On Sunday, the Bland family expected the day to be like any normal day. They’d take the winding road to their second property to give their kids space to play. But this would not be any ordinary day, they were about to stumble upon a message that had been waiting to be read for nearly forty years. 

“We were just venturing through the woods looking for bottles to make the kids wind chimes, and in one of the bottles my husband found was a rolled up piece of paper in it,” says Emily Bland. “I thought it was just paper off the bottle itself.” 

So who set out to communicate with the finders of the bottle? And what message was he trying to send? He left a clue. 

“His Majesty Servant, James H. Fort, Captain of the vessel Squaring, laid out of the port of Columbus, Georgia, did with proper pomp and circumstance launch this bottle in the waters of Chattahoochee River near Lake Point state park in Eufaula, Alabama.” 

But still, there were more questions than there were answers. 

“We would like to find out who Mr. Fort is,” says Christopher Bland. “It’s very interesting …something that long ago still in the shape that it’s in. Hopefully, we can find him and find out what his intentions were when he launched that bottle in Eufaula. It’s really cool to find a treasure like that and to be able to share it with other people. 

While dad may be quick to share the family’s hidden treasure, one Bland family member is keeping it a secret. 

“I didn’t tell nobody at my school,” says Madalyn Bland. “I didn’t want nobody to know so they won’t steal it.” 

SOS to James H. Fort: If you’re out there, Madalyn is looking for you and she promises to keep it just between the two of you.