WWII B-17 Navigator shares my Birthday.

2 Lt. Earl E. Triebes (Back row center)  Photo taken 1 February 1945

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic this week is closest to your birthday.  Which relative has the birthday closest to yours? Many genealogy programs will let you run a birthday or calendar report so you can identify who it is.

The Person in my family tree that shares my birthday is Earl Triebes. Earl is my 2nd cousin once removed.  Earl was born to Richard Triebes and Martha Buehler on March 13, 1925 in Forest Park, Illinois.[1] Earl’s Paternal Grandmother was Augusta Desens.[2]  Augusta was the sister of my great-grandfather Carl Desens.[3]  Carl and Augusta’s father was John Desens[4] who I have written about in previous posts.  I hope this explains my relationship to Earl Triebes. 

I never knew Earl, in fact, I did know of his existence until a couple of years ago.  One of the things that I do is trace my collateral lines down to present day.  So when tracing Augusta Desens Triebes’ (my great-grandfather’s sister) line down is when I found Earl.  In researching Earl, I found that he was in the Army Air Force during World War II.[5]  Here is a transcript of a newspaper article dated 2 June 1944:

A-C Earl Triebes at San Antonio.

San Antionio

May 23, 1944

Dear Mr. Walker:

I am another of the Forest Park Fellows in service.  Since this is my first letter, I better tell you something about my training up till the present time.

To begin with I was called into the service July 1943, and sent to Miami Beach for two months of basic training.  During the month of September, I was sent to Albion College in Albion, Mich.   Here I studied such subjects as physics, trigonometry, map reading, history and English.  We also received training at a neighboring town Marshall, Mich.  After completion of my college course I was transferred to the classification center at San Antonio, Texas.  Upon completion of the tests I was classified Navigator and stared pre-flight on the 29th of February.  I finished pre-flight on the 29th of April.  We were all set to leave for our next phase of training but all the schools were filled up, so we just laid around and waited.  Confidentially, we still are waiting but before the week is over we will be at our next base. 

Well Mr. Walker, there’s not much more that I can tell you except that I would like very much if you sent me the Review and Forest Parker.  Thank you.

A/C Earl E.Triebes [6]

The next newspaper article I found was dated October 12, 1944 and included a picture of Earl.  Here is a partial transcript of that article:

Earl E. Triebes is Graduate of Aerial School.

Ellington Field, Texas, Oct 12 – From the center of navigation training has just gone another big class of aerial observers, skilled in the latest methods of military course plotting, taught at this installation of Army Air Forces Training command.

At their graduation members received silver wings as navigators and bars as second lieutenant or flight officers.

Here I am skipping a couple of paragraphs because they list awards given to members of this class and athletes.  Earl is not mentioned in these paragraphs. 

Members of the class included: Lt. Earl E. Triebes, son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard I. Triebes, 516 Des Plaines Ave., Forest Park.[7]

The third and final article I found was dated November 15 1945.  Here is the transcript:

Lt. Earl E. Triebes is Discharged

Santa Ana, Calif – 2nd Lt. Earl E. Triebes son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard I. Triebes, 516 Des Plaines Avenue, Forest Park, Ill., was honorably discharged today from (unreadable) base maintained by the Army Air Force.

Lt. Triebes is a veteran of 28 months of service in the Army Air Forces.  He served in the European Theater of Operations as a B-17 navigator with the 8th Air Force on 15 combat missions.

The AAF has awarded him the (unreadable) Medal with one cluster and the European Theater ribbon with two battle stars.

Brigadier General Arthur E. Easterbrook of the SAAAB declared:

“The fact that a man has served honorably with the AAF make him among the cream of the crop.  We think many of tomorrow’s leaders will spring from the outstanding young men who have made up the victorious Army Air Force.”[8]

Here is a summary of Earl’s WWII Missions:

  • 2Lt Earl E. Triebes (N) – Flew on 4 missions with 2Lt Leach (315, 317, 318, 322) and one mission with another Pilot (331). Became a Lead Crew Navigator: Flew two missions with a Deputy Lead Crew (338, 342) and eight missions with a Lead Crew (324, 328, 344, 348, 352, 354, 351, 358). Completed 15 combat missions on 11 April 1945 (Mission 358). [9]

Earl married Fern Alice Susal (date unknown).[10]  Fern Alice passed away on 1 September 1958 in Oak Park, Illinois.[11]  There is no mention of children in her obituary.[12]  Earl later married again, and I believe he had two children with his second wife.[13]  Earl passed away on 3 February 2001 in Wheaton, DuPage, Illinois.[14]

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.  Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

[2] Augusta Triebes Obiatuary, Forest Park, Illinois, The Revie and Forest Parker, 23 May 1946, Page 1.

