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Dakota County, Minnesota

. . . about Farmington, Minnesota

NOTE: The following history is from an 1882 publication:

(Empire Township)


The citizens of Farmington desiring the advantages of an incorporated village, sent to the legislature a petition to that effect. Accordingly in March, 1872, a bill was passed by that body, giving them a village charter, including all the territory divided into lots and blocks in section 31, town 114, range 19 west. On the 1st day of April following, the first election of officers was held, and the following persons were elected: T. C. Davis, B. F. Miller, E. L. Brackett, trustees; Charles B. Smith, treasurer; I. W. Gibbons, justice; J. F. Dilley, constable; S. Webster, assessor; J. W. Emery, clerk.

In 1874, an amendment to the charter was passed, namely: "That the village shall consist of all of the north-east quarter of section 31, and all that territory divided into lots and blocks in the remaining three-quarters of the section, also that the trustees may remove any of the following officers when it may be deemed expedient, justice, constable, clerk, treasurer and assessor."

In April, 1876, a second amendment was passed, amending the first six sections of the charter. By this amendment the village was made to consist of the whole of section 31.

In March, 1877, a third amendment was passed to the effect that “the territory included in said village of Farmington shall consist of all of section 31, town 114, range 19 west, except that part of said section which is included in the farm of Mrs. Ann Devitt."

The citizens becoming tired of so many amendments finally petitioned the legislature for a new charter, which was approved February 23d, 1881, and was to be submitted to the vote of the people. Said vote was taken March 15th, 1881, and carried by a majority of forty-one. Section 2 of the new charter reads as follows:

"The territory of said village of Farmington shall be all of section 31, town 114, range 19 west, and the jurisdiction of said village shall extend beyond said limits in all directions, a distance of one mile for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing for violations of the law."

At the first election under the new charter, held April 5th, 1881, the following officers were chosen: S. Jenkins, W. C. Eustis, C. L. Brackett, trustees; John Atz, treasurer; W. C. Leavitt, W. A. Gray, justices; Roswell Judson, clerk; J. Madison, street commissioner.


Farmington has two business streets, Third and Oak. Oak street extends east and west, and at its foot are situated the depot and yards of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railway. On the north side of the street is situated Niskern's hotel, which was built in the autumn of 1880, of wood veneered with brick. It is three stories high, contains twenty-four rooms, and can accommodate fifty guests. The next building is owned by T. C. Davis, and was built in 1880 of wood, veneered with brick, is two stories high, and is occupied by M. Cropper, who keeps a full line of dry-goods, boots and shoes, hats and caps, groceries, etc. The next building on the corner of Oak and Third streets, is known as the banking block, and was also erected in the fall of 1880. It is of brick, trimmed with Kasota limestone, two stories high. The first floor is occupied by a store and the Bank of Farmington, and the second floor is known as Music hall, which will seat five hundred persons.

