If you opened a 101-year-old time capsule and found a mysterious package addressed to the descendants of an unknown man, would you open it? That’s the question a church in Michigan now faces after they recently cracked open a time capsule from 1912, and found something they couldn’t quite explain.
The Lansing State Journal has this fascinating story of a cornerstone capsule that’s leaving members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Grand Ledge scratching their heads. The capsule included everything you’d expect from one of the era, including photographs, church literature, and newspapers. But it also included a package with cryptic instructions for the future.
Dated May 2, 1912, the handwriting on the package is a little hard to make out. But according to Alan Miller, who wrote about it for the Lansing State Journal, it reads:
If opened after the lapse of many years, these are to be presented to relatives of Rev. Foote if any are alive. Cassius Alexander, Warden. Presented by Rev. J. E. Foote Congregational Minister.
A 1948 book about the history of churches in the area mentions the 1912 time capsule and even includes a list of contents. But the mysterious package isn’t mentioned at all.
One of the photographs included in the capsule supposedly shows Reverend Foote. He’s the man on the left holding the white hat. But nobody at the church really has any idea who he was or whether he has any descendants.
Most importantly, nobody has any idea what could be in the package. And it seems that the church has no plans to open it until they figure out if old Reverend Foote has any living relatives.
I did a cursory newspaper archive search and the only mention of a Reverend J. E. Foote that I could find in any Michigan newspaper of the era came from the November 16, 1911 edition of the Marshall Evening Statesman. It appears Reverend Foote went deer hunting every autumn:
Cadillac — For the eighth season Rev. J. E. Foote has gone into the north woods to hunt deer. The pastor goes alone, and in Schoolcraft county is joined by a brother. Rev. Foote always bags his allotment.
Who are Reverend Foote and Cassius Alexander and why did they send this time-traveling package to Foote’s descendants? I’ve reached out to Trinity Episcopal Church and will keep you posted if there are any new developments in this time capsule mystery. Until then, let the wild speculation begin. …
What would you leave to a future ancestor 100 years from now?