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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2020 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2020-38: September 27, 2020

Articles

The Head of Elk: A Turning Point for Loyalists (Part 1 of 5)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The Head of Elk is a strange name for a town. It tends to jump out at you as you read over documents of the American Revolution. A town in Maryland, the Head of Elk would became famous for having a home that hosted General William Howe, the commander of the British forces, just three days after General George Washington was entertained in the very same house. However, for Loyalists who mentioned Head of Elk in their compensation claims – and for the Black Loyalists who cited it in the Book of Negroes – the events that transpired in this town in August of 1777 were a turning point in their lives.

The Head of Elk was the starting point for the stories of 14 Loyalists who would eventually find sanctuary in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and England. But before we see the personal impact that the events of 1777 had on these Loyalists, it is important to step back and see the significance of the Head of Elk in the larger story of the American Revolution.

By the end of August 26, 1777, 17,000 British troops had disembarked from 260 ships that had anchored at the Head of Elk. Their objective: the capture of Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love was, at this time, the largest metropolis in the rebellious colonies and the capital of the brand new United States of America. Located at the head of the Elk River at the northern part of Chesapeake Bay, the Head of Elk was about 70 km southwest of Philadelphia.

Within 16 days, Howe's men defeated Washington's troops at the Battle of Brandywine, just 40 km outside of Philadelphia. On September 26, the royal army marched into Philadelphia. Having captured New York just a year earlier, the British were now in control of the two largest cities in the United States. This was a significant victory for the British – and would have lasting repercussions for Loyalists throughout the region.

One of the most immediate consequences of the presence of so many British troops was the flight to freedom made by the area's enslaved Africans. Just 21 years old at the time, Edward Christie ran away from his master William Smith. He left Susquehanna Ferry and "joined the British troops at Head of Elk".

Back in November of 1775, Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia, promised freedom to any Blacks enslaved by rebels if they joined with the British forces. For many Blacks, it was a matter of waiting for the best opportunity to make their escape. For those who lived near the Head of Elk, that opportunity came with the arrival of Howe's troops.

One Patriot who watched the Blacks going over to the British felt that the former slaves were offered more than just their freedom. Reporting to his superiors, Benjamin Rumsey wrote a letter on August 27, 1777 in which he said that the British were receiving "all Negroes and servants", promising them "fine clothes, etc. as an inducement." Rumsey may have had a personal stake in this situation. At his death in 1808, his estate included a number of enslaved Africans.

Over the next six years, Edward Christie, described as "a very short fellow", came to know Dr. Carle of the First Battalion of the New Jersey Volunteers. Christie travelled with this loyalist regiment in September of 1783, sailing for the mouth of the St. John River in what is now New Brunswick. What happened to him after disembarking from the Duke of Richmond is not known.

Another Black Loyalist who had joined the British at the Head of Elk was David Riddle. He was 22 when he ran away from his master in Pennsylvania's Newcastle County. Riddle travelled with a boy of mixed race named Ben Riddle. Ben would have only been a year old when the British marched through the Head of Elk, but he is described as being a slave of David Riddle's master. Both David and Ben sailed on the Lord Townsend and settled in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia in July of 1783.

Known simply as Sampson, this Black Loyalist sailed on the Lord Townsend when it made a return trip to Annapolis Royal three months later. He had been a slave to Robert McReady who lived in the Head of Elk. Sampson carried with him a Birch certificate, the official document that recognized his emancipation by the British. Like many Black Loyalist who settled in this part of Nova Scotia, he may have immigrated to Sierra Leone in 1792.

The only Black Loyalist woman known to have a connection to the Head of Elk is Hannah Richardson. She was 16 when the British came through town and had been enslaved by Ben Bennet. The fact that she was on the Nisbet that sailed for Port Mouton, Nova Scotia in November of 1783 suggests that she worked with one of the vital support services within the British forces: the hospital, the commissary, or the wagon department. The staff of all three stayed in New York City until the very last weeks of the Loyalist evacuation.