Eureka meat market was established in 1880, by F. M. Fletcher, now Fletcher Brothers, who keep a full line of meats, also a grocery in connection with the market. On the south side of the street is G. W. Dilley's livery stable, established in 1869. The building is of wood veneered with brick. Griebe's block, which was burned, was rebuilt in 1880. Joseph Knowles established a business in general merchandise in 1867, on the corner of Oak and Third streets, in a brick building two stories high. W. L. Knowles continues the business at the same stand. L. P. Fluke was established in January, 1867, the firm then being Dodge and Fluke. In 1868, Mr. Dodge sold out to Mr. Fluke who continues to keep an excellent line of drugs and hardware. The building is a frame structure, and owned by Mr. Fluke. M. C. Leavitt established in May, 1880, as attorney at law, and occupies an office in L. P. Fluke's building. I. C. Davis established in 1880, on Oak street as real estate broker and money-lender. R. Judson established in 1877, as attorney, is also justice of the peace, located on Oak street, in the building owned by Hannah R. Works. L. C. Clements established in 1878 in a frame building on Oak street; he keeps a complete line of hardware and farming implements. H. W. Van Valkenburg established in June, 1880, in a frame building, owned by Mrs. Vaughn, corner of Third and Elm streets, keeps a full line of general merchandise. Mrs. C. M. Wilmott, dress-maker, established in March, 1880, in a frame building owned by Mrs. Vaughn. Miss Emery, milliner, established in April, 1881, in the frame building owned by Mrs. Vaughn. Atz and Sauer established in 1866 in general hardware in the bank building on Third street. L. W. Johnson established in 1874, in a frame building veneered with brick, situated on Third street and owned by himself. He keeps an excellent assortment of jewelry and stringed instruments. W. I. Olson and Company established in the spring of 1876 a boot and shoe store, and in February, 1881, engaged in general merchandise. The firm is now Olson and Company. They are located in a frame building owned by Mr. Olson, and have in addition a shoe-shop on Third street. T. N. Esereth established the City meat-market in 1876, in a frame building owned by himself on Third street. John Wright established in February, 1881, a blacksmith and wagon-shop in a frame building owned by himself on Third street. M. W. Niederkorn established in the spring of 1878 in carriage and wagon manufacturing, together with all kinds of repairing, in a frame building owned by himself on Third street. Farmington Press, J. W. Emery, publisher, established in 1870, at the corner of Third and Walnut streets, in a building owned by Mr. Emery. I. J. Johnson owns the frame building on Third street, in which his tailoring establishment is located, and where he opened business in 1870. E. J. Chapel established in 1877 in general agricultural implements, Marsh harvesters etc., on Third street. United States Express, by M. K. Williams, established in 1866 on Third street. H. H. Finch established in 1876, in a frame building on Third street, and keeps a complete stock of wines, liquors and beer, etc. John Kelley, in a frame building on Third street, established in the fall of 1880 a full line of groceries etc. O. M. Carson established in 1876, on the corner of Third and Oak streets, in dry-goods and notions. K. Record established in 1873, in general merchandise, except dry-goods, in the same store. F. Winters established in 1873, as barber, on Third street, in a frame building owned by Mrs. Eagle. K. F. Miller established in 1879, a restaurant with fruit, candy, cigars, etc., on Third street, in the building owned by Mrs. Eagle. William Nixon established the harness manufacture in the frame building on Third street owned by George Herber. Mrs. George Lister, in the building owned by George Herber, on Third street, established a full line of millinery goods in 1880. George Herber, in the building owned by himself, established in 1868, in all kinds of wines, liquors, beer, etc. Mrs. H. H. Finch, in February, 1881, established a restaurant on Third street, in the same building. J. H. Thurston established in 1868, a full assortment of drugs, toys, books, etc., on Third street. D. Bromstedt established in 1875, on Third street, in furniture, and also everything in the undertaking business. H. B. Whittaker established in 1866, in boots and shoes, and repairing the same. McHoffie and Johnson established in the fall of 1880, in general blacksmithing and wood-work on plows, corner Third street and Elm. S. Best, proprietor of the Union house, established in March, 1881, in a frame building with five rooms for boarders, and can accommodate twelve guests, on corner of Third and Elm streets. B. Richardson established in 1879, as barber, on Third street.


In May, 1870, A. L. and E. Z. Needham bought a building on Elm street, 20x60 feet, with an addition 12x30 feet, in which they established a foundry and machine shop. They employed two men and two horses in running their machinery. In the fall of 1874, they erected a frame building two stories high, and 18x36 feet, and engaged in manufacturing agricultural implements. December 19th, 1876, they secured a patent for making loose joint bob sleds, and are now engaged in this work as the principal part of their business. In 1874 they put in a four horse-power engine of Morrill's make, and now employ six men. They are now erecting a frame building, 20x60 feet, which they propose to use as a store-room and paint-shop, and are also building a shop for blacksmith work, intending to do their own iron work. They have facilities for casting iron pillars, etc., but can not do very heavy work.


This mill was established in 1878, by Van Valkenburg and Watson, but in the following year they sold to the Smith Brothers. Their building is 25x60 feet, and one story high, and their apparatus is as follows: one corn sheller which has a capacity of fifty bushels per hour; one feed-mill burr, with a capacity of thirty bushels per hour; three hoppers, one for grain, one for feed, and one for corn. The mill is run by steam, with an engine of ten horse-power, made by Cooper, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, and they have an average of from 35,000 to 40,000 bushels per year. They are also engaged in selling agricultural implements on commission.


