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Where the Ghosts Are

A British ghost investigator called Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow "the most haunted place in the world" six years ago. For ghost hunters and tourists looking to visit places where ghosts are believed to reside, here are 25 leads.

A British ghost investigator named Dean James Maynard visited Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow in the summer of 2005 and called the area “the most haunted place in the world.”

Who and where are the ghosts? Here is a guide to the apparitions and places where they reportedly reside. Should you see a ghost or hear about one we haven't mentioned, please let us know.

Ghosts and places where you might encounter them:

1. Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Washington Irving was the first American writer to gain old world respect and recognition for the new world’s literature; he bought consciousness of fantasy, ghosts, goblins and the supernatural to American fiction. He experienced periods of gloom and obsession with death during his lifetime. His ghost has been reportedly seen in a window of a bedroom that faces the Hudson River and also in his study located on the east side of the cottage, away from the river. Sunnyside cottage

2. Washington Irving’s fiancee Matilda Hoffmanm

Irving’s shy and beguiling fiancée is said to haunt a trove of trees from which she watches Irving’s cottage. She died on April 26, 1809 at the age of 17 from complications from a cold that led to consumption. Sunnyside 

3. The five caring nieces of Washington Irving 

They were the daughters of Irving’s elder brother Ebenzer. After the visitors are gone, they still tidy the house. Sunnyside

 4. The woman who ate green apples

A young woman, suffering from a lost love, wandered through the orchard, ate too many green apples, died and stayed as a ghost according to Washington Irving III, great-great grandnephew of Washington Irving. Sunnyside

5. The Headless Horseman, a mercenary Hessian trooper 

Washington Irving’s famous character was a mercenary Hessian trooper whose head was blown away by a cannon ball during the American Revolution. He returns at night to the scene of the battle. Take cover if you hear hoofbeats. Sleepy Hollow

 6. Abraham Martling, Washington Irving’s inspiration for Brom Bones

Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow 

7. Eleanor van Tassel Brush, Washington Irving’s model for Katrina 

She was the love interest of Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

8. Baltus Van Tassel, father of Eleanor van Tassel Brush

Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

9. Samuel Youngs, Washington Irving’s model for Ichabod Crane

He was a schoolteacher and later a lawyer. Ichabod Crane was met by the Headless Horseman in the vicinity of Patriot’s Park; the route of their chase has been guessed at but the timber bridge has long since been gone. An existing bridge called the Headless Horseman Bridge over the Pocantico River at North Broadway (identified by a metal blue sign with yellow lettering) is not where the encounter took place; this bridge was erected around 1912.  Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow and Patriot’s Park, Tarrytown

10. Henry Hudson and his Half Moon crew

The ghosts of Henry Hudson and his crew play ninepins upstate at Kaaterskill Falls where Rip Van Winkle napped for 20 years and missed the American Revolution. That's a long trip but visitors can see the bronze statue of a reclining life-size Rip Van Winkle in Irvington. Hudson's crew haunts Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Mountains. The statue however is on Main Street next to the town hall in Irvington, NY.

11. Revolutionary War Major John Andre 

Major John Andre was caught by three American militiamen with papers describing the defenses at West Point. His conspiracy with Benedict Arnold exposed, he was sentenced to death by hanging. Angry at both the Americans for denying his request to be executed by firing squad and the British for refusing an offer of exchange for Benedict Arnold, he died in a rage. His ghost is said to roam Patriot’s Park where he can be heard reciting a poem he penned that was published in the Riverton’s Gazette on the day he was captured. In the poem, he wrote, “What hero could refuse to tread the rugged path to fame.” Patriot’s Park, Tarrytown.

12. Brigadier General Anthony Wayne 

General Anthony Wayne, who carried out the order to hang Major Andre, was the commander of the American forces assigned to patrol the Hudson River. His ghost is said to haunt the riverfront but out of respect for Andre’s ghost, it carefully avoids Patriot’s Park. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow waterfronts. 

13. Hulda the Witch 

An immigrant from Bohemia, shunned and feared by her Tarrytown neighbors, she fired on British troops with deadly accuracy during the American Revolution. After killing many redcoats, she fell mortally wounded. Later, her neighbors discovered a will in her home leaving her money and possessions to the widows of patriots who died during the war. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

 14. Captain Kidd  (1654-1701)

A notorious pirate whose gold and buried treasure is still sought, some of which may have been buried along the Hudson River. His ship stopped at or near Tarrytown where he had dealings with wealthy local merchants. He was hanged by the British on May 23, 1701. Exact locations unknown

15. The crew of Captain Kidd’s pirate ship, the Adventure Galley

When Captain Kidd buried gold and other loot, his crew members drew lots. The losers were killed and their bodies were placed on on top of the treasure chests to repel intruders. As ghosts, they remain fierce sentries destined to guard Kidd’s treasures forever. Exact locations unknown

