Monthly Archives: October 2014

Tarrytown’s Very Own Haunted House

Places always have odd buildings that make strange noises or people see odd things that make some believe that the places are haunted. There is a story, based in fact, about a house in Tarrytown.

Years ago, a young woman came to the Historical Society looking for information about the house that she was living in. It had been converted into apartments years ago, and she lived on the third floor.

Part of the job of the Historical Society is to keep information on the buildings and houses in the villages, and look up the information for anyone who requests it. Therefore, the request was not unusual. However, the reason for it was strange.

Of course the Historical Society employee inquired as to why the (2014-08-07 011)information was needed, so the young woman told the employee that there were strange noises at night that she was sure weren’t natural. This put off the employee, but nonetheless due diligence was performed.

A few weeks later, the young woman returned, looking terrible. She hadn’t slept the night before and reported that the noises had gotten far worse, with shrieks and screams. She had found water all over the floor at the top of the staircase; where it came from she did not know.

The employee, that morning, had come across a newspaper article from the beginning of the 20th century. In it, the owner of that house had been found at the bottom of the staircase, his neck broken. Apparently he had slipped on water at the top of the staircase and had fallen. It was one hundred years to the day.

Needless to say, the young woman freaked out and told the employee that she was moving before “he” could kill her. She was never seen again by the employee, and nothing was ever heard from other renters. Today, the house is still an apartment building.

Say what you will, but I heard this from a reliable source, who believes in the rational world. However, the story unnerves when recounted.

Believe it or not.

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Filed under History, Tarrytown

Meeting the Dead at Dinner

(2014-10-27 010)It was a nice evening at Lyndhurst. The dead were quite lively, in some cases more than the living!

I unfortunately got there a bit late (I forgot that it started at six), but apparently I didn’t miss much. The party was down from the house, across from the stables and in a huge tent with chandeliers. There were several local Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow restaurants and bars that were at different stations to serve the crowd. There was different fare available, from pulled pork to duck to polenta. Wine and beer was available at three stations. At the (2014-10-27 012)entrance were the silent auction items, everything from a tarot reading to dance classes to a portrait of the Headless Horseman. Though this was supposed to be a walk around and mingle, some small tables had been put out with chairs, which were quickly filled with a handful of people while the rest of us stood around.

(2014-10-27 006)I talked to a few of the dead. Washington Irving was quite friendly. He was a bit younger than I imagined he would be, but when you’re dead I guess you can come back at any age you want. I told him that it was his story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, that got me to move to the Hollow in the first place. He was touched. We discussed his location at the beginning of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and how crowded his plot was with all his relatives. (He wasn’t too happy with all of them crowded around him. He thought that he should have bought a much smaller plot.) I explained how “okay” is really the only word understood in just about every part of the world.

(2014-10-27 007)Then there was Lydia Locke, the opera singer who was married seven times. (Killed one husband in self defense and was acquitted; two others died under mysterious circumstances.) Ms. Locke was dressed in fiery red, ready to set the place on fire. I chatted with her on two occasions. The first, she joined Mr. Irving and I as we conversed. When asked if he had met her, Mr. Irving told me that he had already had enough of Miss Locke, and quickly retreated. She was fascinated with digital cameras, since she was such a narcissist and loved having her picture taken while living. The foot camera against the wall where one could take a picture then upload it onto Twitter, Facebook or some other Internet service, fascinated several of the dead.

(2014-10-27 008)Minna Irving was very pleasant. Having been a poet in life, she was very nice to talk to and acquiesced to Karen and I each taking her picture. Being from Pittsburgh, I avoided the Carnegies. The 1895 Homestead Strike is history, but the attempt to break the union by Carnegie’s henchman, Henry Clay Frick, by calling in Pinkerton stooges as strike breakers that cost people their lives, is still remembered in the Steel City. It really is a shame that Samuel Gompers could not have come back. We could use his leadership in reinvigorating the unions in this country.

(2014-10-27 014)The evening ended with a hilarious talk by author and humorist Joe Queenan. His talk had everyone laughing as he discussed people that he wouldn’t mind seeing dead and the history of the area. The party was over by nine. It remains to be seen how much money was raised for the Historical Society and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Before I left, I was asked to take a photograph of the cemetery tour guides, which I did.

(2014-10-27 009)There is one addendum to the night. A mysterious woman in a white mask and gown with a long train was seen mingling and talking to the guests. Who was she? No one seemed to know. I thought of Marie Antoinette, but Lydia Locke was nonplussed. She told me that she had had her fun with her seven husbands, while poor Marie lost her head. I did point out that the doomed queen did have her one true love, a foreign diplomat, who did try and save her. Lydia was not amused; she insisted that she had more fun than Marie which, when remembering the way the queen’s life ended, you really can’t argue.


