Sinterklaas and the toymaker

The Old Dutch Church welcomes children to special Christmas events with a Dutch flavor.

Since 1697

Infants are baptized at Old Dutch today, just as they have been for well over 300 years.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving made the Burying Ground the haunt of the Headless Horseman in his well-known story.

Stolen Grave Marker, Back Where It Belongs


The mystery of baby Frederick Van Wart's missing grave marker has been solved. The small marker for the infant son of Rachel and Isaac Van Wart--he was one of the captors of Major John Andre, a turning point in the Revolution--was recently found broken into two pieces and partially hidden under a bush at Sparta Cemetery, Ossining, N.Y. After much research, Jane Botticelli and Patty Bassak, who served on the board of the Ossining Historic Cemeteries Conservancy (OHCC), concluded that Frederic's gravestone belonged in the burying ground at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, two miles south of Sparta Cemetery. They reported their discovery to the Friends of Old Dutch. It's unknown how the grave marker got to Sparta.

The stone has now been brilliantly repaired by stone carver and conservator Robert Carpenter, who unearthed the base from Frederic's gravesite at Old Dutch and reassembled it with the two pieces found at Sparta. A reinstallation ceremony was held at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow Saturday, June 1. Invited guests included members of the Van Wart families, members of the congregation, Friends of Old Dutch, local history enthusiasts and others. 

For more on this story, including the infant's father, an important figure in Revolutionary War history, please click here


Celebrating 200 Years: 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow'

This year and next, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of America's favorite ghost story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Irving's enduring story made the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow famous as the burial site of the Headless Horseman.

Scheduled events this autumn include:
-- September Saturdays: Open House at the Old Dutch Church from 11:30 to 4:00 p.m.
-- Sept. 19: "Everybody's Reading The Legend," a single-session book club to be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Old Dutch Church. Participants must register to attend. For more information click hereDownload the short story here
--October weekends: Old Dutch Church Fest will return to the burying ground from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 
--October 4: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" performances begin at the Old Dutch Church, in cooperation with Historic Hudson Valley. Tickets
--October 9: Silent Movie Night, 5:30 p.m. at the Old Dutch Church

Other ways to visit the Old Dutch Church:
The Historical Society is offering "Tarrytown: The Colonial Experience - Old Dutch Walking Tour. For more information please click here


Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow Video Tour

Copyright: Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns

You're invited to take our brand new video tour of the Old Dutch Church. Just click on the image above. (It may take a few seconds to open.) Watch it at home on your laptop, or visit the church and use it as a guide on your tablet or smartphone. Pick up a free Burying Ground map at Old Dutch to find the selected graves on this tour. The graves are numbered on the map; in the graveyard, look for the orange flags next to the gravestones. 

Summer Schedule at Old Dutch Church

The Old Dutch Church is open most summer Saturday afternoons. A volunteer is present to talk about and answer questions about the church's colonial Dutch origin, its role in Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," its connection to the Revolutionary War and its importance in the history of the area. Entry is free. On days when the outside temperature exceeds 90 degrees, the church building may be closed, but visitors are always welcome to tour the burying ground on their own. Visitors are also welcome at the 10 a.m. Sunday worship services throughout the summer. 

Paths to Open as the Accessibility Project Is Completed

Pictured at left is the new entrance to the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. It was completed this past spring. The church is now easily accessible by wheelchair ramp. Also, a new stairway has replaced the former uneven steps. The final details--paved paths in the churchyard--are now finished and a ribbon cutting ceremony has been set for Sept. 22 at 11 a.m.

The summer worship season at Old Dutch has concluded for this year. However, visitors will have ample opportunity to visit the church and Burying Ground during the Old Dutch Fest in October. It will be held all four weekends, starting Oct. 7, from noon to 4 p.m.


Good Friday 'Service of Shadows' 2018

Click image to see video)

Candlelight Good Friday service at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow on a perfectly gloomy rainy evening, with the choir singing in the balcony. The song you hear is a poem that was written during WWII, on the wall of a cellar, by a Jew in the Cologne concentration camp.

“I believe in the sun even when it is not shining
And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there.
And I believe in God, even when he is silent.

