Residents of many parts of Connecticut and eastern New York have long heard stories of the Old Leather Man. He was a mysterious figure who appeared in 1856--wandering the country roads and sleeping in caves, huts, and lean-to shelters, dressed in an outfit he fashioned from scraps of leather. In about 1883 he began traveling in his famous clockwise circuit--a regular route of 365 miles every 34 days. He continued this pattern until his death in 1889.
Over the years of the Leather Man's travels there were hundreds of newspaper articles written about him. He allowed his photograph to be taken on some occasions and sometimes spoke, in both French and English, to the townspeople who he encountered. He would always refuse money offered by concerned residents, but would sometimes take the food and drink offered to him.
In The Old Leather Man: Historical Accounts of a Connecticut and New York Legend, Dan W. DeLuca has collected newspaper articles, photographs, and other documents that chronicle the mysterious life of this mournful traveler. The book includes 20 different photographs of the man, along with maps of his travel routes, and images of his shelters and other landmarks along his path.
Even today the identity of the Leather Man is still unknown. For a time, some thought he was a lovelorn Parisian by the name of Jules Bourglay, and this is the name on the plaque that marks his grave. But it has since been proven that Jules Bourglay was a fictional name created by a Victorian-era writer of a romantic tale.
Dan W. Deluca is a genealogist; a Meriden, Connecticut historian; and a retired teacher. He has been researching the Leather Man for twenty years and is the leading expert on the subject.
Books will be available for purchase and signing. For more information, please contact Carl White at (203) 622-7948.