Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister


 

Washington Township and Borough of Edinboro

In the organization of Erie County, the territory now embraced in Washington Township, together with portions of Waterford and Franklin since taken off, was given the title of Conneauttee, after its lake and principal stream. The name was changed to Washington in 1834, to correct the inconvenience caused by two very similar township names in the same county. In 1844, a large slice was cut out of the west side in the formation of Franklin Township, and another reduction was made at a later period by taking a piece from the northeast corner and adding it to Waterford. The original jurisdiction covered 31,360 acres, but the township limits have been reduced to 27,473 acres, with a width from north to south of six and three-fifths miles, and a length from east to west of eight and a half in the widest part. The township is bounded on the north by McKean, Waterford and Franklin, on the east by Waterford and LeBoeuf, on the south by Venango, Cussewago and Cambridge Townships, Crawford County, and on the west by Elk Creek and Franklin. It contains three small villages -- McLane, McLallen's Corners and Draketown -- all of which have post offices except the last named. The population of the township was 438 in 1820, 743 in 1830, 1,551 in 1840, 1,706 in 1850, 1,943 in 1860, 2,744 in 1870, and 1,880 in 1880. The assessment of 1880 gave the following results: Value of real estate, $734,836; number of horses, 473; of cows, 1,133; of oxen, 50; value of the same, $46,763; money at interest $48,731.

First Settlers
In the year 1796 -- the whole of Erie County being at the time an unbroken wilderness, excepting trifling settlements at Erie, Waterford, North East, McKean, Harbor Creek, Fairview and Mill Creek -- Alex. Hamilton and William Culbertson, both of Williamsport, Lycoming County, Penn., visited the site of Edinboro and selected lands with the design of establishing a colony. They returned to their home in the fall and spent the winter along the West Branch of the Susquehanna enlisting settlers. In the spring of 1797, they came back, and were soon followed by Job Reeder, Samuel Galloway, Simeon Dunn, John and James Campbell, Mathias Sipps, John McWilliams, Phineas McLenathan, Matthew Hamilton, James, John, Andrew and Samuel Culbertson, Mrs. Jane Campbell (a widow), two of her sons and a daughter, Hannah, and the wives of Alex. Hamilton and William Culbertson. Other parties arrived later in the season, making about fifty colonists during the year 1797. The Widow Campbell retraced her way to the Susquehanna in the fall, and returned the next spring, bringing her other three children. She and her family took up over 1,000 acres, embracing the properties now owned by John, Samuel and Moses Reeder, Elias McWilliams, P. Crane and R. B. McLaughrey, building several cabins so as to held the land. James Culbertson located on the Hardman farm; John on the Lick, Webster and Giles places; Samuel on the old Perry farm, and William on the old Kinter farm. The latter soon changed to the tract now covered by Edinboro, and proved himself to be the most enterprising man of the party. He built the first house in Edinboro and the first grist mill and saw mill on Conneauttee Creek; was Justice of the Peace for forty years. Mr. Culbertson's earliest residence was on the site of F. C. Vunk's house, from which he moved to a building on the site of R. C. McLaughrey's store.

Alexander Hamilton took up 600 acres, including what is now the Martin Pratt farm; Phineas McLenathan settled on the west side of the lake, where his grandson John lives; and Mathias Sipps near the Waterford road, not far from the center of the township. Following are as nearly as can be ascertained the years in which other pioneers settled in the township: In 1798, Peter Kline; 1800, James Graham; 1802, Daniel Sherod; 1805, John Tanner and Davis Pifer; 1814, Simeon Meacham; 1816, Judah Wells; 1817 or 1818, Robert McLallen, James Port and Nathaniel Etheridge; 1819, Isaac Taylor; 1819 or 1820, Nathaniel Gardner; 1825 or 1826, Jesse Lewis; 1827, Henry R. Terry; 1828, Jacob Lefevre; 1832, Sherman Greenfield and L. B. Goodell; 1833, George Sweet, Evi Twichell and Willard Wellman; 1834, J. J. Compton, Benjamin White, Jesse Tarbell, Wanton Slocum, the Hawkinses and M. M. McLaughrey; 1835, John White, the Proudfits and the Potters; 1836, the Shieldses. Mr. Sweet was from Cayuga County, N. Y., and Mr. Compton from Delaware County, N. Y. Dr. J. C. Wilson made his location in 1856, coming from Bucks County, Penn. Among the early settlers in the Little Conneauttee Valley were Zopher Davis and John Serwood, both of whom located in 1819; Walter Palmer, Henry Drake, Russell Stancliff, Ralph D. Phelps and Thoe. Phelps. Jacob LeFevre was the second Justice of the Peace, receiving his appointment from Gov. Wolf in 1832, and serving till 1840. The first marriage was that of Job Reeder to Nancy Campbell, March 1, 1800; the first death that of Mrs. William Culbertson in 1804. Jane Culbertson was the first female child, born in 1799, and John Augustus Culbertson the first male child, born in 1800, though this was disputed by William Boardman, of Union City, who claimed to have first seen the light in the Little Conneauttee Valley in 1796.

