112-year-old message in a bottle found during demolition of NJ university building

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In the age of technology, there's an alluring romance of the handwritten note -- especially when that note is over a century old and found in a glass bottle.

During the final phase of demolition at Montclair State University's College Hall, Robert Kanaby tore down a 14-foot brick wall. As he chipped away, he made a discovery from the year 1907.

"All of a sudden I hit an unusual void in the wall. My chipping gun went in and I heard glass breaking," says Kanaby.

It was a glass beer bottle, with a note inside reading, "This is to certify that this wall was built by two bricklayers from Newark, N.J., by the names of William Hanly and James Lennon, members of No. 3 of the B.M.I.U. of America."

Kanaby had the help of modern tools, but he shares the same pride and toil as those two men.

"It's really nice to just find that to see the guys sat down, took a break, wrote a note, rolled it up in a bottle and put it in the wall for someone else to find like myself, 112 years later," says Kanaby.

The school is now seeking family members with a connection to the note.

"The two men who placed it with him our original building, College Hall, are part of our community forever. So we want to let any descendants of them know, that they are a part of our community as well," says Andrew Mees, of Montclair State University.

Kanaby says he's never left any notes at work sites, but he's thought about it.

The school's research has made some findings -- there was a William Hanley who lived on Central Avenue, while James Lennon lived on Summit Street.

 

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