O'BRIEN: Trying to figure out the mystery of the Jefferson School time capsule

Posted: Jan. 31, 2014 5:08 pm Updated: Apr. 25, 2014 8:14 pm

People on the Internet can be the worst at times.

The Internet can be filled with Web warriors who flex their muscles by anonymously firing potshots. One of my platforms when I run for president will be requiring a type of FOID card for Internet users. People will have to go through training before they're allowed to comment online.

However, people on the Internet also can be the best at times.

Earlier this week, I enlisted the help of a certain segment of Facebook to find out information about a tip we received. Maybe someone out there could help us find a needle in a haystack.

We had been tipped off that a time capsule is buried at Jefferson School by the school's flag pole. The former school building at 301 Spring is in the process of being demolished, so if there's ever a time to find the time capsule, it's now.

It's not like the school has been used recently. It closed after the 1982-83 school year. Three decades have passed since kids roamed the halls. Our tipster didn't know a date when the time capsule was buried.

As one who loves a good mystery, I wanted -- needed -- to know where that time capsule was buried. One post on the "You grew up in Quincy, Illinois if ..." group on Facebook put the ball in motion. With nearly 5,000 members, it was a good bet someone on there would know something about the time capsule.

In the first 36 hours of being posted, more than three dozen comments were made. People also called to let us know what they knew.

The first thing to determine was if a time capsule actually existed. A woman named Linda, who now lives in the Chicago suburbs, called to let us know that she thinks a time capsule was buried during her time at the school between 1956 and 1960. Sadly, she couldn't confirm if the time capsule was by the flag pole. Another caller named Roy believes a time capsule was buried by a tree.

Patt commented on Facebook that she was a member of the class of '62 and remembers a buried time capsule. Jackie commented that she remembered a time capsule being buried by a tree and a flag pole on the southeast corner of the school's property in 1964 or 1965.

As the thread grew, others chimed in. Burying time capsules at Quincy schools must have been the thing to do at one time. People chimed in about remembering time capsules being buried at Quincy Junior High School and Lincoln School, now home to The Crossing church.

People also became excited about the prospects of finding the time capsule.

"I didn't know anything about this but (am) very interested in finding out what is in it," ChrysnNorm Schnellbacher wrote on Facebook. "I was there around that time and would love to buy a brick from the building. Wonder who would know anything about that."

That would be the Rev. Lee Amsler, senior pastor at Riverside Community Church. Riverside has owned the property since 2003. It hoped to convert the school into a church, but it is instead demolishing the building and hoping to sell the land. Amsler didn't know anything about the time capsule but would love to help find it. He agreed to let me know if he finds anything out about the mysterious time capsule.

With the Web warriors trying their best to figure out the mystery, here's where readers of the print edition can come in. If you know anything about a time capsule at Jefferson School, contact me.

Maybe we'll unearth neat artifacts of Quincy's past.


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