Home Bio and Links Home Bio and Links
Home The Observer 3D Creation Paper Models Other Haunted Dimensions Graphics Bio and Links Home The Observer 3D Creation Paper Models Projects Other Haunted Dimensions Illustrations Graphics Bio and Links

On March 30, 2007 my family and I drove up to New Haven Connecticut to see the "Video Games Live" concert.   On the way there, we made a pilgrimage to Sleepy Hollow, New York, to visit "The Old Dutch Church" which is featured prominently in Washington Irving's short story,
"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".


When we pulled into the church parking lot, we spotted a very distinct looking man, with a long white beard, peering down at us from the doorway of the cemetery storage shed, which was on the hillside behind the church.   The kids became a little wary that maybe we would get in trouble for being in the cemetery. I knew that Church welcomes respectful guests.

We walked up to the front of the church and were met by the man, who was carrying a paper bag full of twigs and branches he was picking up from the church yard.

"Would you folks like to see the inside of the church?" We've visited the church many times, but we never had the chance to go inside, so we said "Sure!".

The bearded man, who's name we learned was Bill Lent, thrust the bag of twigs into my wife's arms while he searched his pockets. The man then handed my daughter a huge iron key, and instructed her on how to unlock the ancient door.

We walked in and he told us everything he knew about the church.

The 300 year old church is one of the oldest standing churches in the state of New York. The church was built in the 1680"s by the local land baron, Vredryck Flypse (Frederick Phillipse), and to this day you can still see his initials on the copper flag that is on top of the back end of the church.

The old bell in the belfry is inscribed with the year 1685, and was cast in Deventer, The Netherlands.

The yard has been a burial ground since about 1640.

Sleepy Hollow and The Old Dutch Church are just a mile north of the town of Tarrytown, New York.   In the opening paragraphs of Washington Irving's story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", Mr. Irving begins the tale with a description of Tarrytown and the surrounding countryside.

(Photo circa 1865)

"In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators "The Tappan Zee", and where they always prudently shortened sail, and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town."

Washington Irving claimed that the name "Tarrytown" was a name given "by the good housewives of the adjacent county, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days."

Mr Lent explained to us that the Dutch word "Tarwe" is wheat and "dorp" is town. So the town was originally called "Tarwen dorp," meaning "wheat town".
It was anglicized to "Tarwetown", then "Tarrytown".

Mr Lent showed us an area of the churchyard which was strangely devoid of head stones.

Mr Lent explained that there was a local family who had compassion for one of the German Hessian mercenary soldiers who fought on the side of England during the revolution. During a battle the Hessian saved the life of their infant baby daughter.   One day, after one of the local revolutionary battles had subsided,   the Hessian soldier's headless body was discovered, and the family gave him a Christian burial in the Sleepy Hollow churchyard in thanks for his good deed towards them. The name of that family was "Van Tassel".   Legend says that his grave was unmarked because despite his good deed, he was still shunned because he fought in the service of the enemies of American independence.

  This patch of empty ground is reputed to be the grave of the "real" Headless Horseman.

According to Mr Lent, this is the site of the original Sleepy Hollow bridge where Ichabod Crane tried crossing the Potantico Creek, in order to try to escape the Headless Horseman.

Today the main highway (route 9) passes in front of the church, but in the old days the road went behind the church, so although the highway bridge has a plaque next to it claiming it to be the Sleepy Hollow bridge, the original bridge is long gone. According to Mr Lent, this is the spot where the original bridge used to be, and he even produced an old photo of the bridge taken in the 1860s.

The Old Dutch burial ground, and the adjacent Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the resting place of many prominent people including Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, William Rockefeller, and it is also the place Washington Irving chose to rest his bones.


Washington Irving ("The author of "Legend of Sleepy Hollow") loved this part of the country and he made his home just down the road from Sleepy Hollow, in a beautiful Dutch-style estate called "Sunnyside".   In a letter to the editor of "Knickerbocker Magazine", Mr. Irving speaks about the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  

My Dear Clark:
I send you herewith a plan of a rural cemetery projected by some of the worthies of Tarrytown, on the woody hills adjacent to the Sleepy Hollow Church. I have no pecuniary interest in it, yet I hope it may succeed, as it will keep that beautiful and umbrageous neighborhood sacred from the anti-poetical and all-leveling axe. Besides, I trust that I shall one day lay my bones there. The projectors are plain matter-of-fact men, but are already, I believe, aware of the blunder which they have committed in naming it the "Tarrytown," instead of the "Sleepy Hollow" Cemetery. The latter name would have been enough of itself to secure the patronage of all desirous of sleeping quietly in their graves.

I beg you to correct this oversight, should you, as I trust you will, notice this sepulchral enterprise.

I hope as the spring opens you will accompany me in one of my brief visits to Sunnyside, when we will make another trip to Sleepy Hollow, and (thunder and lightning permitting) have a colloquy among the tombs.

Yours, very truly,
Washington Irving
New York, April 27, 1849

Here is the Irving family plot.

The bright, white stone is Washington Irving's grave.

I would like to thank Bill Lent for his wonderful, personal tour!
He made it a very memorable visit!

UPDATE - February 1, 2021
I sadly learned that Mr William Lent passed away in 2013.
He is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery along with his wife, Ida.
A short article about him can be found here
Bill Lent - Sleepy Hollow Church


Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and all Haunted Mansion photographs, characters, multimedia and artwork are copyrighted by and/or are trademarks of the Walt Disney Company / Disney Enterprises. This website is not affiliated in any way with any Disney company. Site launched 9.26.04. Copyright © Ray Keim. Haunted Dimensions™
Email Ray: haunted3d@raykeim.com