Category Archives: Colonel Benjamin Cleveland

Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Richard Allen ~ Revolutionary War

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Richard Allen, my 5th great-grandfather, was born on November 26, 1741, in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the son of John (1717-1767) and Ann (1722-1746), Rhodes Allen. His family moved to Rowan County, North Carolina in 1743 and his mother died there in 1746. By 1759 we find him living in Fredrick County, Virginia. Richard was the youngest of nine children born to John and Ann and the family was considered to be poor. When he and Miss Lindsey fell in love, her father, who was wealthy, opposed the marriage. The young lovers persisted, and he married Nancy Ann Lindsey in 1763 in Virginia, and they had 8 known children, 5 sons, and 3 daughters. After the birth of their first child, Thomas (my 4th great-grandfather) in September of 1770, they again moved, this time back to North Carolina to avoid the ill will of her family.

In the month of October 1775, he entered the service of the Patriots as a volunteer for six months in Capt. Jesse Walton’s Company of minute men. It was the first company ever raised in the county of Wilkes. He was appointed First Sergeant. Immediately after the company was raised and organized they marched to Salisbury, where they remained about sixteen days engaged in training and exercising the men, after which they were discharged and returned home, where they arrived a few days before Christmas.

On the 13th day of February 1776, they set out upon their march forPatriot pic Cross Creek because they had heard that the Scotch Tories were committing great devastation in the country there. On their way, they were joined by Col. Martin Armstrong with the Surry militia at a place called old Richmond. After joining Col. Armstrong they continued their march until they reached Randolph County, where they were joined by Col. Alexander Martin of the Continental line with a small body of troops under his command. They engaged the Tories that were in this area.

Not long after the expiration of his first term Richard was chosen an ensign in the company of militia commanded by Capt. Benjamin Cleveland and they received orders from Col. Armstrong to go against the Indians who were committing acts of destruction upon the frontier of the Western part of North Carolina. In this expedition, they served about two weeks scouring the frontier settlements for any problems.

Benjamin Cleveland StatueEarly in the year 1778, Captain Benjamin Cleveland was appointed a Lieutenant Colonel and Richard was appointed to succeed him as Captain of the company which commission he held until the close of the war. In the latter part of the year 1779, a call was made for troops to march to the defense of Charleston. A draft was made from the militia in Wilkes for the company and a draft also made from the Captains of Companies for a Captain to command that company. The lot fell upon Richard, and he rendezvoused with the company on January 13, 1780. As soon as they could organize and make the necessary preparations they marched directly to Charleston, S. C., where they joined the third regiment of North Carolina militia, commanded by Col. Andrew Hampton.

Newspaper Richard's PlaceGen. Lincoln ordered all the troops into the city where they remained until the term of service of Richard and his men expired. They were then discharged and returned home, Richard arrived home sometime in the month of April 1780. In the month of September 1780, information was received by Col. Benjamin Cleveland that Major Ferguson of the British army was advancing from South Carolina with a large body of British and Tories, upon which Col. Cleveland immediately issued orders for all the Troops within the County of Wilkes to rendezvous at the Court House. Richard along with what men he could gather together immediately set out on their march to join the fight. At this time he was promoted to Colonel. They continued their march as quickly as possible in the direction of King’s mountain but was not able to reach it in time to engage in the battle. After this, Richard and his men again returned home to Rowan (now called Wilkes), County.

Richard Allen hsIn 1778, Richard was a member of the Constitutional Convention in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Richard was also appointed the First Sheriff of Wilkes County after the end of the War. In 1785 he served as a justice in the county. In 1793, he was a Representative in the General Assembly as well as serving a term in the House of Commons. Beginning in 1798 through 1804, Richard was once again made Sheriff of Wilkes County. He then served as the clerk for the Baptist Association until his death on October 10, 1832, in Edwards Township, Wilkes Co, North Carolina at the age of 90.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~ Finale

Benjamin Cleveland StatueOver the last 3 weeks, we have taken a close look at Benjamin Cleveland’s life. All of it, including the good, the bad, and the very ugly. He was honored as a hero in the Revolutionary War, and he was also convicted as a murderer in the same war. He was called the Terror of the Tories and a man with no morals, but he was also called a kindhearted, fair, Patriotic, and loving man. He was a man of many contradictions.

This week we will pick up where we left off, life after the war. After the war, homeBenjamin returned to his beloved Round About, but he was able to remain there for only four years before he lost his plantation to a “better title.” At that time in North Carolina history, land speculation and claim jumping were rampant in the Yadkin Valley. Anyone who had been away fighting in the war for any length of time could expect to be victimized. Even Benjamin’s good friend, Daniel Boone, encountered these problems.

