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Welcome to Message in a Bottle Hunter!

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My name is Clint–I find messages in bottles and then share the stories of the people who sent them. I also help connect others who have sent or found messages in bottles, because, if you ask me, every new friendship makes the world…well, friendlier! And I think we could use a bit more of that, don’t you?

Here’s a little video to show you how it all works 🙂

I hope you enjoy the stories, history, and information about messages in bottles on this site!

Oh, and if you find a message in a bottle–let me know! I’d be happy to share your story with the world.

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1915 Message in a Bottle Reunites Families 97 Years Later

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Imagine diving into the murky depths of the St. Clair River that separates Michigan from Canada, and spotting an antique bottle stuck in the mud–with a handwritten note inside. I think I would have a heart attack on the spot! But Dave Leander did it in 2012 and lived to tell the tale. He is an avid diver and owner of Great Lakes Divecenter in Shelby Township, north of Detroit.

Tillie Esper and Selina Pramstaller Message in a bottle

When he emerged from the St. Clair river with the bottle he found in the mud, he realized it was a 97-year-old message in a bottle.

Written by Tillie Esper and Selina Pramstaller of Detroit, the message is lovely and simple and joyful:

Having a good time at Tashmoo

Selina Pramstaller

377 Wabash Avenue

Detroit, Michigan

Tillie Esper

141 Maybury Grand Avenue

Detroit, Michigan

June 30, 1915

Spending a leisurely day at the Tashmoo Amusement Park would have seemed like a simple joy at the time, though World War I was underway in Europe, and it wouldn’t be all that long before America joined. In a way, this message in a bottle captures some of the last peaceful moments for America in the 20th century.

Dave Leander and his wife Pam embarked on a detective mission to figure out who these women were, and whether they had any living family. Incredibly, they very quickly found dozens of living family members–grand children, great grand nephews and nieces, and so on.

Eric Schiebold and Janet Baccanari, grandchildren of Tillie Esper, provided this photo of their grandmother:

Tillie Esper provided by Janet Baccanari.jpg

Tillie Esper. Phot: Eric Schiebold / Janet Baccanari

Then, Dennis Pramstaller, great grandnephew of Selina Pramstaller, provided this photo of Selina’s family from 1916:

Selina Pramstaller Family

Selina and Tillie seem to have been spending a fun day together at Tashmoo amusement park, and probably threw their message in a bottle over board from the popular cruising ship, the Tashmoo.

The Tash

After this amazing message in a bottle was found, USA Today reported that dozens of the descendants of Tillie and Selina were planning on getting together for Tashmoo Days in 2013, and that’s exactly what happened–even Tillie’s 88 year old daughter, Patricia Esper Leone, and Selina’s 85 year old nephew, William Morrisrow attended and were reunited with the message in a bottle! The gathering was documented on the Tashmoo Days Facebook page.

Tille's Daughter and Selina's Nephew.jpg

Tillie’s 88 year old daughter, Patrica, is in the middle-left wearing pink; Selina’s nephew is in the middle-right, wearing red with blue stripes. At right is Pam Leander, wife of Dave Leander who found the message in a bottle. Photo: Tashmoo Days Facebook Page.

If you ask me, the mere fact that this message in a bottle survived at all is a near miracle. But on top of that, it gives us a glimpse into a very different time–a quieter, slower, arguably happier time. And on top of that, Tillie Esper’s daughter got to receive one last note from her mother who had been gone a long time–if that’s not magic, I don’t know what is!

 

Boy’s Message in a Bottle Answered After 28 Years

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John and Diane Worrell

John and Diane Worrell. Photo: John Worrell.

John and Diane Worrell have picked up countless plastic bottles from their lakeside home in Ontario over the years–but they knew they had found something special when one turned up with paper inside it.

According to the Detroit Free Press, that paper turned out to be a message written by a 12 year old boy. When? They couldn’t tell–it wasn’t dated. And when they tried to call the phone number on the message, it was disconnected.

William Shuford Message in a Bottle

William’s message in a bottle. Photo: John Worrell.

That’s when they decided to ask Allie Gross at the Detroit Free Press for help. Bless her heart, she is one of the rare journalists who seem to understand the deep impact that messages in bottles can have on lives–an impact unique to messages in bottles.

Well, Allie found William Shuford, the author of the note. Hurray!

John and Diane Worrell had been excited about brightening the day of a kid when they told him of their find. William was 12 when he sent his note with his father, and John and Diane figured he was maybe 14 or 15 today. In fact, William is now 40, making his message in a bottle 28 years old. He sent it most likely in 1989.

William Shuford

William Shuford. Photo: William Shuford.

