Leather Man Mystery May Be Uncovered

OSSINING, N.Y. (WCBS 880) – He remains a mystery in much of Westchester County and parts of Connecticut, but information behind a 19th century costumed wanderer might finally be solved.

He’s called the “Leather Man,” and his stories fascinate many. The man who in the 1800s walked to parts of Westchester County and parts of Connecticut for more than 30 years dressed in a leather suit and sleeping in caves. He even called the attention of Pearl Jam, who wrote a song about him.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi reports

Ossining Historical Society’s Norman McDonald said this spring the leather man, whose real name is unknown, will be exhumed and studied.

“They’ll be able to determine whether or not he was autistic. Where he may have originated,” McDonald said.

McDonald said the man never worked and never spoke, which is why it’s going to be fascinating.

“He remains one of histories great mysteries,” he said. “People identify with the old leather man because he was a survivor.”

  • Stephen G.

    Not so much as it is, a good source has said there are NO plans in the foreseeable future to widen Route 9/Albany Tpk. Rd., which is a 4-lane road. Nor, can I find any story of anyone being struck at the location. the website LeaveTheLeathermanAlone.com is not in the way of progress, it’s in the way of desecration of not only the Leatherman’s Grave, but Every other poor soul that was buried in that corner, which the Ossining Historical Society has neglected.

  • John

    There is nothing that would give me greater pleasure than if they did open his grave and did not find even a speck of human remains within, indicating that this grave site was a diversion and the Leatherman is actually buried in an unknown location.

  • Don

    There is much, much more to this story. I believe as stewards of the Leatherman’s legacy, that we should keep the research on him above the ground, and take into consideration that for thirty years, the one thing that he made clear as he he made his rounds, was that he preferred to be left alone. Have we really become this insensitive to the rights to personal privacy that this endeavor is considered to be in the public’s best interest, and wholly acceptable? Map his footprints, not his DNA!


  • Stephen G.

    You give up certain rights when your dead, An Autopsy was done on him back in 1889, this is nothing more. It would be negligent for us to not do this testing, What if an heir came along? Care to make those statements here, Mr. MacDonald? Care to explain why, knowing full well the Old Leatherman, as well as others were buried under that corner, the Ossinging Historical Society decided to pave a Maintenance Access Road right over those graves? Care to tell the real reason for the much required DNA extraction, the CT scan to create a 3D image of the OLM’s face? How a entire cemetery suddenly, one corner is no-longer “Consecrated”? how damage to a stone pillar next to the headstone happened? Folks, You’re missing a BIG picture here.

  • pontil

    How dare they exhume and study this person just to satisfy their own curiosity. Perhaps they’ll discover a rare gene that may some day prevent people from wearing leather and sleeping in caves. Mr. Mcdonald, shame on you!

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