In 1768 Johan Abraham Nel planted an almond tree in honour of his son’s birth. This tree eventually became enormous, and was an oasis in the dry treeless area of the Karee Mountains.

In 1845 Johann Heinrich Lutz established a mission station named Amandelboom (almond tree) at this spot. In 1883 the name changed to Williston, in honour of Colonel Hampden Willis.

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