Leather Man Mania

January, 2011 by Ray Bendici
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When I'm outside shoveling the seemingly never-ending snow, I often think about how nice it is knowing that when I'm done, I'll be able to retreat to a warm and cozy home, sip a little hot cocoa and take refuge from the winter. Invariably, my mind drifts to what it would be like if I had to stay outside and endure the elements ... eventually, I think about the Old Leather Man, how he would be trudging endlessly through the snow along unplowed roads and byways, making his way slowly across frozen country lanes and fields. No protection from the biting cold aside from his leather garb as he walked, and after completing the day's miles, only a dank shelter and small fire to enjoy. A few puffs on his pipe, and then to sleep, with a stone for a pillow. Brrrr.... What's even more interesting is that, as I've repeatedly stated, for an anonymous wanderer who has been dead for over 130 years, it's amazing that the Old Leather Man still commands the headlines. As you can see from the link, the New York Supreme Court has given the Ossining Historical Society permission to exhume the body of the Old Leather Man, a decision that has been met with a lot of debate, even right on this website. On one side, we have interviewed Dan W. DeLuca, the author of The Old Leather Man, who has spent decades researching the legend, bringing to light an amazing wealth of information. He agrees that the Leather Man's remains should be moved. On the other side, we have also interviewed Don Johnson, high school teacher and founder of leavetheleathermanalone.com, who is staunchly opposed to exhuming the remains. As Don says, he'd like to see efforts concentrating on mapping the Leather Man's footprints, not his DNA. We've been to the grave of Old Leathery at Sparta Cemetery in Scarborough, and can attest to the fact that the grave is very close to Route 9, and have to agree that the safety argument is a legitimate one. Cars whiz past at speeds better than 55 mph less than a few feet away from the head stone, so visitors have to be cognizant or face possibly dire consequences. Moving the Leather Man's remains to a safer place in the cemetery makes a lot of sense in that regard. By the same token, I find myself agreeing with the idea that the Old Leather Man was quite intent on keeping mum his identity and the reasons why he did what he did. If I were in a similar position, I'd expect future generations to respect my privacy. Mapping the Leather Man's DNA wouldn't reveal his name or the reason why he wandered as he did. Plus, no crime has been committed here, nor are we looking for a paternity test of any kind -- this isn't "Maury," right? -- so there's no need for a DNA analysis. So I guess that puts me in the middle -- move the body for safety, but don't "disturb" the remains for DNA purposes. How's that for sitting on the fence? Well, we here at Damned Connecticut wi'll be staying on the fence as the situation continues to unfold, and we will keep you up-to-date. Of course, there's a good chance that once the historical society starts digging, they won't find anything, which would be fitting. One good mystery deserves another, right? In the meantime, here is a three-part documentary about the Old Leather Man -- Dan showed this at his recent lecture, and Don also has it on his site.

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Believe it or not, having recently visited the gravesite, I totally agree that the configuration of the access road and grave is dangerous, and action should be taken! However, just as with the legend of Jules Bourglay, the power of suggestion is at work again here. When it is suggested that his grave be moved and that will solve the problem, most people just nod their head, yes, and move on. But not me. I say "Dismantle the road, not the Leatherman" As I have stated numerous times, I will never stand in the way of public safety. To that end, I believe it should be noted that by moving the Leatherman’s gravesite, and memorializing him in a “safer, more diginified" place that can be promoted as a tourist destination, the increased traffic to the cemetery will mean more people may actually be being put in harm’s way should the RT 9 access road continue to stay in use. In addressing one public safety issue (the location of his grave in relation to the access road), a new one will be created due to more people using this unsafe access road. I’m not alone in my deeming of the access road as unsafe. In the court documents, a traffic consultant submitted an affidavit which gives extensive proof of the dangers inherent in the current position and structure of this road in relation to Rt 9 (Notice-of- Petition, Exhibit 2) Even Norm MacDonald has stated: "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." (Meriden R-J 1/3/2011) “We’re responsible if someone’s hurt there,” (Fairfield Weekly 1/11/2011) In the case of the new-found popularity of the gravesite following the publishing of Dan Deluca's book, they have admitted that they didn't foresee the potential increase in visitors and accompanying safety issues. In this case, they can, but it requires consideration of the "bigger picture", and the ability to separate the safety issue from the gathering of forensic evidence. If they did not have to move him, then it would be much more difficult to sell the idea of gathering the forensic evidence needed to further the research. Are these two events are dependent or independent of each other? In either case, I would think Public Safety would come first; you know, protect the living. Entering and leaving the cemetery at the current access road off of Rt 9 reminds me of a couple of Steven Wright Jokes: “My house is on the median strip of a highway. You don't really notice, except I have to leave the driveway doing 60 MPH.” and..."I bought a house, on a one-way dead-end road" A single lane, dead-end road emptying onto a 4 lane state highway will never be safe, regardless of who's buried right next to it. On the way there, I saw some beautiful four to six foot high stone walls marking property lines along RT 9. I believe blocking off the Rt 9 access road in the Leatherman’s corner with something similar and strictly using Revolutionary Road for public access would vastly improve the safety of ALL visitors to the cemetery. Could it also it also mean that the Leatherman’s final resting place could remain undisturbed? Don http://leavetheleathermanalone.com/

