Genealogy Data Page 1 (Notes Pages)


Gordon, John Steele (b. 7 MAY 1944)

Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Page: Incorrect year of birth given in source
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: New York Times
Title: New York Times
Page: 05/07/1944, p. 15
Given Name: John Steele
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Gordon, Richard Haden (b. 30 MAR 1919, d. NOV 1977)
Note: After his death, his younger sister described Richard Haden Gordon as "the golden boy and the man who never was." It is an apt description.

The first son, as a youth he swept all before him. His academic career at St. Bernard's in New York and St. George's in Newport, Rhode Island, were rich with prizes both for sports and for studies. He went to Princeton University and graduated as a member of the class of 1941, although he did not receive his degree until 1946 because of the Second World War. He was a member of the Union Club and Squadron A.

In the Army, he rose from private to major and had the separation rank of lieutenant colonel. He fought in North Africa and in the Italian campaign from its inception until the end of the war. Although he spent most of his military career as a staff officer, attached to the staff of General Mark Clark, he earned a purple heart for being wounded in action and two bronze stars for bravery in the face of the enemy. He commanded the detail that liberated the town of Livorno, where he was severely wounded in the knee. Like many men who have fought in a great war, it was an experience that affected him more than any other in his life.

His life after the war, however, was largely one of failure. His first two marriages soon ended in divorce and his attempts to become a screen writer in Hollywood in the late 1940's and a television producer in the early 1950's did not work out. His third marriage was a happy one, but his business interests in the French and British West Indies also failed and he retired to Hawaii.

Disengaged as a father, his greatest gift to his children, perhaps, was his passion for the printed word. He devoured books on all subjects, reading them at an astonishing speed.
Given Name: Richard Haden
Death: NOV 1977 Honolulu, Hawaii
Change: Date: 9 Mar 2003

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Steele, Mary Alricks (b. 26 OCT 1921, d. 18 JAN 1967)
Note: Mary Steele's life was, to a large extent, dominated by an ultimately losing battle with alcoholism. Possessed of great beauty, wit, and charm, she won the hearts of almost everyone, including many who were shrewd judges of character. But she lacked an ability to see her own virtues or to depend on her own talents, which were many. This led to an increasing dependence on alcohol to obtain self-esteem, and her physical intolerance for it led directly to her death at age forty-five.

Mary Steele attended the Chapin School in New York. In 1939, the year she graduated, the city's society columnists named her "debutante of the year," and she both endured and enjoyed an avalanche of publicity. Her year in the limelight has been preserved in a scrap book that was assembled by her mother. It is in my possession, a fascinating glimpse into a vanished world.

Her marriage to Richard Gordon was not a success and they were divorced in 1948. After the end of her marriage she worked for Oscar Hammerstein II as his personal assistant and secretary until the end of his life and was present at the creation of some of the most famous Broadway musicals ever written. She married his brother, whom she had known earlier, but that marriage also ended in divorce in 1958.

Her last marriage, to Goodwin Dillen, another alcoholic, was troubled by her increasing illness. She bought a house in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, and was living there when her final illness began and she was taken to Boston for better, but still unavailing, medical care.

It is rare for an historian to find an epitaph personally selected by someone. But Mary Steele chose hers, although to be sure unconsciously, and it illustrates at one and the same time both the cause of her tragedy and the unfathomable mystery of her self-destruction. On the end paper of a copy of Samuel Hoffenstein's Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing, beneath the author's inscription to her--for they were good friends--she wrote in her own hand a quote from another of his books of verse, Pencil in the Air.

Everywhere I go
I go too.
And spoil everything.

Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: New York Times
Title: New York Times
Page: 01/20/67
Given Name: Mary Alricks
Death: 18 JAN 1967 Boston, Massachusetts
Change: Date: 22 Feb 2003

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Steele, John Nelson (b. 12 JUL 1882, d. 23 AUG 1935)
Note: John Nelson Steele attended Princeton University, graduating with the class of 1904 with a degree in mine engineering. He worked as a mine engineer for a few years but then moved to New York and bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. He was associated with the firm of DeCoppet and Doremus throughout his brokerage career.

He loved history and was deeply read in the subject. My mother remembered being taken as a small child by him to a silent movie of the cast-of-thousands variety about ancient Rome. Shortly after the movie began, he began to mutter to himself and she asked what the matter was. "The Roman soldiers are wearing their swords on the wrong side!" He answered, disgusted with Hollywood bungling.

