Ermak Travel Guide


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The story of the Leatherman is tragic as it is bizarre. Born in Lyons, France in the late 1820’s he was known as Jules Bourglay. As a young man he fell in love with Margaret Laron, daughter of the rich leather maker. Without any means to support a family he promised his loved one to earn money and respect working for her father. He succeeded and soon was allowed to trade leather for the factory at the stock market. However with invention of the chemical tanning in 1855 the price of traditional bark tanning leather went down and Jules Bourglay’s purchase of leather bankrupted the company.
He disappeared for several years probably walking around Europe, but soon he moved to Connecticut in 1858. Jules Bourglay became known under a nickname “Leatherman”. His clothes, scarf, hat and shoes were all made from leather. The rest of his life he spent walking the same route around Connecticut and New York. He walked approximately 12 miles a day. It took him 34 days to finish the same 365 mile track. In fact people of the towns that he passed grew accustomed to this strange man. In fact Leatherman was exempted from “tramp laws” set there in 1879. He spoke fluent French, but rarely communicated. And if it did, it was usually in grunts and strange sounds.

According to records the body of the Leatherman was found in early March of 1889 in a Saw Mill Woods cave, Briarcliff, NY. He died apparently from mouth cancer as result of tobacco chewing. He was buried at the Sparta cemetery along Route 9 in Scarborough, New York. Money for the funeral were donated by an English Jew named Sampson Fisher- King Bennetts who claimed to know Jules Bourglay since his travels around Europe and the Middle East. Today you can reach the cave of the Leatherman from the Black River State Park and take Mattatuck Trail.



Jules Bourglay
who regularly walked a 365 mile route
through Westchester and Connecticut from
the Connecticut River to the Hudson
living in caves in the years


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