Believe it or not, having recently visited the gravesite, I totally agree that the configuration of the access road and grave is dangerous, and action should be taken! However, just as with the legend of the name Jules Bourglay, the power of suggestion is at work again here. When it is suggested that his grave be moved and that will solve the problem, most people just nod their head, yes, and move on. But not me. I say "Dismantle the road, not the Leatherman" As I have stated numerous times, I will never stand in the way of public safety. To that end, I believe it should be noted that by moving the Leatherman’s gravesite, and memorializing him in a “safer, more diginified" place that can be promoted as a tourist destination, the increased traffic to the cemetery will mean more people may actually be being put in harm’s way should the RT 9 access road continue to stay in use. In addressing one public safety issue (the location of his grave in relation to the access road), a new one will be created due to more people using this unsafe access road. I’m not alone in my deeming of the access road as unsafe. In the court documents, a traffic consultant submitted an affidavit which gives extensive proof of the dangers inherent in the current position of this road in relation to Rt 9 (Notice-of- Petition, Exhibit 2) Even Norm MacDonald has stated: "Since DeLuca wrote the book, we have had increased visitations to the grave. 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." (Meriden R-J 1/3/2011) “We’re responsible if someone’s hurt there,” (Fairfield Weekly 1/11/2011) In the case of the new-found popularity of the gravesite following the publishing of Dan Deluca's book, they have admitted that they didn't foresee the potential increase in visitors and accompanying safety issues. In this case, they can anticipate the consequences, but it requires consideration of the "bigger picture", and the ability to separate the safety issue from the gathering of forensic evidence. If they did not have to move him, then it would be much more difficult to sell the idea of gathering the forensic evidence needed to further the research. Are these two events are dependent or independent of each other? In either case, I would think Public Safety would come first; you know, protect the living. Entering and leaving the cemetery at the current access road off of Rt 9 reminds me of a couple of Steven Wright Jokes: “My house is on the median strip of a highway. You don't really notice, except I have to leave the driveway doing 60 MPH.” and..."I bought a house, on a one-way dead-end road" A single lane, dead-end road emptying onto a 4 lane state highway will never be safe, regardless of who's buried right next to it. On the way there, I saw some beautiful four to six foot high stone walls marking property lines along RT 9. I believe blocking off the Rt 9 access road in the Leatherman’s corner with something similar and strictly using Revolutionary Road for public access would vastly improve the safety of ALL visitors to the cemetery. Could it also it also mean that the Leatherman’s final resting place could remain undisturbed? Don from "Leave The Leatherman Alone.com"

Submitted by Leathermanjr (not verified) on
I am still waiting for Hollywood to get wind of the Leatherman tale and twist it into a scary movie type thing where Instead of roaming up and down the east coast, mostly minding his own business, this one roams up and down the esat coast looking for victems.. who he tortures and kills then eats. C/mon Hollywood, whats taking so long?

I’m not alone in my deeming of the access road as unsafe. In the court documents, a traffic consultant submitted an affidavit which gives extensive proof of the dangers inherent in the current position of this road in relation to Rt 9 (Notice-of- Petition, Exhibit 2) Even Norm MacDonald has stated: “Since DeLuca wrote the book, we have had increased visitations to the grave. 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.” (Meriden R-J 1/3/2011) “We’re responsible if someone’s hurt there,” (Fairfield Weekly 1/11/2011) In the case of the new-found popularity of the gravesite following the publishing of Dan Deluca’s book, they have admitted that they didn’t foresee the potential increase in visitors and accompanying safety issues. In this case, they can anticipate the consequences, but it requires consideration of the “bigger picture”, and the ability to separate the safety issue from the gathering of forensic evidence.