Sad Drifter Known as ‘Leatherman’, Did He Really Live in New York Caves?
The legendary Leatherman. Who was he? Did he even exist or was it just urban legend? Here are the theories based on the little known facts of the life and death of the Leatherman.
In the late 1800's there was an illusive guy that would drift from town to town in New York and Connecticut. Communicating mostly with grunts and never staying in any one place for long. Aside from the caves he would sleep in he had no traditional home. The locals referred to him as 'Leatherman' because he wore a 70 pound, self-made, head to toe, leather outfit year-round.
For 27 years (1862-1889) this hermit walked a continuous loop of over 300 miles. It would take him just over one month to complete but his travel was like clockwork through all seasons regardless of the weather conditions. Residents knew when he was coming and would leave food out for him.
What would make a man choose such a harsh existence of solitude? One theory is that Jules Bourglay, a.k.a. Leatherman, a Frenchman was walking off a broken heart. He fell in love with a woman who he wasn't allowed to be with and that sent him to an asylum. Upon leaving the hospital he made his way to the states where he began to walk.
Reports suggest that by 1888, Leatherman suffered from advanced lip cancer. He was able to travel his loop for one more year. As he was traveling through Mount Pleasant, New York he took his final steps. One of the few items found on him was a French-language prayer book. Today he is buried in Sparta Cemetery in Ossining, New York.
In 1998, the band Pearl Jam wrote a song about this vagabond simply called 'Leatherman'.