[3]  Probate file for John Desens filed in the McIntyre Library at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 103 Garfield Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54701.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Forest Park, Illinois, The Review and Forest Parker, 2 June 1944. Page 5.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Forest Park, Illinois, The Review and Forest Parker, 12 October 1944, Page 1.

[8] Forest Park, Illinois, The Review and Forest Parker, 15 November 1945, Page 7.

[9] From Website: http://www.303rdbg.com/358leach.html

[10] Obituary for Fern Alice Triebes, Forest Park, Illinois, The Forest Park Review, 4 September 1958, Page 13.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Found names associated with Earl Triebes in various public records data base.  They may be a second wife and children.  I choose to keep these names private as they may still be living and I do not have their permission to publish their names.

[14] Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.  Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.



Grandpa’s Work

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic this week is work.

The one person who comes to mind for this topic is my maternal grandfather.  He worked for Texaco his whole life.  He went to work for Texaco in 1915 before the United States entered into WWI.  He left Texaco to enter the Army in 1917 and returned to Texaco after the War was over.  Texaco let  him retain his seniority.


Grandpa sitting above wheel.

He started out as a truck driver and moved up to dispatcher.

Grandpa at work (Texico)

Grandpa at work (Texaco)

Grandpa worked steady even during the depression.  He didn’t believe in taking a day off for a head cold.  He said the way to get rid of a cold was to work it off.  I don’t think he ever missed a day of work because he was sick or just didn’t feel like going in.  When I was young they had a dog, a Boxer, named Ken.  Ken knew what time grandpa would come home and about five minutes before Grandpa arrived home, Ken would go out on the front porch and wait for Grandpa. I guess you could say, we could set the clock by Grandpa’s work routine.

He retired from Texaco in 1961 after 46 years of service.

46 year service award

After retirement, he took a job at the local grade school as a crossing guard.  The children loved him.  When he decided to leave that job after many years, he received lots of cards and gifts from the children.  Grandpa had Alzheimer’s Disease and it was very sad to watch him lose his memory and not know any of us anymore.  He passed away on 6 October 1980 at age 84 years, and 24 days.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

School Days

Every year it seems the kids start school earlier and earlier.  Now they start in the middle of August.  When I was in school, we started after Labor Day.  September meant back to school with new school supplies, new dresses, and new shoes.  I was always sad that the summer was over, but I always had  high hopes for the coming school year.  It was good to be back and see classmates that I did not see all summer.  Then there was the anticipation of a new teacher.  One I may have heard about from kids that were a year ahead, but was new to me.  Depending on what I heard, it could be kind of scary.  

Back to school time has me thinking about my ancestor’s and their schooling.  My paternal grandmother went to a Lutheran School.  One time I went to the church to look up records.  It was a weekday and they walked me through the school to the church office.  While walking through the school, I thought to myself, I am walking where my grandmother walked.  The school looked old, and I don’t think it changed all that much since she went there.  I never knew my grandmother, and while walking through the halls, I felt especially close to her.  

I have also played on a school playground where a great-aunt taught school, only I didn’t know it at the time.  I have since gone back and walked around the outside of the school and thought about her and what she may have been like as a teacher.  I have already written about her Bowers Family History 1757 – 1955 Part 6 .

I haven’t seen any class pictures in years.  I don’t know if they still do them like they use to do, so here is a sample from the past.


My father’s class (I’m guessing maybe 2nd grade) about 1926.  Dad is in first row on right 3rd one from front.


Mom’s six grade class (about 1936) Mom is 2nd row 1st from left.

My first second grade class_NEW

My Second Grade Class 1955.  I am in the second row 5th from the left.

I’d like to note that I am in touch with several of my classmates through Facebook and a couple outside of Facebook and one that has been a life long friend.  We met in first grade that is now 65 years ago, and we are still going strong.  