The last known Black Loyalist to have joined the British at the Head of Elk is James Joseph. His entry in the Book of Negroes notes that he was born free in Maryland and that he left the colony with his father when he was just 9 years old. It may be that James' father died later in the revolution. When James' name was recorded in the Book of Negroes six years after the events at the Head of Elk, he was an indentured member of the crew of the Aurora, an evacuation ship bound for Germany. His indenture compelled him to serve as a sailor for seven years. At the time his name was recorded, he had three years remaining in his indenture. Just 15 years old when interviewed in August of 1783, James may have ultimately settled in England.

Many other Blacks would have sided with the British to gain their freedom, but not all survived the revolution. Others would not necessarily have referenced the Head of Elk when having their personal details recorded in the Book of Negroes. However, these six provide us with a glimpse into the stories of some of those who took advantage of the turning point that the arrival of the British troops provided.

The events at Head of Elk are known to have been a hinge moment in the lives of eight other Loyalists. Their stories will be told in Loyalist Trails over the next few weeks.


To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

Book: St. Lawrence Branch UELAC Launches Loyalists At Table

As a Branch Project, St. Lawrence Branch has created a Loyalist recipe book titled Loyalists at Table: 18th Century Loyalist Recipes for the 21st Century Kitchen. Laurie McDonald and Darlene Montgomery-Fawcett started compiling the recipes in September 2019 and completed the book in June 2020 with approximately 134 recipes.

They were provided by some members of the Branch, online websites (with permission) and some friends and local people in the area, who had Loyalists ties. The recipes include beverages, breads, salads, vegetables, main dishes and desserts.

One Branch Executive one commented "any cookbook that features everything from Arden Eamer's Homemade Horseradish to Resurrection Pie is going to be a winner"! Quite a few of the recipes provide an introduction on the ingredients and/or where it came from. There are some historical facts thrown in as well.

Darlene has a recipe book written in 1896 that belonged to her 2x Gr-Aunt who lived in Dundas County. A lot of the recipes were written on pieces of paper and "hand-sewn" on the edges of the pages. Some of her recipes are included in Loyalists at Table.

Loyalists at Table: 18th Century Loyalist Recipes for the 21st Century Kitchen is a collection of Colonial, 18th Century, and Loyalist recipes, They reflect a decidedly 21st century spin on traditional recipes which we hope you will enjoy.

You will find recipes for Raspberry Shrub, Switchel, Loyalist Brown bread, Sourdough bread, Sauerkraut, Fort George gingerbread, Johnnycake with Maple Syrup, Beefsteak and Kidney pie, Scotch Broth soup, Loyalist baked beans.

Cornwall City Press published 300 copies of the book for us. We are very proud and excited to share the end result with the public. Sales have been steady considering the COVID situation. We have already shipped from eastern to western coasts of Canada & a few to the States.

See the flyer and two photos: The new book and the Book launch

Books can be purchased by sending a note through on our Facebook page or by contacting Darlene directly (dmfawcett@ripnet.com or 613-989-5489). The hard copy of the book is $20.00 plus shipping & the PDF file is $15.

Book Review: Loyalist History of Nova Scotia

Loyalist History of Nova Scotia, by Brian McConnell. Privately published; 64 pages softbound; available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Reviewed by Edward S. Gray.

Mr. McConnell has gleaned together a long list of sites that can be visited if one gets to the Maritimes to search for ancestors that were loyal to King George III.

The book goes alphabetically by Town and Village, and he identifies the County in which it lies. I would recommend that if you go to Nova Scotia, get a good map (The Province Tourism people put out an excellent map for those of us in the old school). You can cross reference Mr. McConnell's sites to the map.

The most interesting part of the book is the outline of the Black Loyalists at Birchtown in Shelburne County. About 3,500 former slaves were transported to Nova Scotia by the Crown in 1783 and were frustrated by lack of treatment and moved on to Sierra Leone (Africa) in 1792. This second migration was the inspiration of the American Colonization Society which resulted in the settlement of west African nation of Liberia (and it's capitol Monrovia).

Of personal interest, it took to Page 52 to find my 5th Great Grandfather, Dr. Azor Betts, who was a pioneer in treating small pox, and was a Loyalist out of New York City.