He was a member of Holland Lodge and the Union Club.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: CD
Title: William C. Marye, Colonial Dames ancestor chart, prepared for Margaret M
. Steele, Jan. 3, 1916
. Steele, Jan. 3, 1916
. Steele, Jan. 3, 1916.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: New York Times
Title: New York Times
Page: 10/24/1906, p. 9.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: New York Times
Title: New York Times
Page: 08/26/1935, p. 15.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: New York Times
Title: New York Times
Page: 08/25/1935, p. 31
Given Name: John Nelson
Death: 23 AUG 1935 Port Washington, New York
Change: Date: 28 Feb 2003

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Lyman, Katharine (b. 12 DEC 1882, d. 26 DEC 1969)
Note: My grandfather Steele called her "the empress tigress," and it is an apt description. Katharine Lyman was often imperious and seldom wise about personal relations. It rarely entered her calculations that she might be wrong about anything, especially regarding how her husband or children should conduct their lives. This, needless to say, made her a difficult person to be closely related to, for she interfered, ordered, and bossed constantly, but almost never understood, or even tried to understand, any other point of view than her own.

Conspicuously beautiful in her youth, she married the notably handsome son of a prominent lawyer (and nephew of an even more prominent banker). But this golden couple did not flourish as she clearly expected was their right to. He had studied mining engineering at college, and his first job after their marriage was in a small town called Rush Run, West Virginia, where he worked for a coal-mining company.

But she was hardly content to live in such places and she yearned for the great world of New York in which she had grown up and which she felt to be her rightful place. She soon convinced him (bullied, I suspect, would be a better term) to move to New York and become a stockbroker. Although he had neither talent for nor interest in Wall Street, he would spend the rest of his professional life there, a fish out of water.

In the 1920's she took the family to France for two years, as many people did because it was possible to live in great luxury there at that time at small expense.

Like all descendants of her father Hart Lyman, she was very witty, often hilarious. One of my favorite remarks of hers was saying that "the cruelest choice I can imagine having to make would be between cream and gin." I remember her with some affection because of this trait. But while wit must have a core of wisdom to exist, I also remember her as being, quite unintentionally, very silly at least as often. One night at cocktails in North Hatley, she announced that the superiority of dogs was proved by the fact that they were the only animal that did not run in packs. When I (aged about twelve, perhaps) pointed out that in fact dogs were one of the few carnivores that do run in packs, she dismissed my assertion out of hand. As far as she was concerned a Katharine Steele pronouncement carried almost Papal authority.


Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Given Name: Katharine
Death: 26 DEC 1969 New York City
Change: Date: 18 Feb 2003

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Lyman, Hart (b. 8 DEC 1851, d. 30 OCT 1927)
Note: Hart Lyman was educated at Yale University, graduating with the class of 1873. He taught school in his spring term in 1874 and was editor of the Yale Literary Magazine in his senior year. After graduating he studied at Heidelberg and the University of Berlin in Germany. Returning from Europe, he studied law for a year in Minneapolis, where his parents had moved after his father's retirement. He moved to New York in 1876 and joined the editorial staff of the New York <i>Tribune</i> that year. By the mid-1880's he was the editorial page editor, and served in that position for more than twenty years. The <i>Tribune </i>at that time was the most influential organ of enlightened conservative thought in the country, and thus Hart Lyman held the position at the beginning of the twentieth century that Paul Gigot, editor of the <i>Wall Street Journal,</i> holds at the beginning of the twentieth-first.

In March 1905, when President Theodore Roosevelt appointed the editor of the paper, Whitelaw Reid, ambassador to the Court of St. James, Hart Lyman became the third editor-in-chief of the New York <i>Tribune</i>, the first having been Horace Greeley. He retired March 1st, 1913.

He was a member of the University, Yale, and Graduates Clubs in New York City.

