The Road Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of the Leatherman

The Leatherman was a 19th century itinerant who walked a circuit through New York and Connecticut at a precise pace and timing, appearing in the same towns (and at the same porches for supper) on his route every 34 days, year round. Named for his apparently self-made suit of patched leather clothes, the Leatherman was a mysterious figure who rarely spoke and resisted close contact or medical treatment throughout his life of wandering.  The caves where he once bedded down have since become popular for geocaching and a book–The Old Leatherman by Dan DeLuca–written about the various accounts of his travels have made the Leatherman something of a local legend.

His grave, though, is a public hazard:

The cemetery, owned by the Ossining Historical Society, is within 16 feet of a highway, Route 9. That proximity is already a safety issue, Historical Society President Norm MacDonald said, and potential expansion would take the road to within a foot of the grave.

“Since DeLuca wrote the book, we have had increased visitations to the grave,” MacDonald said. “We have had school buses of children, Boy Scouts, the elderly all visit. It’s somewhat of a dangerous location so close to the road.” One man has already been hit by a car, he added.

(via The Record-Journal)

Future highway expansion threatens to roll right over the Leatherman’s grave. To protect the visiting public and the repose of the deceased, an exhumation of his remains is scheduled for some point this Spring. While some historians and archaeologists view the Leatherman’s disinterment as a chance to answer questions about his origins and mental health, some area residents have taken umbrage at what they see as a violation of a local legend’s privacy.

If you’ve got 20 minutes, the dramatically-titled Connecticut public television-produced documentary above will bring you up to speed on all things Leatherman. (Unless your Google search for “leather men” has brought you here entirely by mistake. Sorry, buddy.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *