Abby Wright School
South Hadley, MA 1806
Wearing the latest empire fashion Liberty, holding a staff topped with a liberty cap, and an in-verted cornucopia
spilling fruit (symbols of freedom and prosperity that can be traced to Greek mythology) was stitched and painted
by Maria Williston. The abundant use of silver threads and the distinctive curvy trees are classic characteristics
of needlework from Abby Wright's school in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The swaged floral vines with centered bows
are prevalent in works from both her school and the Misses Pattens' school in Hartford, Connecticut.
Maria Williston (1793-1830) was second oldest of five children born to Rev. Peyson Williston, D.D. (1764-1856)
born in West Haven, Connecticut a 1783 Yale graduate and first minister of Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Sarah
Birdseye (1763-1845). Maria stitched her embroidery in 1806 at age 14, and in 1813 she married Benagah Theodore
Brackett. They had two daughters and Maria died while they were still teenagers.
Maria's brothers were extremely involved in education. John Payson Williston was a very active board member at
Mount Holyoke and the Observatory is named after him. He was also the inventor of Payson's Indelible Ink. Another
brother, Samuel founded Williston Seminary in Easthampton and assisted with Amherst College.
Copy of the original wording on rear of original paper that fell apart in being cleaned and frame touched up in
December 1947, "Maria Williston…Easthampton, Massachusetts Daughter of Rev. Payson Williston of Mass. She
was Sister of John Payson Williston-Faith of a Human (? wording not altogether clear) Williston. This was done
while she was at school in 1807 or 1806."
Silk, metallic thread, chenille, and watercolor on silk; 18" x 21 ¾" with frame.
Illustrated in the exhibition and book With Needle and Brush: Schoolgirl Embroidery From the Connecticut River
Valley by Carol and Stephen Huber
STEPHEN & CAROL HUBER
View Other Silk Embroidered Pictures