16. A woman mistaken as Captain Kidd’s bride 

She was captured in Tarrytown, tried for piracy and executed. She is believed to be either a traveler who booked passage to Tarrytown looking for work or or a slave or servant intended for a rich merchant. Her ghost proclaims her innocence as she waits for the vessel that brought her to Tarrytown believing it is coming to her rescue. Tarrytown’s river edge

 17. The pirate whose skull was battered by Captain Kidd 

In a fit of rage, Captain Kidd killed a member of his crew by striking him with an iron water bucket. Kidd was hung for the murder of this sailor, not for piracy. Tarrytown’s river edge

18. An intoxicated villager 

He was a local resident who lost his balance and drowned while attempting to navigate his rowboat across the Tappan Zee; boaters say he often waves to passing vessels. Tarrytown waterfront 

19. Five young women slain by a mad monk

Five innocent young women, believed to be virgins, died at the hands of a mad monk. Tarrytown near Sunnyside cottage

20. The mad monk accused of murdering the five young women

Before he could be tried, the monk was killed by a house servant, the lover of one of the five women, who then sealed the monk’s body in the manor’s walls. The house was owned by John Jacob Astor, a close friend of Washington Irving and at one time, the richest man in America. Tarrytown near Sunnyside cottage

21. The Armour-Stiner house’s odoriferous guest 

This ghost exudes an “exquisite and unidentifiable fragrance” according to a passage in a book written by poet and historian Carl Carmer, best known for his autobiographical book, “Stars Fell on Alabama.” The ghost’s identity is unknown but it is believed to be either Aleko E. Lilius, a Finnish writer and explorer, or the woman he cohabited with, a 20th-century lady pirate who made a fortune plundering vessels in the China Seas. Theories have also arisen that the ghost is Paul J. Armour, the New York banker who built the house in 1860, or Joseph Stiner, a wealthy tea merchant who bought it in 1872. An eight-sided domed and colonnaded structure in Irvington built in 1860 and resembling a classic Roman temple

22. Sybil Harris King, known as “the apparition in white” 

She was the daughter of Benjamin Newton Duke, co-founder of the American Tobacco Company. She has been heard pacing up and down the second-floor hallways of the King House in Tarrytown. She was married to Frederick King, son of Thomas King, vice president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the country’s first major railroad. She died in 1955. Located on the grounds of the 26-acre Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center

23. The woman who froze to death at Raven Rock 

She lost her way during a storm and became trapped by blinding snowdrifts in the hill behind the rock. Her wailing, similar to the sound of the wind, warns travelers not to seek safety here. Raven Rock, a precipitous outcrop on Buttermilk Hill located on the Rockefeller estate

24. The Indian maiden who died at Raven Rock 

She fell or leaped to her death from Raven Rock when pursued by Tory raiders. In another version of this story, it is said she was fleeing a jealous admirer. Raven Rock, a precipitous outcrop on Buttermilk Hill located on the Rockefeller estate

25. The engineer of Lincoln’s funeral train

It is said that once a year in April, a 14-car black funeral train with a ghost at the throttle sounds a deafening whistle as it approaches Sunnyside. The piercing sound wakes Irving’s ghost as the train chugs toward Tarrytown carrying Abraham Lincoln’s body, just as his funeral train did in 1865 when it traveled from New York City to Buffalo and eventually to Springfield, Ohio, Lincoln’s final burying place. Sunnyside cottage

Note: You won’t find the ghost of Rip Van Winkle lurking anywhere. Rip was inspired by Cornelius S. Van Winkle, Irving’s publisher.

 


Jerry Eimbinder October 10, 2011 at 07:50 PM
A report of a Washington Irving ghost sighting appears on The American Library Association's website. It comments that "several years after his death in 1859, three witnesses saw Washington Irving’s ghost walk though the parlor and disappear into the library. Irving’s spirit is said to pinch some female visitors, and the ghosts of his nieces tidy up the place at night after the interpreters leave." Reference: www.ilovelibraries.org/news/topstories/hauntedn.cfm
Jerry Eimbinder October 10, 2011 at 09:28 PM
Was Sunnyside already haunted by a ghost when Washington Irving purchased the property? Yes it was, says writer J.E. Barnes who identifies the ghost as Wolfert Acker (1667-1763), a previous occupant and a counsellor to Peter Stuyvesant. Acker was a principal subject in Irving's short story work "Wolfert's Roost." His name was also spelled as Ecker and Ecker Street in Irvington is named for him. Barnes says Acker haunted the land's apple orchard. The article can be seen at www.forteantimes.com
Christy October 10, 2011 at 10:58 PM
Lincoln was buried in Springfield, ILLINOIS, not Springfield, Ohio. Illinois is the Lincoln state!
Jerry Eimbinder October 10, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Thank you Christy. Lincoln's ghost may visit Tarrytown once a year and his funeral train passed through Ohio but he is, as you pointed out, buried in Springfield, Illinois.

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