Benjamin directed his ambitions toward the beautiful land he had seen in the Tugaloo River Valley in South Carolina. In 1785 when he was granted 1050 acres on the Franklin County, GA, side so he began selling off his remaining Wilkes County property. Sometime between 1786 and 1787 he moved his family to their new home in the fork of the Tugaloo River and Chauga Creek in the Pendleton District.

Tugaloo mapHe added to his new farm by buying land from other Revolutionary grantees. Between 1779 and 1793 he acquired, through grants and purchases, nearly seven thousand acres of land on both sides of the Tugaloo River. Some of this land he kept as part of his “estate,” and some he sold. One record, for example, shows him selling 650 acres on Mill Creek of the Chauga River to a blacksmith named Littleberry Toney (November 29, 1790). All the land retained in his estate was eventually passed on to his son Absalom. Over the years this large estate has been bought in small portions by local residents and newcomers to the area.

Benjamin soon became involved in the affairs of his new state and served for many years as a judge of the court of Old Pendleton District along with General Andrew Pickens and Colonel Robert Anderson. As a judge, he continued the philosophy he had perpetuated in warfare. Lacking the formal training of a lawyer, he relied on his own keen sense of right and wrong when issuing a legal decision. In truth, he had tremendous contempt for the technicalities of law and all the resulting delays. When lawyers expounded their legalese before his bench, he often fell asleep, sometimes lapsing into snores that interfered with the litigation until one of his associates could nudge him awake. Consequently, all the long, prosy legal speeches had little effect on the judgments he rendered. Both on the field of battle and in the court of law, he was considered a fast man with a rope as he administered justice promptly and fairly. Any unfortunate horse thief brought before Benjamin received the same treatment as the Tories had, usually hanging.

Several years before his death in 1806, Benjamin became so large in size that heGrave stone could not mount his favorite saddle horse. Estimates placed his peak weight somewhere between 450 and 500 pounds. His arms could not meet across his body, and he became an object of curiosity to strangers. In his final years, he was able to wear only loose-fitting gowns made of light fabric in the summer and heavier material in winter. He was confined to a special chair that was built especially for him and mounted on rollers. By day he sat in it to direct the operation of his farm; by night OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhe slept in it, for his bulk hindered his breathing whenever he laid down. Benjamin’s special chair became his death chair, too, when he died in it at his breakfast table in October of 1806. He was sixty-nine years old. His wife, Mary, had predeceased him by ten years, and his younger son John had also died a few years before. He was buried in the family cemetery on the grounds of his plantation.

The story of his life would not be complete without the story of his illegitimate daughter. “When young, back in Virginia, Benjamin Cleveland, though married, had an illegitimate daughter [Jemima]. She married a man named Evan Edwards and they moved ‘to the west’ and had several children. They were very poor. Benjamin had a friend who knew where his daughter was living to ask her to come to him and he would help her. After she received the verbal invitation she came from Powell Valley to Tugaloo, where he was then living. The Indians had killed her husband, and she was in dire circumstances. When he discovered that his daughter has indeed come to see him and was nearby, Benjamin wept. When he told his family about his daughter they surprised him when they said they would receive the daughter as one of their own, which they did. She then settled near the Cleveland home. She was quite a remarkable, and respected woman. She then remarried and she did very well for herself.”

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~Part 3

Benjamin Cleveland signIn the fall of 1780, Benjamin led 350 Heroes to their most famous moment of the Revolution, the Battle of King’s Mountain, when he learned that British Colonel Patrick Ferguson intended to march into North Carolina.

 

Mounted columns of Carolinians and Virginians came from the west over the mountains in the snow that totally covered their feet and ankles in response to the threat. These “over-mountain” men had established their settlements and their homes in remote regions far and independent from the Royal authority in the eastern colonies’ years before the first sounds of war were heard. Though the American Revolution had been raging for five years, these men had until now been unthreatened by the war, but Ferguson’s invasion of the South Carolina upcountry changed their perspective.

In his own campaign, Ferguson had succeeded in recruiting several thousand Carolinians who were loyal to the British. With them, he started to hunt down and punish the “rebels” who continued to resist Royal authority. During the summer of 1780, Ferguson marched and counter-marched through the Carolina country as the over-mountain men swept eastward and engaged him or his detachment in fierce little actions of sometimes confused guerrilla warfare.

