August 15th, 2019 a remarkable thing happened in the Burying ground of The Old Dutch Church. A woman named Hulda who once known as “The Witch of Sleepy Hollow” was finally given a headstone after 200 years of being hidden away within its gates.
Hulda came to Sleepy Hollow in the 1770’s and lived in a little hut in the woods in what is now the Rockefeller Preserve. She was a healer, and as we all know women who were isolated healers in those days were naturally thought to be witches. The ministers of The Old Dutch Church told the townsfolk to shun her, which they did, but that did not stop Hulda from leaving baskets woven by hand filled with healing herbs on the doorsteps of the towns ill and ailing. Knowing it was her they would return the kindness with their own baskets of goods on her doorstep. She survived the woods this way along with trading with the Native Americans.
When the British came to Tarrytown, Hulda did not take to her hut and hide, but instead picked up her musket and powder horn and went swinging onto the battlefield. “Living up to her ancient name as a wood goddess” according to storyteller Jonathan Kruk, she not only broke the standoff but led the Redcoats away from the Tarrytowns.
Hulda was killed in battle, her broken body left in the woods. The soldiers took her back to her hut (located today at what is known as Spook Rock) and there they found amongst her things a bible and gold along with a will leaving the riches to the widows of Sleepy Hollow whose husbands were killed in war.
With this in mind she was taken to The Old Dutch Church, the very place which once shunned her, so she may be buried in hallowed ground with the condition that she not be given a gravestone….until today.
Rest in Peace Hulda…
Herbalist, Healer, Patriot
See Legends and Lore of Sleepy Hollow and The Hudson Valley by Jonathan Kruk for more info on this heroic woman.
Stone carving by Robert Carpenter, restoration expert.