Iowa History Project


History of Medicine in Iowa
by D.S. Fairchild, M.D., F.A.C.S.
reprinted from The Journal of the Iowa State Medical Society, 1927
transcribed from the original book for the Iowa History Project by S. Ferrall

page 1
page 2

T. J. Caldwell
pg 236-237, full text
Dr. T.J. Caldwell was an early settler in Dallas county removing there in 1853. Began the study of medicine in 1856 and graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Keokuk (State University), in 1861. In 1862 Dr. Caldwell was appointed by Governor Kirkwood examining surgeon of the militia of the county. In 1864 he was appointed assistant surgeon 23rd Iowa Volunteer Infantry which position he held until the close of the Civil War. Dr. Caldwell was not only prominent in professional activities but also in politics. He was elected president of the Iowa State Medical Society in 1881. In local and in state politics he exercised considerable influence. He was at one time state senator from Dallas county. Dr. Caldwell was not one of the builders of the Iowa Commonwealth but was active in establishing a condition of permanency and contributed to good citizenship; he was an honored and self-respecting physician and gentleman, active in medical organizations and an earnest worker in his profession. He was of striking personal address, curteous at all times, and in dress, manner and personal dignity the type of the old school physician.
Martin H. Calkins
pg 213-218, full text
Through the courtesy of Mrs. Mary Calkins Chassell, we have been able to secure important data relating to the life of her father, Dr. Martin H. Calkins, who was an early physician in Wyoming, Jones County, Iowa.

It gives us a deep sense of pleasure to record the life and work of one of that group of earnest men who came to Iowa in the early days of its history and helped to lay a solid foundation upon which to build a commonwealth. It is also equally a pleasure to pint out the facts in relation to Dr. Calkins as an exponent of the highest ideals as a practitioner of medicine. We have already written of a group of physicians who did not count financial gains as the great purpose in life, but only incidental and subordinate to service and duty. These men were stong men who gave their lives to the public, reserving only the wages of honest service to humanity and state. To commercialize their profession was abhorrent, to measure service by money standard was intolerant; they were men, true men from whom we should gain inspiration. It is not too late.

Dr. Martin H. Calkins
Dr. Martin H. Calkins

Dr. Martin H. Calkins was born near the town of Mexico, Oswego county, New York, September 15, 1828. He was of Mayflower and Colonial ancestry on both the maternal and paternal sides. He was educated in the common schools and at the age of seventeen began teaching in the country schools and later in the City of Oswego. He was teaching in that city when the first train of cars arrived. He held a teachers state certificate which was number six in New York State.

After reading medicine in the office of Doctors Bowen and Dayton in Mexico, he took a course in the College of Medicine in Geneva, New York, completing his medical studies in the University of New York City.

He commenced practicing in Constantia, New York. He was married November 8, 1855 to Miss Lucinda Louden of North Bay, Oneida County, New York.

On the 14th of June, 1856, he came to the new State of Iowa and after spending a few weeks in Maquoketa came to Wyoming in Jones county which was then a town of a dozen houses, but hopeful and growing rapidly. The surrounding country was a most beautiful rolling prairie, rapidly being peopled by settlers who were busily engaged in breaking the virgin soil and laying the foundations for the beautiful homes and farms of Jones county.

The young Doctor built a dwelling on a block cornering on Main and Wahington streets. It was modest in size and the lumber was black walnut. Here on these some lots but in a more pretentious house built in later years, Dr. Calkins resided and practiced his profession for nearly 50 years. As a physician he was eminently successful, and held his very large practice perhaps as much by his social, genial strength of character and magnetic influence and the sunshine that always entered the sick room with is presence, as by the administration of drugs.

His personality was a force for good not only in the sice room but in the entire growing community, and he was looked up to as a safe adviser and counselor. During his long practice, he responded faithfully and cheerfully to all calls and we have no knowledge of his ever pressing his patients for bills, or involking the courts for assistance in collecting fees from those who should pay, but did not. It was often said of him that he never oppressed the poor, or failed in fully performing every obligation imposed upon a medical practitioner, and because of these characteristics he held the love and respect of the people.