 

In September Benjamin and his 350 Bulldogs had joined Colonel William Campbell,Benjamin Cleveland Statue Cleveland TN Colonel Isaac Shelby, Colonel John Sevier, and other militia leaders at Quaker Meadows near Catawba River. Since there were so many officers of equal rank it was agreed that command should rest with the board of colonels. Colonel Campbell was elected officer of the day to execute the board’s decisions. Benjamin was to be one of the principal officers in the conflict. Most of the united forces of 1600 were afoot, but approximately 700 were mounted on the fastest horses and overtook Ferguson at King’s Mountain.

 

These mounted troops were divided into three divisions under Benjamin, Colonel Campbell, and Colonel Lacey, each division would storm the mountain from a different direction. Lacey from the west, Campbell from the center, and Benjamin from the east.

 

Kings Mountain Battle-SignJust before the beginning of the battle, Benjamin addressed his troops in which Dr. David Ramsay called “plain unvarnished language”. It showed Benjamin’s good sense and knowledge of human nature. This speech inspired the courage and patriotism of the over-mountain men. Inspired to win at all cost, the men hid behind rocks and trees and fired at the British. They were repelled, but they rallied and came back to fight, and the over-mountain men had better luck in the second attempt. Benjamin, with a sword in hand, rode to the front of his column and led the ascent, yelling for his men to follow him. Ferguson’s troops poured continuous gunfire into the advancing line and during the shooting Roebuck, Benjamin’s beloved warhorse was shot out from under him. Grabbing his flintlock pistols, he dismounted and ran ahead of his men until another horse was brought to him from the rear. Benjamin weighed 300 pounds so he always had 2 horses with him, so one could rest while the other carried his large frame.

 

By then, the patriots were ascending the mountain from all sides. Unceasing gunfire Benjamin Cleveland Statueand the roar of the men shouting and the officers yelling words of encouragement to their troops. Eventually, the British line wavered and broke in confusion. Ferguson, who had fought desperately, ran for liberty but was shot with at least a dozen bullets. His troops immediately surrendered to the patriots. Ferguson’s gray charger ran away but was quickly caught and presented to Benjamin to compensate for his loss of Roebuck.

 

 

When it was all over 225 Loyalists had been slain, 163 were wounded and 716 had been taken prisoner, The patriots had lost only 28 men and 62 had been wounded. On their way to prison, many of the captured were brutally beaten and some were even hacked to death with swords. About a week later and 50 miles from King’s Mountain, a committee of Whig colonels appointed themselves as judge and jury of the Loyalists. 36 Tories were found guilty of breaking into homes. Killing the inhabitants and burning houses. Benjamin was instrumental in the immediate execution by hanging of 9 of the convicted 36 men.

 

It is said that The Battle of Kings Mountain was the turning point of the war. To Benjamin Cleveland Statue Wilkesboro NCthose who fought alongside Benjamin, he was considered the supreme hero whose spirit of adventure and self-reliance, quickness of thought, and rapidity of action in times of emergency and danger contributed greatly to the American victory.

 

 

Next week in part 4 I will cover Benjamin’s life after the war.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~ Part 2

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Last week I took a look into the early years of this Revolutionary War hero.  I discovered that not every Patriot was honorable or moral, even though I had always seen them that way. This week I will cover his military career up to his participation in the Battle of Kings Mountain: the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Before the Revolutionary War Benjamin Cleveland fought off and on in1200px-French_and_indian_war_map.svg the French and Indian War. During the seven years, he would join a skirmish for a while then return home. It was here that he learned the brutal way the French fought. As the area where Benjamin lived was prospering there were mounting troubles with the British. By 1774 he was becoming excessively outspoken in his criticisms of British policies concerning the colonies. When news of colonial taxation by King George and the Parliament reached the Yadkin Valley, Benjamin was among the first to resent the threatened tyranny. He joined the Regiment of Militia for Surry County on June 28, 1774. Those listed in this unit were Jesse Walton as captain, Benjamin Cleveland as a lieutenant, and William Jerrell as ensign along with three sergeants, three corporals, one drummer, and eighty privates who were not listed by name.

