The name of the township was chosen by A. H. Dunning, one of the first county commissioners, who wished to assist in perpetuating the memory of a great Revolutionary hero. The township was organized on September 1, 1855, together with four other townships. It has its share of the rough land which Nature gave to Doniphan county; nevertheless, the land has been utilized for orchard and vineyard and pasture, and has contributed largely to the wealth of the county. Since its organization two changes have been made in its boundary lines, the first being made in October, 1856, to admit Marion into the sisterhood of townships; the second in June, 1859, which left it with the present boundaries. The land is drained by three principal streams - Independence, Rock, and Brush creeks.
A few of the very first settlers: In 1852, J. F. Forman and Josephus Utt; in 1854, J. W. Forman, B. S. Whorton, John Stanliff, Dr. R. H. Hereford and John Tracy; in 1855-6, William Shaw, Geo. Waller, Dr. Hudnall, David Lee, Dick Vest, Col. A. G. Ege, Silas Loyd, W. K. Leddington and John Harding.
The first marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. J. Devorse of Rushville, Mo., the contracting parties being Dr. Hereford and Amanda Tracy. The ceremony was performed in 1854, at the home of the bride's father on Rock creek, near the present site of Brenner. It is claimed for this man that he was the first physician in the township as well as the first man to patronize the preacher by employing him to tie the Gordian knot of matrimony. The skill of this pioneer doctor is attested to by the fact that some of those who were once his patients are still living in good health in the county.
In the summer of 1855, a daughter was born into the family of Dick Vest. This was perhaps the first while child born in the township.
In the winter of 1854-5, a sister-in-law of John Stanliff's was burned to death at the Stantiff home on Rock creek, south of the precent[sic] site of Brenner.
A young teacher named Heartly taught a four months' term of subscription school on a small tributary of Rock creek about two miles south of the present location of Brenner, during the summer of 1857. He received $20 a month for his services, and we'll venture to assert that his pupils who are still living, remember to this day just what the teacher said, and done, and wore.
In 1852, Josephus Utt, agent for the Kickapoo Indians, erected a hut near the river bank on what now is the townsite of Doniphan. Two years later, on November 11, 1854, the organizers of the Doniphan Town Company met at St. Joseph, Mo., at which time and place officers of the company were elected. Early in the spring of the following year a townsite was surveyed by J. F. Forman, and building began at once.
One of the apparent advantages of the place as a townsite was the excellent steamboat landing, and the place was favorably known up and down the river by boatmen as the ideal place to land. The first wave of genuine prosperity to strike thenew town came early in 1857, when the government land office was located there; but the wave subsided a year later, when the land office was removed to Kickapoo. The removal of the land office was the beginning of the rapid decline of the town. Late in the '60s the business men began to desert, one by one, many going to Atchison, whose star had been for some time in its ascendency, and the once prosperous town settled down to the quiet of a village. Later it was abandoned by the railroad, which was driven out by the washing of the river.
The following from Redpath's Handbook to Kansas Territory, published in 1859, presents the optomistic view of the early prophet and citizen:
"Doniphan, it is admitted by every one, has the best rock-bound landing, and the best townsite on the Missouri river any where above St. Louis. It has running through it a fine stream of water, which by a trifling outlay which will soon be expended, can be made to flow through five of the principal streets. A wealthy company has been chartered for the construction of a railroad for St. Joseph, through Doniphan, for Topeka, connecting the Kansas and Missouri rivers. The stock is subscribed - ten per cent paid in. That part of it from St. Joseph to Doniphan will be completed as soon as the connection is made with Hannibal. Lots can be purchased at Doniphan on more liberal terms than at any other town on the Missouri. We say to the emigrant, come to Doniphan; believing as we do, that it is destined to be the great emporium of the upper Missouri. The population is about one thousand."
The first lawyer was Colonel D. M. Johnson, who afterwards located in Troy.
S. N. Smallwood is said to have been the first wagonmaker, and it was also said of him that he was kept so busy that he found little time to talk politics. One or two men lost their lives here in the early days because they had time to talk politics.
Patrick Laughlin was the first to make tin pans and coffee pots for the pioneer housewife.
Wm. Beauchamp, the first blacksmith, was welcomed by the town and country, as a blacksmith shop in those days was of great importance.
