The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 26 no 4, October 2014. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
The conversation didn't begin with young Joe Boone singing "matchmaker, matchmaker, find me a match". The reluctant Joe had to be convinced. This story was recorded in the Ottawa Citizen "Old Time Stuff" on December 16, 1933 based on an interview with Mrs. Joe Boone, then in her 88th year.
The story starts on a night of a new moon just prior to Halloween. Annie Neeley was then 18 years of age, and, as she admits herself, was full of Irish superstitions, a believer in dreams, omens, visions and what not. She had been born near Sligo in Ireland, and it was in her blood.
Well, on that night, she said her prayers before going into bed as she was religious. Before retiring, she said to her mother: "It is the new moon and almost Halloween. Don't be in a hurry to wake me up. I want to have a dream." Mrs. Neeley laughed and said: "Oh, all right." That night Annie did dream. She dreamed of a young man and an older man, coming in their front gate in a sleigh. The young man looked up at her window. When the girl wakened, the dream persisted and the features of the two men were impressed on her mind.
That morning Annie told her mother about her dream: "That was the young man I am going to marry. And by the way," she said, "he gave Father a bag of candies for me. Why don't you give them to me?" Mrs. Neeley laughed. "Don't be silly" she said, "You and your dreams. I guess they were dream candies". Time rolled on.
The story now shifts over to Wilson's Corners. There we find William Holmes, an elderly farmer, talking to Joseph Boone, son of a well known farmer (William Boone) who lived near the Corners. "Joe," said Mr. Holmes, "why don't you get married? You have a house and a farm of your own to go to. Why live at home all the time? Why not take a wife?" "Where would I get a wife?" the young man said. "I am too bashful to court girls."
"I have an idea," said Mr. Holmes. "I know a fine girl over back of Farrellton, a dandy girl. I will bring you together. I will drive over with you and see her father and I will recommend you so strongly that I am sure her father will advise her to marry you." "Well," said Joseph Boone, "I will go with you, but if she turns me down, I will hold you responsible."
So it came that one fine day in March (a Saturday in the March after the October dream) saw William Holmes and Joe Boone start off in a sleigh with bearskin robes, go down the long hill beyond Wilson's Corners, cross the river above Wakefield and travel back into the ountry in rear of Farrellton.
The scene changes again. We are at the Neeley farm. Annie is in the window of her bedroom overlooking the road. Two men in a sleigh turn in the Neeley gate 200 yards away. Annie ran downstairs to her mother who was in the kitchen. "Mother," she said excitedly. "The two men I saw in my dream are coming at our gate. For good or bad, I am going to marry the young man. My dream predicted it." "Nonsense," said her mother.
Nonsense or fate?
Joe and Annie were married the following Wednesday. They spent 18 happy years together until Joe died at a young age. They raised a family of six: Annie, William (who took over the farm and farmed with his wife, Mary Anne Evans), Mary, Margaret, Rachel and Etta. One of William's daughters, Pearl, married Herb Chamberlain and they continued the family farming tradition until the property was sold out of the family.
Mary Holmes is a board member of Cantley 1889, a volunteer organization formed in 2010 to preserve, protect and catalogue Cantley's history.