Friday, October 16, 2009

Sleepy Hollow Ancestors

Now it is time to look at my husband's spooky heritage!

All of you know the story of Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman.

Sleepy Hollow is a real place in the town of Tarrytown, in Westchester County, New York. Every time we would drive by it during our frequent road trips from Delaware, home to Massachusetts, I wanted desperately to go see it. Why? Not just morbid curiosity about whether or not there is a headless horseman, but also that unceasing interest in genealogy!

My husband's ancestors, who would have been contemporaries of Washington Irving and the inhabitants of Sleepy Hollow on whom characters may have been based, are:

Johannis Yerxa, 5th-great-grandfather, born before October 8, 1751 in Tarrytown, baptized in the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow on October 8, 1751. Died June 11, 1828 at Keswick Ridge, York County, New Brunswick.

His parents were Abraham Jurckse and Engeltje Storm (descendant of Dirck Storm, whose book chronicles early life in the area), who were married on October 24, 1750 in Tarrytown (this marriage is recorded in the first record book of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow).

As Washington Irving was a visitor to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow in 1798, he may have met Johannis, or his mother Engeltje, or any of Johannis's siblings (my husband's distant cousins).

Washington Irving's story is a part of the American subconscious; I can't help but feel a little thrill when I hear of or pass by Sleepy Hollow, New York.

I know that when I finally visit the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground, where the Yerxas and Storms, and other ancestors of my husband are buried, I will remember that this is not far from the area where the final events of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow occurred.

May the idea be as thrilling in the future as it is to me now.


  1. Hi there! I just got the geneaology bug a few days ago and have done a bit of poking around. My brother has done a lot of work already and has passed on a few links-- I look forward to my next trip home to Maine when I can see all that he's found. At any rate, I had to write because I am also a descendent of Engeltje Storm (though through a different father, I believe--she was married to Hendrick Bulyea in my research). Since it sounds like you are WAY more researched in this than I am, you've most likely seen the website which shows lineage for Engeltje (Angelica) all the way back to 1390! What fun!

    Great post, anyway, and I agree with the thrill of visiting Sleepy Hollow. I've driven through Tarrytown lots of times on my way north, but never taken the time to stop. I hope I can do so soon!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Melanie!

    I had not heard of that website, so thank you very much for sharing it. I also was never sure how "Engeltje" was pronounced, or approximately what name it would be. LOL So thanks for that!

    Some day when we go back home to the U.S., I plan on visiting Sleepy Hollow. And probably protecting my neck the entire time. LOL

  3. Hello Wendy. I need your expert advise. Hmmm I would really like to know more about my 9th great-grandmother Judith Davis's side. As you know I have the family genealogy book on the Guile side, but of course that only follows the male line and I was wondering what would be a good way to start this search on the matriarchial line. I have found some things online but how would I go deeper.

    told you I was a newby.


  4. And to follow up on your comment on my Community Index post, I think that our urge to "reach out and touch" everyone in our family tree is part of a greater urge to interconnect with everyone.
    The longer we do genealogy, the more entangled the branches of our own family tree become with the branches of other family trees.
    I find it comforting to think that we are all part of one great family tree.
    Have a nice day,
    Evelyn in Montreal