Tag Archives: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Pocantico Questions

I owe someone a BIG apology.

(2014 -04-05 090John B, who I hope is still following my blog, wrote me an email way back on August 24th. He’s an ex-pat from Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow, and has been sharing some of my entries with other ex-pats on Facebook. (I deleted my Facebook account years ago.) John B, I hope you continue to find some of my postings of interest and worthy of Facebook mention. He sent a winter scene of the dam in question. (If I get his permission to post the pic I will in a later entry.)

That being said, John sent me a long email about having found mill stones up the Pocantico when he was a child as well as the “failed” dam. He wanted to know if there were any mills above the cemetery and any dams around. I myself have seen mill wheels here and there; it seems like the area has a proliferation of mill wheels. (By mill wheel I mean the stone wheels used in the mill to grind the grain.)

I consulted Sara at the Historical Society and asked her about the Pocantico above the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. She told me that there used to be mills all the way up the Pocantico. Part of the river was marked on many maps as “Mill River” because of all the mills along it. The only way you can have mills is to have dams to hold back the water and channel part of it to turn the mill wheels. So, this would explain the mill wheels all along the river. As for the “failed” dam, I have a feeling that the dam was probably torn down when the mills were removed.

(2014 -04-05 096The Pocantico resembles a fast-moving brook, at least until it gets to the Philipsburg Manor mill pond, where it becomes very tame–except after heavy storms. After storms, you can see the water ripple from under the Route 9 bridge and across the pond, nearly reaching the dam. Actually, these new storms–a result of the changing climate of the planet–is now threatening the dam. The bridge across the dam has been closed for years; it needs repaired. These new, heavy storms, which used to hit maybe once every two or three years, now come two or three times a year. This is putting added pressure on a dam that wasn’t meant to handle so much water pushing against it.

Anyway the Pocantico, even after passing the mill, doesn’t move fast as it goes and joins the Hudson.  A lot of the water from the Pocantico has been diverted farther upstream for different projects–agriculture, drinking water, what have you. So dams are no longer there because the mills are gone. People call this progress.

This is the first part of John B’s questions. In a future entry I will answer part 2.



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Filed under History, Nature, Sleepy Hollow

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

Halloween in the Hollow

Just some pics to celebrate the season!


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Filed under Holidays, Sleepy Hollow

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

Sleepy Hollow’s Dirty Little Secret

(2014 -04-05 006As I volunteer at the Historical Society, I learn a lot of things about Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. One that shocked me was that the bridge the Headless Horseman would have chased Icabod Crane over was not where the New York sign marker says that it was, namely where the current bridge over the Pocantico River is on Route 9.

Intrigued, my investigation would have to wait for two weeks before I got back to the Historical Society. No one is sure where the bridge once was. Route 9 used to curve over and cross the Pocantico River further upstream. When it was decided to straighten Route 9 out to its current form, a new bridge, the spot where the current bridge is standing, was constructed; the old bridge was either abandoned and/or torn down. The place where the old bridge once stood became, as time passed, covered over in growth, the wooden supports rotted and disintegrated, and the (2014 -04-05 089embankment secured with masonry and stone, crumbled or were pulled from the foundations by kids playing or were washed away in storms. Is there anything left that might indicate where the bridge was located?

What is know is that the so-called Headless Horseman Bridge was somewhere between the current Route 9 bridge and the bridge that spans the Pocantico in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Though called the Headless Horseman Bridge by the cemetery, the bridge is new and spans the river to connect the new part of the cemetery with the old.

I have decided to go in search of any remains of what could have been the bridge that spanned the Pocantico in the time of Washington Irving.  I’m going to see if I can get a few others interested in looking with me.

Stay tuned.



Filed under History, Sleepy Hollow

A Visit to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

(2014 -04-05 006My 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.

(2014 -04-05 098We were tired; we walked for several hours. However, as Cher pointed out, we walked off the scones we had eaten at the Tea Room, which is a VERY good thing.

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