There was no road in the county nearer than Waterford, and a dense wilderness extended on both sides from the Allegheny River to the far West, so the early settlers had to travel to Waterford on foot or horseback for their supplies.

Roads
The leading highways of Washington Township are the Erie & Edinboro Plank Road, with its extension to Meadville, by way of Venango; the plank road from Waterford to Drake's Mills, Crawford County; the old Waterford road, the road from Cranesville to Waterford, the State road from Lockport through McLane to Waterford, and the Sherrod Hill road from Edinboro to Cussewago. The old Waterford road was established about 1802. The Erie & Edinboro Plank Road Company was formed in 1850, with Judge John Galbraith as President; and in the same year the Edinboro & Meadville company was organized, with Judge Gaylord Church as President. Both roads were completed in 1852, and simultaneously abandoned about 1868 or 1869. The plank road from Waterford to Drake's Mills, built about the same period, was allowed to fall into the hands of the township authorities when the others were abandoned. There is no railroad in the township, and the nearest railroad station is at Cambridge, in Crawford County, where most of the freight to and from Edinboro is received and shipped.

Streams, Lake and Lands
Few townships in the county are better watered than Washington is by Conneauttee and Little Conneauttee Creeks and their branches. The East Branch of Conneauttee Creek rises near McLane, and the West Branch in a cranberry marsh in Franklin Township, about two miles from the Washington line. After coursing through the western and central portions of Washington Township from the north, they unite their waters at the head of Conneauttee Lake. Flowing through the lake, the stream continues some eight miles further to a point near Cambridge, where it joins French Creek, after a total length of about fifteen miles. Pratt Creek unites with the East Branch about a mile north of the lake, and Herbert Creek runs into the main stream two miles below the outlet. The Little Conneauttee rises in McKean, perhaps a mile north of the township line, runs across the eastern portion in a southerly course, and empties into the Big Conneauttee a short distance above its mouth, having a length about equal to its more prominent namesake. Besides the above mentioned streams, the north part of the township contains the headwaters of the South Branch of Elk Creek, which joins the main stream at Middleboro. Lake Conneauttee was originally about three-fourths of a mile long by half a mile wide, but was somewhat enlarged by the construction of the dam for Culbertson's mill across the outlet.

The lands of Washington Township will average as well as any of the southern districts of the county. There are no abrupt hills or precipitous gullies, and nearly the whole face of the country is susceptible of cultivation. A broad, fertile valley extends from the McKean line across the entire township, along Big Conneauttee Creek, and the valley of the Little Conneauttee, though narrower, is equally productive. Both valleys are good grain land, but that of the Big Conneauttee is marred by swamps, which are difficult of drainage. A high chestnut ridge, rising gradually from the valleys, lies between the two streams, which produces grain, but is best for dairying. There is another ridge on the west side of the township, extending from Franklin to the Crawford line, which is the exact counterpart of its eastern neighbor. The price of land is from $25 to $50 an acre, averaging perhaps $30.

Villages and Churches
The village of McLane lies upon the Erie & Edinboro Plank Road, at the crossing of the State road, on the summit between the head-waters of Big Conneauttee Creek and the South Branch of Elk Creek, fourteen miles south of the city and four miles north of Edinboro. It consists of a Methodist and Baptist Church (both frame), two stores, one blacksmith, wagon and carriage shop, one shoe shop, a schoolhouse, and about a dozen houses. The name was changed from Compton's Corners to McLane, in honor of Gen. John W. McLane, the gallant first Colonel of the Eighty-third Regiment. There is a union cemetery at the village, and a private race course a little south.

