Occoquan Historical Society

(Formerly Historic Occoquan, Inc.)

(Formerly Historic Occoquan, Inc.)


Featured Items from the Museum

Vote for Our Endangered Artifacts!

Our iron artifacts (a blacksmith leg vise, iron bar, and conduit piece) as a group is one of the nominees for the 10 Most Endangered Artifacts program sponsored by VAM, the Virginia Association of Museums.   
The Top 10 program has seen four successful years of building awareness for over 90 organizations and their artifacts. Donors have come forth to assist with conservation support, people have volunteered their expertise for conservation, and museums have won grants to support conservation. Each year, the list of "Top 10" honorees is selected by an independent review panel of collections and conservation experts from the Library of Virginia, Preservation Virginia, Virginia Conservation Association, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, as well as an independent conservator. The "People's Choice Award" goes to the artifact that collects the most votes during the public voting component of the campaign.

Between August 1 and August 23 people can go to www.vatop10artifacts.org and vote for their choice.  Below is information about one of our items, the Blacksmith Leg Vise.

Blacksmith Leg Vise

This 40" long blacksmith leg vise was made and used by master forger, Henry Selecman during his employ at the Occoquan Iron Works.   The iron works, established circa 1755 by John Ballendine, was the first major industry in Occoquan.  The vise has been handed down through seven generations of the Selecman family and is now on loan to the Mill House Museum.

This vise was forged, not cast, which gave it the durability to withstand the continual pounding delivered by the blacksmith.  The leg sat on the floor or on a log post driven into the ground for stability, while the bracket would have been mounted on a very sturdy wood post.

Blacksmiths were an important part of the community. Horseshoes, shovels, hoes, and nails used by a farmer came from the blacksmith.  Household pots and pans were made and repaired by the local smith.  Everything from gun parts to simple household necessities were crafted by the talented Occoquan blacksmith, Henry Selecman.


Model of the Merchants' Mill

Occoquan Town Council Member Dr. James Walbert designed and handcrafted the model shown above of Occoquan's 18th century Merchants' Mill.  Dr. Walbert used old photographs and drawings of the mill to guide his efforts.  The scale is 1/4 inch = 1 foot.  On December 8, 2011, Dr. Walbert presented the model to the Occoquan Historical Society, where it will be displayed in the Mill House Museum.  This is the first and only model reproduction of the mill of which we are aware.

John Underwood

A special exhibit at the museum on John Underwood -- Occoquan resident and abolitionist.

Welcome to the web site of the Occoquan Historical Society, an organization dedicated to telling the story of Occoquan.  Thank you for visiting.  Enjoy exploring both our site and our town, and come back often for information on upcoming events.  Please also consider supporting our efforts by joining the Society or making a donation.  You may do either by clicking here.

Upcoming Events:

Annual Membership Meeting
Thursday, June 11, 2015
6:30 P.M.
Mill House Museum
413 Mill Street, Occoquan, VA 22125
RSVP to curator@occoquanhistoricalsociety.org
or call the Museum at 703-491-7525

****Slide Show****
Civil War Sesquicentennial Reenactment Event
Occoquan, VA -- July 31, 2010
Slide Show Courtesy of Boyd Alexander
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