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Volume 1, Issue 9, October 21, 2016
It is the time of Halloween and that means ghost stories, creaking boards, and things that "go bump in the night."  A classic Halloween tale is the short story by the 19th-century author, Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." This issue features Irving's home and the cemetery where he is buried.

Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins  
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Washington Irving's story about a schoolteacher, Ichabod Crane, who encounters the headless horseman one night, is set in the quiet village of Sleepy Hollow, NY, approximately 25 miles north of New York City. At the time the story was written in 1820, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery did not exist. It didn't open until 1849 and was built surrounding the old Dutch churchyard (the Old Dutch Burying Ground) which is the graveyard referenced in the story. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery originally had a different name but was renamed following Irving's death.

Sleepy Hollow CemeteryThe entire cemetery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are available that encompass the history of the location and people buried there who have made significant contributions to history, such as Vincent and Brooke Astor, Andrew Carnegie, and William Rockefeller, just to name a few. Other tours focus on Irving and his story about Sleepy Hollow. October and November have tours at night, conducted by lantern light.

Special events during the second half of October include evenings of ghost stories by Washington Irving in the chapel named after him, and a Halloween night of food and entertainment with tales told by local storytellers. The complete text of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is on the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery website.

Sunnyside (Washington Irving's home)
Washington Irving's home, Sunnyside, is in Tarrytown, NY, overlooking the Hudson River. Irving became well acquainted with Tarrytown and the village to its north, Sleepy Hollow, when he stayed at the home of his friend, James Kirke Paudling, during the 1798 yellow fever outbreak in New York City. During that time, he learned about the Dutch influence and customs in the area, and listened to the local ghost stories.

Washington Irving's SunnysideHe was living in Europe when he wrote "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," having gone there partly to attend to the family merchant business and partly to pursue writing. When he returned to the U.S. in 1932, he went to visit his nephew and saw an old stone cottage nearby. Three years later, in 1835, he purchased the property and expanded the house and grounds.

Sunnyside is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is open May through mid-November for tours. The tours combine the history of the house, Irving's additions to it, and the life of this American writer. Besides writing fiction, he was also a noted historian, biographer, and diplomat. Sunnyside was well-known during Irving's lifetime and featured in Harper's Weekly.  It has been open to the public since 1947.

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Photo credits: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and Sunnyside: courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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