He was a man of much wit, a characteristic enjoyed by most of his descendants. To give just one instance, his daughter Marion had married Rowland Stebbins, and Hart Lyman thought that while "Stebbins" was a fine old New England name, he also thought it a very uneuphonious one. He could seldom resist making a joke about it. When his daughter was expecting a child, she asked her father what he thought of the name Patricia Stebbins should the child be a girl. "If your name were Stinkbottom," he asked, his eyes twinkling, "would you name your son Plantagenet?"
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Who's Who in New York
Title: Who's Who in New York, 1909
Given Name: Hart
Death: 30 OCT 1927 New York City
Change: Date: 22 Feb 2003

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Torrey, Marion Smythe (b. 5 NOV 1859, d. 5 MAR 1912)
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Given Name: Marion Smythe
Death: 5 MAR 1912 Atlantic City, New Jersey
Change: Date: 22 Feb 2003

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Torrey, Samuel Whittemore (b. 29 APR 1823, d. 6 FEB 1903)
Note: Samuel Whittemore Torrey spent most of his life working with his father in real estate development, including what is now Lakehurst, New Jersey, and the original London Terraces on West 23rd Street in Manhattan.

An obituary article appeared in the New York Times on February 8th, 1903.

Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Given Name: Samuel Whittemore
Death: 6 FEB 1903 East Orange, New Jersey
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Coggill, Catharine Matilda (b. 7 MAR 1828, d. 27 OCT 1917)
Note: Catharine Matilda Coggill outlived all seven of her children.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Given Name: Catharine Matilda
Death: 27 OCT 1917 New York City
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Torrey, William (b. 6 MAY 1798, d. 15 JUN 1891)
Note: William Torrey was probably born in one of the two houses owned by his grandmother Margaret Thompson Nichols on Broadway between Leonard and Franklin Streets. As a boy he played in the as-yet-unfinished City Hall and was taken by his father, a city alderman, for a ride on Robert Fulton's Clermont in 1807, the year the first economically practical steamboat was built. He wrote "Reminiscences of an Old Man" about his youth in New York City "when all above Grand Street was country." It appeared in Adam's Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 6, in 1892, the year after his death.

Shortly after his marriage, he formed the firm of Gillett & Torrey, importers of hardware. In 1836 he became the agent for the London financial firm of Timothy Wiggen & Co., and wound up that firm's affairs in New York after the panic of 1837. He spent most of his adult life developing real estate in New York City and New Jersey. In New York he built the first London Terrace on West 23rd Street, on the site of the present London Terrace complex. A picture of the first one can be seen in the book Lost New York.

In New Jersey, he was the principal developer of Lakehurst, the land of which had been given to Adeline Torrey by her father as a wedding present, and of the surrounding town of Manchester. The Torrey family owned thousands of acres in that area, built a railroad, named the Raritan and Delaware Bay Railroad, brick kilns, a general store, and other facilities. His contributions to early Manchester are detailed in the book Early Manchester and William Torrey by William S. Dewey, privately printed by the Manchester Publishing Company in 1982. There is a photograph of a portrait of him painted as a young man in that book.

The marriage of William and Adeline Torrey lasted just six months less than seventy years. A library table, bought by Adeline Torrey, probably at the time of her marriage, is in the possession of John Steele Gordon. Made of mahogany with drop leaves and a pineapple pedestal base with four legs, it is a splendid example of the New York style of the period.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Whittemore
Title: Bradford Adams Whittemore and Edgar Whittemore, The Whittemore Family i
n America (NEHGR Vols. 106, 107, 108)
n America
n America. NEHGR Vols. 106, 107, 108.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: New York Times
Title: New York Times
Page: 06/17/1891, p. 4.
Given Name: William
Death: 15 JUN 1891 Manchester, New Jersey
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Whittemore, Adeline (b. 14 JAN 1799, d. 10 OCT 1890)
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Whittemore
Title: Bradford Adams Whittemore and Edgar Whittemore, The Whittemore Family i
n America (NEHGR Vols. 106, 107, 108)
n America
n America. NEHGR Vols. 106, 107, 108.
Given Name: Adeline
Death: 10 OCT 1890 Manchester, New Jersey
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Coggill, George (b. 12 MAY 1780, d. 11 JAN 1867)
Note: George Coggill was a man of considerable prominence in the New York commercial world in the first half of the 19th century, as evidenced by the obituary that appeared in the New York Times, January 13th, 1867. I will quote it in full not only because it is a good summary of his life, but also because it is a fine example of the orotund Victorian obituary style in full flight.

"The record of the death of George Coggill, Esq., at his residence, no. 288 Fifth-avenue [now torn down] on the 11th inst., will awaken many memories of the past in our mercantile community. There is probably no older New-York merchant now living of any more prominence than was Mr. Coggill at the time of his demise. He came to the city from England in 1811, one of those old-fashioned, well-educated English merchants who gave tone and character to our business relations, which have been so well sustained by their successors.

