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Biography of Reverend Sigismund Stribling Ware

By Judy C. Ware 2013


left to right – Jaquelin (Jaque) Smith Ware, Robert Macky Ware, Reverend Josiah W. Ware, Reverend Sigismund Stribling Ware, and seated, Elizabeth Alexander Ware Britton McGuire – all children of Josiah William Ware

Sigismund (affectionately known as Sig or Sidge) Ware was the son of Josiah William Ware of Berryville Virginia and his second wife, Edmonia Jaquelin Smith Ware.  Josiah’s first wife (Frances Toy Glassell) had passed away suddenly in 1842 – leaving poor Josiah with five young children to care for.  He remarried in 1845, and he and Edmonia (his new wife) added four more sons to the family:  (1) Jaquelin Smith Ware (1846), (2) Sigismund Stribling Ware (1851), (3) Josiah William Jr. (1853), and (4) Robert Macky Ware (1857).  Of this second set of children, Sig and Jo were the closest in age and affection.  This was only natural since Jaque was a full five years older than Sig, and Robert (the baby of the family) was six years younger.  With only a two-year difference between Sig and Jo, the brothers were inseparable.  This special closeness was only enhanced by the Civil War which found Jaque going off to serve in the military, and Sig suddenly the “man of the house” when his father was away.  One can only imagine how life must have changed for these two young boys during those horrible years of conflict.

Prior to 1861, life was pretty idyllic for the Wares on their beautiful family plantation called Springfield.  Their father was known and beloved by everyone in the area and had a reputation for being fair minded and ethical in all his dealings.  According to a newspaper article printed after his death, “Colonel Ware, during the magisterial system, was for many years a member of the court of his county.  It was stated at the bar today that although hundreds of cases came before him, he was never reversed.  The court adjourned at 12 o’clock today until 10 o’clock tomorrow, as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased.  Before the Civil War, Col. Ware was the most extensive sheep raiser in the valley of Virginia and did more than any man in his section to improve the breed of sheep by importing from England.”  Baltimore Sun  


Josiah Ware was very active in the politics of the day and corresponded frequently with such influential men as John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, President John Tyler, President Zachary Taylor, Henry Clay, and especially President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy Ware Hayes - a cousin.  In the 1830s, it was Josiah who played an important role in the formation of Clarke County for “throughout the controversy he was the most articulate and visible advocate of a new county.” (Ref. 48)


Sigismund grew up in a home frequently visited by such notable people.  His brother Jo wrote in his memoir that “when President Tyler was a guest at Springfield, he was taken into the dining room where the decanters and wine glasses were on the sideboard.  The ‘saddle’ of mutton was brought in, and he was more enthusiastic over it than the refreshments!”  The snippets of letters below are a sampling of the circle of friends the family knew.

John Tyler

Zachary Taylor

enry Clay

Daniel Webster

John C. Calhoun

Robert E. Lee

In addition to politics, Josiah was known internationally for raising prize-winning English Cotswold sheep and breeding fine thoroughbred race horses.  By importing the highest quality stock into northern Virginia, he helped establish the agricultural reputation of the Shenandoah region.  As his granddaughter, Cornelia Ware Anker, wrote in a letter, Josiah “was president of the American Agricultural Society for at least two years and founder of the Maryland and Virginia Agricultural Association; this was the beginning of the U.S. Department of Agriculture into which it merged.”  (Ref. 3) 

Shortly before the war, Josiah was given the honor of being named Chairman of the Judges for the United States Fair held in Cincinnati on Sept. 20, 1860.


CINCINNATI, Thursday, Sept. 20, 1860.

If the Eighth National Fair has done nothing else for the country, it has at least been productive of one remarkable discovery, for which it, or rather one of its officers, has a fair chance of general notoriety.   Col.  JOSIAH W. WARE, of Virginia, is an old gentleman of high respectability and famous as a breeder of Cotswold sheep.  He has also been, in his time, a fancier of thorough-bred horses, it is said, but at any rate possesses such qualifications, in that respect, as to have been deemed a proper person to make Chairman of the Judges on thoroughbreds.