This weeks 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic is school.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


Generations Picnic at Starved Rock

My grandmother’s family was from Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.  Near by is Starved Rock State Park, the site for our family picnics throughout the years.  Since it is summer and August, I’ve been thinking a lot about those picnics.  We would get up early on a Sunday Morning and drive about a two hours to Ottawa to meet family and friends and then drive on to Starved Rock for a picnic.  Starved Rock is located on the south bank of the Illinois River. The park has beautiful hiking trails, canyons, historic lodge, and panoramic views from tall bluffs.  “Starved Rock derives its name from a Native American legend.  In the 1760s, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, was attending a tribal council meeting. At this council of the Illinois and the Pottawatomie, an Illinois-Peoria brave stabbed Chief Pontiac. Vengeance arose in Pontiac’s followers. A great battle started. The Illinois, fearing death, took refuge on the great rock. After many days, the remaining Illinois died of starvation giving this historic park its name – Starved Rock.” [1]  If you would like more information click the link Starved Rock State Park .

Here is a pictorial of our family history at Starved Rock.

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Mina and Rudolf Kaiser (Great-Grandparents) on Starved Rock year unknown


Eva Bowers (great-grandmother) at Starved Rock 1920 or 21

Eva Bowers (Great-Grandmother) at Starved Rock 1920 or 21

Fred and Helen Kaiser at Starve Rock 1923

Fred Kaiser and Helen Bowers Kaiser (Grandparents) on Starved Rock 1923

Helen Kaiser (Grandma) at Starved Rock 1923

Helen Bowers (Grandmother) at the top of Starved Rock 1923

Helen Kaiser at Starved Rock 1923 (2)

Helen Bowers Kaiser on the path to the top of Starved Rock 1923

Helen Kaiser at Starved Rock 1923

Another view of my grandmother on the path leading up to the top of Starved Rock 1923

Fred and Helen Kaiser at Starve Rock 1939

Helen, son Russell, and Fred Kaiser at the top of Starved Rock 1939

Mom, Grandpa and Uncle Russ at Starved Rock 1939

My Mom (Dorothy), Fred, and Russell Kaiser on Starved Rock 1939

Mom and Uncle Russ at Starved Rock 1939

My Mom and Uncle at Starved Rock 1939

Mom and Friend at Starved Rock 1940 (2)

My Uncle, Mom, and friend 1940

Dorothy Manfroid (Mom) at Starved Rock 1953

My Mom at Starved Rock 1953

Mom, Me, Lynn, Dad, Roy 1953

Mom, Me, Lynn (friend), My Dad and Roy(friend of family) on Starved Rock 1953

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Me, Bruce (husband), Richard (friend) and his daughter at Starved Rock 1971

I realized when looking through photos for pictures of Starved Rock that so many family members were missing from photos including my own children.  I think we will have to make a trip to Starved Rock and take pictures of all of us on Starved Rock.  A few years ago we went there with my brother and his wife.  We climbed to the top of Starved Rock, but did not take any pictures.  Now he is gone, and I don’t have any pictures of him at Starved Rock.  I guess none of us were big picture takers.  

You can see how over the years things have changed there.  Now there are stairs and wooden walk ways to preserve the stone and to keep people from falling.  The path back when my mom was young wound around the outside of the rock.  One time she tried to take me on it when I was little.  I remember the path getting narrow and narrower and below us was the Illinois River.  She said that she didn’t remember it being that narrow and we turned back.  We then went up what was then the new way at that time, but less exciting.  I am also amazed how the women dressed to picnic.  They didn’t exactly have shoes for climbing and walking either.  My grandfather would tell stories of their drive down to Ottawa and Starved Rock back in the 20’s.  He said it would take most of the day, and he would have several flat tires on the way.  Now it’s two or three hour trip from Chicago.

Some times when Starved Rock got crowded we would go to a lesser known park across the river from Starved Rock known as Buffalo Rock State Park.  It was smaller and had a couple of trails.  One trail went along the river on a bluff.  Always hated to see the day end and the good times with family and friends.  After a day of hiking and eating all the great food, I would fall asleep in the back seat before we made it home.  Now after all this reminiscing, I am ready for a picnic there soon!

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] From website:  Starved Rock State Park www.starvedrockstatepark.org/history/

Ancestor member of the IOOF

Charles Bowers Obit

This week 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme is as follows:

“The federal census that we use in the US is sometimes comprised of more than one schedule. The one that we usually use is called the “population schedule.” However, there are some censuses that have additional schedules, such as:
– 1850-1880 Agricultural schedules

– 1850-1880 Industry and Manufactures schedules

– 1880 Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes

– 1890 Schedule of Union Veterans and Widows

Have you found your ancestor on one of these schedules? What did you find?

