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Artifacts given for town’s 150th birthday event

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw (right)accepts possession of a seal and press on behalf of the town of Wesson presented by Jeff Maher at Wesson city hall Tuesday afternoon.

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw (right)accepts possession of a seal and press on behalf of the town of Wesson presented by Jeff Maher at Wesson city hall Tuesday afternoon.

In 2004, Jeff Maher found a rusted metallic object under a house in Wesson. After repeatedly soaking the object in oil and sandblasting it to remove the rust, Maher was left with a cleaned-up version of – well, who knew.

It would take consultation with Wesson shopkeepers and business owners – the town’s true historians – to finally figure out what it was.

“All I really knew about it was it was some kind of piece of metal. It was extremely rusty. It could have been anything, really,” Maher said. “It looked like some sort of lever.”

Ten years later, Maher’s unknown object turned out to be a fortuitous, and timely, find.

As it turned out, the origins of the mysterious artifact traced back to the Wesson Cotton Oil and Fertilizer C., a prominent business in Wesson during the late 1800s through the early 1900s. The plant converted cottonseed into cotton oil to be used in lamps.

The object Maher found and cleaned up turned out to be a “seal and press.” The purpose of the seal and press at the company was to stamp wax seals.

The artifact is a remnant of the now-defunct Wesson Cotton Oil and Fertilizer Co. The seal and press (left) will be put on display as part of Wesson's Sesquincentenial celebration, beginning April 26.

The artifact is a remnant of the now-defunct Wesson Cotton Oil and Fertilizer Co. The seal and press (left) will be put on display as part of Wesson’s Sesquincentenial celebration, beginning April 26.

“I’m pretty sure this is the only one of its kind. I haven’t seen another one anywhere. It was a fortunate find,” Maher said.

Now, the unique “seal and press” find is in the hands of the town of Wesson, and will be displayed at the Wesson sesquicentennial celebration in the coming months. Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Alton Shaw held a donation signing ceremony at city hall to officially accept the artifact.

Given the town’s upcoming 150th anniversary, an event wrought with history, Mayor Shaw said it was a timely donation for Wesson.

“This is perfect for the anniversary. We are excited to unveil this artifact and others for our celebration,” said Shaw. “We also encourage other community members to know that a lot of these artifacts are things that members of the community may have in their possession.

Shaw suggested community members consider loaning or donating similar items to the town for the celebration.

“These artifacts give us a better understanding of the history of our town. Wesson has a fascinating history, and these pieces confirm it.”

Also at the signing ceremony, Sonya and Belle Cowan loaned J.H. Fairchild’s “Mississippi Mills” artwork to the city and museum committee. The piece is a replica of a Wesson mill, done by J.H. Fairchild.

Both the art work and the seal and press will be on display in a building across the street from city hall during the town’s 150th anniversary celebration from April 26 to May 30.