Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of the best-known works of American literature. But what other myths lie hidden behind the landscape of New York’s Hudson Valley? Imps cause mischief on the Hudson River, a white lady haunts Raven Rock, Major Andre’s ghost seeks redemption and real headless Hessians search for their severed skulls. Master Storyteller, Jonathan Kruk tells these and other tales of the lore of the Hudson Valley―the stories that have created an atmosphere of mystery that helped inspire Irving’s legend.
Washington Irving gives very little explanation of the famed spirit’s demise. He only says this in his legend. “It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War.” Kruk now the offers a “plausible tale” of how this goblin got riding. Further, he reveals the stories and historic background behind of
the headless horseman and his kindred spirits.
Renowned as a Master Storyteller, Kruk began performing the tale of the headless horseman in 1996 at Philipsburg Manor for Historic Hudson Valley’s “Legend Weekend.” He notes. “Thousands clamor to hear of this old headless ghost. They also want to know how he lost his head, and who are the other ghosts Irving just mentions in the Legend.” This became his inspiration to research these stories and the sources of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The career storyteller turned historian to delve into the tale of Major Andre whose spirit also rides through the region. Irving just mentions the ghost “of a of the woman in white, that haunted the dark glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard to shriek on winter nights...” Kruk discovered three different stories of this one specter, and uses his skills as a storyteller to retell her entire tale. He found some ancient Native American stories at the root of Irving’s Legend too.
Researching for the background stories, Kruk determined Dutch lore and custom truly are at the heart of this classic story. It was a kind of Dutch New Yorker practice to drive off unwanted suitors and strangers like the Connecticut Yankee Ichabod.
Author Jonathan Kruk, is a career tale teller. He’s known most for performing The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and A Christmas Carol. His dramatic reading of The L of SH was recorded on a Berger Platters CD, with effects by Emmy winner Matt Noble. He earned a Silver award from Parent’s Choice and Honors from the National Association of Parenting Publications. Hudson Valley Magazine named Kruk “Best Storyteller in the Hudson Valley.”