The new television series Sleepy Hollow by the Fox Broadcasting Company is based on a short story about a headless horseman entitled “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” by Washington Irving.
While the notion of a headless horseman may seem far fetched, there is something about the folk tale that is obviously compelling. Since Irving published the story in 1820, the legend has endured with numerous television and movie adaptations.
Fox’s new show had a great debut. Businessweek.com reports that Fox’s premiere of Sleepy Hollow had 10.1 million viewers, stating “apparently people love a headless antagonist.”
There is something about a headless body that must resonate with people and spark the imagination.
So, here is a tidbit that I discovered that seems a bit apropos.
In June 1909, The Aspen Daily Times reported that a woman in New York informed the police that she saw a headless man in the woods, which was allegedly on property that was part of the estate of John D. Rockefeller. The woman alerted the authorities, but when she returned with the police the body had disappeared.
The article entitled, “Woman Saw Ghost of Sleepy Hollow,” stated:[
“Mrs. A. Tophit, a Slavish woman, was passing through the woods of the Hollow last night when she was horrified to see the headless body of a man in the swamps near the woods and just about the spot where the legendary horseman was reputed to have first appeared… .
The woman accompanied several officers to the spot but the body was gone. That it had been there was indicated by clots of blood on the ground…”
However, despite the heading of the article, the disappearance of the headless man may not have been supernatural. As the article further noted:
“[A] few hours after Mrs. Tophit said she saw the body he [a witness] saw several men carrying what he believed to be an injured man away from that locality.”
A copy of the old article is archived by the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection which digitizes old newspapers.