Josiah had built his home, Springfield, around 1827 - - shortly after his marriage to Frances Glassell.  It was called “one of the most beautiful of the valley houses.” (Ref. 110, 195)  According to his son, Reverend Jo W. Ware, “Springfield was a stock farm chiefly – thoroughbred horses and pure bred other stock.”  He went on to say, “our house was large, and the rooms were spacious, and there were, I’m sure, at least 20 servants on the place.  The house was imposing in appearance; lumber was seasoned for three years before being used.” (Ref. 81)   It was in this home that all of Josiah’s children were born.

Springfield Plantation

Photo taken early 1900s

All of the Ware family attended Grace Episcopal Church in Berryville, and it was probably here that the roots of faith were planted deeply for both Sig and Jo.  Their father “read the bible often – the Old Testament once a year and the New Testament twice.”  (Ref. 840)  Josiah felt strongly that religion should play a large role in their lives and in the lives of anyone living on Springfield – even the slaves.  As Jo wrote in his memoir, “Let it not be thought that the welfare of the negroes in spiritual matters was overlooked by their owners . . . I remember attending religious services for them at Springfield on Sunday afternoons.” (Ref. 84)

Both Sig and Jo had a clear understanding of where their father stood on the issue of slavery.  As Jo so eloquently wrote:

“I will give some impression of father’s relations to his servants - -  they were not spoken of as slaves.  I wonder what proportion of labour enjoy as great a degree of physical comforts as the negroes at Springfield did.  (And I will here say that I am not defending slavery, and I agree with the statement that the Emancipation Proclamation emancipated more whites, rather the whites more than the blacks.  No one unfamiliar with the actual situation can realize what the owners of this unfortunate race experienced.  And the history of legislation in the South previous to 1862 shows what study they were giving to emancipation.  It was the plight of the poor negro which was their chief concern.   And, had the abolitionists been reasonable and patient, the South, the real friend of the negro, would have evolved a solution more favorable to the negro than the method adopted.”

Jo went on to add:

“As they became old, light work was assigned or none.  They were comfortable and carefree.  How often I have seen the ‘retired’ ones sleeping in the sun.  And how many of them, who had been excused from ‘cradling’ in the harvest field or the heavier labour on the farm, do the same work ten or fifteen years after the war!  Father worked in the harvest field until he was at least 65 years of age.  He raked the wheat into bundles, and was always just behind his cradler -and if one had not been able to keep up, he would help such a one.”

Jo wrote about how his father refused to separate families and on one particular occasion (when a gentleman requested to buy Bob, one of the head grooms on Springfield), Josiah’s response was, “You will have to get Bob’s consent.”  When Bob replied that “I won’t leave Marse Jo,” the gentleman persisted and offered all kinds of incentives and promises to try and lure him away.  When he again pressured Josiah to give in, “his response was, ‘No Sir.  Bob has closed all negotiation.’  And he had.  He was never sold.  The abolitionists would have found it hard to believe such a relationship.”

The war years would influence all the Ware family members dramatically.  When the fighting began in 1861, Sig was only 10 years old and Jo was eight.  Even though Josiah was too old to fight in a military unit, he was arrested and put in prison for being a southern sympathizer.  He had been given a “pass” to travel to town, but the Union army was highly agitated over the actions of Mosby’s Rangers in the area, and they decided to ‘crack down’ on local civilians.  Josiah was literally taken from his home at night and as Jo wrote, “one can only imagine what the suspense was until we heard of the whereabouts of Father.  Mother said she lived in constant expectation of hearing of the finding of his dead body.  Finally we heard . . . he was kept in prison, the old Carroll Prison, for seven months.”   What a frightening time for the boys!  [Carroll Prison was also known as Old Capital Prison.]

One day, there “was a flock of turkeys, about grown, in a field in sight of the house.”  Sig’s mother told the servants to shoo them closer in so the Yankees would not get them, but they were all too afraid to do so.  The servants told her, “No, can’t let the Yankees shoot us!”  In a humorous turn of events, Jo writes, “Then what must Sig do but say, ‘Jo and I will get them.’  My heart sank at the thought, and while I do not think that I am by nature brave, I have always despised cowardice.  And my self-respect would not let me act the coward, so away we ran.  To my surprise the soldiers, probably because they respected the audacity of such small chaps, permitted us to drive them off.  While the turkeys were making long strides for the house, a soldier followed us, unbeknown, and while we were ‘double-quicking’ after our rescue (I suppose that we were about five yards apart), a bullet buzzed between us and broke a turkey’s leg.  Then followed a race - - we and the Yank chasing the bird, and he racing for his life.  But the soldier’s long legs won out and he carried off the prize.  He had rested his gun against a tree for a sure shot.”  (Ref. 84)

On another occasion, when Sig was only 12, he drove a carriage through enemy lines to help bring a pair of boots to his older brother. 