At the first sale of town lots in Doniphan, April 15, 1855, as high as $2,000 was paid for a single lot. The buyer of this lot on taking a backward look from today must be filled with regret that he did not invest his money in a few farms in the country instead of sinking his money in the town.
The first religious services were conducted by a Baptist minister named Anderson, in 1855.
Barney O'Driscoll was the proprietor of the first hotel, the Doniphan House, built in the winter of 1855-6.
The Constitutionalist, not only the first paper in the town, but also the first in the county, was started in 1855, by Thos. J. Key, a pro-slavery Democrat.
The town was named for General Alexander William Doniphan, of Mexican war fame, and rightly proud of the name has she ever been.
J. F. Forman surveyed the townsite early in 1855, receiving in payment for his services some choice town lots. He erected the first building immediately after the survey, the first store being opened by him.
March 3, 1855, a postoffice was established with John Forman as postmaster.
The first election was held in October, 1855. J. A. Vanarsdale and Wm. Shaw were elected justices, and Joshua Saunders was elected constable.
In the spring of 1855, Samuel Collins set up the first saw mill. In November of the same year he was killed in a political quarrel.
The first school was taught by Mrs. D. Frank in a log cabin, during the summer of 1856.
St. John's Catholic church was built in 1857, and was in charge of Father Augustin Wirth, O.S.B.
In 1857, James H. Lane was made president of the town company. The town at that time had fully 1,000 inhabitants, while Atchison had less than 200.
Henry Latham, a twin brother of Hiram Latham, was shot and killed on the street late in the year of 1857, by a man named Frank McVey. Latham was walking up the-street with a Sharp's rifle.
George A. Cutler was a pioneer physician. Dr. Welsh was the second to locate in April, 1857.
May 10, 1857, a Methodist Episcopal church was organized by Rev. B. F. Bowman.
A company of Free State men called the "Crusaders" was organized at Doniphan, in January, 1858, to hold against Dunning's "Tigers".
The bodies of four dead men were taken from the river at Doniphan during the first week in August, 1858.
Arcana Lodge, No. 81, A.F. & A.M., was organized December 29, 1858.
Political rivalry caused the removal of the Government Land Office to Kickapoo in 1854.
In 1860, the St. Charles Hotel, built in 1857, was destroyed by fire.
A young girl named Missouri Dooley was shot by a guard one night along in the early '60s, who mistook her for a man, the girl being attired in man's clothes. This was about the time that Cleveland's gang of outlaws robbed A. B. Symns' store. Many of the business houses were guarded every night for a whole season.
In 1864, Doniphan was regarded as the best grain market on the Missouri river.
In 1867, Adam Brenner built an elevator with a capacity of 40,000 bushels, at a cost of $16,000. In 1872, it was destroyed by fire, together with its contents, a large amount of grain. There was an insurance of only $3,000 on it.
The Doniphian House, after many changes of proprietors, was burned in the fall of 1868.
In 1869, George Brenner planted the first five acres of the famous Belleview vineyard.
Doniphan Chapter, No. 13, R.A.M., was organized October 17, 1869.
A large two-story brick building was erected by Adam Brenner in 1869, to accommodate his wine interests. The building was 65x44 feet, with a large cellar. There was storage room for 9,000 gallons of wine. The great Brenner vineyards, famous all over the West, are situated just outside the town limits.
The construction train on the Atchison-Nebraska railroad crossed Independence creek on Tuesday. This was the first entrance of the cars into Doniphan county on this road. A force of about one hundred men are at work in the track laying department, and they are pushing things lively. - Reporter, October 6, 1870.
In 1871, there were 228 families in Doniphan. The population was 1,020. Fifty-three girls and twenty-eight boys were born there that year. We offer the suggestion that all those babies that are still living, meet and hold a big reunion in the town of their birth.
About the year 1880, a diamond drill was sunk by a company prospecting for coal. The drill went down 1,000 feet, but no encouraging discovery was made. That there is both coal and gas in the earth beneath Doniphan cannot be doubted. In the winter, skaters on Doniphan lake cut holes in the ice and the gas that escapes from the holes when ignited burns with a constant blaze.
The Doniphan Dramatic Club was organized in 1880. The Club gave its entertainments in Brenner's hall. A. Low, who was stage manager, painted the scenes and built the stage. The Club had twenty members. Two years later the Young Folks' Literary Society was organized and became a friendly rival of the Dramatic Club.