On the night of November 22d, 1879, the citizens of Farmington were aroused by the continued blowing of the whistle of a Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul engine, which was waiting near the depot. Rushing to ascertain the cause of the alarm, flames were found issuing from a stable in the rear of the Niskern house. From some unknown cause, a large pile of corn-stalks left standing against the stables, had become ignited, and a large three-story frame building, only a few feet from the railroad elevator and tank house, was in flames. Though the fire was discovered before it had made much headway, all efforts of the bucket brigade were unavailing, and the flames soon enveloped the barn and its contents were destroyed. Every effort was made to remove the stock belonging to Martin Niskern, consisting of two horses and four cows, but the poor animals were soon cremated. Sweeping from the Niskern house stables and barn, the flames enveloped the stables of C. Stevens. Ready hands soon removed the horses, buggies, etc., to a place of safety.

The wind, which had steadily increased, was now blowing a perfect gale, carrying large, fiery embers over the eastern part of the town. The next building in the path of the fire was the large hardware establishment of Atz and Sauer. All this time the flames had been creeping behind the building, on the north side of the street, and after coming to the front through Atz and Sauer's, they retreated toward the Niskern house, destroying a two-story frame building owned by H. B. Whittaker. The fire was now spreading in all directions, and the Niskern house, the most prominent in town, became a prey to its fury. The bank building, B. Richardson's barber shop, and a frame building, used as a boarding-house, and owned by Mrs. Eagle, were next destroyed. Here an opportunity was offered for the flames to cross the other side of the street, but they suddenly turned from Oak street, where they had been raging, to Third street, taking in Mrs. Gilbert's two-story frame building. Here, to the alarm of the inhabitants, the wind suddenly changed and threw the flames to the other side of Oak street, where they attacked the stable of George Dilley. Ile was successful in removing his horses and buggies, etc., to a place of safety, but the hay, straw, etc., were consumed with the building. The flames now spread east and west. In their western course, they enveloped the restaurant owned by G. Dilley, the millinery store of Mrs. Kate Fager, and a building of Mrs. Davitt, which was the last to suffer in that direction. In their eastern course, they attacked and destroyed, first, a small frame building, then the fine three-story building of C. R. Griebie. The masonic lodge, which had rooms in this building, were unable to save anything, but their records.

The last material offered the destroying element was the high elevator of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Company. The wind, which had been steadily increasing, but blowing in an opposite direction, suddenly changed and blew directly on the elevator, which was speedily destroyed, with the 55,000 bushels of wheat which were stored there. Dispatches had been sent to St. Paul for assistance, but no locomotive could be procured to take the fire department to the scene of the fire. The Minneapolis department fortunately secured means of transportation, and as soon as possible were on their way with a fire engine, and hook and ladder, etc., but, owing to the delays, were unable to reach the spot in time to render the much-needed assistance. Had they arrived a few moments sooner, it is probable that the elevator of the railway company might have been saved.

The principal losers by the fire were:

- The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Company, loss on building, $6,000; fully insured.
- Archibald and Schurmeier, loss on wheat, $35,000; insurance, $27,000.
- Platt and Robinson, on wheat, $5,000; fully insured. Stored wheat, no insurance, $15,000.
- C. R. Griebie, loss $25,000; insurance, $11,000.
- Atz and Sauer, loss $10,000; insurance, $2,000.
- Martin Niskern, loss $7,000; insurance, $2,000.
- G. W. Dilley, $2,000; no insurance.
- Mrs. P. Davitt, $1,500; no insurance.
- Mrs. Eagle, $1,200; no insurance.
- C. M. Dittman, loss $1,150; no insurance.
- H. B. Whittaker, $1,000; no insurance.
- Minor losses, $1,950; no insurance.
- Total loss, $111,800.


