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Early 20th-Century Message Found at New Jersey University

Monday, December 2, 2019

MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY—Montclair Magazine reports that demolition laborer Robert Kanaby discovered a message in a bottle dated July 3, 1907, while working in Montclair State University’s mission-style College Hall. He had been using a chipping hammer to break up an 18-inch-thick brick wall when he heard glass break and found the beer bottle in the brick debris. “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,” the note read. Records from the 1920 Census indicate that a William J. Hanly, aged 33, lived in Newark and was able to write. James Lennon, born in 1875, was listed as living in Newark in the 1930 Census, along with his wife and 16-year-old daughter. The two men are thought to have been Irish immigrants. University officials plan to exhibit the bottle and the note, and they are looking for possible descendants of the two men. To read about a message left by workers at another New Jersey university during Prohibition, go to "World Roundup: New Jersey."

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