UPDATE MAY 23, 2011
The Leather Man's remains are being
exhumed from his grave near the edge of Sparta Cemetery. The remains will be
relocated to a central location in the graveyard. Officially, the remains are
being moved because the present site is said to present a safety hazard due it
being close to Route 9, and that DNA testing may provide clues to the identity
of the Leather Man.
Opposition to exhuming and testing of the remains has developed. Opponents of the project state that the Leather Man was a private person, and that the mystery of his identity should remain a mystery in accordance to his wishes.
I offer no strong support in favor of, nor against, the exhumation, testing of, and removal of the Leather Man's remains. He was a not a private person, he was no hermit - he was well-known to the public in his travels, he followed a specific, predictable route, and he relied on the generosity of people in numerous communities for food and provisions. That he did not speak or communicate well does not tell us much. Maybe he had some learning disability or medical condition, or maybe he was raised by wolves and never learned to read or write. In any event, none of us can firmly speak for the Leather Man, or know what his wishes were.
On the flip side, I see no great need to dig him up and test his bones. The grave site presents no threat to the safety of visitors. The grave was a good 25 feet or more in from Route 9. Only a maneuver of Dukes of Hazzard-ian proportions would put an automobile on the grave site, and it's not like thousands, hundreds, or even dozens of curiosity seekers gathered here each day. Although DNA testing might reveal clues to the ancestry of the Leather Man, it will not tell us where he was born or what his name was.
That's the only fact in this story - that none of us know his name, and that the gravesite at the very least deserves a new headstone without the name Jules Bourglay. The Bourglay name has long been dismissed as fiction, and a marker that simply states "The Leather Man" will be entirely appropriate.
Excavation of the grave site began today, Monday May 23 2011. The Leather Man will be re-interred Wednesday May 25, 2011.
The pile of dirt under the foreground tent may be gravesite soil that was sifted to look for remains.
Is that all that's left of Leatherman?
Inside the tent.
Was this the grave site? This was the site of the entrance road into the cemetery.
The Leather Man's headstone was located to the right of (south of) the roped-off section at center.
This excavation was behind (south of) the headstone. Was the depression at left the actual burial site?
Looks like this is the path to the new burial site.
Possible new burial site.
Headstone as seen on Saturday May 21, 2011.
At the very least, reburial with a new headstone should put the Jules Bourglay story to rest.
Hudson Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.
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Copyright © 2011 by
Robert J. Yasinsac. All rights reserved.
Reproduction of original photographs without permission of Robert Yasinsac is prohibited.