“At times a soldier, when near enough to his home and when he could be spared, would get a furlough to visit his home for a few days.  On one such occasion Jaque got as far as the east side of the river, then he learned that the Union soldiers in the country were in such numbers that he could not reach home.  His whereabouts became known through underground telegraph and Mother and ‘Sister Anne’ Stribling started in the carriage with old blind ‘Queen’ and ‘Sig’ as driver to ‘spend the day with a friend.’  Under her hoops Mother carried a pair of big cavalry boots . . . suspended from her waist.  In the boots were, I am confident, some yarn socks and I do not know what else.” (Ref. 84)

Cornelia Ware wrote that her father (Sigismund) remembered a day when a Union soldier told his mother (Edmonia) “that when he was going to have to fire the house, she was a very brave woman.  She was standing with the two little boys at her skirts. She showed not the slightest fear, even when smoke began curling out from piles of straw placed around in the house.”  (Ref.84)    Sig also said “he’d never forget the smell of the burning straw the devils brought in and spread in the house, and he almost fainted with the thought ‘everything else is gone, and now the home is burning!” (Ref. 40) Before the war was over, all three of the youngest Ware sons would witness their home looted and vandalized, their father’s prize-winning sheep slaughtered on the front lawn, their gardens destroyed, and even their mother threatened for her life when she vowed to ride and get help.  “When she stood in front of the house, one of the skunks threatened to shoot her.  And she would have gone had not we held her.  We thought then that he would shoot her, as he raised his gun. How vividly I recall these experiences!”  (Ref. 84)

The once peaceful and prosperous life that the Ware boys had known as very young children would never look the same.  By the summer and fall of 1864, General Grant decided that the fastest way to end the war was to break the back of the South by any means possible.  His policies now helped define a new way of attaining victory, and his “war of attrition” left little doubt as to the outcome.  The “gloves were off” (so to speak) and the South was to face not only the destruction of their soldiers; but their livestock, their property, their food supplies, and their very homes.  “The scorched-earth policy, a radical departure from the more or less gentlemanly type of war that had been waged by both sides during the first three years, was now the way of convincing the people of the South that war is certainly Hell.” (Ref. 3)     What the enemy could not eat, they destroyed, and the Wares found themselves almost facing starvation.  As Edmonia wrote in a letter to her stepdaughter, the Yankees “poured down on the place like 40,000 thieves, broke into the meat house, poultry houses and cellars in a moment’s time, carried off the horses which were left, killed hogs, sheep and calves, destroyed the garden, cut up the harnesses, cut the curtains from the small carriage which is the only one I have had since the war (Banks’ men having ruined the large one at their first invasion).   So you may imagine we are not far from starving. . . I am today alone with the children, and as I sat in the vestibule this morning and listened to the church bell, the tears would flow in spite of all determination to bear up under my trials.” (Ref. 19)

Jo mentioned the food situation in his memoirs as well.  “I wonder sometimes on what we lived when times were hardest.  But if asked what tasted best, or I had enjoyed most in the form of food, I might say ‘middling’.  When the family had not tasted meat of any kind or butter for so long, Mr. Province McCormick (more fortunate in hiding some bacon) sent us a side of bacon (cured).  How economically we used it!  And then we shaved it!

And I remember how largely apples figured.  In summer we cut and dried them for winter use.  Uncle William Smith used to tell us children to eat dried apples, then drink plenty of water, and as the apple swelled - we would have our stomachs full.”

