Sleepy Hollow, New York is soooo spooky,  I can’t help but refer to it as Spooky Hollow. Seriously, please check it out next time you’re in Manhattan, it’s just a quick train ride away. You’ll be able top see, and umm… feel what I mean.

Maybe my trepidation comes from being at the Old Dutch Church on Friday the 13th, 2019, at 12 noon, the height of the winter witching hour. There was also a full moon hidden behind the clouds, which seemed to amplify the presence of spirits, resulting in a very real sensation of swooshing in the trees, despite there being no wind.

After the fact, learning that Spooky Hollow (Tappan, NY) is where British spy Major John Andre was hanged during the Revolutionary War on October 2, 1780, solidified the impression.[1] Andre was infamous traitor Benedict Arnold’s accomplice, the one who spirited away the papers that outlined General Washington’s fortifications of West Point. The esteemed Major Andre was discovered and blocked passage by three humble American farmer militia — John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart  — in the spooky forest along the banks of the Pocantico River behind the Old Dutch Church.

Major Andre was well-educated, dignified and highly regarded in Britain. Upon his capture and imprisonment, he sent a letter to George Washington requesting that he be allowed to die by firing squad rather than hanging. Washington himself, thinking so highly of Major Andre, sent a letter to British General Henry Clinton, suggesting that they make a trade, Major Andre for Benedict Arnold. Washington indicated he’d prefer to hang Benedict Arnold.[2] Clinton never replied. So, on October 2, 1780, revered Major John Andre was hanged. Two thousand people were there to witness the shocking event.

It’s been stated, that we likely would not have won the Revolutionary War, had Benedict Arnold’s plot to turn over the Hudson River and West Point to the British not been stopped. Ironically, Major Andre was carrying a note requesting safe passage signed by General Arnold, and the three militia men should have simply waved him through the Continental Army’s encampment along the Hudson. But something made them go one step further and search his boots and then socks for hidden valuables. There have been speculations about why they did this. However, I can’t help but believe it had something to do with the forest’s spirit force. We’ll never know for sure, of course. But that’s my hypothesis. This particular section of forest was considered sacred by the Weckquasgeeks Indian who inhabited the area for 10,000 years prior to Revolutionary forces arriving. They’re the experts about sacred land and the spirit force. Their perspective certainly seems noteworthy.

According to The Jounal of the American Revolution, Major Andre was buried in a shallow grave of only three feet at the base of the tree where he was hanged.[3] Forty years later, his body was exhumed and returned to Britain. He was laid to rest one last time at Westminster Abby amongst acclaimed nobility. He’s still alive today on Twitter.

As if in keeping with Weckquasgeeks Indian legends about trees and nature, when Andre was exhumed in 1821, they found the roots of a peach tree intertwined with the bones of his chest. Etched on the wall above his tomb at Westminster Abby is the story of the woman who handed Major Andre a peach as he passed by on his walk to the gallows.[4]

According to the Headless Horseman Blog, Major John Andre’s “tree” was felled by lightning on August 25, 1801.[5]

With this powerful story as the backdrop, Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, set in the same location, makes perfect sense. ~



[1] Editors, published November 13, 2009, Updated October 2, 2019. A& E television networks.

[2] Editors, published November 13, 2009, Updated October 2, 2019. A& E television networks.

[3] By John Knight, The Jounal of the American Revolution, August 14, 2018.

[4] Westminster Abbey Editors, John Andre

[5] By Henry John Steiner, Andres Tree – The Vanished Landmark, Headless Horseman Blog, March 23, 2012

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Posted by:Gallant Gold Media

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