In the summer and fall of 1857, Mary A. Wellman opened a school in Mr. Clark's house in Lakeville, or what was then known as North Grove. The attendance was about fifteen, and the pupils came from Farmington in the southeast quarter of section 25. The house in which the school was held, was known as the Stover house, and was soon moved away, and school was taught in a claim shanty again by Mrs. Ham and Miss Wellman in the summer only, until 1862, when the first school-house was built. This was located in the old village of Farmington, and was a frame building 18x22 feet. It was afterwards moved to the site of the present building, where it remained until 1868, when it was again removed to make way for the new building. It was afterwards remodeled and rented by the Odd Fellows, who used the second story for their hall. The new school-house was a frame structure fifty feet square, two-stories high with four rooms. The first principal was Mr. Cope, who had three teachers under him. The present teachers are, James R. Beede, principal; Miss Allie S. Beede, Miss Prudence Durkee, Miss Agnes M. Sears. The school is in an exceedingly flourishing condition, with an attendance of one hundred and forty-two pupils. The first officers were, Mr. Esterbrooke, director; Mr. Rollins, clerk; Mr. Amidon, treasurer.


The first Presbyterian service was held in the fall of 1858, in E. C. Smith's log house. Services were conducted by Rev. F. A. Pratt, with about twelve in attendance. Meetings were also held in the old Donaldson school-house until 1863. The congregation having rapidly increased, a committee met at the Vermillion church, November 25th, 1865, for the purpose of forming an organization. The Rev. C. Thayer was chosen moderator. A church was formed with eight members, which was called the First Presbyterian church of Farmington. The members were, George McIntosh and wife, L. Osborn and wife, Chas. Seward and wife, and E. C. Smith and wife. At a meeting held soon after, E. C. Smith and George McIntosh were elected ruling elders. Meetings were now held in a school-house near Mr. Martin's residence. In 1866, the railway company donated to Rev. C. Thayer two lots for the purpose of encouraging the erection of a church. Mr. Thayer deeded this land to the church, and money was raised by subscription and donations to the amount of $2,000. Accordingly in 1867, a building was commenced, and finished in 1868, and on June 20th, of that year it was dedicated, the dedication sermon being preached by Rev. F. Brown, D. D., of St. Paul. The building is a frame structure, 32x40 feet, and nicely furnished. In 1869, Rev. Thayer removed to Minneapolis, and was succeeded by Rev. R. Wiley, who remained six month, he being followed by Rev. C. Poage, in a stay of only three months. The church was then vacant for nearly seven months, after which Rev. B. Welles was called, and officiated as pastor about two years, followed by Rev. Dodge, who remained until October, 1875, when the present pastor, Rev. James Rodgers came to the field. The membership of the church is now thirty. A Sunday school was organized in connection with the church, about the time the erection of their house of worship, and has increased in membership from fifteen or twenty, to seventy-five.

The Lakeville circuit of the Methodist Episcopal church, embracing the present village of Farmington, was formed in the autumn of 1856, with Rev. L. D. Brown pastor, and Charles Jones class leader. In 1857, a class was formed near Farmington, and A. Wellman was appointed leader, being also the superintendent of the Sunday school that had been previously organized. From that time to the present, services have been held at or near Farmington by pastors belonging to the Minnesota conference of the Methodist Episcopal church. Their first place of meeting was in an unfinished frame building on the northeast corner of the quarter section on which most of the village stands. In 1866 a lot was donated to the society by the officers of the town and a lot was purchased for a parsonage. A frame church building thirty-six by fifty feet was soon after erected, with a cozy parsonage adjoining. The Sunday-school connected with the church is in a flourishing condition with a roll of ninety members, and an average attendance of sixty-five. The whole number of members of the church under the pastoral charge is seventy-five, those at Farmington proper, forty-one.

The first Episcopal service held in this part of the county was at the house of D. M. Thurston, in Lakeville, by Rev. J. L. Breck. Soon after Rev. Timothy Wilcoxson of Hastings, continued to preach regularly once a month in a schoolhouse at the old village of Lakeville. In 1867, when Farmington had far outgrown its neighbor village it was decided to form a parish at this place, and services were held at the Methodist church and at Odd Fellows' hall, by Rev. Mr. Dubois and Rev. C. Rollitt. On the 12th day of August, 1871, a church was organized by the election of the usual officers, and is now known as the Church of the Advent. A lot was donated by the railway company, and another was purchased by the church. In the fall of 1871, the church edifice was commenced and by the following spring it was finished and paid for. It is a frame building, eighteen by thirty feet, with chancel ten by twelve feet. The dedication sermon was preached by Bishop Whipple with Rev. Mr. Rollitt in charge of the parish. He was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Knowlton, who rendered good and effective service for two years. In the fall of 1881, Rev. F. J. Bassett became the officiating clergyman. The membership roll is about sixty-five. The Sunday-school, organized about the time of the erection of the church building, has about thirty members and five teachers.

