Fellsmere time capsule keeps secrets, for now

FELLSMERE — On Saturday, Jan. 29, 1916, the Fellsmere Tribune reported a proposal to pack and ship Fellsmere tomatoes for 35 cents a box was brought before local farmers, a drainage project was under way at Fellsmere Farms, and the cornerstone of the new Fellsmere School was to be laid by the Fellsmere Masonic Lodge in a ceremony Jan. 31.

On Monday, nearly a century later, a group led by Fellsmere Historian Richard Votapka gathered at that very cornertone, to conduct what Fellsmere City Manager called “a forensic exam of sorts,” in an attempt to determine where, precisely, the time capsule is located.

The capsule is believed to be a copper box, set within the concrete stone with the goal of (somehow) opening it on Jan. 31, 2016.

However, the cornerstone’s concrete proved to be too much for the crew – for now.

“The strongest reading was on the lower right,” said Josh Fisher, grandson of treasure hunter extraordinaire Mel Fisher, who was armed with an Excaliber 1000 metal detector. Tantalizing, but it was not enough to reveal anything.

Fellsmere veterinarian Kelly Alderman said her portable X-ray could not penetrate the concrete. Instead, it bounced back like it would off a metal horseshoe, she said.

Climbing up and down the ladders, Fisher and Alderman tried every possible angle, but the cornerstone was not ready to give up its secrets.

In a nod to the movie “Jaws,” Fisher, gathering up his Excaliber 1000, said, “We’re gonna need a bigger metal detector.”

Votopka remains determined and has arranged with Robert Beaudoin, of Titan General Contractors, to acquire ground-penetrating radar equipment.

Also on hand for the inquiry was Mike Treglio, Past Master of the Sebastian Masonic Lodge into which the Fellsmere Masons eventually assimilated.

Treglio perched on a ladder reading the north side of the stone on which were carved the names of Masonic leaders of a century ago, among them Worshipful Grand Master Cephus Wilson.

For his part, City Manager Jason Nunemaker suggested, tongue in cheek, that when the secrets of the stone were finally revealed, “at a minimum we expect to find the missing key to our alien forefathers and possibly much more.”

He admonished those present that “you must accept responsibility for any secrets to our existence that may be revealed.”

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