Mystery Unfolds As Montclair State University “Message In A Bottle” Goes Viral

A message in a bottle that tumbled out of a 112-year-old wall torn down during renovations of College Hall has proven an irresistible genealogical treasure hunt, leading to the descendants of one of the men.

The lives of the two bricklayers – William Hanley and James Lennon – were all but forgotten until the note’s discovery earlier this year. With the help of family historians and a Montclair State alumna who is also an ancestry expert, family trees have unlocked some of the mysteries of the two skilled craftsmen from Newark, New Jersey.

Descendants of James Lennon now understand more about the man they knew only through a single photograph. The fate of William Hanley is poignant and best understood through the newspaper account of his young wife’s funeral just a few months after the co-workers built and left a note in the wall.

Watch a video here

Read the full update on Montclair State’s Message in a Bottle story here.

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