He is listed as being buried in Trinity Anglican Church Cemetery in Digby.

Mr. McConnell has done a wonderful job in pulling together the diaspora of the Loyalists through out the Province.

He lists in further references the numerous You Tube visits that he has made in connection the Loyalists of Nova Scotia...these too are a "must see"

The book is must have for any one interested in Loyalists in Nova Scotia, especially if one is going to travel there. I highly recommend it.

Edward S. Gray, UELAC since 1980, Jefferson City, Missouri USA

NOTE: Brian McConnell presented copies of Loyalist History of Nova Scotia to the Admiral Digby Museum on Sept. 24 in Digby, in the Loyalist Room at the Admiral Digby Museum.

JAR: The Mysterious March of Horatio Gates

by Andrew Waters 24 September 2020

Following the American surrender at Charleston on May 12, 1780, the Continental Army's "Southern Department" was in disarray. Taken prisoner that day were 245 officers and 2,326 enlisted, including Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, the Southern Department's commander-in-chief, along with militia and armed citizens, the most American prisoners surrendered at one time during the American Revolution.

That summer, scattered elements of the Continental Army regrouped in central North Carolina under command of Johann Kalb, the European officer and self-proclaimed "Baron de Kalb." Earlier that spring, Kalb had been placed in charge of the first and second Maryland brigades, along with the Delaware Regiment and the 1st Artillery with eighteen field pieces – about 1,400 soldiers in all. Marching from Morristown, New Jersey, in mid-April, their mission was to relieve Charleston and serve as a nucleus for Southern militia. But arriving in central North Carolina in late June, Kalb found Charleston already surrendered and provisions and militia reinforcements scarce throughout the South.

Meanwhile, the Continental Congress named Lincoln's successor on June 13, picking Horatio Gates, the hero of Saratoga. By 1780, Gates was well-known for personality conflicts with his fellow officers, prominently Benedict Arnold and George Washington. But Gates's political reputation, at least, had survived his conflict with Washington, and he was still well regarded for his rapport with the enlisted and volunteer militia. "Unlike most American generals," Gates "had great confidence in short-term soldiers and showed a keen understanding of their temper," writes his biographer. "It was his announced policy never to call up the militia until almost the very moment they were needed. Once they had finished their tour of duty, he was quick to thank them and to send them packing off to home."

By June 1780, the now fifty-three-year-old Gates was on furlough from the Continental Army, convalescing at his Virginia estate. Washington had wanted Nathanael Greene for the southern command, but Congress wanted Gates, who was, after all, available and not far away. So Gates got the job.

Read more.

JAR: What Killed Prisoners of War? A Medical Investigation

by Brian Patrick O'Malley 21 Septemeber 2020

Throughout the Revolutionary War, prisoners learned that dysentery accompanied starvation. Confined to the prison ship Jersey in 1781, Christopher Hawkins described rations "not sufficient to satisfy the calls of hunger." In the next two sentences, Hawkins mentioned that "the bloody flux or dyssenterry" prevailed on the Jersey, from which "many died on board her." Like other prisoners of war, Hawkins was certain he witnessed epidemic dysentery. Caused either by the ameba Entamoeba histolytica or by several species of bacteria, dysentery is characterized by diarrheal expulsions mixed with blood and mucus. Like many victims of starvation, however, prisoners probably had the non-contagious condition known as "hunger diarrhea" or "famine diarrhea." Famine diarrhea figured in two major scandals of prisoner neglect in the Revolutionary War, New York in 1776 and Charles Town (present-day Charleston), South Carolina in 1780...

In the first stage of famine disease, people experienced rapid weight loss. The transformation reminded Polish doctors of prewar "reducing cures" at vacation spas. The second stage of hunger disease reminded one Polish research team of animal hibernation. To avoid burning its own tissues for fuel, the body slowed metabolism, reduced exertion to a minimum and increased the demand for rest. In this quasi-hibernation, weight loss slowed or even halted, but sufferers looked prematurely aged. The third phase of famine disease was terminal "hunger cachexia" (severe emaciation and muscle atrophy), often accelerated by famine diarrhea. In this terminal phase of starvation, diarrhea killed people in just a few weeks or even a few days...