"He was for many years at the head of the wool trade in this country. Mr. Coggill continued his English connection for many years, and his correspondents abroad of the old houses of Overend Gurney & Co., Fielden & Co., Pickersgill & Co. and George Peabody and Co., of London, will join his friends here at the deep regret at the loss of a man who did such great credit to the name of a New-York merchant.

"In all the relations of society, as a Christian gentleman, a kind father, a generous benefactor and a fond parent, he will be long remembered. At the advanced age of eighty-six, in the possession of all his faculties, surrounded by a large and affectionate family and cherished friends, he has gone to his reward."

George Coggill first came to this country in 1805, when he was a junior partner in the firm of Walker & Coggill, which was engaged in the woolen cloth trade. According to his great grandson, James C. Coggill, he emigrated to this country permanently in 1812, not 1811 as stated in the Times, and was caught in mid-Atlantic by the outbreak of war between England and the United States. His ship was captured by a privateer out of Newport, Rhode Island, and he and his family were interned in Fishkill, New York, for the duration of the war.

After the war he engaged in real estate speculation and in general shipping in addition to dominating the wool trade. Together with his sons, he owned three ships at the outbreak of the Civil War. One, the Urania, was built at Brookhaven in 1855. Its portrait--a fine one--was in the possession of James C. Coggill in 1981. At the outbreak of the Civil War, one of the ships was caught by a Confederate raider and burned at sea. The other two ships were promptly sold.

George Coggill donated the herd of Yorkshire black-faced sheep that grazed the sheep meadow in Central Park until 1934 and for whom the sheep meadow is named.

A pair of handsome portraits of George and Ann Coggill, painted about 1830, were in the possession of their great grandson George Coggill in 1981.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Baptism: 17 JUN 1780 St. Peter's Parish, Leeds, Yorkshire
Given Name: George
Death: 11 JAN 1867 New York City
Burial: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
Change: Date: 9 Mar 2003

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Atkinson, Ann (b. 3 MAY 1787, d. 17 JUL 1835)
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Given Name: Ann
Death: 17 JUL 1835 New York City
Burial: 1835 Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York
Change: Date: 9 Mar 2003

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Torrey, William (b. 15 SEP 1759, d. 8 OCT 1831)
Note: The following is from the Torrey family Bible, in my possession, and was written there by Samuel Whittemore Torrey as related to him by his father, William Torrey, the son of Lieutenant William Torrey.
"William Torrey was born in Boston Sept. 15th 1759. In June 1776 he left his father, then at Montreal, at the solicitation of his father's brother, Major Joseph Torrey, and joined the "Congress Own," light infantry regiment, under the command of Col. Hazen, and was appointed an Ensign of the regiment. A short time after his father joined the same regiment. He was at the Battle of White Plains when the army was on its retreat to the City of New York, under the command of General Washington. Col. Hazen's regiment covered the retreat and it occurred that the company of which William was ensign was the last on the march and he, as Ensign, was the last man. The captain of this company was Capt. (after Major) Popham, subsequently President of the Society of the Cincinnati of the State of New York. Our army on its retreat left some of their cannon. Ensign Torrey (then 17 years of age) told his men that he would have one shot at the enemy. He therefore loaded one of the pieces full to the muzzle, wheeled it around, and aimed it [at] the enemy, who in solid column, were marching up the road, and fired it with the touchrope which had been left burning beside the gun. The next day, being sent to the enemy with a flag of truce he inquired what was the effect of that last shot, and was told that it killed eight men. He was with his regiment at Brandywine, at Germantown, and at the Siege of Yorktown, when Cornwallis surrendered. Ensign (then Lieutenant) Torrey was at Valley Forge during all the severe winter of 1780. His regiment was with the army which marched into New York City on Evacuation day, by way of the Bowery to the Battery, Novr. 26th, 1783. He commanded the platoon of men which led Major Andre to Execution.
"After the war he made Captain and was stationed at Plattsburgh, N.C. [N.Y., surely] where he remained two years. In 1792 he married Margaret, daughter of Lewis Nichols. He was Alderman of the sixth Ward for some years."
William Torrey was a founding member of the Society of the Cincinnati. As alderman, he was given a ride on Robert Fulton's new steamboat, the Clermont, in 1807, the year it was built, and took his young son William (No. 60), then aged nine, along for the ride.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Given Name: William
Death: 8 OCT 1831 New York City
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Nichols, Margaret (b. 9 NOV 1768, d. 7 OCT 1839)
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Torrey
Title: Torrey family Bible
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: Nichols
Title: Frederic C. Torrey, The Ancestors and Descendants of Humphrey Nichols o
f Newark, New Jersey, and of his Brothers and Sisters (Lakehurst, New J
ersey, n.p. 1917)
f Newark, New Jersey, and of his Brothers and Sisters
f Newark, New Jersey, and of his Brothers and Sisters. Lakehurst, New J
ersey, n.p. 1917.
Given Name: Margaret
Death: 7 OCT 1839 Fishkill, New York
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Torrey, Lewis (b. 1 SEP 1794, d. 2 DEC 1817)
Given Name: Lewis
Death: 2 DEC 1817
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Torrey, John (b. 15 AUG 1796, d. 10 MAR 1873)
Note: John Torrey was one of the most famous American botanists of the nineteenth century, equaled, perhaps, only by his pupil, Asa Gray.

