There, as well as in its close-by neighbor Tarrytown, you’ll find Washington Irving’s house and grave; the bridge, church, and cemetery featured in the story; statues dedicated to it and him; businesses and school mascots that make use of the Headless Horseman character; an annual Fall celebration dedicated to the tale, and the epitaph inspirations of many of the characters from the story. So much, in fact, that you have to use semi-colons to list it all.
one of my visits to the town here.
Yup, Sleepy Hollow has it all when it comes to its Legend. Almost. The one thing you won’t find there, though, is the grave of the namesake of the story’s schoolmaster protagonist…Ichabod, Ichabod Crane.
To see that, you have to travel about fifty miles down the Hudson River to the town of New Springville on Staten Island, where Ichabod apparently ran in terror after his ghostly encounter.
Actually, I should be saying alleged namesake, since Irving never revealed to posterity where exactly he got such a memorable name from. Fortunately, the scholars and historians that be pretty much figured it out for the rest of us. Apparently, it’s been established that Irving met Crane in the early 1800s at Fork Pike in Sackets Harbor, NY, right on Lake Ontario. Crane was stationed there, and during his tour, Irving visited as an aide-de-camp to Daniel Tompkins, governor of New York.
Still, Crane’s parents must have taken a liking to the meter of it, much the same as Irving himself did, and much the same as anybody who has ever read the story or watched a film adaptation has in the past 200 years.
As to the real Ichabod Crane, he was born in New Jersey, was stationed along the East Coast in various locations, and ended his days and started his eternity in Staten Island. He’s buried in Asbury Methodist Cemetery at 2000 Richmond Ave.
When I visited it recently, the area around the obelisk was still extremely overgrown, obviously uncared for, and almost hidden in tall weeds in a back part of what is actually a tiny cemetery.
The old Asbury Methodist Cemetery is located on the grounds of the Son-Rise Faith Church. The graveyard envelops the church on both sides, and Crane’s grave is located on the left side, if you’re facing the front of the church.
From there, head toward the very back, left corner of the small cemetery. If the conditions are the same as when I visited, you’ll pass through a few rows of relatively well-cared-for headstones until you hit a patch of scrubland that looks completely not worth venturing into. However, you’ll just be able to make out the pointed tip of Crane’s monument, which if I’m at all representative of my readership, will fortify you enough to vault the dead tree blocking the way and then fight off all the burrs, thorns, ticks, snakes, and other less-known minions of death and pain that have their own plans for you.
I want to say that it’s worth it, but suddenly don’t feel comfortable presuming so much about you.
So to recap, if you’re way into Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, go forthwith to the town of Sleepy Hollow, NY. If you’re obsessed to the point of ruining your life about the story, also visit the grave of Ichabod, Ichabod Crane.
And if you do find yourself in that wild patch of graveyard, do me a favor and smash a pumpkin on the headstone for old time’s sake.