Historians can only guess the daily caloric intake of prisoners during the American Revolution. Historian Edwin G. Burrows estimated prisoners of the British Army received no more than 1,640 calories per day and prisoners of the British Navy received about 1,556 calories per day. Burrows cautioned his nutritional assessment of official rations was generous, and prisoners often received less than their official allotment. Privates Thomas Boyd and William Darlington of Chester County, Pennsylvania, for instance, described rations more meagre than British claims of what was provided.

Gen. Sir William Howe probably held over 3,000 captive Continental soldiers by December 1776. From August 27, 1776 to November 20, 1776, the British and Hessian forces under Howe brought 4,114 American soldiers and 305 American officers as captives to New York City. While the military officers enjoyed parole within the occupied city, the British warehoused the privates on prison ships and confiscated buildings like sugarhouses and non-Anglican churches. Joshua Loring, a Loyalist who served the British as Commissary General of Prisoners, indicated over 700 of 4,114 captive soldiers offered to enlist with British recruiters. The recruitment of 700 to 800 soldiers left Howe with about 3,300 to 3,400 Continental soldiers. The naval forces under Howe's brother, Adm. Richard, Viscount Howe, took prisoner perhaps a few hundred sailors from the Continental Navy, several state navies and privateer crews.

Read more.

Borealia: The Disappearing Daughters of Jerusalem: Erasing Women from Early Canadian Methodist History

By Scott McLaren 16 September 2020

"The greater part of an author's time is spent in reading," Samuel Johnson is widely reported to have said. "He must turn over half a library to write one book." What Johnson didn't say is that in the process of turning over half a library, one inevitably comes across tantalizing narratives – and sometimes an absence of narratives – that lie outside the scope of the project at hand and that therefore have to be set aside for another time. While digging about in archives for Pulpit, Press, and Politics: Methodists and the Market for Books in Upper Canada, I stumbled across a number of tempting byways I had not the opportunity to pursue at the time – among them one particularly striking example of what I suspect was a widespread practice on the part of early Methodist historians to progressively erase the dramatic roles women played in Methodism's early proselytizing successes.

Detecting absences in historical narratives of this kind is a tricky business – not least because it requires the survival of documentary evidence describing the same set of events, but written with different agendas, and even by different hands, over a relatively long period of time. What follows is a consideration of one such collection of documents describing the role a group of Methodist women played in what was considered by nineteenth-century historians to be a watershed moment in Canadian Methodism's early rise to prominence: the all-but-legendary Hay Bay Camp Meeting that took place in the waning days 1805 just outside present-day Belleville in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Women have always occupied a place of special importance in Methodism. John Wesley – though he formed some very strange and unlucky romantic relationships with women over the course of his own long life – is often remembered for a willingness to overlook St. Paul's instruction to the Corinthians to "let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak." Methodist women, at least as long as Wesley was alive, did not keep silent. In British Methodism, women were visible not only as nurses and visitors to the sick, not only as Sunday school teachers and school operators, but also as band and class leaders and even as exhorters and lay preachers. This was no less true in North America where, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, women routinely gave public exhortations and served as class leaders in the Methodist Episcopal Church at least until the end of the War of 1812. Alongside Methodism's striking readiness to allow women to occupy leadership roles was the denomination's willingness to use wild revivalist camp meetings to attract new converts. An American innovation, camp meetings were typically centered on one or more makeshift stages from which preachers would proclaim the Word of God as they led singing, performed miraculous healings, and even exorcised the occasional demon.

Read more.

Ben Franklin's World: Acadie 300

2020 commemorates the 300th anniversary of French presence on Prince Edward Island. Like much of North America, the Canadian Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island, and Prince Edward Island were highly contested regions. In fact, the way France and Great Britain fought for presence and control of this region places the Canadian Maritimes among the most contested regions in eighteenth-century North America.

Anne Marie Lane Jonah, a historian with the Parks Canada Agency, joins us to explore the history of Prince Edward Island and why Great Britain and France fought over the Canadian Maritime region.

