Washington Irving's short story 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' is well known as a rather lighthearted ghost story. And it certainly works on that level, for a variety of reasons. One of these is Irving's skill as a writer, and his ability to evoke atmosphere through his vivid descriptions of places and people. His realistic depictions were no doubt helped along by the fact that the setting was so familiar to him: Irving was a native of New York, lived in Tarrytown, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow cemetery.
Crane is better educated than most of the people in the Sleepy Hollow community, but he falls prey to the same superstitions as the locals. He uses the works of Cotton Mather as an "in" to the community, entertaining people with his scary tales. Unfortunately, he also manages to freak himself out with them, something that Brom astutely realizes and uses to his advantage.
* 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' was filmed for the first time in 1922, a silent movie which starred Will Rodgers as Ichabod Crane.
* In 1949, Disney produced an animated version of 'Sleepy Hollow', which was narrated by one of my favourites, Bing Crosby.