by Jane Peterson
The Leatherman first appeared on Connecticut roads about
1857 and was a familiar sight during the next 30 years.
As his name implies, he wore only leather from his head
to his toes and his clothes were sewn together by
leather thongs. Ha also carried a large bag which held
his few possessions and the entire outfit weighed over
Leatherman followed a precise 360 mile course through
southwestern Connecticut into New York which took
exactly 34 days. From New York he crossed into
Connecticut at Harwinton and came southeasterly to
Middletown. He then followed the Connecticut River to
Chester and Deep River and swung west along the shore.
After passing through Branford he went on to New Haven
and continued to Fairfield County over the border to New
York where the cycle began again. He averaged over 10
miles a day and avoided thickly settled areas and well
stature, the Leatherman had black hair and dark eyes. He
rarely spoke and seldom entered homes along his route.
He slept in caves or more rustic shelters and families
along the route left him food on their door steps. In
Branford he stopped for sardines and bread at Harding’s
Grocery Store at 116 Montowese Street. One mile down the
road he ate stew at the Chidsey house at the corner of
Main Street and Home Place. An old Branford newspaper
reported the teacher would call a recess during a lesson
if the Leatherman was coming down the road.
Blizzard of 1888 his health began to fail and it marked
the first time he diverged from his precise course. On
March 24, 1889 his body was found in a cave near
Ossining, New York and he was buried in Sparta Cemetery
in an unmarked grave. There was much speculation as to
his identity which will forever remain a mystery but the
legend of the wandering Leatherman will be passed on for
generations to come.