The church of Christ was organized in 1872, by Elder Lowe, who in connection with other ministers held service for two years in private houses. As the congregation increased, in 1874 they decided to build a house of worship. They accordingly purchased two lots of I. C. Davis, and raised money enough by subscription and in other ways for this purpose. The house is a frame building, forty by fifty feet and nicely furnished. Elder Lowe was succeeded in the pastorate by Elder Bailey, who preached until 1879, since which time they have had no regular pastor, although they have continued their meetings. A division occurred in the congregation, and in February, 1881, a new organization was formed with Messrs. J. Bennett, J. Ballard and P. Miller, trustees. J. Bennett, clerk, and J. Ballard, treasurer.

The Roman Catholics held occasional services in private houses, as they had opportunity when the presence of different local priests allowed. Father J. B. Halton was the first who gave them regular services. About 1877, a frame church was built 30x40 feet with an addition 10x20 feet. This was under the supervision of Father Pobhe, who preached once a month. There are now about thirty members, and are under the care of Father Quinn, who holds monthly services with them.

LODGES. Corinthian lodge number 67, A. F. and A. M., was organized June 15th, 1867, and a dispensation was granted by the grand lodge of St. Paul. Meetings were held in Marshall's hall, and their charter was granted October 23d, 1867. The following are the charter members: H. C. Wing, A. A. Osborn, L. P. Dodge, N. E. Slack, J. E. Sparks, W. T. Scott, T. C. Waters, O. G. Leonard, K. Record, J. G. Woods, W. S. Norris, N. Mathews, G.W. Fager. The following are the first officers elected: H. C. Wing, W. M.; A. A. Osborn, S. W.; L. P. Dodge, J. W.; N. E. Slack, treasurer; J. S. Sparks, secretary; W. T. Scott, S. D.; T. C. Waters, J. D.; W. S. Norris, tyler. The beginning was made with fifteen members, but the number has increased until they now have fifty members in good standing. Their meetings were held in Marshall's hall until 1879, when a fire occurred by which they lost everything except the records. They then rented Odd Fellows hall until July 1881, when they moved to their new hall in Griebie's block. The lodge room is 20x40 feet, and has two ante-rooms with folding doors, all elegantly furnished. The present officers are: D. F. Akin, W. M.; H. B. Whittier, S. W.; D. O. Conner, J. W.; H. C. Wing, secretary; E. L. Brackett, treasurer; L. P. Dodge, S. D.; D. Bramsted, J. D.; J. Houston, tyler.

Sunbeam lodge number 31, I. O. O. F., was organized on the 14th of February, 1871, by Grand Master, J. Fletcher Williams, and Grand secretary, S. Hough. The lodge started under very unfavorable auspices, as they were obliged to call upon John White, of Hastings, to make the required number. The following are charter members: J. W. Emery, C. Seward, G. F. Ackley, D. C. Johnson, E, Cowle, C. Smith, P. Perkins, John White. The following officers were elected: G. F. Ackley, N. G.; D. C. Johnson, V. G.; J.W. Emery, secretary; C. Seward, treasurer; C. Smith. W.; K. N. Guiteau, C.; C. Seward, and R. S. Perkins, S. N. G.; H. P. Perkins and J. F. Smiley, S. V. G.; S. Webster and F. P. Perkins, S. S.; G. F. Ackley, I. G.; S. W. R. Hendryx, O. G. They first rented Marshall's hall, fitted it up for a lodge room, and remained until 1873, when they purchased the building known as Thayer's hall, remodeled it, and used it for one year and a half. They then made the building into dwelling houses, which they rent, and returned to Marshall's hall. In 1879, they erected a frame building two-stories high, in which they have a line hall, handsomely furnished. Soon after the lodge was started, the citizens began to take an interest in it, and the membership increased to sixty, the present number. The present officers are: D. Bramstedt, N. G.; M. N. Barnum, V. G.; William More, R. S.; H. W. Van Valkenburg, P. S.; L. P. Fluke, treasurer, G. F. Ackley, D. C. Johnson, L. P. Fluke, C. Smith, R. S. Perkins, F. Best, C. Seward, J. J. Hartig, R. C. Judson, A. Harris, W. A. Daine, H. W. Van Valkenburg, W. More, M. F. Barnum, H. H. Finch, have served as Past Grands from 1871 to 1881.

