by Jim Logan
The namesake for Washington Irving’s hapless schoolmaster is buried in a churchyard in Staten Island. Legend has it that Irving knew Crane from service during the War of 1812. Irving seems to have picked up only the name, not the character, of the robust and courageous Staten Islander
The character of the fictitious schoolmaster may have been based in part upon the career of Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Youngs, a resident of the Tarrytown area. After the revolution, Youngs became a schoolteacher, went on to study law, and was elected to state office—roughly the career path of the fictitious Ichabod Crane. Youngs was originally buried in the churchyard of Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, one of the settings for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” but was moved six miles to the town of Ossining in 1851 when administrators of the fledgeling Dale Cemetery wanted a notable citizen to grace their new burying ground.
Find the real Ichabod Crane in Asbury Methodist Cemetery which is alternately known as Asbury Methodist Episcopal Churchyard, Northfield Methodist Episcopal Churchyard, and New Springville Cemetery. The cemetery surrounds the former Asbury Methodist Church, which is presently SonRise Faith Church. The marble Crane monument is located at the back of the section to the left of the church. The original inscription had been badly vandalized by the end of the 20th Century but has since been restored with reproduction inscriptions. 2000 Richmond Avenue (corner of Amsterdam Place), Staten Island, NY.
The Samuel Youngs monument can be difficult to find among the Dale Cemetery’s 40 acres without a map. If the office is open, purchase a copy of their guide book. 104 Havell Street, Ossining, NY, 10562, 914-941-1155, www.dalecemetery.com.
Katrina Van Tassel
The namesake for the coquettish Katrina Van Tassel is buried in the 3 acre churchyard of Sleepy Hollow’s Old Dutch Church. Catriena Ecker Van Tessel, wife of a Dutch tenant farmer on the vast estate of Frederick Philipse. Her epitaph is badly damaged, but used to read “Who can grieve too much!/What time shall end,/Our mourning for/So dear a friend.”
The Van Tessel, or Van Tassel, or Van Tassell family has been prominent in Westchester since colonial times. The name was Anglicized from the Dutch Van Texel — “of Texel,” one of the Frisian Islands in the North Sea.