Filed under History, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown

Hell Kitty

Halloween Kitty (Resized)Well, not really.

My friend Lucye sent me this photo of her sister’s cat. One of Lucye’s friends took this picture. No red eyes here, just eerie, glowing green eyes!

Just in time for Halloween!


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Halloween in the Hollow

Just some pics to celebrate the season!


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Dinner with the Dead–There’s Still Time!

(2014-09-20 003)The Historical Society, Inc. of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, are having a fundraiser on Monday, October 27, 2014 at Lyndhurst. Tickets are $125 a person, and cover a stand-up dinner. There will also be a silent auction of interesting local items.

Why, you might ask, are you standing up for dinner? Well, attendees will want to mingle with the dead, of course! Among the dead who are rising to attend are: Washington Irving; Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Carnegie (alas, Samuel Gompers couldn’t make it); opera star Lydia Locke; railroad magnate (and robber baron) Jay Gould; internationally-known poet Minna Irving (no relation to Washington); poet Francis Saltus Saltus; capitalist John D. Archibald; and screenwriter Frank R. Pierson. All rest in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which Irving helped to establish.

The evening ends in a sit-down dessert, where noted author and humorist Joe Queenan gives a lively presentation.

All are invited. Just be sure to buy your tickets before you come!


Filed under History, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown

Decorating the Historical Society for Halloween

(2014-10-11 004)It fell to me to put up most of the Halloween decorations in the Historical Society. Karen, who donated the decorations, was going out of town for a few days, but she dropped off the decorations and said that we could do it. So rather than continuing to unpack the Civil War papers of Charles Rockwell, I spent my volunteer time finding (tasteful) ways to make the first floor of the house festive.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I love decorating for it, too. This year I don’t think I’ll have time to decorate my apartment. (I’ll post why in another entry.) When I was young I used to have a Halloween party, which was basically a bunch of guys getting together and running around in costumes and eating. We originally went trick-or-treating the first and second year, but by high school it just isn’t the same. So we would entertain ourselves acting out Star Wars scenes or scenes from other science fiction movies and shows.

(2014-10-11 001)The first floor of the Historical Society is the museum, where displays are set up every so often for people to visit. There is one large room, and two smaller rooms. The second floor is where the library and the archives are kept; the third floor and basement are used for the storage of materials. The current exhibit is on childhood, so artifacts are on display in the rooms from different periods of childhood. The main room is set up like a classroom with old desks and books. Mannequins of a teacher and student are also there to provide atmosphere.  In another room, a mannequin is dressed as a Boy Scout.

Decorating was fun. If you look at the photos I took a week later, you can see what I did. Sara told me that people had commented on the decorations. I was going for simple yet elegant–as elegant as Halloween decorations can be. I didn’t use all of the decorations that Karen had donated. I figured that everyone else would do follow-up and finish decorating. Apparently what I did was enough because not much of anything had been changed and only one thing was added and that was on the second floor.

So I got my Halloween decorating fix for the year.

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Filed under Holidays, Museums, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown

Addendum on André: Cookies (and Tea) with Major André

(2014-09-20 005)NOTE: Although I had mentioned this event in my last blog entry on Major André, I thought that I would post this addendum.

One more thing on Major John André. His life was celebrated in two, hour-long programs at the Historical Society on September 20th: Cookies with Andre; and Wine with André. Local actor David Neilsen played André.

I went to the Cookies with André, which was really for children, but there were far more adults than children. (Five children to twenty adults.) English tea-time is around 3:30-4 pm, and the program started at 4 so it was perfect. The HS volunteers had baked some cookies and made some iced and hot tea, so we got our drinks and snacks and settled into our chairs.

André, from what I know of him, was a ladies’ man, and he was hung when he was 30. Neilsen got into character and did a fine job of playing André. Neilsen (as André) discussed his intense dislike of Benedict (2014-09-20 007)Arnold; André  and Arnold only met once, but once was enough. Apparently few people who worked with Arnold actually liked him. André was sure that General Henry Clinton, the British commander whom he served as adjunct general and who had promoted André to major, would accept an exchange, him for Arnold. (Arnold had escaped to New York City, which was then occupied by the British.) André was a popular officer, but George Washington’s terms of exchange were not accepted, so André was led to the gallows. It was never mentioned that André’s execution was in retaliation for how the British had treated Nathan Hale.

Afterwards, Neilsen solicited feedback from the children in attendance. He plans to take the play to the schools around the area to educate students about local history.

I heard later that the Wine with André event had also sold out and that it was also well-received.


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