William was extremely surprised when he heard of the bottle’s discovery, according to Detroit Free Press. It seemed to bring him right back to a different world and a different time–a time when he was growing up in Detroit, living with his two sisters and his single father, learning from him, a time when, as he told the CBC, “My dad was everyone’s dad in the neighbourhood because there weren’t enough dads to go around.”

The message in a bottle, it turned out, was born of a tradition he and his father had of visiting the water at Belle Isle on New Year’s Eve every year. According to the CBC, “When Shuford went off to college, he would get a call from his dad every New Year’s Eve. Dad was heading down to the water, where he would stare out and say a few prayers as another year began.”

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Of course William grew up and carried on with his life, and now works as a head-hunter and AirBnB host in the San Francisco Bay area. Sadly his father passed away in 2014. Although he never got to hear of the note’s discovery, he left quite a legacy. My favorite detail from the CBC story on all this is that William remembers seeing his dad braiding his daughters’ hair in the morning. I don’t know a lot, but I know this: as silly as it sounds, the world would be a better place if more daddies were willing and able to braid their daughters’ hair. It seems like an insignificant detail–just a daily chore. But it reveals a sweetness of heart, a simple goodness that this world could use a lot more of, don’t you think?

There are even workshops for dads happening nowadays based on exactly this idea, like this one and this one. Isn’t this the loveliest thing that ever happened? And William’s dad was way ahead of his time on this point. Well done, I say!

William Shuford with Dad

William and his dad looking sharp together! Photo: William Shuford.


William has now spoken with John and Diane, and, in the magic way of message in a bottles, a new friendship has been formed–a friendship that never would have been possible in any other way. If you ask me, that makes the world a measurably better place.

 

 

 

Message in a Bottle From German Women Aboard Costa Atlantica Found in Caribbean

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I found this message in a bottle in 2015 and have been dying to open it ever since:

Andrea, Cornelia, and Helga's Bottle on Beach Watermarked Continue reading

Message In a Bottle Found in England: Who Drew This Pencil Sketch of an Old Man?

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Gemma and Boyfriend

Gemma Dunstan and her boyfriend recently found a mysterious message in a bottle and are looking for help locating the sender. Photo: Gemma Dunstan.

After years of finding and researching messages in bottles, I have come to realize that there are as many motives for sending them as people on earth. Yet, I still wonder: What is the motive behind sending artwork with no identifying information attached? Continue reading

84 Year Old Message in a Bottle Unearthed at Oklahoma State Capitol

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Oklahoma State Capitol Copyright Caleb Long

Oklahoma State Capitol. Photo: Caleb Long (via Wikipedia).

Sometimes, a message in a bottle story pops up online, and no one seems to notice it, and it fades into history. It boggles my mind, but this 84 year old message in a bottle has attracted practically no attention. And personally, I find land-based messages in bottles super interesting! Like, why not just use a box or something, since the time capsule doesn’t have to float? Maybe they were preparing for mega floods? What drew these people to seal messages in bottles and hide them decades ago? Continue reading

English/Chinese Message in a Bottle Found in Australia: Help Find the Sender!

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John Morrissey Finishing Hike

John Morrissey was in the midst hiking Australia’s 250 kilometer Great South West Walk (that’s over 155 miles) when he discovered a bottle covered in barnacles and containing a small note on the southwestern shore near Portland, Victoria. Now, he’s asking for help locating the sender. Look at this thing! Continue reading

Grieving Scottish and American Mothers Connect Through Incredible Mediterranean Message in a Bottle Coincidence

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This might be the most heartbreaking and inspiring message in a bottle I have ever heard of. The chances of this particular connection seem astronomically small to me, and yet–here we are. No one should have to go through what these two mothers experienced. Even so, these incredibly strong and resilient women are so inspiring, I feel compelled to share their story. In addition to showcasing what amazing mothers and strong women they are, their story also shows just how powerful a simple message in a bottle can be.

The story begins with a happy little boy, Lucas, and his mother, Sascha, living in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2016, according to the Daily Mail. As you can see, Lucas was bright, healthy, and happy.

Lucas in Toy Truck

Lucas. Photo: Daily Mail.

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The Christmas 1945 Message in a Bottle That Connected a WWII American GI and an Irish Milkmaid

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Frank With Big Aspirin Bottle

Frank Hayostek, stuffing a note into an Aspirin bottle, like he did on Christmas night, 1945.

Frank Hayostek and Breda O’Sullivan captured the hearts of millions in the somber but celebratory days after World War II. Continue reading

Message in a Bottle Found: Seeking 10-Year-Old Tegan

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Karien Trengrove and her partner Darren Rodgers were on holiday, walking Shelly Beach, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. They were the only ones on the beach–there was no one around as far as the eye could see–and, under a bit of fog, the flat brown shore stretched off into the distance before and behind them.

And then, just like that, there it was.

Karien Trengrove MIB on Beach

Photo: Karien Trengrove

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