In 1810, his father was appointed fiscal agent for the state prison located in what is now Greenwich Village. Incarcerated there for forgery was Amos Eaton, later the founder of the Renssaeler Polytechnic Institute, who fired John's interest in the natural world and plants. He studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York (earning an M.D. degree in 1818) and while a student helped to found the Lyceum of Natural History, the forerunner of the New York Academy of Science. A committee of three was appointed by the Lyceum to prepare a catalog of plants living near New York, and on December 22, 1817, "A Catalogue of Plants Growing Spontaneously Within Thirty Miles of the City of New York" was presented. Most of it is known to have been written by John Torrey and it has always been known as Torrey's Catalogue.

Government expeditions to explore the West at this time gathered plants which were then turned over to Torrey for study and he was the first to scientifically describe and name hundreds of plants from North America. The Torrey pines, which grow only in the area of Monterey, California, are named in his honor as is Torrey's Peak in Colorado. Torrey climbed Torrey's peak in 1872, when he was 76 years old.

In 1823 he published "A Flora of the Northern and Middle Sections of the United States.

In 1824 he married Eliza Shaw and moved to West Point, where he was appointed a professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology. In 1827 he returned to New York City and was named professor of chemistry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He would be active as a professor there until 1855 and would be a professor emeritus there the rest of his life. He also became a professor at Princeton University. In 1836 he was appointed state botanist and wrote the two-volume "Flora of New York State," published in 1843. He collaborated with Asa Gray, his protege, on a "Flora of North America," but the work was never completed.

In 1839 he was elected a foreign member of the Linnean Society of London and in 1841 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Over the years he built up the largest and most valuable botanical library and herbarium in North America. About 1860 he donated it to Columbia College. In 1899 the college deposited it at the newly established New York Botanical Garden.

In 1853 he was appointed United States Assayer, at which time he resigned as a professor at Princeton and from active work at Columbia. He traveled to California by way of Panama in 1865 on Treasury Department business, and spent the winter of 1871-72 in Florida, then a near wilderness.

He apparently possessed a remarkable personality "characterized by integrity, sagacity, and studiousness, but above all by a certain ingenuousness and genial friendliness, which increased with age." In his old age he gathered a group of young botanists about him and in 1867 they formed the Torrey Botanical Club and in 1870 began publishing the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, the oldest botanical monthly in the United States. At the end of the century the Torrey Botanical Club would be instrumental in forming the New York Botanical Garden.

An article on Torrey is in the Dictionary of American Biography and a biography of him, John Torrey: A Story of American Botany, by Andrew Denny Rodgers III, was published in 1942.
Source: (Individual)
Abbreviation: DAB
Title: Dictionary of American Biography
Given Name: John
Death: 10 MAR 1873
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Torrey, Ebenezer (b. 6 MAR 1800, d. 17 FEB 1801)
Given Name: Ebenezer
Death: 17 FEB 1801
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Torrey, Mary (b. 7 AUG 1802, d. 21 NOV 1819)
Given Name: Mary
Death: 21 NOV 1819
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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Torrey, Margaret (b. 24 FEB 1804, d. 16 NOV 1804)
Given Name: Margaret
Death: 16 NOV 1804
Change: Date: 9 Feb 2003

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