During our exploration, Anne Marie reveals the early history of Prince Edward Island, including details about the Mi'kmaq people and their homeland, which encompasses Prince Edward Island; How and why the French came to settle Prince Edward Island in 1720; And, details about the ways in which the French and British vied for presence and control in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, including details about the Acadians and the Grand Deportation of 1758.

Listen to the podcast.

The Spoils of War, in Baby Shoes & a Patchwork Quilt

Susan Holloway Scott 23 September 2020

Of course, my godfather wasn't alone in this. No matter how much officers frown and governments try to outlaw looting, soldiers have always brought home "souvenirs" from their battles and their enemies – the infamous spoils of war.

I thought of that when I first saw these baby shoes, right, cut from the red wool of a captured British uniform coat, and on display at the Museum of the American Revolution. The shoes belonged to the children of Sgt. James Davenport of Massachusetts, and were fashioned from the captured coat of a British soldier during the Revolution. To Davenport, who lost two brothers in the war, the shoes must have been a poignant reminder of the cost of liberty won for the next generation.

I thought of it again, too, when I saw the quilt, above, on display at Winterthur Museum. Although the quilt is believed to have been made in the early 19thc, a family heirloom from the American Revolution dominates the patchwork pattern. The unusual scarlet shape in the middle is a man's 18thc red wool cloak. The larger semi-circle would have wrapped around the wearer's shoulders, while the smaller semi-circle would have folded back around the neck into a collar.

Read more.

Just a Pinch of Salt

Bob Jeffrey 23 September 2020. Jamestown and American Revolution

Today, we take salt for granted. It is a common condiment – inexpensive and readily available to sprinkle on our foods. But it hasn't always been that way. As Mark Kurlansky expressed in his 2002 study on the topic, "from the beginning of civilization until about 100 years ago, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities in human history." Necessary to sustain human life, salt was difficult to produce and access to it was often controlled by rulers and other authority figures. Wars were fought over salt. Cities flourished near sources of salt and routes traversing Asia, Africa, and Europe were established to trade the commodity. It was considered valuable enough that Roman soldiers were paid a salarium to purchase salt (sal) as part of their provisions. Our word "salary" is derived from the Latin salarium, or salt money, hence the saying that "a person is not worth his salt" means he is not worth his salary. Or, as Robert Lewis Stephenson wrote about the sailor Abraham Gray who changed his mind about joining the mutineers in Treasure Island (1883), "It was plain from every line of his body that our new hand was worth his salt."

The English hoped that their American colonies might be a source of salt even though Thomas Harriot – part of Sir Walter Raleigh's 1585 expedition to Roanoke Island – noted that the only salt used by the Carolina Indians was derived from burning the stalks of a certain plant. Harriot said that he and his fellow colonists used its leaves for potherbs. Scientists today believe these plants were in the Artiplex genus, like mountain spinach, which has a salty taste. Similarly, Robert Beverley commented in his 1705 The History and Present State of Virginia that the only salt used by the Virginia Indians was "the ash of stick weed and hickory."

Read more.

Historic Burlington ON Cemetery Needs Expensive Repairs

The Bay Observer 21 September 2020

Periodic discussions with the City of Burlington have yet to clarify the future of the historic Union Burial Ground in Aldershot.

The cemetery, which was founded by the families of United Empire Loyalists around the middle of the 19th century, has suffered from crumbling walls for several years. The damage is visible from Plains Road.

"We understand the historical significance of the cemetery and the importance to the community, that is why we are currently working with the Cemetery Trustees to come up with a suitable plan for all parties", according to a statement issued by the City.

The cemetery is important to Burlington, not only because of its connection with the United Empire Loyalists, but because some of its founding families played major roles in the history of the City. These included the Davis, Peart, Fisher, Kent, Ghent and Kerns families.

"We bought the land off Joseph Brant and I still have the deed, signed by Joseph Brant... I have the original bill for the graveyard wall", said Mr. Davis.

Read more.

