Williston Descendent Donates Founders’ Paintings

On the eve of Founders Day, Williston Northampton School was fortunate to receive a donation of two paintings of two of its four founders, Emily and Samuel Williston. The oval portraits, set in gold-painted wood frames, were the gifts of Margaret and William Naumes.

Ms. Naumes, according to Archivist Richard Teller ’70, is a direct descendant of Harriet Keopuolani Richards Williston Clark, one of Emily and Samuel’s adopted children. Harriet (1829-1917), named for a Hawaiian queen, was the daughter of missionary William Richards, who had founded a school and church on Maui in 1831. In 1838 Richards took a leave of absence and returned to America, seeking educational opportunities for his children. Harriet and her brother Lyman Richards (1830-1897) were taken in by the Willistons, who brought them up as their own children. Although there was no legal adoption, both Harriet and Lyman took the Williston name.

Harriet graduated Williston Seminary in 1847 and went on to Mt. Holyoke College. Eventually, she married William Smith Clark (1826-1886), a member of the Williston class of 1844, whose father, Atherton Clark, was the Williston’s family physician. It is likely that the couple knew one another from an early age. Clark attended Amherst College and eventually became the first President of Massachusetts Agricultural College, now the University of Massachusetts. He also traveled to Japan, where he founded what is now Hokkaido University.

According to Teller, the paintings, set on easels in the Clapp Memorial Library, have already made an impression.

“Two students (separately), Josh Holmberg ’18 and Catherine King ’19, stopped to ask questions about the paintings,” Teller said, “and uttered the highest of adolescent accolades, respectively: ‘cool’ and ‘wow.’ That, said Ms. Naumes, convinced her on the spot that she’d made the right decision to ‘bring the paintings home.'”