The McKean Baptist congregation at McLane, until the erection of their church edifice, held services in McKean Township. James Steadman, Jr., and James Steadman, 3d, Margaret Steadman, Sarah Thompson, Zera Crouch, William Crouch and Phidina Crouch met at the house of Martin Stancliff December 7, 1838, to consider the propriety of organizing a Baptist Church, and on the following Saturday Elders McCumber, Alford and R. Cheney were appointed a council for that purpose. The congregation met at the South Hill and Branchville Schoolhouses until 1866, when the present church building at McLane was erected. It cost about $2,000, and was dedicated January 23, 1867. Rev. Phelps' pastorate closed in 1882, and at present there is no regular minister in charge.

The Methodist Episcopal society at McLane was organized in 1863, with six members, by Rev. L. D. Brooks, its first pastor. The church building was erected in 1867, at an expense of $1,800. The membership is now about thirty. The society is attached to McKean Circuit.

The village of McLallen's Corners is on the Little Conneauttee, at the crossing of the Waterford & Drake's Mills Plank Road by a road leading to Pollock's bridge in Le Boeuf Township. It embraces a Christian Church, a cheese factory, a schoolhouse, a store, a blacksmith shop and several houses. One of the oldest residents of McLallen's Corners was Abel Trow, who died in 1881 at the age of ninety. The Christian Church was organized in the spring of 1828 with six members by Rev. Simeon Bishop. Services were held in the schoolhouse for twenty years; during the pastorate of Rev. Asahel Fish, who had charge of the congregation for about sixteen years, a church was erected, which has now been in use for thirty-five years. Succeeding Rev. Fish, the pastors have been Rev. William Bullock, Elders Jesse E. Church, Gardner Dean, G. W. Sherman, Stephen Washburn, Aaron Cornish, J. S. Johnson, G. W. Sweet, Philip Zeigler, J. H. Carr, A. M. Letts and Joseph Weeks, who now serves this charge. Rev. Eli Halliday came in 1857. The present membership is about 100.

Draketown, on the Little Conneauttee Creek, about two-thirds of a mile south of the State road, is nothing more than a thickly settled farm region. Besides a few houses, there is a Christian Church, a schoolhouse, a store and a blacksmith shop. The Christian Church was organized in January, 1877, by Elder G. W. Sweet, who is still its pastor. The church building, a neat frame, had been erected the previous summer. The membership of the congregation is about seventy.

There is a Methodist building at Ash's Corners, north of Draketown, and another of the same denomination at Sherrod Hill, in the southwestern part of the township. The building at Ash's Corners was erected in 1867, at a cost of $1,600. An old society had previously existed in this locality and met for worship in the Draketown Schoolhouse, the one at Phelps' Corners, one mile east of the present edifice, and the Ash Schoolhouse. The charge is a portion of Waterford Circuit, which besides this and Waterford appointments has a class at Sharp's Schoolhouse. The membership of the Ash congregation is small. Rev. John Graham was first pastor in charge after the new building was erected.

The Methodist Episcopal congregation at Sherrod Hill, several miles west of Edinboro, is in a prosperous condition and owns a substantial frame building. It is attached to the Edinboro Circuit.

The cemetery at Edinboro is the common burial ground for town and township, but there are a number of graveyards scattered about the country. The most prominent are those at McLane and Draketown.