Another way you could look at this theme is to write about something related to an ancestor, such as a church, school, or organization they were affiliated with.”    

I have not found any of my ancestors in any of the schedules listed above.  I have found them in church, school, and organizations.  Mostly, I find this information in the newspapers through the various digitized newspapers.  For example my one ancestor, Charles Bowers, is listed in the Ottawa Free Trader newspaper as belonging to the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows. 

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal order founded in 1819 byThomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Evolving from the Order of the Odd Fellows founded in England during the 1700s, the IOOF was originally charted by the Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity in England but has operated as an independent organization since 1842, although it maintains an inter-fraternal relationship with the English Order. Beyond fraternal and recreational activities, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows promotes the  Ethic of reciprocity and charity, by implied inspiration of Judeo-Christian ethics.”[1]

In December 1879 he is listed as being inducted as an officer[2] and in February 1882 he is listed as the C. P. (Chief Patriarch – presiding officer of encampment) of the Ottawa Encampment #33.[3]  In January of 1883 he is listed as I. G. (Inside Guardian)[4] and in January 1885 he is installed as an officer in lodge #41.[5]  I don’t know if the number changed from 33 to 41 or if it is an entirely different lodge.  This is not the most exciting news, but it does give me a glimpse into his life.  It is just one more component of his life to add to the other parts that make up his whole life. 

I knew he belonged to the IOOF from his obituary, but I did not know the extent of his involvement until I found more information in the newspapers.  His Obituary states that Ottawa Lodge, No 41, IOOF had charge of the obsequies at the cemetery.[6]  It also states that he was a member for over 30 years.[7]

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] From website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Order_of_Odd_Fellows

[2] Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.), December 27, 1879,  Image 1.  From: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/pages/results/?date1=1789&rows=20&searchType=basic&state=Illinois&date2=1963&proxtext=charles+bowers&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=2&sort=date

[3]  Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.), February 25, 1882 Image 1.  From: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/pages/results/?date1=1789&rows=20&searchType=basic&state=Illinois&date2=1963&proxtext=charles+bowers&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=2&sort=date

[4] Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.), January 13, 1883, Image 1.  From: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/pages/results/?date1=1789&rows=20&searchType=basic&state=Illinois&date2=1963&proxtext=charles+bowers&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=2&sort=date

[5] Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Ill.), January 3, 1885,  Image 1.  From: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/pages/results/?date1=1789&rows=20&searchType=basic&state=Illinois&date2=1963&proxtext=charles+bowers&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=2&sort=date

[6] Obituary for Charles Bowers: Republican Times (Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois) February 18, 1897.

[7] Ibid.

Family Legends



This weeks 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic is Family Legends.  My family has several, but not one makes a very long story.  So I have decided to list a few here.

Family Legends:

  1. We are related to Napoleon. First of all I don’t know why anyone would want to admit that they were related to Napoleon.  I’ve traced that line back to the early 1700’s and I can find no relation to Napoleon.  This story came from my maternal grandmother about her mother’s family.  My mother asked one of my grandmother’s aunts.  The Aunt said that she had never heard that story, however she had heard that someone had fought in the Napoleonic Wars.  My father used to joke that he believed it because my grandmother and mother were like dictators.  I believe the aunt was right and my grandmother was wrong.
  2. My 2nd great-grandfather was a captain in the German Army in the 1870’s when he deserted the German Army and came to the United States. Of course if you are running away from the German Army you bring your pregnant wife and your 1½ year old little girl along with you.  I believe he left Germany because he belonged to a religious faith that was pacifist, and wanted to avoid conscription into the German Army.
  3. My grandmother also believed that she was part Native American. How she ever came to this conclusion, I have no idea.  Her mother was born in Germany and her father in the US born to a father born in England and a mother born in Canada to parents who came from Scotland.  She had this information, so where does the Native American heritage come in to the equation?  I don’t think it does at all.  She might have wished it to be so because she admired the Native American’s.  DNA to the rescue, my DNA shows no Native American Ancestry.
  4. My grandmother said that her grandmother’s maiden name was Fischer, she came from Canada, and she was related to the people who owned the Fischer Body Company that make the Auto bodies for Chevrolet.  Remember the famous tag “Body by Fischer” displayed on the door still plate?  Fischer Body Company was started by Fred and Charles Fischer of Detroit Michigan in 1908.[1] In 1913 they became so successful they expanded their company into Canada, setting up a plant in Walkerville Ontario.[2] The only part true is that her grandmother was from Canada.  Her Grandmother’s maiden name was Frazier not Fischer.  Another story that was not true.
  5. My father had told me that we had some ancestors who were killed by Indian’s in Wisconsin.  I was able to debunk this story.  John Desens owned a farm in Clark County Wisconsin and was killed by his neighbor.  John’s son, Herman, accidentally shot himself and died.  I wrote about both of these incidents in previous blogs. See Where there is a will and Misfortune .  The truth is they were killed, but not by Indians.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Wikipedia Website at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_Body

