THE LEATHERMAN

Over the years there have been so many articles written about this wandering individual. Some accounts have him appearing for the first time here in Harwinton in 1858. From the time of his dramatic entrance on the stage of Connecticut legend until he died in 1889, he walked a regular circuit -- always clockwise -- from the Danbury area through Watertown and Middletown, down along the Connecticut River, westward through the Connecticut coastal towns to New Canaan, then into Westchester County, New York, before circling eastward again toward Danbury to retrace his steps once more. With each circuit, he covered a distance of 360 miles or more, walking about ten miles every day.

Almost like clockwork, every 34 days he would make an appearance at the same place. "Host" families would set food out for him. Like the motto of our postal service, it mattered not what the weather conditions were as he kept his self-appointed rounds intact, some claiming that his appearance was within the same hour.

What a site he must have been as he rambled into town. From his hat, from which his grey-blue eyes pierced from underneath, to his massive leather boots, he was a striking figure indeed. His long leather coat was made from multiple patches, with some obviously newer then others. This coat had huge pockets which, undoubtedly, were bulging. The same with his patched together pants. Whenever one area wore out, he simply replaced that area with a new patch. Legend has it that one could hear him coming from a good distance as the leather creaked and groaned with every step of his wooden soled shoes. It is said that the entire outfit weighed 70 pounds!

The Leatherman walked with a hickory stick and carried two bags straped over his massive shoulders. One is said to have been leather and the other was constructed of cloth. These contained a pail, fry pan, axe, awl, jack-knife, leather patches, tobacco and food.

The station master at a railroad switching station in Milford kept a record of his appearances for 6 years and found that the regularity of his visits were not quite as systematic as legend states. He found that the visit pattern did vary with the shortest round trip was made in 34 days while the longest was 40 days. None-the-less, he did record that in 1884-1885 there were nineteen consecutive trips that were exactly 34 days.

 

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