Approximately 34 years ago, a fledgling teacher and her first class of third grade students buried something for future generations to find and reminisce on, and on Friday, Aug. 9, Susan TeHennepe and a handful of those same students gathered at Backus School and dug up ... some sort of metal strap.

It wasn't what the group was anticipating, and frankly, it left everyone who was looking forward to seeing the time capsule laid to rest on the school grounds 34 years ago scratching their heads.

Was it destroyed when a nearby tree fell and large machinery came in to clean up and level out the ground? Did they have the right spot? Is it possible someone else dug it up first?

Simply put, where did the time capsule go?

Students from the class that buried it have been ready to dig it up for several years now.

“Marny and I have been talking about this on and off for five years,” said Becky Schmidt. “We talked to Miss T and asked if she knew where it was buried. I think it's exciting.”

They contacted TeHennepe and got the approximate location of the burial. They used a metal detector to pinpoint something large in the ground. But when they dug, they only found a metal strap.

“They were disappointed because it was a vivid memory for them,” TeHennepe said.

TeHennepe said it is possible another class dug up the capsule. She had come up with the plan to bury a time capsule by watching other teachers, and it's possible that one of those classes found more than just their own capsule. That being said, there are other possibilities as well.

“That was my first class and I thought it would be cool to put things in there. All I can remember for sure was a coin from the year and a group picture and some prediction of what they thought would happen in the future,” TeHennepe said. “To my knowledge, I thought when they were sixth graders we dug it up, but they insisted they didn't.”

TeHennepe said she might be remembering a different class. She buried time capsules with at least three other classes. The initial plan was to dig up the capsule when the class graduated, but the plan changed.

“I'm assuming our plan was probably to dig it up our senior year, but then we moved to consolidate with Pine River, so I don't believe that ever happened,” Schmidt said.

TeHennepe plans to contact her former co-workers to see if any of the other classes may have dug up the capsule. Some students at the school also remember downed trees and landscaping in the area. These are only some of the possibilities, but everyone is hoping to find some clues to the whereabouts of the class time capsule.

The capsule was buried either in the fall of 1985 or spring of 1986 in front of the Backus Elementary School. TeHennepe said the box would be a small cash box.



Know something we don't?

To uncover this mystery, we are looking for some clues. Email travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com if you can help. Do you:

  • Know what day, week or month the capsule was buried? There may be a news article with a photo and more information in the archives and narrowing down the timeline could help.
  • Have a copy of the 1985-86 or 1988-89 Backus School yearbook? These could have photographs showing the burial location in relation to the school.
  • Think your class may have dug up the time capsule?
  • Have any other information you think might help?