Friday, October 29, 2021

A Local Legend Gets Her Due

One of the more intriguing figures of local reputed, mentioned in Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as 'a High German doctor', is Hulda, sometimes known as Hulda of Bohemia.  I have mentioned her in a couple of blog posts, having learned of Hulda's demise, at the hands of a band of Redcoat raiders, as a teenager.  Besides being a Wise Woman, Hulda was a sharpshooter, and a local partisan.  According to Edgar Mayhew Bacon's 1897 book Chronicles of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, Hulda supported the local militia with her uncanny skill with a shooting iron:  

At last one day a force of British landed from one of the transports that had sailed up the Hudson and commenced a march which was to bring them, by means of the King’s highway to the rear of Putnam’s position at Peekskill. As they marched in imposing array a volley greeted them from behind walls and tree-trunks….Not to be repulsed this time, Hulda fought with her neighbors, using her rifle with great effect, so that she was singled out for vengeance; and before the redcoats retreated to their boats they had…overtaken and killed the witch.

Because she wasn't a congregant of the Old Dutch Church, and was reputed to be a witch, Hulda was granted a Christian burial but was buried in an unmarked grave on the outskirts of the burial ground.  In 2019, this slight was remedied, and a headstone bearing her name was erected in the churchyard.

Hulda of Bohemia Died c 1777 
Herbalist, Healer, Patriot 
Felled by British 
while protecting the Militia  
Buried here in gratitude 
for her sacrifice

This year, Friend of the Bastard Carla L. Hall is presenting a performance which pays tribute to Hulda, and to the enslaved women of Philipsburg Manor's upper millworks.  A second event devoted to Hulda is being staged at night in Rockefeller State Park.  After years as an obscure local figure, Hulda is finally getting her due, even though she still plays second fiddle to our handsome Headless Boy.


Richard said...

Thanks, that was interesting.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

You're welcome, she should be better known, rather than a purely local figure.