Ghost Stories

The Headless Horseman

A New York Ghost Story 

retold by

S. E. Schlosser

Listen to the story (4.3 mb download)

One cold winter night, early in the New Year, a certain Dutchman left the tavern in Tarrytown and started walking to his home in the hollow nearby. His path led next to the old Sleepy Hollow cemetery where a headless Hessian soldier was buried. At midnight, the Dutchman came within site of the graveyard. The weather had warmed up during the week, and the snow was almost gone from the road. It was a dark night with no moon, and the only light came from his lantern.

The Dutchman was nervous about passing the graveyard, remembering the rumors of a galloping ghost that he had heard at the tavern. He stumbled along, humming to himself to keep up his courage. Suddenly, his eye was caught by a light rising from the ground in the cemetery. He stopped, his heart pounding in fear. Before his startled eyes, a white mist burst forth from an unmarked grave and formed into a large horse carrying a headless rider.

The Dutchman let out a terrible scream as the horse leapt toward him at a full gallop. He took to his heels, running as fast as he could, making for the bridge since he knew that ghosts and evil spirits did not care to cross running water. He stumbled suddenly and fell, rolling off the road into a melting patch of snow. The headless rider thundered past him, and the man got a second look at the headless ghost. It was wearing a Hessian commander's uniform.

The Dutchman waited a good hour after the ghost disappeared before crawling out of the bushes and making his way home. After fortifying himself with schnapps, the Dutchman told his wife about the ghost. By noon of the next day, the story was all over Tarrytown. The good Dutch folk were divided in their opinions. Some thought that the ghost must be roaming the roads at night in search of its head. Others claimed that the Hessian soldier rose from the grave to lead the Hessian soldiers in a charge up nearby Chatterton Hill, not knowing that the hill had already been taken by the British.

Whatever the reason, the Headless Horseman continues to roam the roads near Tarrytown on dark nights from that day to this.

Author's Note: This is a retelling of the folktale which was used by Washington Irving to create his masterpiece, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.


The Headless Horseman loses his head during the Battle of White Plains in the retelling of this story featured in Spooky New York by S.E. Schlosser. (Listen)


wow i sooo scared

the headlees horsemen is COOL!



when i was little my mom told me that story. now on halloween night i ask her to tell me that story. she never told me it was a hessian soldier.

headless horseman was an awesome movie wit johnny depp

omg my grandpa has been telling this story to me for 11 yrs.and he said his grandpa saw him in a corn field in alabama were we live and my grandpa will take me to the spot were his grandpa saw him and i sometimes see horse tracks that arent normal so ik from the bottom of my heart that the headless horesman is tottaly true believe me ik!

DAT WAZ SOO WIRD!but it waz cool!


thats bull

nice short retale and i love the lady thats tell the stories!


i have heard of this a thousand times

my mom is obsessed with Halloween just like me, and we are IN LOVE this this story! i have everything sleepy hallow. it is one of my FAVORITE urban legends. :]

its is such a good story

damn i love the legend it always gives me the creeps but its so cool i love it

Wow i like this story, people in w.v. Think it happened here to..

I live about an hour and a half from Terrytown, NY...this is such a big legend that every Halloween, they have a huge festival dedicated to it!!

oww i peed my pants

so cool the movie and the book

so scary i though he was american

coool i love this story! its a classic! although i wonder what the headless horseman looked like though

im doing a story for a contest and im using the headless horseman. its a holloween contest and this is just perfect. im sooo gonna bookmark this page. lol

thats pure scary man people can't spell!!!



My husband and I have been given the opportunity to play the Headless Horseman at Bethpage Restoration Village this year when they tell the story and re-create it! The story will be told twice a weekend for the next two left in this month. We are so excited to participate in this great urban legend. We have a black horse that will fill the bill perfectly!

off the hook


Tis true, this sprit of the revolution, he has been seen in Salem N.J. by 7stars tavern, beware the woods and fields behold this spector

WOW its a pretty scary story for halloween!!! its giving me the CREEPS!!! :P

omg that was sooo sspookie!!

the is crazzzy


Actully he died in ballymena in northen ireland on they crebilly road we went on yesterday we herd the gallops of the horse and we seen his grave also the white gates were his head got stuck in sooooooooooooo yoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!1

not so cool

YiKES! I love this Story!


this story is very interesting and very much wrtten like it was written on the day of halloween.
a very good and frightning story to read.

i love it .
katalina xxxxxxxx

This is not true I live in tarrytown/sleepyhollow so

it was the best book i ever read. so scary but for halloween for sure. ahhhhhh

Man i love this story and can be told it a million times!

that was so kooool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
it was amazing

its awsome

Scary but awesome

I watched the movie, with my brother, sisters, and 16 year old cousin. It was scary...I was too scared to go out to the garage that night.

It is so cool and spooky.

Thank goodness I live in California!

luv it! so creepy

this was a scary story

I would like to mention to taylor even though they posted forever and a day ago that if it was a phantom horse there would be NO footprints so it wass prbably a dofferent animal and the hoofprints would still look the same but other then that it was totally believable *Sarcasm fyi*

cool B)

i love this story so much i am doing a report on it ,and it has my fav actor johnny depp in the movie

i love this story its soooo cool.iloooove the gives me the creeps!

cool and awesome and a little bit scary but not bad

I love that tale!!!

Omg that is such a kool storie Thehe

this is not creppy

I went to that cemetery it was so scary

this was out of this world loved it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I so love this urban legend!

Cool!!!!!!Scary but not to bad!!!!

not truee...

wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww sooooooooooo scary

LOL have to do report on this

Famous characters Ghost Stories Folktales


Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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