In 1862 acting as a mustering officer, he administered the oath of allegiance and mustered into the state militia, a company of eighty-nine men who afterwards formed Co. K, 24th Iowa Infantry and served their country during the Civil War. Dr. Calkins erected a monument in Wyoming to these men and on it their names are inscribed. He also acted as one of the state commissioners in the year 1862-3 to go to the Southland and take the vote of the soldiers then in the field.

Dr. Calkins had but little of the politician in him and never sought office. But when the town of Wyoming was incorporated, he was unanimously chosen mayor. In 1881 he was nominated as the Republican candidate to represent the county in the lower house of the state legislature. The Democrats making no nomination, the Doctor was unanimously elected. Two years later he was re-elected, and although opposed by a leading democrat, polled in Wyoming township 200 out of 211 votes cast. In the legislature, he was true to his party and to his conscience. He was one of its fifty-two members who voted for the prohibitory law. He led the house in the matter of oil inspection law and had opposed to him one of the most active and unscrupulous lobbies who went so far as to hide the bill after it was returned from the senate. But Dr. Calkins called a halt during the last hours of the assembly, had the bill searched for, found and put upon its passage, and passed much to the surprise of the lobby who thought the matter disposed of for that session. The revenue from this bill to the State of Iowa amounts to a larger sum annually, to say nothing of the safety which it guarantees.

Dr. Calkins was a writer of unusual ability and every day for many years wrote upon some subject, either scientific, historical or literary as a personal study. In these moments he forgot not the town and vicinity of his adoption, but gathered together in chronological order the reminiscences of the early days of the settlement of Wyoming town and township, weaving a most interesting history that formed a course of lectures delivered by him to his towns people about 1878. So fully had the Doctor covered the ground, that, in 1878, (and in a later history) this history of Dr. Calkins was incorporated into the volumes, the editors saying the ground had been fully covered by the Doctor, and, in language and thought, was superior to anything the editor could hope to place in the volumes.

It was a high compliment to the hard working physician who had thus kept the annals of his town and vicinity in its early days, and made for Dr. Calkins a monument as the pioneer historian of Wyoming, that will live when the marble column is in dust.

He was a modest man, living the life of one devoted to his profession, and while his name may not be found on the church rolls, he followed closely the golden rule of the Master in his daily life as an obligation due -- one to the other -- among all people. His upright life, courteous manner and kindly daily life set a standard of good living to generations of young people in the community, that has been for the betterment of the social life of Wyoming and Jones county.

He was out-spoken and fearless in support of moral reforms and with both pen and voice declared his position on questions of good government. As a man, Dr. Calkins was gifted with a large and comprehensive mental endowment and scholarly culture. He was large of physical frame and larger of mind and heart, honest, upright in his dealing with his fellow men; cheerful, warm and open hearted, approachable and companionable, performing his duty diligently with contentment and resolution. He possessed a vigorous personality. His unfailing kindness and generous impulses, his devotion to his profession, his proverbial and spicy good humor and genial disposition, his kindly ministrations to the needy and those in distress of mind, coupled with his sound judgment, wide experience and independence of thought and action made Dr. Calkins beloved as a man and citizen to a degree seldom realized by human experience.

For many years he served on the board of pension examiners in Jones county and as local surgeon for the C.M.& St. P.R.R.

His practice and the superintendency of his farms made his life one of constant activity. At the time of his death he owned a farm in New York State which had been in the family for one hundred and twenty-seven years.

Dr. Calkins died September 27, 1909. Mrs. Calkins died December 25, 1915. They are survived by two daughters: Elva Calkins Briggs (Mrs. W.E.) Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mary Calkins Chassell (Mrs. E.D.) Wyoming, Iowa. Two grandsons, Martin Calkins Briggs, a business man of Minneapolis; Walter Charles Briggs, a student in Yale. One grand-daughter, Mary Calkins Briggs, a student in high school in Minneapolis.

