Native Americans, Dutch settlers, English farmers, American patriots, modern industrialists--their stories overlap and unfold in Sleepy Hollow. Where today the Pocantico River meets the Hudson, local Native Americans had an opportunity to remark at Henry Hudson's ship, the Half Moon, sailing up the big river in 1609.
For a time the tribes which had inhabited the lands bordering the Pocantico shared their domain with Dutch trappers and homesteaders, but before the century had ended, title to the lands about the Sleepy Haven kill (river) had passed to Frederick Philipse. Philipse hailed from the Lowlands, but after England had taken New Netherlands from the Dutch in 1664 he demonstrated his loyalty to the British Crown. The Crown later confirmed his ownership of a great portion of Westchester County which was to be known as Philipse Manor. Sleepy Hollow, the valley of the Pocantico, was to be one of the featured places in his domain.
There, during the 1680's, he built a manor house, a mill, a dam and a church. He invited Dutch families to settle nearby and during the next hundred years English, French and German settlers and African American slaves swelled the area of Sleepy Hollow. They paid their rent to the descendants of Frederick Philipse and brought their corn and wheat to be ground at his mill. Yet hard work and self-reliance forged their sense of independence and when Revolution swept the land the majority rejected the Loyalist tendencies of their landlord. Bitter civil war swept "the Neutral Ground" a war ravaged swath of land which lay between the British forces in New York and the Americans to the north. The people of Sleepy Hollow endured the terror and strife, and many volunteered for military service.
Then followed a period of agrarian tranquillity for the Sleepy Hollow folk. They were Americans who preserved many of their old world customs. This is the period which Washington Irving pictures for us in the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and in other writings. The image which Irving presented struck a cord with writers and artists of the mid-19th Century. Wealthy admirers of the Irving legacy arrived in the area to build their country estates on the hills and wheat fields of the early homesteads. Soon other outside influences would shape the future of the quiet community.
Commerce and industry inevitably placed their marks on the landscape. The first Croton Aqueduct and the Hudson River railroad brought workers and their families into the region. Many people made their homes in Beekmantown, a small hamlet built on farmland and laid out in small lots for houses and stores. With the dawning of the 20th Century, these folk and their descendants began to work in the factories which had started to appear near the mouth of the Pocantico. Meanwhile the Old Dutch Church, built over two hundred years earlier by Frederick Philipse, was still standing vigil over Sleepy Hollow. The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, established in 1849, had begun to reach upstream along the Pocantico River and north along the Albany Post Road.
The neighborhoods of Sleepy Hollow and Beekmantown were incorporated into the modern village of North Tarrytown. Nearby, there cropped up many suburban homes for those who made their living in New York City. The richest man in America, John D. Rockefeller, moved his family to Kykuit Hill, which overlooks the old church, the Hudson River, and the valley of Sleepy Hollow. The population of this village has swelled by the welcome arrival of people from many lands, and in 1996, the village has adopted the name Sleepy Hollow, making it easier for visitors to find this famous American place.