The 21st and 17th centuries collided today at the Old Dutch in the form of Hamilton and Pokemon Go. Yes, we had a Hamilton in the house – a descendant of that same man Lin-Manuel Miranda has immortalized in the award-winning Broadway phenomenon. My first question was, “Have you seen the show?” and he has and he likes it!
Doug Hamilton has been keeping an eye on the family history for years. He’s a keeper of the flame. Not only a proud descendant of Alexander Hamilton – he counts Old Dutch brethren in his lineage as well: Van Tassels (yes, those Van Tassels), Romers, and Storms, some of the oldest Dutch families whose names are engraved on the headstones in our burying ground. Doug was actually preparing to lead other family members up to the newer Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (1849) where 30 Hamilton descendants are buried. I felt like breaking out into song – “In New York you can be a new man!” Right. You never know who you will run into on Saturdays at the Old Dutch. I hope we see more of the Hamilton clan.
And let me not forget the Pokemon Go players – wait for it – from Honduras. Okay, they were visiting family in NYC and decided to check out our historic River Towns. They walked into the church with hand-held devices and I jokingly said “Pokemon are the least of your troubles, did you see the Headless Horseman out there?” That got their attention and we had a delightful conversation about Washington Irving and they won the award for having come the greatest distance today.
The thing about the Old Dutch Church is it’s been in Sleepy Hollow for 331 years and yet people stumble upon it like the Loch Ness monster rising out of the fog. Doug Hamilton has some big history in his family and has known about us for generations. But the Pokemon Go players happened upon us and discovered something mysterious. They weren’t expecting that. From my perspective the church provides a place of encounter for anyone willing to make the journey and open their hearts. Some will not even see this church because they are hurrying along the Albany Post Road to go hither and yon. But the person who takes the time to pause and cast a purposeful glance up the hill will see her there, shining in the sunlight.
Epitaph of Abraham Storms -died. Jan 22, 1862, 63 yrs.
O, ye mourners, cease to languish
O’er the grave of those ye love;
Far removed from pain and anguish,
They are chanting hymns above;
Light and peace at once deriving
From the hand of God most high;
In his glorious presence living,
They shall never, never die.