A Boy & His Dream
This is the story of a boyhood dream. It begins in 1937, during the "recession within the Great Depression". The first child of a hard-working young Irish couple from Johnson City, NY is sent to spend the summer on his grandparents' farm in Dushore, PA.
The lad is tasked with feeding the chickens, weeding the garden and sweeping the dirt floors. But his favorite chore is helping plow the fields with a team of black Percheron draft horses name Maude and Tony. For many summers, little Bob was delivered to the O'Neil Family Farm the day after school let out in June and returned to his parents in Johnson City on Labor Day weekend, just in time to start the new school year. Driving and caring for the team of blackies quickly become his passion and thus the dream was born.
Dad and his sister (Aunt Joanie) riding Tony at the O'Neil Family Farm in Dushore, Pennsylvania. I have to say this gentle giant looks like he lived a much more strenuous life than the pampered pets who would follow in his footsteps some 60 years later.
"One Day I'll Have My Horses"
The boy was my dad. But farming wasn't in the cards for him and like his parents he wound up raising a family and making a living in a small city. "You mark my words", he'd say "one day I'll have my horses". We all laughed.
But, despite the years that passed and the naysayers and the remote odds, his dream never died. In 1985, Dad flew out to Millersburg Ohio to meet with his dear friend Monroe Miller, a Percheron horse breeder. He returned home driving a trailer with 2 young geldings, he named Prince and Tony. The horses were Dad's pride and joy. Although their plowing chores were few, Prince and Tony were often pressed into service giving hay rides and sleigh rides to local children. They lived an honorable life.
Dad and his Percherons, Prince & Tony, pulling a sleigh at Christmastime in 1993. It was a holiday tradition that our family cherished for many years. Plattsburgh, NY.
Driving the Team Back to a Farm: Stonehurst!
Last weekend when I went to Plattsburgh to visit my mother I saw this familiar drawing of the 2 Percherons that Dad had purchased from Iowa artist William A Weber. I asked if I could relocate the boys to Stonehurst, which had been a working farm on and off for over 200 years. It would be a fitting place for the horses to retire as Stonehurst in the 1930s would have been quite similar to the O'Neil Farm that Maude & Tony served at that time. Mother agreed & now the 2 two horses hang on the wall looking out the windows of our showroom to the farmland that houses our sustainable furniture store today.
Come Visit Stonehurst and Meet Prince & Tony
Love horses? Farms? History? Come visit us at Stonehurst! You can enjoy the 109 acre plot of beautifully managed farm and forest land that's now home to Prince and Tony. And if you're in the market for sustainable, American made furniture or Vermont made home decor, all the better. See you in the showroom!