The Leatherman


History of Pound Ridge


Written by © Lisl Steiner
The municipality of Pound Ridge is located in the northeast section of Westchester County. Pound Ridge borders both New York and Connecticut. Pound Ridge is adjacent to the Connecticut towns of New Canaan and Northern Stamford. On the New York side, Pound Ridge borders Bedford and the more rural town of South Salem. Pound Ridge is characterized by a rugged landscape, rock outcroppings and rugged cliffs. "Nowhere in the town's 23 square miles is there even a traffic light."


Topography of Pound Ridge
In many parts of Pound Ridge, the rugged landscape seems to have been only gently altered by humans since the glaciers receded. In contrast to some of its neighbors, the town, Westchester's smallest in population density, has marked its topography over the years not with highways and malls but rather with stone walls and narrow country roads that wind past meandering brooks, stone outcroppings and densely wooded hills. Not only does Pound Ridge have 2 and 3 acre zoning, but it is home to large tracts of undeveloped land. The 4,315 acre Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, the county's largest park, occupies 22% of the town and offers walking and hiking trails, camp sites, and picnic areas.


Originally home to the Siwanoy and Kitchawong Indians (Mohican tribes, a subgroup of the Algonquians), Pound Ridge takes its name from a tribal "pound" or enclosure for game that was on one of the area's many "ridges". The Indians led a relatively peaceful life of planting, hunting, and fishing. Pound Ridge was originally settled in the 1640's, as part of a tract of land purchased from local Indians by Captain Nathanial Turner. Pound Ridge was officially incorporated in 1788. For the last 250 years there has been much controversy over the spelling of "Pound Ridge" or "Poundridge". In 1948, the Town Board declared the name to be two words: "Pound Ridge".


During the Revolution, on July 2, 1779, Pound Ridge was the scene of the dramatic raid led by the British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton overwhelmed the local militia commanded by Major Ebenezer Lockwood and the regiment of Continental Light Dragoons led by Lt. Col. Elisha Shelton stationed in the Hamlet area. Tarleton got lost finding Pound Ridge - this enabled the Americans more time to prepare. However, with better than a 2 to 1 advantage, Tarleton ("The Butcher") conquered, plundered, and burned much of the town. American reinforcements arrived, fought back and Tarleton retreated.


After the war, Pound Ridge continued to flourish. Saw mills, grist mills, blacksmith shops, and general stores were built. By 1850, the population reached 1,486. Although a dairy farming community, Pound Ridge became known for hat and shoe making. However, its most famous industry was basket making (first developed by the Native Indians). In fact, the Scotts Corners area of Pound Ridge was commonly referred to as "Basket Town" and many of the sturdy baskets were used by the oyster fishermen on Long Island Sound.


The Leatherman, was a gentle hermit and interesting character, who roamed the area for 30 years in the latter half of the 1800s. His true story is shrouded in mystery, but he was a large man who loved leather and always wore his handmade patchwork leather outfit (with a leather hat and leather clogs). He lived in various caves or rock shelters and accepted food or leather. He didn't speak but mumbled, and his headstone identifies him as Jules Bourglay of Lyons France.


By the early 20th century, farming had declined as had the cottage industries. The railroads in Westchester, which opened up markets and brought in new people, bypassed Pound Ridge. By 1920, the population dwindled to 515. Then, during the 1930s things changed. Hiram Halle, an inventor and businessman, came to Pound Ridge from New York City and began renovating and reconstructing houses.


Hiram Halle hoped to enhance the community. His renovations attracted many actors, writers, artists, and musicians. They discovered that Pound Ridge was a charming and convenient getaway and began purchasing homes. Benny Goodman was one of the first of these residents, and he even composed a melody entitled "Pound Ridge". Many creative people and celebrities continue to move to Pound Ridge. By the 1940s, Pound Ridge's population rose to almost 800, and it continued to grow slowly and steadily to 4,000 in 1980 and 4,550 in 1990.


Interest in the preservation of Pound Ridge's architectural heritage has also been maintained throughout the years. These older landmarks and homes are an integral part of the character of the town and provide the community a shared "pride of place". The current population of the residents of the Town of Pound Ridge, NY includes 4,918 people (2004 US Census) living mostly in single-family dwellings on 2 or 3 acre minimum zoning districts. In addition there are deer galore, emus, swans, ducks and geese, foxes and coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, otters, squirrels, chipmunks, frogs, crickets, etc.






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Mailing Address: P.O. Box 51 Pound Ridge, NY 10576
Telephone: 914-764-4333

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