Henry Yeomans Mott & Elizabeth Prescott 27 Nov. 1819

Christian Conrad Katzmann & Martha Prescott 6th April 1822

Wiliam DeWolf & Lydia Norris Prescott Nov 14 1841

James William Johnston & Catharine Prescott Fairbanks 26 August 1846

William Duff & Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks January 1847

John Prescott Mott & Isabel Lawson Creighton 13th January 1848

George Elkanah Morton & Martha Elizabeth Katzmann 26th May 1849

Rev. George Sutherland & Charlotte Lydia Mott 24th Jun 1857

William Lawson & Mary Jane Katzmann 31st December 1868

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Jonathan Prescott Esq’r 24th May 1725 (Mafsachusetts)
Ann [Blagden] Prescott 25 March 1742 (Great Britain)

John Prescott Esq’r 20th Novem’r. 1760 (Nova Scotia)
Catharine Cleverly 9th Jan’r. 1761 (Mafsachusetts)

Anne Prescott 29th Septem’r 1786
Charlotte Prescott 26th Nov’r 1788
Martha Prescott 26th Apr’l 1791
Jonathan Precott 5th Sep’r 1793
Elizabeth Prescott 27th Oct’r 1795
Lydia Norris Prescott 8th Oct’r 1797

Robert John Prescott 29th Jan’y 1820 [son of John Prescott & Sarah Collins]

John Prescott Mott 8th Oct. 1820
Catharine Ann Mott 23 Dec 1822
William Mott Sept 22 Sept 1824
Henry Yeomans Mott Aug 11 1826
Thomas Mott June 12 1828
Elizabeth Jane Mott 25 Dec 1830
Charles Fairbanks Mott 18th April 1832
Charlotte Lydia Mott 17 March 1835
Sarah Elizabeth Mott [18] June 1837
Deborah Baker Mott May 16 1839

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Births [Cont.]:

[Children of Ann Prescott & John Eleazar Fairbanks]

Catherine Prescott Fairbanks 4th Dec’r 1820
Ann Blagden Fairbanks 23rd Feb’r 1822
Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks 19 Dec 1823

[Children of Martha Prescott & Christian Conrad Katzmann]

Martha Elizabeth Katzmann 2nd April 1823
Mary Jane Katzmann 15 Jan’y 1818
Anna Prescott Katzmann 25 Sept 1832


Jonathan Prescott Esq. 21st Jan’y 1807
John Prescott Esq. 23rd Aug 1820
William Mott 11 May 1840
Christian Conrad Katzmann 15 Dec 1843

Deborah Baker Mott May 28 1844
Henry Yeomans Mott 4th Apr 1846
Jonathan Prescott [husband of Sarah Collins] 19 Mar 1848
William DeWolfe 10th April 1849
Charlotte Prescott 25 Sept 1850
Catharine [Cleverly] Prescott 12th Feb 1851
Ann [Prescott] Fairbanks 18th April 1854
Charlotte [Mott] Sutherland 21st Oct 1862
Sarah [Collins] Prescott 27th Feb 1869
Henry Yeomans Mott 31 Jan 1866
John Eleazar Fairbanks 27 Dec 1860
Jane Elizabeth [Fairbanks] Duff 31st Aug 1856
Martha [Prescott] Katzmann Nov’r 17th 1871
Anne Prescott Katzmann 31st May 1876
Elizabeth [Prescott] Mott 30 August 1882

Rev. William Duff May 4th 1888
John Prescott Mott Feb’r 12th 1890
Mary Jane [Katzmann] Lawson March 23 1890
Lydia [Norris Prescott] DeWolfe June 28th 1891
George E Morton March 12th 1892

Mary [Ann Fairbanks] Allison 2 Apr 1896
Harriet Fairbanks Allison 8 Sept 1898

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Marsha Elizabeth Morton 26th April 1899

A Letter From John Fairbanks to Nancy Prescott, 7 Sept 1822

This letter, also sent to me by the Halifax National Archives, was written by my 4x great-grandfather John Eleazer Fairbanks to Ann “Nancy” Prescott, his wife, in September of 1822.  John was on a business trip to Liverpool, England and missing home quite a bit.  In this letter “Lydia” is Lydia Prescott, the sister of Nancy Prescott Fairbanks.  The “little girls” are his daughters Catherine Prescott Fairbanks ( b 1820) and Ann Blagden Fairbanks (b 1822).  I think John’s penmanship and his sentiments are both rather lovely.

[Note: The “McNab” mentioned in the letter is almost certainly a relation of Ebenezer McNab who married my 3x great-aunt Margaret MacKenzie.]

To: Mrs. John Fairbanks, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Per Aurora [the ship which carried the letter]

Liverpool 7th Sept. 1822
Dear Nancy,

I have already written you twice since my arrival, once by the August Packet and on Saturday last by the Packet ship Panthea which sail’d for New York on Sunday – The Aurora, Capt. Nelson, now furnishes another opportunity and although I have nothing either new or interesting to communicate, I cannot allow her to sail without letting you hear from me.  In my letter to McNab per packet was the history of my mercantile proceedings thus far and must refer you to that letter for any information you may wish on the subject – but for fear that my letter may by any chance not reach him I ______ a statement of the sales of our property here which in that case you can snow him.  It is my intention to go to Glasgow on Monday next in one of the Steam Packets.  I wish this journey was over and I was once more sailing on my voyage homewards as I find my disposition for wandering considerably abated.  My happy and comfortable house with you and our dear little children seems now to have charms for me that no other scenes can possibly pofsefs and it is only in the hurry and bustle of businefs and the ever varying changes of a large commercial city that I can feel my thoughts for a moment diverted from my home.  The retirement of my own feelings and reflections on my pillow will make me feel comparatively unhappy until I again join you.  A Mr. LePage of P. E. [Prince Edward] Island is frequently my companion and in our rambles about this town notwithstanding all the beauty, variety, and novelty of objects which surround us, we have finally made up our minds that either Halifax or Charlotte Town [Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island] are either far pleasanter places and both heartily wish ourselves safe home again – I long to hear from you but shall feel cruelly disappointed if the Packet does not bring me letters – she is daily expected at Falmouth – I am enjoying very good health and notwithstanding a heavy cold and cough, the roast beef of Old England and a moderate supply of good ale seems to agree well with me. I only hope you are in as good health as well as our little girls.  Give my love to Lydia and all other friends –

And believe Dear Nancy

Your affectionate husband

John E Fairbanks
Net Sales of Cargo L 601.19.7
” “” Brjg.                      460. 0.0


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