Podcast: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was written by Washington Irving and published in 1820. The story takes place in the late 1700s in the countryside setting of the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town and a secluded glen known as Sleepy Hollow. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow involves a Hessian Trooper who lost his head to a stray canonball in the Revolutionary War. According to legend the ghost of the Headless Horseman rode forth to the scene of battle in a nightly search for his missing head.

The story has roots in actual historical events that probably contributed to the Legend of the Headless Horseman that Irving wrote about. Hessian soldiers were German mercenaries who were contracted by the British to serve during the Revolutionary War. The Dutch settlers did not like these soldiers because their reputation for being ruthless and told tales of a German horseman who killed without discretion. At one point during the war, a headless corpse of a Hessian soldier was found and buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Dutch Burial Ground.