South River Museum, 2005  

South River Historical & Preservation Society, Inc.

The Willett Sisters of South River


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one of the Willett sisterssecond Willett sister

 

These two mid-ninteenth century oil paintings were purchased by the South River Historical & Preservation Society in April of 1989 from a Maine collector and dealer in American folk art.

 

The paintings are unsigned, which is not unusual, as many itinerant artists of the nineteenth century did not sign their works.

 

It is interesting to note that one of the sisters is holding a peach which was not a common prop used in portraits at the time.  What is significant about the peach is that South River was a prominent transfer depot for the local peach trade during the mid-nineteenth century.

 

Brass plaques on the frames identify them only as the Willett sisters of South River.

 

Although the names of these Willett sisters are not known, there is some speculation that they might be Emelie, born in 1824, and Louise, born in 1828.  If this should be proven correct, they are buried in Washington Monumental Cemetery, South River.