Century-old time capsule discovered in Gilman school’s cornerstone

A time capsule was discovered April 7, hidden in the cornerstone of the 108-year-old St. Adelbert School in Gilman. Although the school was being demolished, its granite cornerstone was preserved, according to Mitch Czech, a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Gilman and one of the parishioners and excavators who found the time capsule.

A group of parishioners and excavators documented the April 7 opening of a tin box that had been placed in the top of the cornerstone of St. Adelbert’s School in Gilman. (Photo courtesy of Mitch Czech)

Once excavators had separated the 600-pound cornerstone from the other blocks and bricks, the group examined it. They were stunned to see a sealed tin box on its top side, which they carefully opened and documented.

Inside the tin box was a letter from Bishop James Trobec’s office, indicating that “the entire parish numbering four hundred families of Polish settlers took part in the ceremonies by their presence.”

Also inside the box were three 1909 Foley newspapers with articles about the new school being built. Two coins, an 1899 Indian head penny and a 1903 Liberty head nickel, and a religious emblem from 1830 were included.

“Though we’ve looked hundreds of times at that cornerstone on the northeast corner of the school, no one knew a time capsule was there — until the excavation,” Czech said. “It looks like they chipped out a square on the top of it to create a time capsule. Once the cornerstone was set in place, they built on top of it. ”

Inside the tin box were three Foley newspapers from 1909, one showing the architect’s drawing of the school, and a letter from Bishop James Trobec’s office. Two coins and a religious emblem were also discovered in the time capsule. (Photo courtesy of Mitch Czech)

In addition to the year, the cornerstone reads in Polish “Szkola, Sw. Wojciecha, B. of M.” St. Adelbert Wojciecha was a bishop and martyr of Prague from the years 956-997.

The school was finished in 1910 and closed in 1969. Most recently, it housed the parish offices and was used for faith formation classes.

The time capsule items were displayed at Mass that weekend. They will be preserved and displayed in the new parish center being built on the site.

About Nikki Rajala

Nikki Rajala is a writer/copy editor for The Visitor newspaper.

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