When the war finally ended, Sigismund was now a very mature 14-year-old.  As with so many other southern men of influence and property, his father had “suffered the loss of his beautiful old home by the depreciation in property that followed the financial panic of 1873.” (Ref. 22)  Sig’s daughter, Cornelia Ware Anker, wrote that her grandfather (Josiah) “was a very kind man and that his loss of property was not entirely the result of the war but that he had been too generous to friends and relatives by going on their notes.  He regretted so deeply that he could not give his second set of children the same advantages of education as he had given his first.  He often spoke of this and felt that it was not fair, but it couldn’t be helped. Springfield was sold shortly after the war to a northerner (Mr. Clagett), and the family moved to Durham which was the farm Grandmother (Edmonia) had inherited from her father.  It was a beautiful farm, and the house they built at that time was a good, comfortable home; but none of the elegance of Springfield.” (Ref. 2)

Josiah still put great emphasis on education, however, and “Sizz, Joe, and Robert Ware were students under Mr. Powers at his old location at Wycliffe during the years 1865, 1866, and 1867. . . .  Auburn school (a select boarding and day school for Boys) opened in 1865 at the old Wycliffe Academy building and was taught by Mr. Powers.  He moved this school to Auburn and continued it in operation until 1877 at which time he closed the Auburn school to become permanently associated with the public schools of the county.”  (Ref. 717)  There was also an Episcopal High School which was founded in 1839 just west of Alexandria, but immediately following Union occupation during the war, it had been closed.  When it reopened in 1866, with Mr. Launcelot Minor Blackford as the principal; “among the boys of this period at Episcopal High School were Sigismund and J. W. Ware - both afterwards clergy and devoted friends of Mr. Blackfords.”  (Ref. 838)

Historical marker

Early photo of Episcopal High School, circa 1870s (Ref. 838)

Clearly, the Episcopal faith meant a great deal to the Wares.  Cornelia wrote of her grandmother, Edmonia:  “When the War Between the States had impoverished the family, as it did all southerners, she never lessened her contribution to the church and continued her subscription to the “Southern Churchman”.  Father said he didn’t know how she ever did it.  I am sure her life and teachings were the direct cause of Father and Uncle Jo entering the ministry.”

According to Cornelia, “when Father (Sigismund) was about 18 years old, he went to Indianapolis and worked in Uncle Tousey’s store, a fine mercantile wholesale business.  He lived with the Tousey’s - they were wealthy, with a lovely big home and Father was so fond of the family.  Aunt Lib was grandmother’s sister.  Later, Uncle Jo joined Father, and they both decided to enter the ministry.  They returned to Virginia and entered the Theological Seminary, near Alexandria, Va.  As I have mentioned before, Father had done very well financially in Indianapolis and was able to pay his own way through the seminary and also help his younger brother with his education. . . . Uncle Jo and Father were always the most devoted brothers and both of them spent their whole ministerial life in Virginia.”  (Ref. 2)


Virginia Theological Seminary

On June 28, 1878, Sigismund Stribling Ware was ordained as a deacon at a ceremony at St. Paul’s Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

St. Paul’s Church in Alexandria around the time of the Civil War

Interior of St. Paul’s

A year later, in the same church, he was ordained as a priest in a beautiful ceremony performed by Bishop Whittle.

Article in The Seminarian announcing Sigismund’s ordination into priesthood.


 The fantastic photograph below of the Class of 1878 was provided through the kindness of Christopher Pote, an archivist at Virginia Theological Seminary.  I will be forever grateful to Ben Hicks of Port Royal, Virginia for sharing this treasure with me.

Class of 1878

Top row, standing, L-R: P. Parker Phillips, Sigismund S. Ware, Henry Thomas, John Henry Chesley, Josiah W. Ware, William Byrd Lee, Arthur Powell Gray. Seated, L-R: Curtis Grubb, George William Dame, Frank Page, Corbin Braxton Bryan, Byrd T. Turner


On December 31, 1878, Rev. Sigismund Ware “married Elizabeth Walker, the daughter of Cornelius Walker, a professor and afterwards Dean of the Seminary.” (Ref. 2384, 2392)  The announcement appeared in the newsletter called the Seminarian, which was printed at his alma mater. 

After their honeymoon, Sigismund and his new wife set up housekeeping at his first parish in Antrim, Halifax County, Virginia.  They were there from 1878-79.  They next served from 1879 to 1888 in Shelburne Parish, Hamilton, Virginia.  (Ref. 2)  It was during these years that Rev. Sig was sometimes in contact with another cousin – Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes.

