The name Ichabod comes from the biblical name of the grandson of Eli the High Priest and son of Phinehas. Irving may have borrowed the name from that of Ichabod B. Crane, a captain in the US Army during the War of 1812 whom he had met in 1814 in Sackets Harbor, New York.
According to a notation by Irving, the character of Ichabod Crane was based on a schoolteacher named Jesse Merwin, whom Irving befriended in Kinderhook, New York, in 1809. According to an 1894 article in The New York Times, "it [was] claimed by many that Samuel Youngs was the original from whom Irving drew his character of Ichabod Crane".
Role in story 
As described in the story, Ichabod Crane is a timid schoolteacher who travels to Sleepy Hollow to teach the children of the area. This, in company with his ability to ingratiate himself, persuades many of the townspeople to successively lodge him at their homes for a week at a time, which serves as his sole source of shelter. He follows strict morals in the schoolroom, including the proverbial "Spare the rod and spoil the child"; outside the schoolroom, he is shown to have few morals and no motive but his own gratification. Despite being thin, he is capable of eating astonishingly large amounts of food and is constantly seeking to do so. In addition to this, he is excessively superstitious, often to the extent of believing every myth, legend, tall tale, etc. to be literally true. As a result, he is perpetually frightened by anything that reminds him of ghosts or demons.
A turning point in the story occurs when Ichabod becomes enamored of one Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and only child of a wealthy farmer named Baltus Van Tassel, who pays little attention to his daughter other than to be proud of her merits when they are praised. On accounts both of her beauty and her father's wealth, which he is eager to inherit, Ichabod begins to court Katrina, who responds in kind. This attracts the attention of the town rowdy, Abraham "Brom Bones" van Brunt, who also wants to marry Katrina and is challenged in this only by Ichabod. Despite Brom's efforts to humiliate or punish the schoolmaster, Ichabod remains steadfast, and neither contestant seems able to gain any advantage throughout this rivalry.
Later, both men are invited to a harvest festival party at Van Tassel's where Ichabod's social skills far outshine Brom's. After the party breaks up, Ichabod remains behind for "a tête-à-tête with the heiress", where it is supposed that he makes a proposal of marriage to Katrina but, according to the narrator, "Something, however ... must have gone wrong, for he certainly sallied forth, after no very great interval, with an air quite desolate and chapfallen", meaning that his proposal is refused, allegedly because her sole purpose in courting him was either to test or to increase Brom's desire for her. Therefore Ichabod leaves the house "with the air of one who had been sacking a henroost, rather than a fair lady's heart."
During his journey home, Ichabod encounters another traveler, who is eventually revealed to be the legendary Headless Horseman; the ghost of a Hessian soldier who was decapitated by a cannonball during the American Revolutionary War. Ichabod flees, eventually crossing a bridge near the Dutch burial ground. Because the ghost is incapable of crossing this bridge, Ichabod assumes that he is safe. However, the Hessian throws his own severed head at Ichabod, knocking him from the back of his own horse and onto the road. The next morning, Ichabod's hat is found abandoned, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin. Ichabod is never seen in Sleepy Hollow again, and is therefore presumed to have been spirited away by the Headless Horseman. Later, "an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure was received" suggests that Ichabod had been frightened, both of the Horseman and of the anger of his (Ichabod's) current landlord, into leaving the town forever, later to become "a justice of the ten pound court" in "a distant part of the country." Katrina marries Brom, who is said "to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always laughed heartily at the mention of the pumpkin", which events "led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell"; therefore, that he himself was the Horseman, of whose legend he took advantage so as to dispose of his rival.
Adaptations in other media 
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- Constable Ichabod Crane serves as the protagonist in the 1999 film adaptation of Sleepy Hollow, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. In this interpretation, he is a New York policeman with an interest in science, sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a string of grisly murders to prove the merits of his style of investigation after he argues against the police's current methods. As in the original story, his horse is named Gunpowder. Ichabod's most notable traits in the movie include an ahead-of-his-time liking for post-mortem examinations and scientific methods, as well as his being very quirky and skittish, as well as disgusted by death and blood, despite his occupation. It is Ichabod who finally banishes the Hessian Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken) to Hell and sends Lady van Tassel (Miranda Richardson), the woman who has been controlling the undead rider, with him. Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci) is seen at the end of the movie going back to New York with Ichabod, along with a boy who helped Ichabod in the investigation.
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), directed by James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, and Jack Kinney, produced by Walt Disney Productions, and packaged with a companion 30-minute short "Mr. Toad" based on Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. Probably the best known version, as it ran for years as part of the television Halloween special Disney's Halloween Treat. This animated interpretation features Bing Crosby as the narrator and sole voice actor of the entire 30-minute piece and extends both the visually impressive Horseman's role and that of Brom Bones to include the latter as singer of the song about the Horseman's legend.
- A 1980 made-for-TV adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, starring Jeff Goldblum, was produced by Hallmark.
- Ichabod Crane appeared in the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Midnight Ride."
- Searching for Ichabod Crane (2005) is a short film by Sam Borowski about a young reporter who searches for Ichabod Crane, and eventually comes in contact with the apparition of the war hero.
- In 1999, a telefilm entitled The Legend of Sleepy Hollow aired on Odyssey starring Brent Carver as Ichabod Crane. It was filmed in Montreal.
- The 1999 computer animated FOX TV special The Night of the Headless Horseman featured William H. Macy as the voice of Crane.
- The 2004 TV movie The Hollow centers on a high school student named Ian Cranston, a descendant of Ichabod Crane.
- Rapper Lupe Fiasco's song "Dumb it Down" contains the lyrics, "And I'm brainless, which means I'm headless, like Ichabod Crane is".
- Hardcore band Motionless In White's Song "Undead Ahead" draws inspiration from "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" as well, with the final line of the song being "Ichabod, Ichabod".
- Ichabod Crane, as a fictional character, is involved in the backstory of the DC villain Scarecrow, who as a youth was taunted with the character's name. Crane later turned into something of an inspiration for Scarecrow, who admired some of his qualities but abhorred his cowardice.
- In The Sopranos Season 5 Episode 11 "Cold Cuts", Steve Buscemi's character Tony Blundetto, During a car ride with the two Tonie's thru the Hudson Valley on their way to Uncle Pat's Farm, admitted "They used to call me Ichabod Crane."
- In Frasier Season 10 Episode 22 "Fathers and Sons", Niles and Daphne allow Roz to choose a placeholder name for their unborn child's application for daycare. It is revealed that Roz chose the name Ichabod Crane when the application is denied 5 years later because the parents did not take the application process seriously.
- "Teachers Bringing the power of primary sources into the classroom". frontiers.loc.gov. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
- "In Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Monument in Memory of Soldiers of the Revolution". The New York Times (New York: The New York Times Company). 1894-10-14. p. 17. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- Stegall, Caleb (Summer 2008). "Ghostly Echoes: A Eulogy for Covenanter Psalmody". Semper Reformanda 17 (1). ISSN 1065-3783.