Century-Old Time Capsule Mystery Finally Solved

Last year, a church congregation in Grand Ledge, Michigan cracked open a time capsule from 1912 filled with all the usual suspects: photos, newspapers, and newsletters. Basically, it had all the boring stuff you'd expect a church to put in their time capsule in 1912. But there was one single mystery item: a neat little package wrapped in brown paper. It was quite the puzzler. Until now.

The package had writing on it explaining that it was to be delivered to the descendants of one Reverend J. E. Foote. The problem? Nobody knew if he had any descendants, where those descendants might be, or (most importantly for us time capsule nerds) what was inside this mysterious parcel. Now we have all the answers. Well, almost all the answers.

The internet helped track down the people for whom this little time-traveling treasure was intended. And after months of wondering about what was inside, 17 direct descendants of Rev. Foote convened in Michigan this past Sunday to open the thing. They came from Georgia, Ontario, Texas, and even as far away as Anchorage, Alaska.

And after months of mystery, they finally opened the package to reveal... two almanacs.

Century-Old Time Capsule Mystery Finally Solved

Granted they were two very old almanacs. One is from 1804 and the other is dated 1808. And there were some notes scribbled in the margins that are difficult to decipher. But it was just two almanacs, nonetheless.

"We are having the pages filmed and put in digital copy to study the possible relevance," James A. Foote, great-great grandson of Rev. James E. Foote told me over email. "They were very frail and could not be handled very much."

Why would Foote want his descendants to have these almanacs? Is there something in the notes that could lead to a greater mystery? Probably not. But, who knows! There's some speculation that the notes in the margins could have been written by George Foote, the great-grandfather of the Reverend who may have fought in the Revolutionary War.

Even if the capsule contents were a bit of a let down, at least the descendants of Reverend Foote enjoyed a nice family reunion — in some cases meeting people they didn't even know they were related to.

From the Lansing State Journal:

Janet Foote, of Katy, Texas, near Houston, is a great-granddaughter of the Rev. J.E. Foote, the Congregational pastor who placed the package in the time capsule.

She is also a great-great-granddaughter of the Rev. Luman Foote, a former Episcopal pastor and father of J. E. Foote to whom a stained glass window in the church is dedicated. She used the information to organize a family reunion in Grand Ledge for the Rev. Foote's relatives, some of whom had never met each other.

Century-Old Time Capsule Mystery Finally Solved

We're reminded time and again that time capsules can be disappointing. But that doesn't mean we should give up on them. The time capsule hunter never gives up. Well, until he does.

Every now and again, we find something really cool — even if it's just something of personal significance. In the case of the Mystery Foote capsule, this was sadly not the case.


Images: 1912 time capsule burial photo courtesy of the Lansing State Journal; Two almanacs via James A. Foote; Descendants of James E. Foote: Elizabeth Olrich, James A. Foote, Jennifer Allison, and John Foote, courtesy of James A. Foote