Across the United States, the pumpkin population cowers in fear. Black cats are on high alert. Cornfields have been gutted out to create giant mazes, which, hopefully, bad children will never return from. Roving gangs of teenagers, armed with toilet paper, are attacking nearby shrubs and trees in an attempt to exorcise their demons. This could only mean one of two things: 1) I am experiencing an acid flashback or 2) Halloween is near. And judging by the calendar and the fact that the walls are not melting, number two appears to be the answer.
Other than trick-or-treating, Halloween has always reminded me of Washington Irving’s short-story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” If, for some oddball reason, you are not familiar with the tale of the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane you can read the entire story here. When I first moved to New York I lived in the village of Irvington, which is only a short drive or walk to the actual town of Sleepy Hollow; where the story is set.
In 1697, construction of the Old Dutch Church was completed. More than 300 hundred years later, the church still stands and there is a congregation that regularly holds service in the one-room building. Next to the church is the Old Dutch Burying Ground. On the grounds, visitors will find the markers of American soldiers that fought against the British during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Possibly even more interesting are the graves of individuals that are thought to have been inspirations behind the characters of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” including Eleanor Van Tassel Brush (1763–1861 [Katrina]), Catriena Van Tassel (Katrina), Abraham Martling (1743–1830 [Brom Bones]), and Joseph Youngs (1722–1789 [Ichabod Crane]).
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Adjacent to the Old Dutch Burying Ground lies the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. This cemetery, while not as old as its neighbor, is one of the most serene and well-kept graveyards I have ever been to. Established in 1849, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery holds the remains of numerous notable figures, including Washington Irving. Other famous residents of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery include:
- Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919) – Steel industrialist of the 19th century.
- Walter Chrysler (1875–1940) – Founder of the Chrysler Corporation (automobile).
- Samuel Gompers (1850–1924) – Founder of the American Federation of Labor.
- Elizabeth Arden (1878–1966) – Cosmetics company founder. Her date of death is not actually noted on her marker because she was very private about her age when she was alive.
The list goes on, and you can learn more at the cemetery’s official Web site.
Burial in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery does not come cheap, nor does living in the area for that matter. Because of this, it comes without a doubt that many of the deceased chose to spend a good chunk of change to make sure that their final resting place was comparable to their time on Earth–elaborate. The cemetery contains many large mausoleums that will bring shame to your marble kitchen countertop, and there are countless sculptures that would fit well in a museum. Considering that the grounds covers approximately 90 acres, visitors will find themselves being able to spend an entire day wandering around without bumping into the living. If there’s one weekend-trip for residents of New York City that are looking for a day of peace and quiet, I’d highly recommend taking the Metro-North to Sleepy Hollow and then start walking up the hill till you trip over Ichabod Crane’s burial marker.