A boat captain scuba diving in a Michigan river found an unexpected surprise: a bottle with a note from 1926.
Jennifer Dowker, the owner of glass-bottom boat tour company Nautical North Family Adventures, was scuba diving in the Cheboygan River on June 18 to clean the windows on the bottom of her boat, the Yankee Sunshine.
She was looking for something that would pique her client's interest.
"I just collect little bottles that I find on the ground of the river when I am diving pretty often actually," Dowker said. "I have a little double-headed axe blade that I found the last time I washed the windows."
She spotted the green bottle on top of the fish bed, and could see that there was paper in the bottle.
"I thought 'Oh that's kind of cool' and then I read the word 'this' on the paper inside the bottle and I thought 'Wow that is really cool," Dowker recalls.
Although the bottle was filled with two-thirds water and had a badly deteriorated cork, she was able to use a pick to pull out a note dated November 1926. It read:
"Will the person who finds this bottle return this paper to George Morrow Cheboygan, Michigan and tell where it was found?"
"It was a pretty phenomenal once-in-a-lifetime find for a scuba driver," Dowker said, who put the letter in the freezer to dry out.
She posted pictures of her find on her company's Facebook page because she says she knew a couple of Morrows in the area, and expected at least 25 people to see the post.
Little did she know that her post would go viral.
"I woke up the next morning and I had a lot of messages from tons of different people saying 'Oh this could be you know so or so," Dowker said. "Honestly, my first thought was how I was going to find the time to do this, because I am a single mom with three boys running a business."
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On Sunday, Dowker was driving back from her father's house on Father's Day when she received a phone call from Michele Primeau, 74. Apparently, Primeau had received a phone call from a woman who saw the story about the bottle on Facebook and investigated it by going onto ancestry.com.
"She emailed me pictures of the letter and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was my father's handwriting, and it was found in Cheboygan. He was born in Cheboygan and lived there until his 20's," Primeau recalls. "It was also interesting because he threw the letter in the river in November, and his birthday is in November."
Primeau told USA TODAY her dad would do sentimental things like that.
"I remember when we were changing the medicine cabinet in our bathroom and we found a message that my dad had written on the wall," Primeau recalls.
Her father passed away in 1995.
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Dowker wanted to return the message to Primeau, but she let Dowker keep it.
"I would just want my father's memory to keep on living and want more people to see it," Primeau said. "So we are going up this summer and we are going to see it firsthand."
Dowker said she would frame the letter in a shadowbox and Primeau was going to send pictures of her father at that age for the display.
"I believe that every single thing in this life happens for a reason," Dowker said. "And this is a beautiful, amazing example of that."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Boat captain on Michigan river finds message in a bottle from 1926