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1944 Message in a Bottle Found in Arkansas

Imagine this: You are a 10-year-old girl in Arkansas, learning to hunt deer with your dad. A buck steps into a clearing, and you take a shot just as the deer spooks. You dutifully go to check for blood, even though you think you missed. When you get to the spot where the deer stood, you find something. But it is not blood. Nope. Instead, it is an old message in a bottle – 73 years old, to be precise. It was written April 25th, 1944. Ashley Rogers of Huntsville, Arkansas didn’t have to imagine this, because this all happened to her on November 11th, 2017, according to LufkinDailyNews.com.

Ashley Rogers with her 73 year old message in a bottle.

Ashley Rogers with her 73 year old message in a bottle. Photo: Rogers Family.

After Ashley and her dad, Brandon, discovered the bottled note, they researched everything they could in order to solve the mystery and find the person behind the note.

There was a name: Victor Elliott.

There was a date: April 25th, 1944.

There was an address: Box 875, Fairfax, Okla

Of course, Victor must have been a kid–too young to fight in WWII which was raging at this time. It’s fascinating to imagine him tiptoeing up to the floodwaters’ edge to send this bottled note at a time when the world was at war. All those American soldiers off in Europe and the Pacific fighting to protect what? To protect kids like Victor with big imaginations and adventurous spirits–to protect not just the “everyday” events of life in the states, but also these special moments, when someone, for example, reaches out to the world through a message in a bottle…

Who was Victor Elliott of Fairfax, Oklahoma?

Victor Elliot's 73 year old message in a bottle.

Victor Elliot’s 73 year old message in a bottle. Photo: Rogers Family.

I put this boddle in a big flood April 25, 1944. Whoever finds it write + tell me. My address

Victor Elliott


Fairfax, Okla

Well, Brandon got bitten by the detective bug–this is a symptom of finding an old message in a bottle–and did some digging. Days of work and online research paid off when he found Victor Elliott’s nephew, George Robbins II, who happens to be the family historian (how convenient!).

According to The Lufkin Daily News, “Robbins explained that Elliott was the youngest of four children and was raised on a crop/cattle ranch known as the Tallchief farm near Fairfax. He served in the U.S. Air Force, got married in 1951 and eventually moved to Eddy in McLennan County.”

Interestingly, just a few years before Victor Elliot was born, the Tall Chief farm, which is on an Osage reservation near the Arkansas river in Oklahoma, had been the childhood home of Elizabeth Marie “Betty” Tall Chief. She was not only America’s first prima ballerina but also the first Native American to earn that distinction.

Maria Tall Chief on the cover of Dance Magazine in 1954, 10 years after Victor Elliot sent his note.

Maria Tall Chief on the cover of Dance Magazine in 1954, 10 years after Victor Elliot sent his note.

Victor appears to have grown up on the farm after a young Ms. Tall Chief and her family moved to California. But that’s a pretty neat bit of history, don’t you think?

George Robbins II as a baby in his uncle Victor Elliot's arms.

George Robbins II as a baby in his uncle Victor Elliot’s arms. Photo: George Robbins II.

Anyway, George Robbins II went on to write more to Brandon Rogers about Victor Elliott–I can only hope my nephews have such nice things to say about me, years after I have bit the dust…

“I have many good memories of Vic,” Robbins explained, according tot he Lufkin Daily News. “Vic never knew a stranger, always had a smile and a joke for you—just a really neat guy to be around. Us kids always called him ‘Hoss’ because he looked like and was built like Dan Blocker who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show Bonanza.”

If that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart, then you need to get your cockles checked ASAP. Trust me on that–I’m married to a doctor 🙂

But that’s not the end of the story.

73 Year Old Message in a Bottle Brings Happy Memories to Life

Remember how Victor got married? Well, his widow, Betty, was still alive.

Mrs. Elliott, now 88,” the Lufkin Daily News reported, “was shocked when she learned the news that a message in a bottle launched into the Arkansas River by her husband nearly 74 years ago had been found by a 10-year-old girl in Arkansas. The Box 875, Fairfax, Okla., address written in the note remains a vivid memory in her mind.”

Tall Chief Theatre in Fairfax, Oklahoma. Undated. Photo: Oklahoma Historical Society.

Tall Chief Theatre in Fairfax, Oklahoma, Victor’s home town. Undated. Photo: Oklahoma Historical Society.

Now, I have been lucky to reunite a message in a bottle or two with the surviving family members of the person who sent it, but I have to say, this moment for Betty just makes so happy I can hardly take it. It makes my heart grow three sizes too big!

Here’s what Betty had to say to The Lufkin Daily News about her husband’s old message in a bottle: “‘That’s it—oh my goodness!’ she said of the address. ‘That’s where he grew up. I wrote that address many times over the years, sending Christmas cards and such. What a great Christmas present this is to know somebody found a note from him after such a long, long time.

‘Vic was a such big, kind and wonderful man,’ she added. ‘It doesn’t surprise me to find out he did something like that. They lived close to the water, but Vic also had special permission to drive a school bus when he was just 14 years old. Who knows? He may have pulled the bus off the road and threw the bottle in the river.'”

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