I believe through any trial, there is always a way
But sometimes in this suffering and hopeless despair
My heart cries for shelter, to know someone’s there
But a voice rises within me, saying hold on my child,
I’ll give you strength, I’ll give you hope. Just stay a little while.

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining
And I believe in love even when there’s no one there
But I believe in God even when he is silent
I believe through any trial there is always a way.

May there someday be sunshine
May there someday be happiness
May there someday be love
May there someday be peace..."

Thanks to It's a Charming Life blog for the video and text.

A Visit From a Descendant of Our First Pastor

Carrie Wick of Peotone, Illinois, shown here with Rev. Jeffrey Gargano, traces her family history back to Guiliam Bertholf, the first pastor of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, a congregation that continues today as the Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns. Rev. Bertholf organized the congregation as Protestant Dutch Reformed in 1697 and ministered to it for 27 years, traveling from Hackensack, New Jersey, to the church several times a year to preach, conduct the sacraments, catechize children and visit the sick. As the sole Dutch minister in New Jersey, he also ministered to churches in Hackensack and Passaic and up to nine other isolated congregations. He is Ms. Wick's seventh great-grandfather. She was traveling in the area and made a special effort to attend the Easter Sunday 10:30 a.m. worship service. Welcome, Carrie!


Here Lies ... Pumpkins

Garden at Sleepy Hollow School

 An environmental club at Sleepy Hollow High School is doing a series of garden plantings in the rear courtyard. They have a section that has simulated gravestones for different kinds of seeds next to a cutout of the Old Dutch Church and the Headless Horseman. The "headstones" read (left to right): RIP Lettuce, In Memory of Basil, RIP Mint, Here Lies Pumpkins.

RCT Welcomes Descendants of Early Members

The Reformed Church recently welcomed Donald Guenther and his family, pictured (L-R): Kyung and Donald, currently of Allentown, PA, and nephew Klaus and his wife, Heidi, of New York City. Don and Heidi are holding the silver communion beakers with which Don's seventh great-grandparents Sybout Herrickse Krankheyt  and Marytie Abrahamsen Rycken celebrated Communion in 1697, the year the congregation of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow was officially formed. Klaus is holding the Baptismal Basin used to baptize Don's fifth great-grandfather Hercules Kranckheyt on June 24, 1727, in the Sleepy Hollow Old Dutch Church.

Memorable Evening at the Old Dutch


A choir made up of members of the Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns and other churches taking part in the Community Thanksgiving Service Nov. 25 rattled the rafters from their seats under the roof. The congregation much appreciated the anthem chosen, "Simple Gifts From God," and the closing song, "O Beautiful for Spacious Skies." Afterward, there was hot cider for everyone! See the full story.


"Sleepy Hollow" cast visits Old Dutch Church

Stars of the hit TV series
"Sleepy Hollow" stars Orlando Jones (who plays Captain Frank Irving) and Lyndie Greenwood (Jenny Mills) of the hit Fox TV Series "Sleepy Hollow" visited the real Sleepy Hollow, on Friday, September 26, 2014. for a ribbon cutting to kick off Sleepy Hollow's Halloween season. After meeting with Mayor Ken Wray and Police Chief Gregory Camp, the stars stopped in at the Old Dutch Church and the Burying Ground and at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to visit Washington Irving's grave. Irving, of course, started it all with his famous tale, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," set in the churchyard. Visit the show's website.


Dutch Treat at the Halloween Parade

Reformed Church members in the parade Church members and friends brought the flavor of colonial Dutch days to the Tarrytown Halloween Parade on Oct. 25 with a float featuring a windmill and colonial Dutch dress. The annual parade capped a busy day at the Old Dutch Church Fest, which ran for three weekends, ending Saturday, Nov. 1.



A New Tradition? Reading the "Legend"

 Mid-afternoon on Friday, Oct. 31, was a good time to bring the children to the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, spread a blanket in the Burying Ground and read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Irving's famous tale of the Headless Horseman, which is set in and around the old church. In Irving's "Legend," Ichabod Crane is chased by the Headless Horseman and races for the safety of the Old Dutch Church grounds, a refuge then and still today.



