STE. GENEVIEVE COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - A message in a bottle found in the Heartland is connecting two families who live more than 600 miles apart.
Two brothers in Ste. Genevieve County found the message in late July of 2019 as the flood waters were receding, but the note inside was written in October of 2018 by two sisters from Southern Louisiana.
Carson French, 9, and his and 7-year-old Warren French were exploring the muddy banks of the Mississippi River when they stumbled upon the clear bottle.
“It felt pretty exciting and special," said Carson French. “We were playing around and climbing, and then Warren called me over when he found it."
“We were really excited," Warren added. "And we just started running to our dad and he read it to us.”
And the hand-written note inside started with an introduction.
“Hi. My name is Kinslee. I am 10 years old. Aniston is my sister and she is six years old,” said Kinslee Morales as she re-read her own letter.
The two sisters are from a small town outside of Baton Rouge, La.
They got the idea to send a message in a bottle from their grandmother, but had low expectations of getting a response back.
“I was really excited to do it but I didn’t know somebody would find it,” said Kinslee Morales. “Because it was in the Mississippi river nobody could barely fish or swim in that.”
The family from Louisiana gave the message in a bottle to a tug boat worker they know.
From there the letter was dropped off in Northern Illinois and eventually made its way to Ste. Genevieve County where the French boys picked it up.
“We brought it home and sent another letter back to them,” said Carson French.
Kinslee Morales said she and her grandmother shed tears of joy the day they opened the letter in the mail.
“When we got that note from you guys I was jumping up and down and my sister almost fell down when she found out,” she said.
The four pen pals are still swapping letters, pictures and gifts, and the French boys got ‘Swamp Life’ T-shirts.
Plans are in the works for the two families meet in Louisiana next summer.
“I’m excited because we get to see different animals that we don’t see everyday,” Carson French said. “And we get to meet new families that we haven’t met before.”
“I want to go fishing with them,” Kinslee Morales said.
“I’m looking forward to going fishing on their boat," Warren French said. "Catching fish or crawfish. They call it crawfish but we call them crawdads.”
The young pen pals plan to share the experience with their own kids one day and to have them carry on the message in a bottle as a tradition.