Forrest Carley
(Horace Carley *)
pg 46, mention
Of Washington Co. Dr. Horace Carley located in Brighton in 1839 and died the same year.
A.M. Carpenter
pg 77,137, mention & pg 143-144, full text
A.M. Carpenter, M.D., began the practice of his profession in Keokuk in 1855. Ten years later, 1865, he was elected professor of the theory and practice of medicine in the medical college. This place he held until 1882, when he resigned to assist in the organization of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago, delivering one course of lectures there, then removing to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was identified with the organization of the Marion Sims Medical College and latterly with the Barnes Medical College, retaining the last until his death, which occurred in December, 1907. Fifty-two years a practitioner, and forty-two years a teacher of medicine, a record unparalleled probably in the entire Middle West. As a physician, Dr. Carpenter, was possessed of the entire confidence of his patients, merited because of his great skill as a diagnostician. Dignified in manner, genial and handsome of face, gentle and musical of voice, original in illustration, and eloquent to a great degree in expression, his class rooms were crowded, and he was by far the most popular medical lecturer of his day. (pg 143-144)

-mentions: He was a member of the Keokuk Medical Society in 1858. In 1868 he was a faculty member of the Medical Department of the Iowa State University located in the city of Keokuk; Professor of the institutes and practice of medicine and of medical clinic.

Lyman Carpenter
pg 154, mention
An original member of the Scott co. Medical Society, he was elected vice-president of that organization in October 1856.
S.D. Carpenter
pg 35-36, full text
Dr. J.F. Ely in 1847 and Dr. S.D. Carpenter in 1849 came to Linn county and were among those who became indentified with the county business affairs in the decade between 1840 and 1850 and afterward. Both came as physicians and practiced for a few years with success, but soon became interested in the business and financial affairs of Cedar Rapids and abandoned the practice of medicine. These gentlemen had an important part in the development of the city which had the good fortune to attract men of broad and liberal views, whose influence became a valuable heritage which was felt and appreciated long after they ceased to be active factors on the affairs of the city and county. Few names are remembered with greater affeciton than those of Dr. Ely and Dr. Carpenter.
Dr. Carson
pg 155, mention
The Linn County Medical Society. This society was organized in 1859 at Mt. Vernon by Drs. Love, Ely, Ristine, Carson and Lyon.
Dr. Carter
pg 154, mention
Scott County Medical Society was organized in Davenport, October 18, 1856, nine physicians met for that purpose at the office of Drs. Witherwax and Carter and on October 28, thirteen physicians met at the same place and adopted a constitution and by-laws and the code of ethics of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Carter
pg 202, mention
Noted in the bio of A.G. Field to have been a physician in Des Moines, no date given, just that he "came later" (after the mid-1860's)
Charles Sumner Chase
pg 190-191, full text
Dr. C.S. Chase, who retires from the headship of the department of materia medica and pharmacology, began his connection with the University of Iowa in 1892, succeeding Dr. P.J. Farnsworth. Up to now these two men have been the only occupants of this chair since the establishment of the College of Medicine in 1870.

Although Maine is Dr. Chase's native state, he has spent most of his life in Iowa. He received the B.S. degree in engineering from Ames Agricultural College in 1874 and was a student in the department of medicine at the University in 1880-81, previous to his graduation from Rush Medical College in 1882. In 1895 the University of Iowa granted him an honorary degree of master of arts.

For nearly 25 years Dr. Chase practiced medicine in Waterloo; fifteen years of this period was coincident with part-time work at the university in non-residence. Later he moved with his family to Iowa City.

Dr Chase continues his instruction in the colleges of dentistry, and pharmacy, and the nurses' training school; but expects to find time to complete a history of the college of Medicine of the University of Iowa covering its first 50 years. He plans to retire from all the colleges with which he has been associated since 1892 - June of 1922, thereby completing 3 full decades of service. He has not at the date of this article definitely decided as to his plans for the future, but may possibly re-engage in general practice for a few years in the City of Waterloo, where he spent so many years of his life most happily.
(bio appeared in the Iowa Alumnus October, 1920)
~~see also Dr. Sumner B. Chase (his father)

Sumner B. Chase
pg 189-190, full text

Dr. Sumner B. Chase
Dr. Sumner B. Chase

Dr. S. B. Chase was born in Limington, York county, Maine October 4, 1821 and died in Osage, Iowa, June 19, 1891.

Dr. Chase was one of the number of strong earnest men who laid the foundation of a medical practice in Iowa in the decade between 1850 and 1860; at a time when men of character and physical energy were needed.