Anton Braun, who is still a resident and business man of the town, began business here in 1885. He has been a resident of the county thirty-five years. For eight years he has been postmaster. Mr. Braun has shown himself truly grateful for the liberal patronage received from his wide circle of friends, and shows that he has deserved all that has been given him. He has been a continuous and successful advertiser, one who has made himself popular with the public seeking good goods and courteous treatment. It is a noticeable fact that at this day Mr. Braun sells as cheaply as any other merchant in any part of the county. He has to compete with Atchison prices, but is in a position to do so, as he has shown by his success.
D. Cavender brought to this office yesterday a specimen of coal struck at Doniphan last Thursday (Feb. 10, 1887). It looks like coal, burns like coal and is coal. A piece of it thrown into the fire burns freely, and Mr. Cavender says that the Doniphan blacksmiths have tested it and pronounced it equal to anybody's coal. The vein is nine and a half inches thick and lies ten feet below the surface. Down the hill a short distance it crops out in the road. This cropping, and the fact that several years ago, when the ice broke up and formed a tremendous gorge, great blocks of coal were thrown up on the bank from the bottom of the river, led Mr. Cavender to sink a prospect hole on his place. The ground lies by the river and is the old Perry site. The shaft is about 125 yards from the river. A prospect drift has been started on the discovery and in a few days, the face of the vein will be fully developed. It is not proposed, however, to stop at this vein. The shaft will be sunk deeper, Mr. Cavender being confident that there is more coal where the pieces that were thrown up by the ice came from, and he expects to strike the lower run at a depth of 75 or 100 feet. A joint stock company with sufficient capital will be organized, and machinery purchased to prospect the ground thoroughly. Mr. C. thinks the small vein will pay to work, but does not expect it to yield in very large quantities. The find very greatly encourages the people of the old town, and the further prosecution of the work will be watched with interest. - Atchison Champion.
The once glorious old town has had seven newspapers. The Constitutionalist, established in 1856, by Thomas J. Key, lived about two years; The Crusader of Freedom, established by James Redpath, in 1858, lived only a few months; The Post, established by the Reese Brothers, in 1860, lived about a year; The Democrat, established by J. J. Ricketts, in 1871, died within the year; The Herald, established by the Crook Brothers, in May, 1872, lived only a few weeks; The News, established in 1882, by Dr. Welsh & Son, survived only six months; The Bible Investigator, established by Wm. Kirby, 1881, lasted for a short time only, and no other newspaper has since been attempted in the town.
Doniphan postoffice was opened March 3, 1855, with John W. Forman as postmaster. He held it but a short time when he turned the office over to Geo. Reese, now of St. Joseph, who was running a paper in Doniphan at the time. Mr. Reese held the office until 1859, when N. Werner was appointed, Mr. Werner held the office from 1859 to 1862, when Dr. Benjamin was appointed. He had it one year when it was returned to Mr. Werner, this being 1863. During the year Mr. Werner died and his wife was appointed. She was postmaster the rest of the year 1863, and up to January 1, 1870. In May, Mrs. Werner and Chas. R. Kuchs were married and Mr. Kuchs was appointed postmaster and entered the office as postmaster June 1, 1870, and held it until April 1, 1871, when Howard Sale was appointed. He served until November 1, 1875, when he returned it to Mr. Kuchs, who held it from November 1, 1875, until October 1, 1885, when he was followed by Charles Brenner. Mr. Brenner held the office till some time in 1887, when Ed Breuer was appointed and served until May 1, 1889, when it was again returned to the careful care of Chas. R. Kuchs. Mr. Kuchs served until October 1, 1894. Ed Breuer came next and served until May, 1897. Then came Anton Braun, who is holding the office today. This is the chronological account of the Doniphan postoffice up to date. We may add that when the postoffice at Doniphan was first opened mail was carried to the town by Star route from Atchison to Wathena until some time in 1870, when it was transfered to the Atchison-Falls City route and carried by stage by a man named Finch until January 3, 1871, when the A. & N. railroad brought its first mail into the town. During the great flood of 1881, the railroad was washed away and the company decided to abandon the Doniphan road bed and moved their track down the valley two miles west, and located a station which they called Doniphan Station. In the spring of 1882, they began to run their trains on the new route and have so continued. Still the mail comes to old Doniphan via the Station.