[2] Ibid.

Last Born

img001 (4)

Elmer Grunst

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic this week is youngest.  

Elmer Grunst was the youngest of seven children born to Albert Grunst and Anna Schmerling.  Elmer was born on 28 December 1901 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois[i] and joined his siblings Alma, Albert, Walter, and Lillian at home.[ii]  Two siblings Emma and Theodore died in infancy.[iii] Elmer was baptized on 19 January 1902 at St. Markus Lutheran Church in Chicago.[iv]  His sponsors were Gustav Elend, Louis Schulz, and Augusta Genz.[v]  Sometime during 1902 they moved to Cicero, Illinois[vi] where Elmer grew up and completed two years of high school.[vii]  Elmer was too young to for WWI and too old for WWII.  He never entered the military, however all of his sons served.  Two sons served during WWII.  One was stationed in the Pacific and the other one in Africa.[viii]  After high school he went to work for the Western Electric Company Hawthorne works at Cicero Avenue and 22nd street as a draftsman where he worked his way up to supervisor, and retired from there in 1963.[ix]  In later years, he worked for the Western Electric in downtown Chicago at the Merchandise Mart and rode the train everyday from Berwyn to Chicago.[x]  Elmer belonged to the reserve police force in Berwyn, Illinois.[xi]

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Elmer at target practice for the Reserve Police of Berwyn, Illinois

In 1920 he married Alice Gorski also from Cicero, Cook, Illinois.[xii]  They had five children, Elmer Jr. born in 1921, Harry in 1922, Dorothy in 1923, Lester in 1935, and Bruce in 1941.  Elmer and Alice moved to a typical Berwyn bungalow at 3708 Kenilworth Ave, Berwyn, Cook, Illinois around 1928.  The homes were built on narrow 30’ wide lots with a narrow gangway between them.  Garages were on the alley in back.  Here they raised their five children and lived in that house until their deaths.[xiii]

Elmer liked baseball and was a devout White Sox fan.  He liked sitting on his front porch in the summer and listening to the White Sox games on the radio. He taught his sons to play baseball concentrating mainly on pitching.  He also liked to golf and bowl and was good at both sports.  Elmer liked to have his beer and a shot of whiskey everyday.  He was also fond of bakery goods which he enjoyed for breakfast.[xiv] 

The family enjoyed trips to Paw Paw, Michigan where their friends had a cottage.  Elmer and Alice also took trips to Texas, California, and Florida.  Elmer liked to take day drives and would take his youngest son with him.  It was just the two of them on rode for a day of adventure.[xv] Unfortunately, Elmer was a smoker and died of Lung Cancer on 17 March 1965 at 63 years, 2 months and 17 days.  He looked forward to retirement unfortunately, he only lived a little over a year after he retired at age 62 and some of that time was spent sick with the Cancer.  His son said that it hard for him to see his father frail, sick, and in pain.  He had always been a big, strong man who was never sick.   Alice died many years later on 9 February 1981.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[i] State of Illinois, Cook County, Chicago, Certificate of Birth, Registration District No. 3104, date of birth 28 December 1901.

[ii]Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 10, Cook, Illinois; Page: 17; Enumeration District: 0288; FHL microfilm: 1240256.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Illinois, Chicago, Baptism Certificate for Elmer Grunst, Date of birth 28 December 1901, Date of Baptism 19 January 1902

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[vii] Year: 1940; Census Place: Berwyn, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00772; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 16-5. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

[viii] Personal knowledge from Bruce Grunst (son of Elmer Grunst) as told to Gail Grunst author of this biography.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[xiii] Personal knowledge from Bruce Grunst (son of Elmer Grunst) as told to Gail Grunst author of this biography.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.