By 1775 local tempers were running high when neighbors and friends of the Upper Yadkin Valley traveled to Cross Creek to sell their surplus products and to purchase supplies. Before they were permitted to make these transactions the colonists were compelled to make an oath of allegiance to the king. When Benjamin heard of this blatant act of tyranny, he swore he would crush the scoundrels. He then raised a select party of riflemen to march upon the Loyalists and scatter them.

loyalistBenjamin hunted the countryside and captured several Loyalist outlaws, one of whom he executed. He was a man named Jackson, who had set fire to the home and fully-stocked storehouse of Ransom Sunderland, one of the many Surry County residents who were friends of American liberty. On September 1, 1775, Benjamin was offered the position of the ensign of the North Carolina Line under the command of Colonel Robert Howe, but he turned down the honor, to serve with the militia in his own locality.

By the summer of 1776, the British had enticed the Cherokees into open hostilities with the colonists. Fighting had begun in various locations as some British agents tried to divert the patriots’ mental focus. Working as a colonial scout on the western frontier, Benjamin took his men to Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River. From there they covered the frontier in a display of force for the Cherokees. His activities caused the Indians to change their thoughts about being associated with the British, and the tribes smoked the long pipe of peace with Benjamin and his friends.

The peace was only temporary and by autumn the Indians were once again agitated into ravaging the frontier by the British. This time General Griffith Rutherford led a strong force against the Cherokees, and Benjamin and his men joined the campaign in the Surry Regimentcolonel joseph williams under Colonel Joseph Williams and Major Joseph Winston. During the campaign, the troops suffered hardships and need in this service. There were never enough provisions and the company had just a few blankets and no tents. The men were dressed in mended clothing made of a crude material gathered from the field and forest. They were often harassed on their march by ambush parties, and all of the men participated in the skirmishes of the campaign because there was no official general engagement. General Rutherford had begun with two thousand men before Benjamin and his volunteers added to their strength.

He was promoted to captain on November 23, 1776. While securing the country around Cape Fear, Benjamin and his men engaged in the Battle of Moore’s Creek and captured and executed several outlaws while burning many Loyalist towns. “Cleveland’s Bulldogs” were earning him a reputation for brutality in partisan warfare characterized by inhumanity, summary hangings, and mutilation. On some occasions, he would hang Tories by their thumbs until they confessed to British movements–thus creating a local expression “being hung by your thumbs.”

mountain menThe fiercely loyal mountain men were untrained but they were hardy and accurate with their guns. Admirers and countrymen called them “Cleveland’s Heroes” or “Cleveland’s Bulldogs,” but to the British and the Tories they were the “Cleveland’s Devils.” In 1778 Benjamin was made colonel of the militia. Despite his reputation for brutal justice or it could have been because of it, he was appointed justice of the Wilkes County court and placed at the head of the Commission of Justices. Regarded as one of the most popular leaders of the mountain section of the state, he was easily elected to the state’s House of Commons during this year.

His strong patriotic nature saved the western Carolinas from the British and Tory taking over. In 1779 his abrupt justice was further demonstrated by his handling of two hoodlums, James Coyle and John Brown, who had terrorized the entire country between Wilkes County, North Carolina, and Ninety-Six, South Carolina. After their spree of rape, murder, robbery, and plundering, they were eventually caught and brought before Benjamin, who was so incensed he wanted to kill them himself. He thrust his sword at Coyle, but a counterblow broke the blade. Now even more enraged, Benjamin had them seized by his men and hanged from the nearest tree. James Harwell, who had housed and protected these hoodlums, were severely beaten by Benjamin’s men. Cleveland and Benjamin Herndon, who was also involved in this justice, were subsequently indicted for murder in the Superior Court of the District of Salisbury, but on November 6, 1779, the North Carolina House of Commons offered a resolution to the governor, who signed it, and the two men were pardoned for their actions.

Benjamin was the leader of more than a hundred fights with the Benjamin Cleveland portraitTories. He was considered the perfect athlete with a large frame and an iron constitution. Since he was accustomed to the forest and climbing mountains, he was able to endure fatigue and hardships in his pursuit of Tory rebels. According to Governor Perry, Benjamin was “bold, fearless, and self-willed, full of hope and buoyancy of spirits…..He was a stern man and loved justice more than he did mercy. He knew that very often mercy to a criminal was death to an innocent man.”

Next week will be part 3 of the series on Benjamin Cleveland. This one will cover his greatest victory, the Battle of Kings Mountain.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~ Part 1

An image of the american revolutionWhen you think about those who rose to the occasion of fighting for our countries freedom we tend to think of that patriot as a morally upstanding person. You can envision all the heroic deeds that they did were for unselfish reasons. You may also believe that the person was raised in an honorable home, being taught right from wrong. Well, this is the life of my 1st cousin 6x removed, Colonel Benjamin Cleveland who was none of these things. His life was so diverse I decided to have this first part of the blog be about his life before the Revolutionary War. Part 2 will cover all he did during the War and Part 3 will cover his post-war exploits.

