Jesse Lewis tells people he never wanted his vintage sleigh to “end up as a big flower pot in somebody’s yard.”
The 83-year-old White Bear Lake resident no longer has to worry about the impressive piece being used as a garden decoration.
North Branch residents Annette and Joe Boeser discovered about two years ago Jesse owned the fully intact 1860s sleigh through a mutual acquaintance.
The Boesers—sleigh and carriage enthusiasts who live on a horse ranch off 360th Street—first looked at the sleigh online and then visited Jesse’s White Bear Lake home to see the sleigh in person.
“We weren’t really in the market for a sleigh,” Annette said with a laugh. “But then we saw it and we were like, ‘Oh, this is something we won’t see again. This is really something special.’”
Enamored with the sleigh, the Boesers decided to buy it from Jesse.
Annette noted the sleigh is in impressively good shape for its age.
It has been in Jesse’s family for generations, and has only been lightly used for the better part of a century.
Jesse said he grew up on a farm in upstate New York, and his grandmother owned the sleigh.
“To the best of my knowledge, she built it,” he said.
After his grandmother died, Jesse’s father asked him if he wanted anything from her estate.
Jesse told his father he’d like to have the sleigh.
Jesse and his wife Lillian moved to Minnesota in 1974 and went back to upstate New York a few years later to retrieve the sleigh.
The couple moved the sleigh in their garage, and there it sat for 34 years until the Boesers bought it.
“It’s just been a real thrill to have somebody who appreciates the sleigh own it now,” Lillian said.
A fantasy brought to life
On Jesse’s grandmother’s farm where the sleigh was stored for many years, there weren’t any horses to pull it through the fields.
Jesse recalled crawling into the sleigh as a boy, fantasizing about a steadfast steed towing him around the farm in the sleigh.
Jesse and Lillian were finally awarded that opportunity at the Boeser’s ranch Dec. 17.
The Boesers had Jesse don some ceremonial fur garb and hop into the passenger seat of the sleigh with Lillian.
It was the first ride in the sleigh for both of them.
Joe took the reigns after hooking Elmer, the Boeser’s strongest horse, to the sleigh.
Elmer easily pulled the trio out to a snow-laden pasture on the Boeser’s ranch, and Annette then joined the group on the sleigh.
Bells on Elmer jingled as he trotted around the field; the foursome sang Christmas carols, one of them being “Sleigh Ride.”