Dr. Chase was born of sturdy New England stock; of a generation of farmers. When five years of age, he made his home in Scarboro, availing himself of such opportunities for an education as came in his way. The young man having decided on medicine as his life work, entered the office of Dr. Seth Larrabee, a well known practitioner, as a student and in May, 1849, graduated from the medical department of Bowdoin College. He first located in practice at Portland, Maine. Six years later, or in September, 1855, Dr. Chase came to Iowa and located in Decorah, but a year later moved to Osage where he practiced thirty-five years or until his death in 1891.

The field of usefulness for a trained physician in a thinly settled community as was Osage at that time, and among people who knew but little of sickness, extended beyond the administration of medicine, to public service activities, and in 1856, Dr. chase was appointed postmaster. In August the same year, he resigned to accept the office of register of deeds, of the United States Land Office, then located in Osage.

Dr. Chase was a democrat in politics and in 1884 was elected a delegate to the National Democratic Convention which nominated Grover Cleveland for president. Politics, however, was secondary and incidental in his career, and was regarded as a duty. His interest in the profession of medicine was shown when in 1854, he was a delegate from Maine to the American Medical Association at St. Louis.

In 1873, Dr. Chase became a member of the Iowa State Medical Society and in 1881 was elected its president.

Dr. Chase was a kindly man and an ideal family physician. His high character and sympathetic nature brought him a large following of friends and patients. He was a deeply religious man, a free-will Baptist from choice -- but a Congregationalist from affiliation. He married Miss Almira B. Cobb of Limington, Maine. Three sons and two daughters were born to them. One son became a well known physician and a professor in the medical department of the Iowa State University
~~see also Charles Sumner Chase (his son)

S.B. Cherry
pg 164, mention
Dr. Cherry was an original member of the Madison co. Medical Society, organized in 1873.
Edward Clapman
(Edward Clapham *)
pg 77, mention & 142, full text
Edward F. Clapman, M.D., came to Keokuk in 1861, to fill the chair of anatomy, made vacant by its previous occupant going to the military field. Dr Clapman was a notable teacher, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm in his classes. He continued in the faculty for 7 or 8 years and acquired a large general practice, and held the confidence of his clientele. He was exceedingly popular, socially and was a man of high educational attainment. An accomplished performer upon the piano; a musical composer of merit; genial and prepossessiong in manner, he was possessed of hosts of friends and warmly welcomed everywhere. He died in New York City about 1894. (pg 142)

He is listed as a faculty member of the Medical Department of the Iowa State University located in the city of Keokuk in 1868; Professor of general and microscopical anatomy and demonstrator. (pg 77)

Elmer F. Clapp
pg 249, mention
It [the State University medical school] was under the auspices of Dr. E.F. Clapp, then professor of anatomy in the University. Dr. Clapp and the writer were students in the University of Michigan in 1867-68, and as all students listened to all the lectures, a close friendship sprang up between us, as we occupied adjoining seats, and on the pledge of Dr. Clapp we were admitted to goodfellowship which continued until Dr. Middleton died, April 5, 1902. Dr. Clapp was Professor of Anatomy in the State University 1873. He was a charter member of the Iowa Academy of Science [transcription note: the date of this organization is not given, it was about the turn of the century]
Henry H. Clark
pgs 321-325, full text

Dr. Henry H. Clark
Dr. Henry H. Clark

Dr. H.H. Clark of McGregor, died at his home January 18, 1925. He was born on October 12, 1842. His family moved to Illinois when he was eight years old, taking up a farm near Freeport. When he was eighteen years old he enlisted in the 92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry and served four years.

After the war, he entered Rock River Seminary and after completing his course there he studied medicine and graduated from the Chicago Medical College (Northwestern) in 1869. He served as an intern at Mercy Hospital and in 1870 located at McGregor.

Dr. Clark was an energetic worker and early engaged in active civic and professional matters. His interest in health activities led to his appointment as a member of the first State Board of Health, passed by the Iowa legislature on the 26th day of March, 1880, and approved by the governor on the 23rd day of April, 1880. Dr. Clark served on the board thirteen years.

