New Hollow, New York
The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow was not, as legend would have it, a Hessian from the Revolutionary War. Nor was he the town’s tormentor; rather, he was its protector.
They were Irish, Dutch, and German wizards, those who settled in a hamlet upon the Hudson. They brought their legends with them — of the Wild Hunt and fae riders, of the dullahan and bony whips, of gruesome battles and berserkers who fought on despite grievous wounds. From these, they wove a deterrent: a suit of clothes, given life and some measure of a mind, set astride a thestral — and in those uncertain times, who reached adulthood without seeing death, of one kind or another?
The Horseman’s charge was simple: protect the town, chase away intruders, and warn the town patrons and matrons should any Muggles prove persistent. For many generations, the Horseman patrolled their borders, and if the neighboring Muggles whispered about a spook, a devil, a resurrected warrior, it really no strange thing, in a superstitious age.
But then one of those chivvied-off Muggles, a man called Mr. Irving, went and published a tale about it, and soon the area was swarmed with the curious and the morbidly interested. With the town’s secrets in jeopardy, their council wasted no time in their deliberations.
And so they moved, part and parcel, every family, farther up the river, farther inland. In New Hollow, they put up more traditional charms: Muggle-repelling, Undetectable, Expulsive. As cities throughout New England became less friendly to wizardkind, less easy to escape notice in, many families moved out to the country, to a hamlet still-sleepy, whatever its alterations in name and location.
Yet the Horseman roves still, more a mascot than a guard these days, for no town council through the years has had the heart to discharge him from his duty.