Schools
The first school in the township was taught by William Buckley on the west side of the Conneauttee Creek in what was known as the old Plank Schoolhouse. This building was also used for religious services. About 1819, Miss Barna Crosette taught a school in a room in Isaac Taylor's cabin about one and a half miles southeast of Edinboro. Soon after, a log schoolhouse was built on the east line of Mr. Taylor's farm, and besides the Taylor children, the families of Philip Kinter, of Joseph Walker and of John Tanner and others received instruction. Miss Crosette, who afterward married Samuel Perry, and resided near Edinboro, taught also in this log schoolhouse during a summer term or two. Horace Powers, from Massachusetts, was the first to hold sway here during the winter. He died many years after near Edinboro, aged seventy-six. The first schools were held in the southeast portion of the township. The northern part was later settled and held its first schools in the cabins of its pioneers. A large schoolhouse stood in Edinboro in 1821, and had been erected years previous. It was used for both educational and religious purposes. Hiram Powers gave instruction here as early as 1821. Probably a year later, Matthew Simpson presided at the teacher's desk. Amos Bailey, a New Yorker, taught the next winter, and soon after took his departure from the neighborhood. Capt. Samuel Beede, who hailed from New Hampshire, and dwelt at Compton's Corners, was the pedagogue about 1824 and 1825, and was followed by John Hodges, who died recently at the advanced age of over ninety years at his residence about eight miles east of Edinboro. Mr. Fullerton was also an early teacher at Edinboro. A schoolhouse was built in early times on the Perry farm, about a mile east of Edinboro. Following is a list of the school buildings and their locations: Greene, on the Greene road, in the southwest; Sherrod, on Sherrod Hill road, near the west line; White, on same road, two and a half miles from Edinboro; Gibson, on Gibson Hill road, a mile and a half from Edinboro; Wellman, on Greene road, a mile and three-fourths from Edinboro; Swift, at the Wellman cheese factory; Gillaspie, at junction of Erie plank and Crane roads; McLane, in the village of that name; Ash, at Ash's Corners; Macon, on road from Crane road to the State road; Draketown, in that village; Gleeton, on the Waterford road, two miles east of Edinboro; James McLallen, on the same road, half way between Edinboro and Waterford; McLallen's Corners, in that village; Cummings, on the Waterford plank, at the crossing of the Kinter Hill road; Kinter, on the Kinter Hill road, two miles southwest from Edinboro -- making sixteen in all. Besides the above, the township is interested in three union schools, viz: One in Franklin Township, near the west line; and two in Cussewago Township, Crawford County, near the south line.

Factories and Mills
The factories and mills of Washington Township are as follows: Wait & Ensign's steam saw mill and shingle and lath factory, north of McLane; Wellman's cheese factory, steam saw mill, shingle and lath factory, on the Crane road, about two and a half miles northwest of Edinboro; St. John's tannery, in the Conneauttee Valley; a cheese factory and cider mill, near McLallen's Corners; M. G. Gardner's steam saw mill, on the Little Conneauttee, near Draketown; Edwin Beach's saw mill, on the same stream, below McLellan's Corners; Jesse Lewis' carding and fulling mill, and J. F. Wade & Bros.' saw mill and shingle and lath factory, on the Conneauttee, about three-fourths of a mile south of Edinboro; J. F. Wade & Bros.' planing mill, sash and door factory, on the same stream, a short distance below; I. R. Reeder's saw mill, on the same stream, still lower down; N. White's factory, on the Kinter road and Giles Run; Anderson's cider and jelly mill, one and a half miles west of Edinboro.



Borough of Edinboro

The borough of Edinboro was incorporated by act of the Legislature in 1840, and includes some 500 acres of high, gravelly land at the foot of Lake Conneauttee, twenty miles south of Erie, seven miles north of the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad at Cambridge, and two miles north of the Crawford County line. The valley of the Conneauttee is about a mile wide at this point, and the country around the borough is one of the finest sections of Erie County. The corporate limits, which cover a portion of the lake, are about a mile from north to south, and about two-thirds of a mile from east to west. The population was 232 in 1840; 363 in 1850, 474 in 1860, 801 in 1870, and 876 in 1880. The first officers were: Burgess, William Kellison; Council, James Stancliff, L. B. Goodell, Abel Whitney, Daniel Shryock, Simeon Meachem; Assessor, Abel Whitney; Collector, Cornelius Graham. By the assessment of 1880, the valuation of the borough was as follows: Real estate, $193,422; number of horses, 81; of cows, 49; value of same, $5,510; value of trades and occupations, $16,450; money at interest, $48,225.

The third grist mill in Erie County -- one each having been previously built at Union and Walnut Creek -- was erected on the outlet of Lake Conneauttee, very nearly on the site of the present mill, in 1801, by William Culbertson, one of the first settlers, who added a saw mill in 1802. The property fell into the hands of Isaac R. Taylor and James Reeder some thirty years ago, who built new mills, which are among the most extensive in the county. The establishment of the mills may be said to have laid the foundation of the town. By degrees quite a number of houses sprung up around them, and Mr. Culbertson finally concluded to survey the site into lots, to which he gave the name of Edinboro.

