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1979 Message in a Bottle Found in Forest near Georgetown, Georgia

When you think “1979” and “message in a bottle,” chances are that you are thinking of… Well… you know… Sting’s song, “Message in a Bottle”! It’s a great song, but there is a real message in a bottle from 1979 that needs our attention. This one is so bizarre as to be nearly unbelievable–and that is exactly what makes it so magical! Definitely one for the message in a bottle museum 🙂 [UPDATE: I solved this bottle! Get the background on this story below, then check out the man behind the message here!]

The Bland family was walking through the Georgia woods in 2018, picking up old glass bottles to turn into wind chimes, when they stumbled upon an amazing message in a bottle from 1979, according to WRBL News in Georgia. Scroll on down for their video of the find.

Christopher and Emily Bland of Georgia with Family and message in a bottle they found

Christopher and Emily Bland with their kids and the message in a bottle they found from James H. Fort, sent in 1979. Photo: Screenshot from WRBL News.

What, you ask, was so amazing about the message? Well, on top of being 39 years old, this thing is a lovely and strange work of art! It sounds grandiose, because it is written in old-timey mariner language. Across the top of the message, huge letters declare that the message is from the “Kingdom of Neptune – Land of the Briny Deep” I love it! Reminds me of the messages in bottles Guinness sent in 1959 to advertise their stout, which included a scroll from King Neptune himself!

What Does the Message Say?

Emily Bland read out loud for WRBL part of the 1979 message in a bottle that her husband, Christopher, found. Check out the language:

“His Majesty’s Servant, James H. Fort, Captain of the vessel [Squirene], [late] out of the port of Columbus, Georgia, did with proper pomp and circumstance launch this bottle in the waters of Chattahoochee River near Lake Point state park in Eufaula, Alabama.”

WRBL’s story says the name of Fort’s vessel was “Squaring” but no–the message is quite clear: The ship’s name was “Squirene”. Does anyone out there know how to look up the owners of boats from 1979?

“Port Columbus, Georgia,” by the way, happens to be home to the National Civil War Naval Museum. I wonder if they would know James H. Fort?

From there, the message goes on to say:

Under the law of the realm the finder of this message shall have SEVEN YEARS GOOD LUCK. — Amen.

You are hereby commanded to return the information requested. Fail not under penalty of forty lashes. Finis Unius Diei Est Principium.


Below all this there are blanks to fill in the finder’s name, date, location, etc.

That bit in Latin is interesting. “Finis Unius Diei Est Principium.” Google translates it: “The end of one day is beginning,” but it appears to be a truncated version of a more well-known saying in Latin, “Finis unius diei est principium alterius” which means “The end of one day is the beginning of another”. I find this poetic and lovely.

Message in a bottle from 1979 found by the Bland family in Georgia.

Close up of James H. Fort’s message in a bottle from 1979. Screenshot from WRBL News.

The amazing thing is that this message in a bottle was sent in 1979 off Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula, Alabama, and was found four decades later just a few miles south, in the woods near Georgetown, GA! It is a mere 15 minute drive from start to finish! Just goes to show how even messages in bottles that do not travel far in terms of distance can still travel quite “far” indeed through time…

Message in a bottle from 1979 start and end points on Chattahoochee.

Message in a bottle from 1979 start and end points on Chattahoochee.

This area is more reservoir than river, so it’s possible that the bottle floated around for years before washing up in Georgetown. But it might have washed up right away in 1979 and lay hidden all these years… I wonder… was there a flood in 1979? Or something else that could have caused this thing to wash up right away, high enough that it wouldn’t get sucked back into the river by later floods?

Anyway, you really have to watch WRBL’s video below. The Blands are just adorable–sweet, fun-loving people. You can see it in a glance. And don’t even get me started on the adorableness of the kiddos. Can you imagine finding this wild message in a bottle from 1979 at, say, age 10 on a walk with your family? Amazing! Of course the youngest thinks it’s from a king. Wouldn’t you?

Search is on for James H. Fort, Author of 1979 Message in a Bottle Found in Georgia Forest

So who is James H. Fort? Where is he? This message is printed, with blanks that he filled in by typewriter…so, how many more messages in bottles are lying around out there from him, waiting to be found by some adventurous family like the Blands?

Well, there’s only one way to find out–we need to find James H. Fort! If you think you might know captain James H. Fort or his family, click here to let me know! Or tell WRBL! Just tell someone!

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