Mattituck Trail has a cave formerly inhabited by Leatherman, who may have been Jules Bourglay, he got his name from always being dressed in 60 pounds of leather. The strange vagabond took the 365 mile loop between the Connecticut and Hudson rivers; he would walk the route endlessly. From (approximately) 1858 – 1889 he walked it 360 times using caves along the way as rest stops. Locals would provide the man with extra food when he came past and he was found in Saw Mill Woods cave in Sing Sing, New York sometime in 1889. He was very precise and would arrive at the same location every 34 days.
He was known mostly by the fact that he would communicate with grunts or strange gestures, and his clothes were crudely stitched leather from his hat down to his shoes. It was something that could protect him from the harsh New England elements, and he would only sleep outside whatever the time of year.
This strange character was first spotted in Connecticut in 1862, and many who encountered him found they wanted to know more about the stranger. He was born into the Bourglay family, in Lyons, France and their income was made from the business of woodcutting. They were a family that was lower middle-class in a time when station in life seemed to be an important factor. He fell in love with Miss Margaret Laron, daughter of a wealthy merchant, and asked her father for her hand in marriage. It was met with objection, most likely due to his poor station however after a long time of persuasion he was granted a chance to work in the Laron’s leather business, if he could acquire the trade and become successful then he would be allowed to marry her.
In 1855 he was doing well, he brought leather and dealt with the business successfully but overnight having made a purchase they awoke the following day to find the price had gone down by 40%. A new tanning process had brought the cost down significantly but he had not paid attention to the technology and was then stuck with the large pile of leather that could only be sold at a loss. The business was ruined thanks to his decision and he was too ashamed to return home. He was never seen in Lyon’s again, and in fact never seen in France again. It is thought he wandered the country as a beggar and then got himself in the USA.
The harsh winter of 1888 caught up with the man now in his 60’s, He made it through the winter but eventually he died in the cave at George Dell Farm in Briarcliff Manor, New York. Today the caves he was in are part of a hiking trail and rangers will provide a map of his travels if requested, or you can probably get one online.
It is said that he haunts the caves he used to visit regularly and that the Mattituck one is one of the most popular. The cave is on the trail around two miles south-east of Black Rock State Park on Rt 6 in Watertown.