The Headless Horseman

Britta Roosendahl, 20, Female

Student, American

Los Angeles, CA

So umm… I hope that I tell it right. It’s a really famous story on the East Coast and it has a history… like during the Revolutionary War. Okay, so… there’s this town in Pennsylvania, called Tarry Town, and it still exists. And so since the Revolutionary time, there’s this story called the Legend of the Sleepy Hollow. So I guess back in the 1600s, there was this guy, his name was Ichabod Crane. He was a school teacher, and he was kinda awkward, you know… tall and skinny and weird and he really liked this girl, who is the daughter of this farmer. So he is in love with this girl, whom he taught the piano to, umm… but she is the daughter of this really wealthy farmer and he’s really poor and, you know… but he loved her and he wanted to be with her. So he went to this party at her house and he hopes to get to know her better, and there’s this other guy, who is much bigger and more… umm… manly… who’s also in love with this woman. They called him Brom Bones or something… because he’s really kinda scary… and he didn’t like the fact that the school teacher was falling in love with this girl. So he told him this story… that one night, when he was riding home from work… and he heard… umm… he heard this noise behind him and this guy, he was riding a horse… and when he looked over, he saw that the guy had no head. And the guy was following him silently. So… umm… Brom, the big, tough guy saw that the guy was chasing him and he realized that if he rides over the bridge, to the churchyard, the ghost won’t be able to follow him, because ghost can’t cross over water and can’t go into the churchyard. So he crosses the bridge and looked over, the ghost bursts into flames. So… umm… Ichabod Crane… the skinny, dorky guy was totally freaked out because uhh, you know… there’s a ghost running around in the town. So after the party finishes… he… umm… said goodbye to this girl and rode on his horse and you know, it’s kinda dark, riding through the woods by himself and he got scared. So he then heard the sound of the… hooves and he looked around, no one was there. And it was really dark, so he got really scared. He kept looking over his shoulder, then saw the headless person riding behind him, really silent. He is wearing this military uniform, sort of like those worn during the Revolutionary war. So he pretended he wasn’t there, but eventually when he opened his eyes, and the guy was right next to him. He tried not to freak out but this guy was just riding next to him, totally silent. And all of a sudden, Ichabod Crane just freaks out and picked up his pace, and this guy was chasing him, and he was like… oh my God… I need to get to the bridge… so that, you know… the ghost will disappear. So he crosses the bridge and looks behind him, and the guy was still chasing after him. He didn’t burst into flames or anything, he just kept coming. He pulled out something from beside him, not a head, but something like a carved pumpkin… with a crazy face on it and aims it at Ichabod Crane and hits him and he flew off his horse and rolled down this hill then he was never seen again. To this day… the horseman still roams in the forest. Well, the coolest thing was, it is a traditional ghost story and I know there are many out there which are scarier… and umm.. this story, it is so traditional, East Coast and I learned it when I went to school there, in 4th grade and everyone in New England knows the story. And people travel down to Tarry Town to see the grave of the girl and they are all like… historical figures. And they are saying like… maybe Brom Bones, the bad guy, dressed up as the headless horseman, to scare Ichabad Crane away from the town so he can be with the woman, but everyone believes that the headless man is real because he probably died in the forest during the Revolutionary War and Pennsylvania is… well… uhh a creepy place!”

Like many post-war related ghost stories, the story of the headless horseman envelopes the motif of restless dead. Based on the book, The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow written by Washington Irving, a stray cannonball shot the man’s head off, and since then, the now headless man rides around the woods in search for his lost head. The headless horseman was also described to be wearing a Hessian military uniform, which then explains that the story took place during the American Revolutionary War. Many places were deemed haunted after a certain war period because many people were killed and most of the time, they are not buried properly, or buried without complete body parts. Because of this reason, ghosts, or spirits were seen roaming around their death place, in search for missing parts to make themselves complete before advancing to the spiritual world. People who did not die a merciful death, or had “unfinished business” in their lifetime, will probably come back as ghosts to seek revenge.