History And Antiquities
The following covers "History and Antiquities", a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, and anecdotes about Westchester County and its towns. When reading the following, remember to keep in mind that this information has been written about two hundred years ago. Population statistics and events have not been revised to reflect current events and perspective. We think this adds to the historical flavor and interest of the writings, giving a different perspective on much of this information and written in an "older world" writing style.
"Historical Collections of the State of New York, Published by S. Tuttle, 194 Chatham-Square, 1841
The famous Sleepy Hollow, the noted location described in the "Sketch Book" by Washington Irving, is situated in the south part of this township, near Tarrytown; it is a long ravine of 2 or 3 miles, through which a road passes on which is situated several romantic dwellings. The old Dutch Reformed church is situated in the southern part of Tarrytown, about a mile north of the place where Andre (the British spy) was taken in Tarrytown. It is believed to be the oldest church now standing in the state. A tablet placed on the church bears the inscription, "Erected and built by Frederick Philips and Catharine Van Cortlandt, his wife, in 1699." The pulpit and communion table were brought from Holland at the time of the erection of the church. The building has latterly undergone some repairs internally and externally, by which it has lost considerable of its venerable appearance. Unfortunately, the pulpit has not escaped the hand of modern innovation, but the communion table still remains unchanged, a venerable relic of a former age. This church and vicinity has been made celebrated by Irving's well-known "Legend of Sleepy Hollow".
"The sequestered situation of this church," says the author of this legend, "seem always to have made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll surrounded by locust trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent whitewashed walls shine modestly forth like Christian purity beaming through the shades or retirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of water, bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at the blue hills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a wide woody dell, along which laves a large brook among broken rocks and trunks of fallen trees. Over a deep black part of the stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden bridge; the road that led to it and the bridge itself were thickly shaded overhanging trees, which cast a gloom about it even in the daytime, but occasioned a fearful darkness at night."
It was in this church that the never-to-be-forgotten Yankee pedagogue Ichabod Crane, in rivalry to the old Domine, led off the choir, making the welkin ring with the notes of his nasal psalmody. It was too in the ravine just back of the church, that this redoubtable hero, Ichabod, had his fearful midnight encounter with the headless horseman, and forever disappeared from the sight of the goodly inhabitants of Sleepy Hollow."