General Description

Edinboro has four churches, two hotels, one bank, six doctors, one lawyer, one normal school, several halls, societies of the Masons and United Workmen, and a variety of manufactories. Of the latter, the principal are J. T. Reeder & Co.'s grist mill; M. Phelps' cheese factory, established in 1868; Taylor & Reeder's pump factory and planing mill. The village also contains three dry goods stores, five groceries, two drug stores, two hardware stores, two furniture stores, one clothing store, one jewelry store, three boot and shoe stores, three millinery stores, one saloon, two livery stables, four blacksmith shops, one carriage shop, one wagon shop, two harness shops, one tailor shop and one cooper shop. The buildings of the borough are of wood, with the exception of Isaac R. Taylor's fine residence, and Normal Hall, which are balloon frame brick structures, and Dr. Hotchkiss' brick residence. Town lots range in value from $125 to $500, averaging probably $300. The hotels of Edinboro are the Robinson House and the Cutler House. The first named was built in 1843, on the site of one that burned down, and was run by A. Robinson from 1852 to 1883, when he sold it to W. Bennett. The Cutler House is of recent date.

The cemetery of the borough, in a pretty location, on a knoll near the foot of the lake, and overlooking its whole extent, embraces three acres, the gift of William Culbertson for the purpose. It has been in use perhaps seventy years.

Churches
The religious societies of Edinboro are Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, Close Communion Baptist and Advent, all of which have neat frame buildings.

The Presbyterian Church of Edinboro was organized in 1829 by Revs. Samuel Tait and Pierce Chamberlain. A Presbyterian congregation had been organized here prior to 1819 by Rev. Mathews. From about 1821 to 1824, Rev. Bradford Marcy, of Venango Township, Crawford County, preached at Edinboro once in four weeks. Rev. Chamberlain, after the organization, supplied the church for several years. He resided at Rockville, Crawford County. Rev. Jared Spicer was probably the first resident minister. He came about 1837, and remained only a year. During his pastorate, the congregation separated into New School and Old School branches. The former employed Rev. James F. Reed at first; he remained seven years, and was succeeded by Rev. Ottinger for one year; Rev. E. W. Beebe followed, and remained many years. The Old School division secured the services successively of Alexander Cunningham and J. W. Dickey. In 1865, the two branches re-united, and were served twelve years by Rev. William Grasse. Rev. Bush was pastor from 1878 to 1880, when Rev. R. G. Williams, the present minister, took charge. In 1836, the congregation erected the first church in the village. In 1854, the New School branch erected a new house, and the year following the Old School branch also constructed a new church, which in 1871 was sold to the Baptist Church.

The Methodist Episcopal Church at Edinboro was organized about 1829, prior to which date, however, Methodist preaching had been held in the vicinity by Rev. Russell Stancliff and others. Revs. Job Wilson, Mack Callender and Butt Barris were among the first ministers. The second church in the village was built by the Methodists in 1838, and now constitutes the Town House. The present building was erected in 1863.

The Edinboro, formerly Washing, Regular Baptist Church was organized, it is thought, about 1838. Rev. E. C. Rogers was minister in charge about twenty-five years. He was succeeded in 1874 by Rev. H. H. Phelps, who preached to the congregation for five years. Revs. Norman Thomas and J. R. Pendell each maintained the pastoral relation for about a year. In April, 1882, Rev. Phelps was recalled, and now supplies the congregation, which is small. Services were held in the schoolhouse until 1871, when the society purchased the Old School Presbyterian Church.

The Advent Christian Church of God was organized at Edinboro in 1863, with about thirty members, by Rev. H. L. Hastings, of Boston, Mass. Services had been held irregularly for twenty or more years previously by members of this faith who resided here. Rev. J. D. Brown was the first pastor. He came in the autumn of 1864 and remained six years. After a vacancy of four or five years, Rev. G. W. Statson became pastor, and continued in charge for seven years. A vacancy now exists in the pulpit. The membership is about eighty. The church edifice was erected in 1864 at a cost of $1,200.

