Message in a Bottle, Part 3

Letter surrounded by broken glass

A sixth grade school assignment has reopened the story of families descending from two bricklayers who left a message in a bottle inside College Hall more than a century ago, on July 3, 1907.

In the latest twist of Montclair State’s “Message in a Bottle” stories, Robert Gleeson, a 12-year-old Bronx boy, was writing a paper on the Empire State Building, where there is a brick with his great-great-grandfather’s name, William Hanley, on it. When he and his mother, Susan Tursi-Gleeson, Googled Hanley looking for a picture of him, they found the Montclair magazine article about the message in the bottle left by Hanley and James Lennon, craftsmen from Newark, New Jersey.

Genealogy records had uncovered descendants of John Lennon, but until the homework assignment, the search for Hanley’s living descendants had hit a dead end. “I said to myself,” Tursi-Gleeson recalls, “‘Wow, somebody up there really wanted me to see this.’”