One of the early doctors of the city dropped a hint that he would give $10 for a good, sound skeleton of a man. Two young men, who loved to dance, and who needed money to pay the fiddler, made a moonlight visit to the bluffs near town, where there were many Indian graves. Digging out a skeleton of fine proportions, they took it to the river, fastened it to a boat with a rope and left it to drag in the water as they paddled up and down stream until the bones were washed clean. Delivering the skeleton to the doctor, the young men received $5 each, and there was a romping big dance the next night.
The first mail train arrived January 3, 1871, on the Atchison & Nebraska railroad, and there was much rejoicing.
The Doniphan Herald, May, 1872, thus tells of a visit to the wine cellars of this place: "We visited the wine cellars of the Brenners this week, and to say that we enjoyed the sparkling fluid from the 1,000-gallon cask, would not half express our delight in that visit. Such delicious wines are not found elsewhere in the United States. Those Brenner wines are getting a reputation not to be excelled anywhere in the country. Hermann has heretofore claimed the laurel in wines, but Doniphan now so far surpasses her in quality that Hermann must stand aside." It will be observed that the wine went to the Herald editor's head in short order,
A large school building of brick was erected in 1873, at a cost of $8,000.
One day, late in the '50s, James Eylar, who lived near Doniphan, while on his way to Atchison in a wagon, overtook a tall, angular man who asked permission to ride with him. As they rode Eylar told the man of some relatives he had living in Missouri, where he had been visiting. What do you think of Jim Lane, over there?" asked the tall, angular man of Mr. Eylar. "They don't think much of him," replied Mr. Eylar, adding, if they had the blank of a blank over there they would soon hang him." On his arrival at Atchison, Mr. Eylar discovered that he had been riding with the "grim chieftain" himself.
J. F. Conrad, who does a general blacksmithing business, opened a shop here in 1902. He does line carriage and wagon work, guaranteeing satisfaction, Mr. Conrad's shop turns out as good work as can be done in any other shop in the county.
The tail of the tornado that swept over the eastern portion of Atchison county on the afternoon of May 13, 1905, killing Mrs. John Ham, and doing great damage in its path, grazed the extreme southeastern portion of Doniphan county. "It started near the Catholic church in Doniphan," says the Atchison Globe, "and was about a quarter to a half mile wide. It traveled in a northeast direction, to Elwood. So far as can be learned, no one was injured. The track of the storm can be distinctly seen today; huge trees were torn out by the roots and fences blown flat. J. W. Stephenson's store, at Doniphan Station, was struck by lightning and Mr. Stephenson was stunned, and for a time was rendered senseless. P. A. Breuer, who lives three miles northeast of Doniphan, was damaged $2,500, as he lost his house, his barns, fences, orchard, sheds, households goods, etc. There are seven in his family, but no one was hurt, except that one boy was pinched slightly. Mr. Breuer saw the storm cloud strike his place. Instantly everything went to pieces. A tree a foot through was cut off by wire in a hog fence. The trees in the orchard were twisted out of the ground. One cow was carried a half mile, and not injured. Mr. Breuer had a new piano, and it was torn to pieces. The family saved nothing except the clothing they wore, and are now at a neighbor's. The house of William Scholz, in the same neighborhood, was damaged. Arthur Evans, living in the same neighborhood, had his house torn down, but no one was hurt. A man named Christopher, living two miles north of Geary, had his house torn to pieces and is unable to find any trace of it. Frank Brenner's house in Doniphan was badly twisted."
In 1893, G. W. Warfield opened a neat little store and has since been supplying his well pleased customers with meats, groceries and confectioneries. He is very attentive to the wishes of his patrons, and his store is a place for bargains.
At present there are less than half a dozen business houses in town, but they do considerable business, and the proprietors are wide-a-wake men, who believe in honest dealing and the free use of that magic composition which makes business and keeps the world awake - printers' ink. Following is a list of the men now in business: Anton Braun, general merchandise; J. F. Conrad, blacksmithing; G. W. Warfield, groceries; Dr. Allen; T. Langan, general merchandise.