President Hayes took office in the White House in March 1877.  His wife, Lucy Ware Webb Hayes, was a cousin of Josiah’s.  They were related through two of the many children of James Ware II and his wife, Caty Todd Ware, who moved to Kentucky in the late 1700s.  One of the daughters of James and Caty (named Lucy) married Isaac Webb, and their son (James Webb) was the father of Lucy Hayes.  One of the sons of James and Caty (James Ware III) came to Kentucky with the family but moved back to Virginia because of his health.  He married Elizabeth Alexander, and they were the parents of Josiah.  Lucy Webb and Josiah kept up devoted correspondence over the years, and he was so delighted when Hays was elected to the presidency.  Even though they had stood on opposite sides during the Civil War, it never dimmed their affection for one another.  Josiah visited the White House many times, and some of his fondest memories in his declining years were from spending time with Lucy and Rutherford.  Rev. Jo Ware actually sent Lucy a thank-you note for being so kind to his father. 

Letter from Rev. Jo Ware, Transcription done by Judy C. Ware

It is easy to see the family resemblance between the two cousins.

Lucy Hayes

Josiah Ware and Lucy Ware Webb Hayes

Monogram from Lucy W. Hayes

The Hayes couple had visited Springfield shortly before Josiah had to sell it.  Reverend Sig told his daughter, Cornelia, that he remembered how “the Berryville Band ensconced on this balcony [at Springfield] played lustily when President Rutherford B. Hayes was a guest there.”  (Ref. 3)  Apparently, Mrs. Hayes must have sent some flowers to Sigismund and Lizzie in 1880, because the good Reverend wrote a most charming thank-you note to her.


Transcribed by Judy C. Ware

Cornelia Ware Anker wrote, “Father had three charges – Halifax County, Hamilton, & Port Royal, where he moved when I was a baby.  (Ref. 2)  Indeed, in 1888, Reverend and Mrs. Ware moved to Port Royal, Virginia, where “The Rev. Sigismund (Sidge) Stribling Ware became Rector of St. Peter’s church and of Grace Church, October 15, 1888; he resigned the latter church after 15 years, June 26, 1903, and resigned from St. Peter’s Church after 30 years, October 15, 1918.” (Ref. 2384)

Grace Episcopal Church in Port Royal, Virginia
Photo and Contributed by Paula Lucy Delosh

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
(Ref. 2384)

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
(Ref. 2384)

According to Hidden Village, Port Royal, Virginia 1744-1981, written by Ralph Emmett Fall, “The Ware family lived in the Rectory on Lot 4 in Port Royal for 30 years, where the Rector kept a garden toward the river.”  (Ref. 2384) It was in this home that Sigismund and Lizzie raised their children, although only one child would live to see adulthood; Cornelia Ware Anker.  On August 18, 1892, the couple welcomed a son named Edward Jaquelin Ware, but he died at the young age of four on November 3, 1896.  He was buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard.

Rectory at St. Peter’s Church
(Ref. 2383)

Grave of Edward Jaquelin Ware

Cemetery at St. Peter’s Church in Port Royal

Rev. Sig’s father passed away one year after the birth of Edward - in 1883.  Josiah, sadly, did not live long enough to see any of his grandchildren by Sig and Lizzie.  When their next baby arrived, it must have been a comfort to Sig’s mother to have her granddaughter named after her.  Tragically, however, tiny Edmonia Jaquelin Ware did not survive infancy.  This child was buried in Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery in Berryville - close to the grandmother for whom she was named.  Her little tombstone sits beside another tiny one - for Josiah’s namesake, the baby of Elizabeth Ware Britton, Sig’s stepsister.

Baby Josiah (Elizabeth’s child) and Baby Edmonia (Sigismund’s child)

Edmonia J.
daughter of
Rev. S. S. & E. M.
Oct. 13, 1889 - July 31, 1890

Cornelia Ware Anker was the only child of Sig and Lizzie to reach adulthood.  Given the name of Margaret Cornelia Ware, she came into the world on May 22, 1887.  She married John Anker and became “a statistician for the U.S. Government.  The Ankers lived for 35 years in McLean, Virginia.  When Anker retired, the couple worked for the Episcopal Church in the Blue Ridge Mountains for three years and in missions in Gloucester County Va.  John Anker died in 1962 leaving no children.  Mrs. Anker moved into Goodwin House, Alexandria and died in 1978.  From her will she gave her father’s leather-bound volume of sermon-manuscripts to the writer who presented them to St. Peter’s Church.” (Ref. 2384)  It is through the wonderful old family letters, which Cornelia lovingly saved and passed on, that we can learn so much about the Ware family history.