Benjamin Cleveland was born May 26, 1738, to John (1695-1778) and Elizabeth (Coffey) (1705-1772) Cleveland. He was raised in Orange County, Virginia, about seven miles from where he was born on the mouth of Blue Run, in Prince William County. Benjamin’s father, John owned six hundred acres of land in Orange County in 1734. Cleveland’s Run was about a mile northeast of Barboursville in Orange County, and it was named for Benjamin’s family

Benjamin and 8 his brothers were considered “a reckless lot” by all who knew them in Orange County and Benjamin was the worse of them all. All of the boys were considered “immoral”. He alone exhibited raw courage that few boys his age possessed. Even the drunken rowdies who were bent on destruction could not intimidate him. It is no surprise that he would earn the nickname “Terror of the Tories” during the Revolutionary War. Benjamin grew to be 6 feet tall and weighed close to 300 pounds. He was a man who gave in easily to many debaucheries. This had him in trouble throughout his youth.

You could always find Benjamin playing cards in the local tavern. He never lost a handTavern c. 1750 gambling because his strategy was to first accuse the other player of cheating, then he would strike the man causing him to fall down and then take all of the money. Not one opponent ever challenged him trying to get the money back because of his size and overbearing presence. He also frequented the racetrack, losing his money betting on the races and he and his brothers never left the track without starting or participating in a fight or two. Although he could be good-natured, he was also considered reckless, hot-tempered, and determined. He also did a lot of carousing and drinking,

Benjamin had no use for school. He did attend long enough to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. He did, however, have an excellent mind and a natural intellect. He was a quick thinker and had the ability to think through a problem with a positive outcome.

He loved hunting and spent most from his early years roaming the surrounding Plantationwilderness securing furs and skins. In 1758 he married Mary Graves (1740-1800) daughter of Joseph (1715-1774) and Sarah (Crank) Graves. She was a great influence on him, trying to steer him in a moral direction. During the early years of his marriage, Benjamin fathered three children. However, only two of them, his sons Absalom and John, were by Mary. A daughter named Jemima was born by another woman. The newlyweds had to settle on Joseph Graves’s plantation because Benjamin’s “habits and pursuits” had prevented his accumulating any property of his own. On the other hand, Benjamin’s father-in-law “had a good living consisting of a tolerably good plantation and plenty of other good property.” During the harvest season, Benjamin invited his neighbors to help on Joseph’s plantation, rewarding them with plenty of liquor and fiddle music. The day’s work usually ended in debauchery.

In 1769, Benjamin moved his family, his father-in-law’s family, and his brother Robert to the newly opened backcountry of North Carolina settling near Mulberry Fields in Wilkes County.  He tried his hand at being a farmer, however, he didn’t like it. He moved his family to the northern bank of the Yadkin River and built a new plantation that he called “Round About”. He called it this because the land it was on was a horseshoe-shaped piece of land which was situated in a loop of the Yadkin River that ran “roundabout” his place. He soon focused his attention back to hunting and exploring the wilderness once again collecting pelts and furs. He would then take them to Salem and Salisbury to sell them. He also loved hunting deer at night.

His neighbor was Daniel Boone who was a fellow hunter and horse breaker. He toldDaniel Boone Benjamin many stories about the Kentucky country and the wonders of the long hunt. In the summer of 1772, along with 4 “long hunters”, he set out to hunt and to explore the Kentucky wilderness. The party was seized and robbed by a band of Cherokees. The Indians took everything, leaving the tattered band to find its way back through miles of wilderness. Cleveland was a fighter and a man of action. Delaying only long enough to regain his strength and to select a party of riflemen, he boldly returned to the Cherokee country, retrieved his horses, and returned in triumph to the Upper Yadkin, his reputation as an Indian fighter solidly established.

Upon returning from the hunt Benjamin began making friends and influencing people through his new vocation of surviving. Although he had in the past was by trade a house carpenter and builder, he discovered that surveyors were in great demand in North Carolina as people moved in and claimed the land. He also served as a tax collector for the part of Surry County that eventually became Wilkes County. Because of his connections with the residents due to his surveying, he was chosen to serve as the areas’ first representative in the legislature in 1778 and then the State Senate in 1779.

Part 2 of this blog will continue next Sunday with Benjamin’s astounding feats, both heroic and disgusting, during the Revolutionary War.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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