My cousin Cher and her husband just relocated to northern New Jersey from southern Kentucky. She’s only about an hour or so away from me now, so she came for a visit. This is the first time she’s seen my apartment in Sleepy Hollow. We went to the Silver Tips Tea Room and had a very nice time before we walked around Tarrytown and did some shopping. I took a picture of Cher at the site where the bridge Icabod Crane supposed crossed to escape the Headless Horseman.
The big event was going to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. I always cut through the Old Dutch Burial Ground, which borders the cemetery. I like to see the very old gravestone. It is here in an unmarked area that the Headless Horseman, who was a Hessian (German) soldier hired to fight for the British, was buried as well as a local witch. Exactly where in the general area these graves are–if they exist at all–no one knows.
Though the walk up to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery from the Burial Ground is a little steep, it is a much easier grade than some of the roads in the cemetery. Besides, the walk up brings you right to the Irving family plot and the start of the cemetery. It is here that Washington Irving, who has the highest tombstone (I guess so people can see it) in among his other family members. We got a map to the cemetery, which was located right by Irving’s grave. We also passed the mausoleum of the Beekman family.
The loyalist Philipse family was driven out of Sleepy Hollow after the Revolutionary War. At that time, Philipsburg Manor consisted of most of Sleepy Hollow, so the Beekmans bought up a large chunk of it. The widow of Beekman eventually started selling off plots of land in what was then known as Beekmanville. After her death, the area was called North Tarrytown until the village changed the name to Sleepy Hollow in 1996.
All of the cemetery roads are named after roads in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. This makes it easier to find the famous people’s graves marked on the map. We ran into two guys dressed in black—a tuxedo and a suit—who were lost. Cher was nice enough to give them her map. I had to give them directions to Irving’s grave (they were literally on the other side of the cemetery from it). They must have been freezing as the wind was quite cold, blowing over the hills.
Samuel Gompers’ gravestone was erected by the A.F.L. Gompers had done much to organize labor in the 19th century. Ironically, one of his arch-enemies in life, Andrew Carnegie, is buried within a stone’s throw of Gompers’ grave. Carnegie, who was known for his philanthropy in his later years, was a real bastard to his steel mill employees. However, he left the dirty work to his right-hand man, Henry Clay Frick, while he tootled around Europe. It cannot be a coincidence that Gompers and Carnegie are buried so close.
I wanted to see the Rockefeller mausoleum, which I had visited before. There’s a motif from ancient Greece of a young man being crowned by a woman while another watches. There’s some significance to his, although it escapes me at the moment. (I literally could not see my camera’s image to take a good picture of it.) The problem I have with this mausoleum is that the columns are part of the walls; they are not free-standing. Why have columns at all?
There’s a very interesting mausoleum right across from the Rocekfellers. It’s domed and makes me think of an Armenian church for some reason. The Greek and Russian Orthodox incorporate domes in their church architecture (the Russian being smaller and onion-shaped). The mosaic above the doors was quite nice as was the doors themselves.
There are some beautiful mausoleums in the cemetery. One has the “Weeping Woman” in front of it. She faces the doors of the mausoleum in mourning. Another mausoleum has the look of a Greco-Roman temple (sans the fluted columns) up on a mini-acropolis. One building had was turned out to be a crescent moon on the pediment. The crescent moon is a symbol for Islam, but I wonder if it means something different here. The stained-glass window was beautiful.
Some of the mausoleums have beautiful stained glass windows that you can see upon looking through the glass in the doors. I don’t remember having seen the Helmsey mausoleum before, but it is up on a small hill and we approached it from the back. The beautiful, stained glass windows are of the New York City skyline.
Many of the mausoleums are shaped like mini-churches; one had the three ancient symbols of Jesus above the entrance: the Chi-Rho (X-P) letters of the Greek alphabet (the first two letters of “Christ” in Greek); the Alpha and Omega letters, again from the Greek alphabet (Jesus was called the Alpha and the Omega in the New Testament, being the beginning and the end, the first and the last); and the traditional cross above.
The last mausoleum we visited seemed odd and not as nice as the others, but it was one of the most unusual—and striking—of any I’ve ever seen. There are no doors but big windows, from floor to ceiling on each side as well as in the roof. The inside is well-illuminated, and the sarcophagi can be seen. There’s a star pattern in the floors and walls; painted silver, the stars are bright and stand out in the sunshine. A very unusual, and striking, building.
There’s a newer part of the cemetery across the Pocantico River. To get to it you cross the “Headless Horseman Bridge.” In this area, the Pocantico River flows rapidly over the rocks. It’s quite beautiful. So we followed the river down until we came back to the Old Dutch Church.