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95-year-old message in a bottle found in the Cheboygan River

jennifer dowker with a message in a bottle she found in the cheboygan river
Courtesy Jennifer Dowker

When Jennifer Dowker went diving in the Cheboygan River on June 18, she wasn't expecting to find a piece of history.

Dowker owns and operates Nautical North Family Adventures in Cheboygan, which does glass-bottom shipwreck tours, snorkeling, and other activities in the area. She says she was with a potential client who was hoping to scuba dive, and was going to clean the windows of her glass-bottom boat when she found the message in the bottle.

"I wasn’t quite too cold yet, so I swam south of the boat a little bit, and found the little green bottle and saw there was a message inside and was over the moon with it, you know."

Dowker says the bottle was about 2/3 filled with water, and she and her first mate, Rob Hemmer, knew they had to preserve the note. Hemmer took it home and put it in his freezer to preserve it.

The note reads as follows:

"Will the person who finds this bottle, return this paper to George Morrow, Cheboygan, Michigan and tell where it was found? November 1926." 

Credit Courtesy Jennifer Dowker
The message and the bottle it came in, found by Jennifer Dowker in the Cheboygan River

"We saw that it was from that timeframe, we were all amazed and super happy with it," Dowker says.

She says the clear water of the Cheboygan River lends itself well to finding all sorts of interesting items. For instance, she's found a double-headed axe blade, which she keeps in the shop. Dowker says she's never found anything that's gotten quite this much attention.

"It's unbelievable to me. It's just been a real blessing for our small business, which has only been in operation three years."

She says Michelle, George Morrow's daughter, reached out to her after Dowker posted the message on social media. Michelle is in her 70s, and says her dad would have been around 18 when he wrote the note and put it in the bottle.

Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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