Hidden notes in antique send Carmel woman on quest for answers


A trio of aged papers hidden within a pair of 19th-century copper and brass candlesticks sent Carmel resident Missy Jansen on a quest for answers.

Although she can’t remember where she bought them, Jansen said she was drawn to the candlesticks because they had copper elements.

“I got them because we were redoing our kitchen, and have a copper vent,” Jansen said. “They’re so odd looking that I didn’t even know if I would use them. So, I just put them in my cabinet for about a year.”

While preparing for a recent dinner party, Jansen cleaned the candlesticks. She unscrewed the candle holder elements, and the papers came out.

“Oh, it’s just a thrill, and the excitement of it has been so fun,” Jansen said. “To have seen those letters come out of that tube and think that they’ve traveled so far to come to Carmel, Indiana.”

Measuring approximately 4-by-6-inches, each lined piece of paper contains cursive handwriting in black ink.

The first page, she said, was hard to decipher but says, “to all our S.S. men” and lists eight names. The second says, “these are the eight glories” but lists only four addresses – all in Todmorden, England. The phrase, “burn after use,” appears on one of the pages with a list of passwords.

Her personal guess is a group of war veterans wanted to stay connected. Her family helped her post pictures on Reddit and Facebook to find answers.

“Since then, my goodness, Reddit is famous for really digging in and solving mysteries and everything. So, they took it and ran. And I think they thought maybe British spies,” Jansen said.

Other sources said perhaps the notes were left by Masons.

Jansen connected with Friends of Christ Church in Todmorden and confirmed that the addresses don’t exist, at least not in the modern address system, but the men are linked to the area.

“They have found the graves of some of the men and family lineage – somebody even identified one of the men as their great grandfather,” Jansen said. “So, we do know that is where the letters originated. And we do know that it’s a real letter and not some kind of a joke.”

Jansen spoke with a representative from the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian.

“They have been fascinated by it. But nobody knows really,” Jansen said. “So, it could be just a great party story, or it could be something that’s really interesting.”

She has considered putting the lot up for auction or selling it to a collector.

“I just want to get these in the right hands. Their future with my husband and me is in a dark closet,” Jansen said. “I’d love to get them into the hands of somebody that knows what they are and can display them.”