Diver discovers a 97-year-old message in a bottle

Jun 18, 2013

In 2013, if you want to let the world know you're someplace having a good time, you might whip out your smartphone and tweet it or post a check-in or status update on Facebook.

97 years ago, you might write a message, roll it up, tuck it in a bottle and toss it into the St. Clair River.

That's what a couple of young Detroiters did when they were having fun one summer's day at Tashmoo. That was a very popular amusement part on Harsen's Island on the northern end of Lake St. Clair.

And why do we know about this message in a bottle? Because Dave Leander found the bottle as he was diving in the St. Clair River.

“There was a rolled up like receipt paper, a little bit thicker than regular paper, and I could definitely see writing,” Leander said of how he was able to distinguish this bottle from all the other bottles he's seen.

Once he got the bottle out of the water and dried the note off, he was able to read the message.

‘It was written by two girls,” he said. “They put their name and address. Both of them were from Detroit. They dated it. It was dated June 30th, 1915, and they said they were having a great time at Tashmoo.”

Leander believes the note was preserved because it was written in pencil rather than ink, which would have bled.

The message was written by Selina Pramstaller and Tilly Esper. Staff members from the museum on Harsen's Island are trying to contact relatives and have received a few responses.

This isn’t Leander’s first interesting discovery.

“It’s gotten the most attention,” he explained. “But the thing that got the most praise was a set of pearls I found one time, that my wife duly took possession of.”

Dave Leander is a diver and owner of Great Lakes Divecenter in Shelby Township, and he joined us from his shop in Macomb County.

Listen to the full interview above.