After villagers become concerned that Crane is missing, they go in search of him. They find the following traces of him:
They find his saddle in this dirt.
They find the imprints of horse's hooves that have dented deeply into the road, as if his horse were galloping at high speed.
They find his hat.
They find a shattered pumpkin.
However, they do not find Ichabod's body anywhere.
People gossip about what happened to Crane. Some conclude he was carried away by the headless horseman, called the Galloping Hessian. One man, however, says years later that he has heard that Crane is still alive and has earned a law degree while teaching school in another part of the country. He has allegedly gone into politics and is now a justice of the Ten Pound Court. But the villagers prefer to believe he was carried off by supernatural means and that his ghost haunts the bridge and the schoolhouse.
In Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the legend of the Hessian soldier who lost his head during the Revolutionary War and every night rides his horse in search of his head, has greatly affected the impressionable Ichabod Crane, who is interested in spirits and magic. It also creates great fear in the urban man who finds himself trying to control a terrified horse on a rickety bridge as Brom Bones' ghostly competitor hurls his head at him.
The next morning Ichabod is nowhere to be found. (1) Old Gunpowder is discovered without his saddle; his bridle has come off, and he is grazing at his master's gate. Later, the schoolboys locate (2) the saddle, (3) Ichabod's hat, and a (4) shattered pumpkin.
Of course, the folktale that develops from Ichabod's disappearance is according to old country wives, who claim that Ichabod Crane "was spirited away by supernatural means" and the bridge became "more than ever an object of superstitious awe," so much so that the road was changed so that it borders the mill-pond.