Mystery of Leatherman

2020-08-06 15:04:40 Written by Nimra Noor

"Leatherman": the mystery of Man who walked along the same path for 35 years.


If you had lived in Westchester County, south of New York, or western Connecticut during the second half of the 19th century, you would probably have met a strange person walking through the streets of the city. His name was unknown, and he was identified by all as "Leatherman" - "The man of the skin" for his clothes, all made with the remains of leather shoes. His figure was massive and imposing, and he walked with the help of a stick, which supported him along his path through a well-defined path.

This mysterious wanderer was a rather beloved figure in the small towns between the Hudson River and the Connecticut River, and all the locals knew him for his regular route that included a series of fixed stages between cities, including between these two courses of water. For 30 years, Leatherman walked the same route for a length of approximately 587 kilometers, and the inhabitants of the cities he stopped in awaited his arrival every 35 days.

Who was he?

To date, it has never been discovered where it was from or what its name was. The only thing we knew was that he walked along a specific path, and every 35 days he showed up in the same city. Strange as it may seem, the locals often gave him food and shelter, and during the years the path had taken the form of a procession, with the same families who, from time to time, offered him food and shelter.

Since it was an absolutely unusual and curious thing, the inhabitants of the city had begun to meet him before his arrival, and the housewives awaited him with ready-made food. Even the children went to take him out of school, and he replaced the pennies that left him on the fence with other polished. The homeless, at that time, were considered outlaws, but obviously the community made an exception for Leatherman, now a legend. The photographs that portray it are, of course, very rare.

His clothes had been made with parts of boots sewn together, and when he died his big "trousseau" was weighed, finding he weighed a good 27 kilograms. Naturally the people of those places were very curious about this mysterious character.

What reason led a man to spend his whole life on foot, wearing a suit made entirely of leather shoes sewn together?

Unfortunately, Leatherman never revealed the reasons that led him to this nomadic life, and even today his story is a mystery. The man barely spoke, and his English was uncertain with a distinctly French accent, which led many to believe it was French or French-Canadian.

The suspicion reached up to the present day is that his problems in the dialogue were linked to some form of autism, which made him not only uncertain but almost unable to explain his own thoughts. One detail, however, was mysterious: when asked something about his past, Leatherman ran into a kind of block, immediately closing the conversation.

What little we know about him has been reconstructed by a series of anecdotes from the people he usually visited. Leatherman was a Catholic, he owned a prayer book in French and did not eat meat on Friday. He also smoked, and when he left the city he spent the night in small cave caves that are still known as "Leatherman caves".


Many photos of Leatherman were taken secretly and, since it was very reserved, it is said that after someone took a picture of him he did not show up in that house. Despite its strangeness, people were fond of this mysterious character, and worried about his health during the nights spent in the cold and frost. He was once also arrested and hospitalized, and many people expressed concern about a sore on the lip, but Leatherman managed to escape and resumed walking before it could be examined. He survived the "Great Blizzard of 1888", one of the most catastrophic storms of snow in the history of the United States, but died the following year, due to cancer, of which that wound on the lip was actually a symptomatic lesion .

His body was found in a cave in Ossining, near New York.

He was buried under the name "Jules Bourglay". How this statement was made is not clear, but legend has it that Leatherman was a French leather merchant, who lost all his fortune and his wife, and that he had begun to wander through North America as a sign of penance.

 After his death, some newspapers created a sensationalistic version of the story, painting it like a horrible monster that killed and ate children. This voice was quickly disproved because of the protests of those who had interacted with him, and insisted on describing him as a helpful and kind person.

The old tombstone, which names it "Jules Bourglay" marks the dates 1858-1889. These two are the years in which man traveled his journey, but the actual date of birth was an absolute mystery. In 2011 the historians dug into his grave to see if they could discover other details and above all the origin of the man dressed in leather, but here the mystery became even thicker because, at the opening of the coffin, no rest was found, no bones or other signs that anyone had ever been there in there. The only thing present were the nails of the coffin.

Today, Leatherman's remains (or their absence) are buried under a stone in Ossining, New York, and his tomb is a pilgrimage destination that still sees some people leave their pennies in hopes that he will return to return them polished.