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Michigan woman reunited with father’s message in a bottle

Nautical North Family Adventures

In 1926, George Morrow dropped a bottle with a note in the Cheboygan River, instructing the potential finder to return it to him.

Now, 95 years later, the recovered bottle is being returned to Morrow’s daughter.

Michele Primeau said she was shocked by the unexpected news of the bottle turning up, but she wasn’t surprised by her father dropping it in the river in the first place.

“I can remember one time we threw a bottle in Lake Huron with a note as I recall (during a camping trip to the Thumb),” Primeau said. “When he finished our basement in our house, he put a note in the wall. He was always doing little things like that.”

Primeau said although the recent recovery was surprising, it was nice to be reminded of her dad, just in time for Father’s Day.

Morrow has been deceased for 30 years, but the newfound note put Primeau in touch with who he was as a young man. Morrow would have been a 17-year-old boy when he dropped the bottle in the Cheboygan River.

“The note was dated November when he dropped it (around his birthday),” Primeau said. “He was real sentimental, and I can just see him doing that on his birthday or right around that time.”

Primeau only learned of the bottle thanks to a meticulous search by internet detectives to reunite the bottle with Morrow’s living relatives.

Rene Szatkowski had been scrolling on Facebook when she saw a Cheboygan tour company’s post asking if anyone knew of a George Morrow.

After doing some research and digging online, Szatkowski found Primeau’s number and contacted her to tell her about the recovered bottle.

“I said (to Primeau), ‘people are looking for you online,’ and I was trying to explain to her the situation, asking her if she was related to Morrow,” Szatkowski said. “I love cool stuff like that, and I just knew that if it were me, I would totally want to know, so I said to myself, ‘I’m going to try to do a little digging.’”

Although Szatkowski had no initial intention of getting involved, she said she was happy to play a part in connecting a newfound heirloom back to its family, nearly a hundred years later.

Primeau said she was shocked to learn that thousands of people were searching for and that so much information on her father was available online.

Currently, Primeau is still considering the next steps for the message and bottle.

She said she wants Nautical North Family Adventures, the tour company that found the bottle, to keep the note, so they can help keep her father’s memory alive.

“I was really anxious to get it back, and then I thought about it last night,” Primeau said. “I thought, what a nice tribute to my dad to have his name live on like that since (the diver) can share the story with people when she gives her boat tours.

“I don’t know, I’d kind of like to see my dad’s name live on like that. I think he would like that.”

Whether it had been Morrow’s first message in a bottle is unknown, but it definitely wasn’t the last. Primeau said there’s likely still one in Lake Huron - though she doesn’t expect that one to be found any time soon.

This story was produced as part of the Michigan News Group Internship. A collaboration between WCMU and eight community newspapers. Teresa is based at the Huron Daily Tribune.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corp Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She is covering rural environmental issues, public health and Michigan commerce. Homsi has a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University in environmental studies, journalism and anthropology. During her undergraduate, she was a beat reporter for CMU’s student newspaper Central Michigan Life and interned for the Huron Daily Tribune. She has also interned for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in the superfund section. *Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms, more info at