Brenner was the third town in the township to be laid out. In 1870, the Atchison & Nebraska railroad was graded through the Rock creek valley, and in 1872, Brenner was located by the railroad company. It soon grew into a busy little town, but the same power that had given it birth - the railroad - could not sustain its active life, On account of its failing strength, and Brenner did not long continue in the march of prosperity that was so cheerfully and hopefully begun at the start. It is well remembered that during the latter '70s and early '80s, Brenner was an excellent grain market, being supplied with grain by the farmers of Wayne, Centre, Union and Wolf River townships. The buyers bought principally for the Atchison millers, who always paid high prices for good grade grain, such as the glorious county of Doniphan has always furnished. How proud were the industrious farmers to learn that the wheat raised by them was made into flour to be shipped to England and other parts of Europe! Not a few biscuits made from Doniphan county flour have tickled the palates of the royalty who demanded the best, and got it.
A depot was built in 1872 or 1873, and the boom began.
A few years later, Jeff. McNemee opened a blacksmith shop, and the ring of his anvil gave a business-like air to the cosy village so beautifully located on Rock creek.
Andrew Loyd, a young man fell under the cars and was killed, somewhere near the depot, February 25, 1879.
H. Boughman, stockman, did a good business here during the early '80s, buying and shipping hogs.
In November, 1881, the depot agent at Brenner, endeavoring to get the mail sack on a very early train, made a ridiculous, if not a serious, mistake. He was in bed when the train whistled for the station. He rushed out in the twilight to meet the train, carrying the mail sack in one hand and his breeches in the other. The train did not stop, and in his confusion, instead of throwing the sack into the car, he mailed his only breeches. The train went thundering on, leaving the agent standing disconsolate with the chill morning breeze fanning his naked and trembling limbs. For this attempt to perform his duty his name, a few weeks later, was emblazoned on the pink pages of the New York Police Gazette, together with a picture and a graphic description of the shirt tail performance.
The first depot agent for the Atchison & Nebraska railroad was Harry Nesbit. Brenner has turned out, at least, half a dozen competent telegraphers, all having been born and raised in the neighborhood.
The only store in 1882, was owned and operated by Cook & Hinckley. The enterprising gentlemen of this firm had, at the time, about all the business there was in town - merchandising, grain shipping, notary and legal work, and the agency at the depot.
Frank Welton who, for many years, had been a merchant at Norway, engaged in the grain business here about 1883.
The first Harrison pole raised in Kansas was raised in Brenner, June 25, 1892. The pole was seventy-five feet high, in three sections, painted red, white and blue.
William A. Stanton was for some years engaged in the mercantile business here. He sold out and went to Atchison about 1892.
Brenner has always had good schools, and during the '90s, was famous for its literary societies conducted there. Also, for a great many years it was the liveliest village in the county in the way of amusements; plays and balls being frequently given, and always with good success.
Brenner continues to hold her own as a grain and stock market, and farmers delivering their products there have the advantage of the services of a good store, filled with a well selected line of general merchandise. The prices at this store will compare favorably with Atchison prices, and the proprietor, Mr. Geo. Weatherhogg, is not only a good judge of what goes to make up a first-class store for a country town, but is an obliging, courteous gentleman who believes in supplying honest goods at fair prices. Mr. Weatherhogg is also postmaster and has charge of the telephone office. Patrons of the store will find Mr. Weatherhogg as obliging behind the counter as he is at the telephone or your Uncle Sam's mail box. A visit to the store will please you.
A careless conductor of a freight train on the B. & M. railroad at Brenner, left a part of his train, with the caboose, on the main track, on which the fast train from Denver (the Cannon Ball) comes and which goes by at full speed. There being a sharp curve in the road just before reaching Brenner, made it impossible for the engineer to avoid the collision. The brakes were quickly put on; the engine was reversed but the collision could not be avoided. The engineer and fireman jumped and the engine struck the caboose, splitting it from end to end. The end flew out of the boiler, the water pouring into the caboose where seven men slept, scalding them badly. One man, Mr. Wroth of Red Oak, Iowa, died from the effects, They were all workmen. The conductor of the freight train at once fled.
The following are now in business: George Weatherhogg, general merchandise; Jeff McNemee, huckster; J. W. Lehew, blacksmith; Frank Severin and Mr. Smith, grain and stock buyers.
