ROGERSVILLE, Mo. – A Rogersville resident who has repurposed a 100-year old Methodist church found a time capsule hidden behind a cornerstone.
Joshua and Danae Morley have had a very eventful year. When the Morleys found the closed Rogersville Methodist church in June of 2021 and the price dropped from $1 million to $190,000, they believe it was their fate to buy it.
“This building is very important to us because we felt like we were led here by God; to build and basically save this church. So that’s the whole reason we bought it. It was going to be demolished and torn down, so we decided to save it for the community.” says Joshua Morley. He says they have been slowly renovating their home and then got married there.
For a while, Morley has been joking about finding hidden treasure behind the cornerstone.
“She would tell me all the time, she’s like, ‘there’s nothing there.’ ‘Just don’t ruin the building.’ ‘Don’t take it off.’ And so I was joking with my neighbors and I said, don’t tell my wife I’m going to get it.” says Morley.
Without his wife knowing, he began prying out the cornerstone.
“I’m pounding a screwdriver in the mortar trying to hit the back of it to see if it’s hollow and as I’m doing it, I hear knocking back and I’m like, oh, she’s not going to believe this. Now, it sounds like somebody knocking back. Nobody’s going to believe me. And so, honestly, I was starting to get a little scared.” laughed Morley.
He would later find out the knocking came from his son knocking on the wall behind it.
Morley pulled the cornerstone further out to discover there was something in there. It was a box. Morley asked his wife to come see what he found.
“There’s a point where I’m taking the box out and a dead spider falls out. And I still didn’t know that our son was knocking on the wall. So when I see this dead spider and then I get pricked with something sharp on the box.” says Morley. “I was a little freaked out pulling this box out.”
The Morleys found the box was a time capsule dating back to 1936.
Inside, they found an old bible signed from the pastor at the time that said, “Cornerstone Ceremony June 14th, 1936, Pastor Lee F. Soxman. They also found letters with information about the people in the congregation, the history of the church when it was built in 1912, and songs and prayers during the cornerstone ceremony. The letter also explained why they remodeled it in 1936.
“So there’s a lot of people here in Rogersville who have ancestors that are probably on this list,” says Morley. “And then one of the coolest parts is the old original blueprints. You don’t see blueprints that are actually blue anymore.”
“My first initial thoughts were I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence. I kid you not.” laughed Morley. “This is Nicolas Cage. I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence. And I’ve already been looking for clues. I’m not going to pour lemon juice on it, but I’ve been looking for clues that lead me to the next treasure in the house.”
Morley made a video online about finding the time capsule in which some commenters thought it was all fake.
“Obviously, people from this community know that it’s been there since 1936 because they lived here. But people on TikTok who haven’t lived here think we just did it for a following,” says Morley.
Some were disappointed that Morley took the capsule out so early.
“We’ve had some recent leaks that I don’t think this would have lasted any longer if we left it in there. So I’m glad we took it out and I’m glad we found it when we did before they got destroyed in there,” he says.
Morley plans to find those who might have ancestors on the congregation list and possibly hold another cornerstone ceremony where people in the community can write notes for people to find in the future.