Dr. Clark in his oration on Surgery at the 1916 session of the Iowa State Medical Society, entitled, "Then and Now", presented some of his early experiences in McGregor. He writes:

"In the year 1870, armed with a diploma from the Chicago Medical College (now Northwestern University College of Medicine) and the experiences as an intern at Mercy Hospital I bade adieu to Chicago and turned my face westward. At Dubuque I heard of the growing importance of the up-river town, McGregor, and on a Sunday morning in April, straddled by little bay horse, my only worldly possession of value, saving a few books and instruments, set forth across country to look over the chances the new town had to offer a bright and aspiring physician. I rode into McGregor just as the church bells were ringing for evening service. That was forty-six years ago (ed: 55 years). I have been there since with the exception of a couple of days now and then to attend a medical meeting or similar form of recreation.

"At the time I came, McGregor was a hustling little city of 4000 population. there were nine doctors in the town, but a clinical thermometer was unknown. Dr. Frederick Andros was the only one who could boast of a hyperdermic syringe. Dr. Andros had been the first member of our profession to penetrate the wilderness that, in 1837, the year he came to northeastern Iowa, lay north of Dubuque. (ed: Dr. Frederick Andros came to Dubuque in 1833, the first doctor to definitely locate in Iowa. Graduated from Brown University 1822, A.B. and M.D., 1826) He built the first house in Garnavillo, the county seat of Clayton county, which at the time comprised all the territory from Turkey River north to the Canadian border, and west to the Rocky Mountains.

"After years of practice at the county seat and some service for the Indians at the Yellow River and Fort Atkinson missions, the Doctor finally located at McGregor. There he soon became recognized as the surgeon not only for the town, but the surrounding country for miles, he was the only man thought of when a surgeon was required.

"A few days after my arrival, I called on the Doctor, then nearly seventy years old, and presented my credentials. He gave me the glad hand and we became firm friends. Some months before, he had met with an accident which had seriously impaired the strength and usefullness of his right hand, my association with him was therefore fortunate, for, while he was the surgeon and received the credit if any were due and emoluments, if any such were forthcoming, I did the work and gained the experience.

"Our association continued in this manner for about ten years, when the Doctor decided Iowa was getting too civilized and tame, and went West to grow up with the country. He was then eighty years old. After practicing in Dakota for ten years, he changed his residence to Minneapolis, where he died at the age of ninety-one years.

"Dr. Andros was far superior in intelligence and ability to the average physician of his day, but he was a typical frontiersman and something of a character. I remember a country drive I took a short time after I came to McGregor. He drove a good horse but he interfered so badly that either his right or his left hind leg seemed to be in the air all the time. As we were jolting over a rough road back in the Mississippi hills, the Doctor suddenly stopped his horse and remarked, 'There's the damndest nicest spring over there you ever saw'. We got out and walked over to where a fine stream of water gushed from the rocks and formed a pool about three feet in diameter and eighteen inches deep. The Doctor took off his high silk hat which he always wore and in which he carried his letters, red bandanna, cigars, stethoscope and always either a clean or dirty collar, pulled off his coat, rolled his sleeve to his elbow and thrust his hand to the bottom of the spring. After lifting aside a few stones he pulled out a flask of whiskey. He uncorked it, took a generous drink and then returned the bottle to the bottom of the spring for future use.

"If there is any particular reason why during my work of forty-six (ed: 55) in McGregor I have done more or less surgery, it is in all probablility due -- no, not to Dr. Andros' bottle in the spring, but the fact that he was growing old, had a crippled hand and was my friend. The truth is that inasmuch as no one in my locality until very recent years gave anything like especial attention to surgery, the field was largely mine and so, while I claim no expert knowledge and have never posed as a surgeon, I have taken care of a large number of surgical cases and have sometimes been called a surgeon. I need not tell you that such is not now the case and later on may give you a hint as to the why and wherefore."

Dr. Clark has set forth his association with Dr. Andros, an interesting chapter in the lives of the two notable men who early engaged in the practice of medicine in northeastern Iowa. In his fifty-four years of practice in McGregor, Dr. Clark was witness to an evolution in the practice of medicine and surgery in its several stages. In the early years surgery was limited to the surgery of emergencies, but the time was not far off when the field was to be greatly extended, and while Dr. Clark had his surgical ideas developed in the "old days", they were not fixed beyond the possibilities of change, and as surgeons entered new feilds, he also took his part in the new surgery. To do this more effectually, he provided himself with the necessary facilities and first of all was a hospital, and, assisted by his daughter, Dr. Alice Clark Brooks, a creditable hospital was organized.

