You may have heard of this village from the famous story by Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, which features a headless horseman who haunts the local area. But did you know that Sleepy Hollow has a much longer and richer history than just this spooky tale?
Sleepy Hollow was originally inhabited by the Weckquaesgeck Indians, a tribe that was part of the Delaware or Mohican group. They called the place Slapershaven, which means “sleepers’ haven” in Dutch. The first European settlers arrived in the 17th century, and were mostly Dutch farmers who leased land from Frederick Philipse, a wealthy merchant who owned a large estate called Philipsburg Manor. Philipse built a mill, a manor house, and a church on the banks of the Pocantico River, which are still standing today as historic landmarks.
Sleepy Hollow played an important role in the American Revolutionary War, as it was part of a neutral ground between the British and the American forces. Many local residents supported the patriot cause, and some of them were involved in espionage and sabotage against the British. One of them was John Paulding, who captured the British spy John Andre and exposed Benedict Arnold’s treason. Another was Isaac Van Wart, who was part of a militia that fought in several battles. Both Paulding and Van Wart are buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, along with many other notable figures from history and literature.
Sleepy Hollow became famous worldwide after Washington Irving published his short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in 1820. Irving was a native of nearby Tarrytown, and he was familiar with the local legends and folklore of Sleepy Hollow. He based his story on a real schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane, who lived in the village for a short time. He also used the Old Dutch Church and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery as settings for his story. The story has inspired many adaptations and variations over the years, including movies, TV shows, musicals, comics, and video games.
Sleepy Hollow is still a charming and historic village today, with many attractions for visitors and residents alike. You can tour the Philipsburg Manor House and see how life was like in colonial times. You can visit the Old Dutch Church and admire its architecture and history. You can stroll through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and pay your respects to Washington Irving and other famous people buried there. You can also enjoy the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley, with its parks, forests, rivers, lakes, and trails.