(Note if anyone's curious the author's name is. Christopher E. Wolf and the book title is Ghosts of the Revolutionary War. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments about this post.
Let's start on the origins. There are 2. At least that's what I got from the book I'm reading this out of and putting in own words.
1. As a boy Washington Irving would hang around the Old Dutch Burial Ground and playfully harass a African -American groundskeeper. It is possible he told Irving about a Headless Horseman and as an adult Irving used the legend for his classic story.
2. This suggests a New Jersey origin for the horseman. Washington Irving was researching a biography on George Washington and heard rumors of a Hessian soldier who lost his head his battle in a place called the Great Swamp region in Morris and Somerset counties.
Regardless of which version you'll go with both are pretty believable if you ask me. Now on to the ghost that the writer of this book encountered. As well as a third origin plus the real Van Tassel family and a legend of a Hessian Soldier(though not the horseman). Sadly nothing on the real Ichabod Crane or Brom Bones.
When the author of this book was writing it he visited the Old Dutch Burial Ground. While there he met an old man in overalls. He as a deacon of the Old Dutch Church. He claimed that Irving was in church and would daydream he saw how sunlight made the faces look on the tombstones giving him the idea. He went on to say the real Van Tassel had farm raided by the Redcoats. When the family was being rather stubborn they let them come out of the house before burning it. Ms. Elizabeth Van Tassel noticed her daughter was missing and a kind hearted Hessian revealed the infant was safe and sound in a shed. This Hessian was allegedly buried somewhere in the burial ground yet with a head It is unclear how he became a headless horseman. Before the author could ask anything more a couple came with car trouble. The deacon went to get some tools and never came back. There was no sign of a truck or him earlier and no one had seen either in the area and the people were there for quite some time. The author helped them himself and then went to find out about the "deacon" The actual deacon was a much younger man . Not believing the man who said this he asked if there were more. The man replied there were none that he know of. He asked if there were pictures. The man showed him some and he spotted a picture of the old man. Thing is he WAS a deacon but had died several years before. So while our author didn't get the ghost he wanted, he did in fact see one and was fortunate enough to even talk to one.
Now on to the actual Headless Horseman that does in act roam a Revolutionary War battlefield. This one actually originates in Pennsylvania and is not involved with Sleepy Hollow yet he is still a Headless Horseman from his era none the less.
Supposedly according to this book there was a soldier who had a home where they were camping. Every night he went home and returned to his unit's camp in the morning. One night felt something was wrong and couldn't sleep. By the time he did he had a nightmare of his comrades being under attack. Despite that his wife begged him to stay he got his horse ready and rode off into the night. He arrived to see the tents on fire and his comrades in severe pain. The last thing he ever saw was a British soldier's sword coming for his head. Aye but that's not the last the mortal world has seen of him. If you go the site you may see a soldier on horseback. Note his horse makes no sound and although he may have a head don't make eye contact with him!!!! If you do he'll tear off his head and hold it in front of you it's eyes looking into yours. Those who are unfortunate enough to have this happen to them are said to die a violent death in year, victims of The Headless Horseman Of Paoli....
The REAL Legend of Sleepy Hollow(and the origins of the classic tale plus a ghost story about a head;less soldiereal ghost encounter in Sleepy Hollow)
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