Curious Canadian Cemeteries: The Toronto Necropolis

The Toronto Necropolis was established in 1850, making it the oldest surviving municipal non-denominational cemetery space in the City of Toronto. The only older site of this kind that I'm aware of in Canada in the Hamilton Cemetery, established in 1847. Non-denominational cemeteries became popular in urban centers with large, multi-faith populations that had to have some place to house their dead (remember, this is the mid 1800s, it's not like cremation was a thing in Canada yet! That didn't happened until 1901 in Montreal's Mount Royal Cemetery). Non-denominational cemeteries were owned by the municipality, rather than a church parish, and offered a space for people of all faiths to be buried. The Toronto Necropolis remains open to burials today, casket or cremation, but due to the history of the site, and its significant size, space of obviously limited.

One of the very interesting features of the site is that is is now the final resting place of the remains of over 900 early settlers of the Toronto area. Their remains were removed from the City's Potter's Field and re-interred in the Necropolis, with the original burials having dated to 1851 to 1881. In addition, 263 burials from the City's first Presbyterian burying grounds at Richmond St. and Sherbourne St., dating between 1818 and 1841, were re-interred at the Necropolis due to expanding construction within the City. It's so interesting to see this new burial ground exist in Toronto as such a vessel for history, as well as an active part of the burial landscape for modern residents of the City.

Read more.

Resource: The Loyalist Claims on Twitter

Started in August 2020

Loyalists of the Am Rev: their stories, their families, their property, & the people they enslaved.

From their Loyalist Claims Commission records (1783-1790)

The Loyalist Claims

UE Loyalist Certificates Issued Recently

The list of UE Certificates issued since late in 2012 – showing the Loyalist ancestor, name of descendant (when permission is granted), branch and date – has been updated with the certificates issued between July 23 and Sept 13. The same updates have been applied to the Loyalist Directory.

Where in the World?

Where are Anne Redish (Kingston Br.) and Barb Andrew (Assiniboine Br.)?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is (if you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well). Send your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • David Dinsmore - contributed by William Lindsey

Please help us build the directory by contributing information. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for guidance.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post: Brenda Ferguson

Brenda Ferguson, age 72, passed away suddenly but peacefully on September 14, 2020, in her sleep. She was born on May 23, 1948, in Black's Harbour, New Brunswick. She was predeceased by her first husband, George, in 2016. At the time of her death, she was very excited to create a new chapter in her life, with plans to marry her loving boyfriend, Reid Leighton. Next to her bedside was her new wedding dress and wedding bands.

For many years, her full-time job was raising her two children, Todd and Tracey, who survive her. She was devoted to running a safe, loving household. Later in life, she began a career with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, where she worked until her retirement at the feisty age of 68. She often had to commute over three hours daily, but always looked forward to seeing the wonderful people with whom she worked. Wherever she went, she made fiercely loyal friendships, whether with neighbours, pharmacists, workmates, or family.

Brenda had so many passions throughout her life. She was meticulous in recording her family's genealogy, with research through relatives and foundations. She was well versed in her father's contributions to the war effort during WWII. She was a Civil War aficionado. Above else, Brenda was a proud Maritimer who missed her home in New Brunswick.

In addition to her children, Brenda is survived by her sister and husband, Barbara and Lindsay Schafer, her niece Katie, her grandson Jordan, her son-in-law David, her daughter-in-law Michelle, and her step-grandchildren Eric, Nicole, Jordan and Madelynne.

Please join us in celebrating her life this Saturday, September 26, 2020, between 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm at the DeStefano Funeral, Celebration, and Reception Centre in Oshawa. Masks are required. In lieu of flowers for Brenda, we are thankful for donations sent to the Lakeridge Health Cancer Care, whose cancer centre was so incredibly supportive and thoughtful throughout her treatments.

At a future date, the family fully intends to honour Brenda's final wishes to have her ashes scattered in the Bay of Fundy, once travel restrictions are levied. Those close to Mom in New Brunswick will be apprised of any plans.

Brenda was a member of New Brunswick Branch and was working towards a Loyalist Certificate towards her ancestor Isaac Justason

...Angela Donovan, New Brunswick Branch

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