Dr. Clark was a surgeon to the C.M. & St. P. Ry.Co. for fifty years, and when the C.M. & St. P. system surgical association was formed, he became an active member. The writer recalls numerous occasions when Dr. Clark, participated in the discussion of problems which were of particular interest to railway surgeons; he was always quite positive in his views, which he did not hesitate to express.

In 1871 Dr. Clark and Miss Judith Baugh, daughter of Judge Downing Baugh, were married, and to them six children were born, four of whom, with Mrs. Clark, survive him. (321-325)

W.M. Clark
pg 151, mention
Dr. W.M. Clark of Columbus City was admitted as an active member of the Louisa co. Medical Society on April 16, 1853.
Hiram T. Cleaver
pg 48-49 & 141-142, full text and pg 150, mention
Dr. Hiram Thomas Cleaver should be enumerated as one of the best known and respected among Iowa's pioneer physicians. His connection with the Keokuk College of Physicians and Surgeons brought him in close relation with a large body of medical students who remembered Dr. Cleaver with great affection.

Dr. Cleaver was born in Centerville, Washington county, Pennsylavania, February 17, 1822. His parents were consistent members of the Society of Friends. He graduated from the New Lisbon Seminary, New Lisbon, Ohio in 1841 and graduated in medicine from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Keokuk in 1862 and from Chicago Medical College in 1872. It appears that Dr. Cleaver entered the office of Dr. T. Green of New Lisbon and after a period of pupilage under his preceptor according to a custom quite common in early days, he entered into a partnership with his preceptor and practiced with him several years, and finally received his diploma from Keokuk when he was elected professor obstetrics and diseases of women. In 1848 Dr. Cleaver came to Wapello where he remained in the practice of medicine fourteen years when he moved to Keokuk. While a resident of Wapello or from 1854 to 1858, Dr. Cleaver represented Louisa county in the Iowa Senate. He was one of the founders of the Louisa County Medical Society. Was a member of the American Medical Association and in 1874 he was elected president of the Iowa State Medical Society.

Dr. Cleaver in 1887 on account of poor health, removed to Las Vegas, Hot Springs, New Mexico. Soon after he was appointed surgeon to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Ry. Co., which position he held at the time of his death, January 11, 1888. (pg 48-49)

Dr. H.T. Cleaver, M.D. came to Keokuk in 1862 to take charge of the Estes House Hospital for the U.S. Government and remained in this position until the close of the war. The Estes House was the largest of the five, and most of the time ten assistants were required to properly care for the patients. The same year, the Doctor was elected to the chair of obstetrics and diseases of women in the college and this connection he maintained until 1883, when he resigned on account of failing health. In the administration of the affairs of the hospital entrusted to his care, Dr. Cleaver was unswerving in his fidelity to the trust, and the kindly interest manifested to patients in his invariable daily bedside visits, endeared him to every one that was an inmate of the Estes House in those terrible years. As a medical teacher, he was very popular with the students, dignified and courtly, yet always genial, and easily approached/ clear and incisive in his method of imparting instruction; outspoken in his abhorence of pretense; the impersonation of ethics in the broadest sense of the word, he easily became the ideal of every student. He continued in practice after the war, until his death in 1888, a prince among men, a physician of the old school. (pg 141-142)

Dr. H.T. Cleaver was elected a censor at the organizational meeting of the Louisa co. Medical Society on April 24, 1852. (pg 150)

John Cleaver
pg 46 & 151, mention
Dr. Cleaver and Dr. Lefler came to Washington county about 1840. The former moved to Columbus City where he died about 1860. At the second meeting of the Louisa co. Medical Society, January 19, 1853, Dr. John Cleaver of Columbus City was admitted to membership.
Dr. J.H. Cleaver
pg 161, mention
From the Council Bluffs Medical Society minutes: At the May 25, 1887 meeting, Dr. Cleaver was fined 50 cents for failing to be present and read his paper. At the October 18, 1904 meeting, Dr. J.H. Cleaver was elected secretary.

*Transcribers note: throughout the book there were instances of a physician's name being given slightly differently from one mention to another; whenever I was positive they denoted the same man, I have included the alternate name or spelling, not knowing which is the 'correct' one.

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