Over the years, Sig and Jo visited each other as much as possible and attended many meetings and reunions together.                  

Clarke Courier, Berryville, Virginia, May 22, 1901,
mentions both brothers and so does the article in

The Seminarian’ which records a reunion with alumni.

Shortly after Sig and Lizzie settled in Port Royal, they heard the sad news of the passing of Lucy Ware Webb Hayes.  Reverend Sig wrote a very touching letter of condolence to Rutherford.

Front page of Sig’s letter to Rutherford

  **P.E. stands for Protestant Episcopal
Transcription of letter by Judy C. Ware

In 1914, Lizzie died “after a long and painful illness.” (Ref. 161)  According to author Ralph Emmett Fall, Lizzie “was buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard beside their son who died in 1896.  Much of the present shrubbery at the Rectory, including the large mock-orange tree in the driveway was planted by Mrs. Ware during the 26 years she occupied the Rectory.  Her husband and daughter lived there another four years.” (Ref. 2384)    A year after the death of his wife, Sig went back to Berryville to visit his stepsister, Elizabeth.  She wrote in a letter to Lena Ware congratulating her on the birth of her son named ‘James’, and she added “Your Uncle Sig expresses great gratification at the name of your new boy.  He lost his boy and it was a terrible blow to him.  He has only one child – a grown and very attractive girl, but he [Sig] looks like an old man.”  (Ref. 161)    Sig took losing his wife very hard.

Grave of Elizabeth Montgomery Walker Ware
Born  June 13, 1850 - Died Nov. 21, 1914

On October 15, 1918, Reverend Sig Ware resigned as Rector of St. Peter’s Church.  He was presented with a silver-plated loving-cup inscribed on one side, “Rev. S. S. Ware, Rector of St. Peter’s Church, Port Royal, Va., 1888-1918,” and on the reverse side:

“In grateful recognition of his faithful ministry by the Community of Port Royal.”  

The Vestry inscribed in the minutes, “We reluctantly accept the resignation of the Rev. S. S. Ware, but we cannot refrain from expressing our deep regret that the pleasant and cordial relations existing between us, as Vestrymen and individuals, for 30 years shall now be severed, and we will ever gratefully remember the faithfulness and earnestness with which he ministered to us as a congregation and as a community.” (Ref. 2384)

Reverend Sigismund Stribling Ware

The author of Hidden Village – Port Royal, Virginia 1744-1981 wrote the following about Reverend Sigismund Ware:  Fifty years later, citizens both black and white still remembered Ware with affection.  A photograph of Ware is seen in the church’s sacristy. The credence shelf in the church sanctuary holds a brass tablet as a memorial to Ware. (Ref. 2384)

Credence Shelf – used for holding articles in the Eucharist service
Photos done by Ben Hicks

When Sigismund retired, he moved out of the rectory and returned to Berryville where he resided with his older sister, Elizabeth (Key) Alexander Ware McGuire.  (Ref. 2, 3)   His daughter, Cornelia, who had served as the organist at his church in Port Royal, later wrote, “Father lived with my husband (John Anker) and me the last eight years of his life.  He came to us when Aunt Key died.  Mother died Nov. 18, 1914 and Father, Nov. 4, 1934.” (Ref. 2) 

The Reverend Sigismund Stribling Ware “was buried in Grace Churchyard, Berryville, Clarke County, Va.” (Ref. #2)  His tombstone sits directly behind that of his mother, Edmonia Jaqueline Ware.

Sigismund’s grave is the gray one in the middle

Ware section in the Cemeterytery

Sigismund was a devoted son, a loving husband, a caring father, and a hero of a brother.  Yet, one cannot help but think that he would most like to be remembered as

“Good and Faithful Servant of God.”

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