Very Local History: Don’t Need No Permit To Hermit


Midmost Coast presents | Very Local History: Don't Need No Permit to Hermit

The Fort Fisher Hermit was born in the 1890s, lived through the Great Depression, was committed to a mental institution by his in-laws, and ultimately became a local celebrity and tourist attraction on Pleasure Island.

In this episode of the Midmost Coast podcast we examine the life and controversial death of Robert Harrill, known to most as the Fort Fisher Hermit.

Sean Wars: The Phantom Biscuit

Sean’s compulsion to review every sausage, egg and cheese biscuit in the tri-state area takes him into questionable non-biscuit territory. How many points off does a sandwich get for using a bagel instead? Find out at the top of the show as he visits downtown brunch hot spot Jester’s Cafe.

A sausage bagel sandwich from Jester's Cafe

The Sausage (not) Biscuit Sandwich at Jester’s Cafe

We dare you to subscribe to Sean’s Sausage Biscuit Report on Instagram as @sausagebiscuitreport.

Show Summary


  • By the way it’s the Azalea Festival
  • Sean reviews the sausage breakfast sandwich at Jester’s Cafe

The Early Life of Robert Harrill

  • Born in 1893
  • Grew up in a stressful family
  • Adversarial relationship with his stepmom
  • Farmer, roustabout, traveling salesman, street peddler
  • Marries in 1913
  • Inventor of the RV?
  • Loses a daughter and son
  • Separation from his wife
  • Committed to a mental institution by his in-laws

The Hermit Era

  • Escapes to Fort Fisher
  • Is driven home, returns to Fort Fisher
  • Life in the bunker
  • He becomes a tourist attraction
  • Rough and sparse living conditions
  • The Berry, Raccoon and Horseshoe Crab Diet
  • Harassers and attackers
  • Trying to spread his philosophy
  • “A Tyrant in Every Home”
  • Hermit-blocking a development
  • The “Hermit Eradication Program”

Death Under Suspicious Circumstances

  • Last seen by friends the night before his death
  • Discovered dead in June of 1972
  • Police ignore evidence of foul play, claim it was a heart attack
  • Fred Pickler, crime scene technician, reveals evidence of foul play

In Memoriam

  • The Fort Fisher Hermit Society
  • The Fort Fisher Hermit: The Life & Death of of Robert E. Harrill
  • “The Hermit of Fort Fisher” play by Big Dawg Productions


Wikipedia’s entry on Robert Harrill.

The Fort Fisher Hermit documentary on Youtube.

Federal Point Historic Preservation Society on the Fort Fisher Hermit. offers a good writeup on the Hermit.

Big Dawg Productions’ adaptation of the life of the Fort Fisher Hermit.

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