Secret Societies, Newspapers and Post Offices
The charger for Oasis Lodge, No. 417, F. & A. M., was granted March 4, 1868, and in the following autumn the lodge was organized with the following eight charter members: John W. Goodell, Charles Burhham, Martin Cornell, Job Taylor, A. J. Proudfit, George Proud, H. D. Rogers and C. C. Roberts. The present membership is about fifty. The lodge owns the third floor of the Stanford building, which constitutes their hall. It was dedicated October 12, 1875.

Edinboro Lodge, No. 80, A. O. U. W., was chartered September 10, 1877. Its first officers were: W. B. Skelton, P. M. W.; William B. Green, M. W.; T. H Goodrich, G. F.; W. W. McWilliams, O.; O. H. Durham, Recorder; William P. Burchfield, Financier; E. H. Austin, Receiver; M. V. Cornell, G.; D. Burrows, I. W.; N. T. McLallen, O. W.

In 1855, Edinboro boasted of three newspapers -- the Native American, a monthly, and the Gem and Museum, weeklies, of which latter Mr. Lewis was Editor. The Native American and Gem died natural deaths in 1856, and the Museum was moved to Waterford, where it led a struggling existence for several years under the name of the Enquirer. Henry Lick established the Express in 1859, which lived until December 29, 1860, when the material was sold to Mr. Clute, and used in establishing a journal at Three Rivers, Mich. The Edinboro Independent was started in February, 1880, by the Cobb brothers. They sold the paper December 1, 1881, to James T. Armstrong. Rev. J. R. Pendell became editor and proprietor in the spring of 1884.

The post route to Erie and the post office at Edinboro were established in 1837. Dr. Stranahan was the first postmaster.

State and County Officers
The following is a list of the public officers furnished by Edinboro and Washington Townships: Auditors, Russell Stancliff, 1834 to 1837; James H. Campbell, 1845 to 1848; Samuel Reeder, 1851 to 1853; John W. Campbell, 1856 to 1859. Commissioners, Russell Stancliff, 1840 to 1843; William Campbell, 1846 to 1849; Josiah J. Compton, 1855 to 1858. Treasurer, Mortimer Phelps, 1855 to 1857. Prothonotary, C. P. Rogers, 1866 to 1869. Assemblymen, John W. Campbell, 1859; E. C. Twichell, 1862-63; Chauncey P. Rogers, 1872; E. H. Wilcox, 1873-74; Sealer of Weights and Measures, William P. Butterfield, 1883.

The Normal School
The most conspicuous institution in Edinboro, and the one which has contributed most to its advancement, is the Normal School. This prosperous seat of learning grew out of an academy which was opened in 1855. The Normal School was built by subscription in 1856, was erected at a cost of $3,200 and was used as an academy in 1857-59. Prof. J. R. Merriman and Prof. Sears were engaged as instructors. Owing to the large attendance of scholars, two additional buildings, now known as the Assembly Hall and the Ladies' Boarding Hall respectively, were erected in 1858, at an outlay of $11,000, also raised by subscription. The State Superintendent, Dr. Hickok, on examining the school, pronounced the accommodation insufficient to justify him in accepting it as a State Normal School. During the winter of 1859-60, $10,000 were raised by subscription, and in 1860 a fourth building was erected, now known as the Gentlemen's Boarding Hall. On January 26, 1861, the institution was formally recognized by the State Superintendent as a State Normal School. The buildings connected with the school are as follows: Literary Hall, the original academy, built in 1857, and rebuilt in 1880; Dormitory, built in 1858; Library, built in 1858, rebuilt in 1880; Normal Hall, built in 1875; Dormitory, built in 1860; Music Hall, built in 1878; Recitation Building, built in 1880. Normal Hall and the Recitation building are brick clad, all the other edifices are wholly of frame. They stand on a tract of twelve acres, on the southeast edge of the borough, which has been planted with trees and laid out with walks. The Normal School has a good scientific apparatus, and the best collection of apparatus for teaching common schools in the State. It owns a library of 4,500 volumes. The teachers number twelve in the Normal department, and four in the Model School. Prof. Cooper, Principal, came to the school in 1861 as an assistant, and was promoted to the general charge in 1863.



Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter XV, pp. 793-802.
 

 


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