Memorial Day Weekend with Deb at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow


Dean Family Crypt - Old Dutch Church - Sleepy Hollow, NY
Saturday at the Old Dutch, Pastor Jeff Gargano spent the morning replacing old flags with new in anticipation of Memorial Day, as visitors strolled the grounds and toured the 334-year-old church. Perhaps it was the site of the new flags that stirred a patriotic feeling or a simple curiosity of who these headstones belonged to that turned our visitors' attention away from Irving's Legend and to the lives of those now buried beneath the trees of the Old Dutch.

The historic burying ground has headstones for over 70 soldiers of the American Revolution, although there are probably others buried there without a marker. The Dean crypt above, erected in 1849, includes the body of Sgt. John Dean (1755-1817) and his wife, Mary Storm Dean (1756-1845). Sgt. Dean's service is remembered in tales of heroism, narrow escapes, and compassion. He was also the officer who assigned John Paulding, Issac Van Wart and David Williams to patrol the area wherein they encountered and captured the British spy Major John Andre.
dean2.jpgPetrus Van Tessel 1728-1784

The Van Tassel name is famous in Sleepy Hollow and can be also found on headstones spelled as Van Tessel, Van Tessell, or Van Tassell. Petrus Van Tessel's headstone, carved by Solomon Brewer, is written in three languages: Latin, Dutch, and English. A soul-effigy carved in relief is a distinctive feature. Petrus and cousin Cornelius, who is buried nearby, experienced the terror of a Hessian raid on their properties on Nov 17, 1777. It was a punitive raid on the part of the British who were aware of the cousins' patriotic leanings. Cornelius' farm was burnt to the ground, the livestock along with the two men were marched to New York City. The men were imprisoned for 11 months and paroled for British officers. Petrus' heath was affected by his imprisonment and he did not live long after the war. This event would incite retaliatory action by the Liberty Boys, a group of local men who boarded whale boats and sailed down the Hudson into British held territory to burn down the home of a leading loyalist.

After the Revolution, many of the men returned to find their farms and crops burnt and their livestock scattered or gone. They were able to purchase their farms at auction as the lands of Frederick Philipse III were confiscated under the Forfeiture Act of 1779 and were put up for auction by the New York Commission on Forfeiture. (The Old Dutch Church and three-acre burying ground were deeded to the Minister, Elders and Deacons for 10 shillings.) 


During summer worship at the Old Dutch, we are never far away from the memory of these men and women who suffered great hardship and loss during the American Revolution. And while most of soldiers here did not die in battle, these farmer/soldiers who served in the founding of our nation were ready to make the ultimate sacrifice if called to do so. We honor their memory.

Sinterklaas and Toy Shop Friends Came to Old Dutch Dec. 7

Unique Views of Old Dutch

The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow & Burying Ground, courtesy of Nathan Gargano. 

WORSHIP at the Old Dutch Church this summer was deeply meaningful. The "Seven Sundays: A Celebration of Music in Worship" again brought an eclectic and talented bunch of musicians. Along the way we met a half-dozen women of the Bible, heard from a missionary to Oman, were blessed by the leadership of the Rev. William Burke, and extended our gratitude to young teens for looking after even younger children. We were delighted to host more than 30 children for Vacation Bible School at the "Clock Church" in Tarrytown.

We hope the photos above will bring back delightful memories to those who were with us this summer. To those who weren't, we invite you to join us on our path to furtherthe  spiritual growth, fellowship, and fun when the new year starts September 9 at our winter home at 42 North Broadway--the "Clock Tower" church--in Tarrytown.

Honoring 333 Years

Old Dutch Church book coverIn 1685, when it was built in the wilderness north of New York City, the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow brought comfort and community to isolated pioneer families. Succeeding generations treasured the old church, the only house of worship in a wide area until 1837, when members of Old Dutch built a larger church nearby then another a few years later. Yet somehow they didn't abandon the old church, which continues to this day to host the congregation every summer for worship services. What was it about the church on the Pocantico River, made famous by Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Read about its rich history and colorful characters in The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow: Legends and Lore of the Oldest Church in New York. It is available from the church office at (914) 631-4497, or order it online here.