Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
February 20, 2024 ·  4 min read

Man Seeks Answers to Tiny Dolls That Appeared in Mailbox with a Note: ‘We’ve Decided to Live Here’

Typically, people love a good mystery, they’re both puzzling and exciting. One Michigan couple discovered something incredibly mysterious, albeit adorable, in their mailbox one day, and the mystery seems to continue.

Most people open their mailboxes to find bills, junk mail, and an occasional card from a loved one. However, one day, Don Powell opened his, to find an unusual surprise. Alongside his usual bills and coupons, he discovered two tiny dolls sitting on a miniature couch with a tiny table. The dolls had been comfortably set up in a living room in the Powell’s mailbox. Interestingly, the dolls came with a short note, “We’ve decided to live here. Mary and Shelley.

Unsurprisingly, Don’s initial thoughts were that the dolls had been put there by mistake. Or that someone from his neighborhood was playing a joke. He set out to solve the mystery, going door to door. “I went around to the other homes on the cul-de-sac to see if anyone else had gotten dolls in their mailbox,” he explained. “No one had. There’s a neighbor across the street named Shelly; I knocked on her door and asked if she had done it, but she said no.”

Designing a Welcoming Mailbox

About five years ago, Powell, and his wife Nancy ordered a custom, 26-inch-deep mailbox—almost an exact replica of their new home in Orchard Lake, Michigan. As a result, it’s a perfectly hospitable place for two tiny dolls. There is a spacious interior, plenty of window light, and a solar-powered ceiling light to illuminate the mailbox after the sun goes down.

Image Credit: Laura Colvin |

Getting Comfy in the Mailbox

Although it’s against the law to tamper with someone else’s mail or mailbox, Powell, a psychologist, has had a pretty good outlook in regard to the mysterious dolls. In fact, he was actually amused by the surprise guests in his mailbox and eventually had fun with the new family. At first, he’d decided to throw them away, but then he had a change of heart. He pushed the dolls and their furniture to the back and went on with the rest of his day. Sometime later, Powell found a pet dog for the dolls, some artwork, and even a bed. “I thought, ‘OK, someone is really playing a joke on me,’” Powell said. “I didn’t think it was my neighbors.”

After no luck with his neighbors, he turned to the NextDoor App. His original post was straightforward and asked if anyone would admit to playing the prank. However, no one did. Consequently, he posted again, this time joking that he’d contacted the police to do extra patrols on his mailbox. “The whole thing got rather whimsical,” he shared. “I have a quirky sense of humor.”

Holiday Celebrations

Halloween of 2022, Powell found the two dolls had been replaced with dolls in skeleton costumes. The festivities continued because, on Christmas, Powell found another surprise. The original dolls reappeared, this time with tiny gifts. Powell had been documenting everything and sharing it on NextDoor. By this time, he had quite a following. “The response was just incredible,” he said. “People were saying, ‘This is so much fun to read, I was ready to get off of Nextdoor, but this makes me want to stay.’

The Mailbox Saga Continues

The fun didn’t stop there, and eventually Powell came to learn a little about his new mysterious guests. According to a note he found one day, Mary and Shelley had previously lived in a two-story Dutch-style doll house. However, they had a cousin (Shirley) with a broken leg who would come visit sometimes. Therefore, the dolls felt this new home would be more appropriate.

“Then, after (February) ice storm, I did a post that said the family was locked in the mailbox and couldn’t get out,” Powell said. “Somebody asked if they lost power, I said ‘No, they don’t have power to begin with, but they do have a wood burning stove and were working from home.’”

Luckily, the mailbox is large enough that the new residents haven’t derailed his regular mail delivery, but Powell has still tried to contact the West Bloomfield Post Office, just in case.

The couple seems to be enjoying their mysterious guests. “It’s very cute. I get a laugh out of it…it’s a good positive thing, especially during these crazy times.” Nancy explained. Meanwhile, Powell is having fun, and has gained some inspiration. “I’m kind of enjoying the mystery. I look forward to new things being added to the mailbox.” he shared, also disclosing, “I am thinking, given the reaction (on Nextdoor), of writing a children’s book,” he said. “I think it creates a novel story.”

Alternative Mailbox Findings

While the mystery found in the couple’s mailbox is undeniably precious, other people have shared stories on Reddit regarding the weirdest things they’ve found in their mailboxes. Some are downright hilarious. Meanwhile others are pretty gross and/or confusing. Additionally, mail carriers have reported some interesting objects as well. Common findings include wasp nests, squirrels, and even illegal substances.

A custom mailbox is surprisingly easy to come by and adds a personal touch to the outside of the home. On the other hand, they also serve an important function: housing bills, holiday cards, and, rare occasions, tiny dolls.

Keep Reading: Woman with Down Syndrome Turns Green Thumb into Thriving Business


  1. Michigan man searches for answers after dolls take over his mailbox: ‘we’ve decided to live here’. USA Today. Laura Colvin. April 13, 2023.
  2. Tiny Dolls appeared in Mailbox with a note: ‘we’ve decided to live here’.” The Washington Post. Cathy Free. March 2, 2023.
  3. 12 unusual things postal carriers see every day.” Family Handyman. Nick Gerhardt. February 3, 2023.