Rebecca Lodge was organized in 1875, and is composed of the wives of the Odd Fellows, who use their hall and hold meetings once in two weeks. They are in a flourishing condition with a membership of thirty.

The Ancient Order of United Workman, Custer Lodge, No. 46, was organized March 9th, 1878, and the following officers were elected: L. Y. Bailey, P. M. G.; L. P. Fluke, M. G.; W. A. Daine, G. F.; J. G. Whittier, O.; H. W. Van Valkenburg, recorder; W. L. Knowles, financier; W. A. Ham, receiver; M. N. Barnum, G.; P. Ballard, J. G.; J. J. Bretter, O. G. The lodge commenced with fifteen members, and increased to forty-two, but of late the number has decreased to seventeen. They rented room of the Odd Fellows, when in Marshall's hall, and are now renting of them in their new building. The following is a list of their present officers: James Allen, P. M. W.; William More, M. W.; A. Wescott, O.; W. H. Brownell, recorder; L. P. Fluke, financier; M. N. Barnum, G.; F. Porter, P. W.; A. F. Reed, O. W.

Knights of Pythias, No. 19, was organized June 23d, 1880, by the election of the following officers: E. C. Hyland, first chancellor; T. N. Berlin, Jr., vice-chancellor; C. S. Gibbins, M. E.; J. G. Whittier, M. F.; M. W. Neiderkorn, M. A.; H. A. Finch, K. R. S.; A. Chapel, I. G.; William Graves, O. G.; T. N. Berlin, Sr., P. This lodge commenced with twenty-six charter members, has now twenty-eight members, and is in a flourishing condition. They hold their meetings in Odd Fellows' Hall. Their present officers are as follows: C. F. Hyland, C. C.; A. Chapel, V. C.; E. Atz, R. R. S.; J. G. Whittier, M. F.; L. W. Johnson, M. E.; T. N. Berlin, M. A.; William Graves, I. G.; J. Donaldson, O. G.


June 8th, 1881, a meeting of the citizens of Farmington was held for the purpose of forming a library association. Rules and regulations were drawn up, and the following officers elected: L. P. Dodge, president; D. F. Akin, vice-president; S. Webster, recording secretary; T. H. Osborn, corresponding secretary; William Ham, treasurer. Mr. Ham soon after resigned and S. V. R. Hendryx was elected in his place. D. S. Cummings was appointed librarian, and membership fees were fixed at $3.00. Meetings were held in the offices of L. P. Dodge and D. M. Thurston. The association began with ten members, and for a while prospered, but as such an organization can only flourish through the interest and liberality of the community, this began to decay for want of those essentials, until it was deemed inadvisable to continue longer, and in February, 1881, the association was broken up, and the books divided among the members.


The bank of Farmington was organized in August, 1876, with a cash capital of $25,000. T. C. Davis, president; D. Underwood, vice-president; C. M. Dittman, cashier, were the first officers. They do an excellent banking business, pay semi-annual dividends averaging 6 per cent, and also 6 per cent on deposits. They have a fine building on the corner of Third and Oak streets, with a fire and burglarproof vault, secured with a Yale time lock. The present officers are, D. Underwood, president; H. Bettinger, vice-president; C. M. Dittman, cashier; T. K. Alexander, assistant cashier; G. H. Hosmer, teller.


In 1872, the freemasons of this place talked strongly of purchasing land for a cemetery for the use of the members of their order, but some dissatisfaction arose among them, and the measures were never carried out. The citizens, however, in the same year organized an association for the fitting up of a cemetery for general use, and bought five acres of land, which was surveyed and platted by C. B. Lowell. D. F. Akin was elected president; K. Record, secretary; and E. L. Brackett, treasurer. No further improvements have been made, and the same officers remain in power. About eighty interments have been made.
[History of Dakota County and the City of Hastings, by Edward D. Neill, North Star Publishing Co. Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1882, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]

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