Early in 1857, a Leavenworth company purchased of C. Lewis 260 acres of land on the Missouri river above Doniphan, and laid out the town Geary, which was named for the governor. For a short time it was believed that the new town would become a great city, but the hope soon vanished, and within a few years Geary took a back seat with plenty of company; for many another town that had started out with high hopes of achieving greatness had, within the same short time, seen the end of their prosperous days. Geary City is still on the map, and while it may have no brilliant future to look forward to, it cannot be robbed of its pleasant recollection that it saw greatness in its time.
The first building on the site of the town was a log house built in 1854, and used as a saloon.
The second house was a hotel, and the third a printing office, the home of the Era.
Early storekeepers were: M. Cuttle, Porter & Cooper, J. L. Roundy and C. Lewis.
Franklin Grubb was the pioneer physician.
The first lawyer to hang his shingle in the sun at Geary was Jas. McCahon, afterwards better known both to fame and to fortune.
A postoffice was established in 1857, with J. L. Roundy as postmaster.
A paper called the Era was started in June, 1857. This ambitious journal was well supplied with editors, having had three at the same time. E. H. Snow, Republican, furnished political red pepper for his political friends. Joseph Thompson, Democrat, tickled the pride of the Democrats with the feathery end of his quill and took in some money on subscription. Earl Marble, American, wrote patriotic editorials in measure, advocating love and devotion to the "Star Spangled Banner", but did not hold himself above the writing out of receipts for subscription money. What strange scenes must have been witnessed in the Era office! Republican subscribers rushing in to congratulate Mr. Snow on the appearance of his red hot editorials, scorching the Democrats to a Vandyke brown; Democrats tossing their money to Mr. Thompson who, with beaming face and winking eye, produced a cork-screw which was soon put to its natural use with true Democratic skill; Americans interviewing Mr. Marble, offering potatoes on subscription and original patriotic poems for publication in the Yankee column. How very early in her childhood did Kansas show herself a "genius"!
In 1868, the first municipal election was held.
The first saw mill was owned by Franklin & Grubb, about 1858. Later the property was owned and operated by Franklin, Frick & Price, and it may be added here that some of the sycamore lumber sawed by this mill in the early '60s, is still doing good service in some of the older buildings in the central and southern parts of the county.
In 1858 or 1859, Flickenger & Langdon built their "muley", or up-right saw mill, which continued in operation until the fall of 1859.
In the spring of 1858, Charley Lenhart, a printer on the Era, got drunk and began to use his pistol recklessly. He went into the store of Porter & Cooper, in the upper story of which there was a dance in progress. The enlivening effect of the music on his already excited nerves made his trigger finger restless and he began shooting up through the floor of the ball room. Alexander Patterson, a clerk in the store, being a lover of peace and not wishing to have the harmony of the dancers disturbed, picked up his own pistol and warned Lenhart to behave himself. Lenhart's trigger finger was too limber for prompt obedience, and the firing.\ continued. Patterson then used another argument. He fired at Lenhart. Lenhart fell, and it was thought he was past all harm, but remembering that there was another load in his pistol, he fired at Patterson, the ball striking his arm, disabling it. The fight ended. Lenhart was laid up for some time, but eventually recovered. When the war broke out he went into the army and died in Bentonville, Ark., in 1863. He had been a first lieutenant under Col. John Ritchie.
The first grist mill was erected by Franklin & Frick, in 1860. Later it was removed to Doniphan, and from Doniphan to Severance, where the same firm continued in business until about 1898.
Most of the threshing in this neighborhood, and for miles around, is done by Lemison Bros., who, by their strict attention to business and good services rendered, have won the confidence of their patrons; but their long experience as threshermen would be sufficient recommendation. The popular saying that bacon is good enough for threshers", doesn't hold good when the women hear that Lemison Brothers are coming. They also own and operate a saw mill.
Further mention of Geary City will be found in the "Nutshell" or paragraph history. At present there is but one business house in the "city". Mrs. Flickenger owns a small grocery store and is postmistress.
Won't the old City go when she gets the electric car line? Then she'll strut!
Transcribed from Gray's Doniphan County history: A record of the happenings of half a hundred years. By P. L. (Patrick Leopoldo) Gray. Bendena, Kan.: The Roycroft Press, 1905. 3p. l. -84, 166,  p. front., plates, ports. 24 cm.
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