If you have stories or photos of the Fort Fisher Hermit, please send them to us at and we'll add them to the site!

Dear Sirs,

Thank you so much for this documentary, I received an excited phone call from my mother who just happened upon your documentary showing in the Southern California area. My father, Col. John B. Herweg USAF was the Base Commander of Ft. Fisher in the early '60's and we have many stories of The Hermit - but we fondly refer to him as "Joe's friend". My brother, Joe, befriended Mr. Harrill and spent time with him fishing and hanging out which caused both my parents to have some raised eyebrows and require quite a bit of scrubbing down after Joe would be with Mr. Harrill. I was quite young when we were in Ft. Fisher but have grown up with wonderful stories of the area and am lucky to have retained some early memories of the area and especially the warmth of the residents.

We are looking forward to viewing the film as Joe's wife is eager to finally see what this guy is all about that she has heard stories of for decades. All the grandkids have grown up with the lore of The Hermit as well, you will bring him back to life for our entire family.

I am very saddened to hear of his untimely death at the hands of ignorant cowards, only hearing my mother's version after seeing the film. Thank you very much for making and distributing this film as I hope that the acts committed upon Mr. Harrill will not go unanswered or unsolved with the additional interest your film will create. Many blessings to you for this effort and to help our family close another chapter of people we have had to leave too soon and often remember around our extended family tables. Ft. Fisher was a glorious timeframe for our entire family, I often wish that we had never left and have thought of moving back there from time to time...but Malibu is not too shabby if you've got to live somewhere else!

Thank you again, you made my mother's week very bright and happy!

Mari Herweg Stanley


It's very sad that the people that are spose to protect & serve & find justice when justice is needed is the ones that fail our society the most.Who knows as much as you see the police involved in these kinds of things are sometimes ones that are at fault.Maybe that explains why nothing farther was done.It is very sad that they don't think about this man being someones dad,brother,& son but instead see him as a bother. I think its an outrage that the police wasn't honest to his son & felt that they owed him at least that much.Afterall if this was their brother,son or father they wouldnt stop till justice was served

Stefanie Flanery


Barbara Brodhagen
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I find it sad, after watching the film, that no investigation was done in his death. He didn't drag himself through the sand. It seems his life wasn't worth the cost of an autopsy. Everyone's life is important and should count for something. I am glad he had the friends he did, that cared about him. That many people listened to his thoughts on life, that he made people think about life and what it is worth. But hate the fact some ignorant people hassled and tormented him. How ironic, his life wasn't worthy of on autopsy.

Barbara Brodhagen
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Vonna K. De Armond

Robert Harrill is my great grandfather.  His son, Boge, is my grandfather.  I never knew Robert, but I know stories of him from my grandpa (Boge) and from my mom and dad.  My mom and dad visited him when he lived in Fort Fisher.  I remember my great grandmother, Katie (Robert's wife), very well, but she did not talk a lot about him, for obvious reasons.  But I do know that she loved him very much and stayed with him for as long as she could.  
What is pretty cool about your site is that I see that I have cousins that I never met that are commenting here.  What a great way for a family to get to know each other and their history.  What is funny is that I have know about him for a long time, since I can remember, but I never realized just how interested other people would be in my great grandfather.
Thanks for putting the movie together.  

Vonna K. De Armond 


Jan Hamrick Privatte
Greenville, SC

What a wonderful documentary of our “Uncle Robert”. His wife Katie was my Grandfather’s sister and I grew up hearing all kinds of stories of the “hermit”. My father took us to visit him during the summer of ’63 when I was 10 years old and it left a lasting impression. He was so gracious and kind to us and before we left he said he wanted to give us something. He walked out into the marsh and pulled out a huge conch shell and gave us and said he hoped we would remember him. Thanks to all who put this work together and especially those who donated film footage. It brought back many happy memories.

Jan Hamrick Privatte
Greenville, SC


Leigh Poindexter
Wendell, NC

The Hermit died when I was just shy of 6 months old, but I've heard of him for as long as I can remember. My Dad spoke of him a great deal, and my family visited him many times in the 1960's while spending time at our grandfather's Kure Beach "shanty." I would do anything to have known him. I think he symbolizes the desire in all of us to be free. To live off the land and live free of mankind's complicated rules and regulations. To have the ability to contemplate the world uninterrupted by the "conveniences" of man. Most of all, he offers us a glimpse of what it's like to look at man unbiased, and to question why we feel we should base our opinions of man according to how well he conforms to society. Why should we value any human being based on what society deems as successful? Success is not how much money you make or what material possessions you have. Success is not measured by how many degrees you earn. The Hermit continues to teach us that success is achieved by becoming sincere, humble and gracious...and that wisdom is earned through a simple love of the earth and all of her creatures, and in being thankful for our temporary and fragile presence here every day.

Thank you to all the people who have created this website and documentary about The Hermit. I hope his memory will continue to inspire others the way he has inspired me.

Leigh Poindexter
Wendell, NC


Fred Pickler
Wilmington NC

OK folks. Hold on to your shorts and hats, we are almost finished with the Proof of the real story of the Fort Fisher Hermit. I plan to have it printed in Spring of 2007. There are going to be included some of the best photos I took of Robert Edward Harrill, the "Fort Fisher Hermit" in this coffee table book, over a number of years and a few words as well.Send me your email address and I will put you on the advance sale notification contact at a special first edition rate. One request, put a SUBJECT line in like Hermit book, cause I do not open email I do not recognize.You have seen much of this work in the documentary, but the book will give you some views never seen before.

Fred Pickler
December 23, 2006


Ray & Jayne Caspary
Wilmington NC( last 4 years)

Just heard about the hermit fron my friend Cheryl Morrison at Pine Valley Country Club. Her mother took her to see the hermit many times whem she was just a young girl. She remembers every visit perfectly. She liked him very much. Sincerely,

Ray Caspary
December 6, 2006


Gene Vitikacs
Coatesville, Pa.

I was stationed at Ft. Fisher from October of 68 to January of 70 and made many many trips to visit Mr. Harrill along with some of my fellow service members. My signature is in his visitors log many times. I always enjoyed listening to his stories and admired him for being so independent. I look at the pictures posted on the site and it all comes back as if it were yesterday.

November 17, 2006


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November 3, 2006


S carolina beach

I have not read seen this documentary about the hermit. I drove him home from the a&p grocery store ,as i lived across the street and was 16 and he usually walked there from ft. fisher so it was great fun to load up the 30 bags of stuff he bought mostly tutor beer and drive him home. over the years and lots of visits.the old green truck that i saw rust completly away.some of the good ole boys dropping a live kitten into the caldrin of soup he was cooking which he never noticed but mosly they just drank with him no one did him harm from our locals.He loved to oberserve women and there breast it was real funny to watch him talk to a girl in a bathing suit.He got confused as time went by as to who was gov., pres. ect...the bunker was full of newpapers for insulation and stunk to high heaven as he did. the title of " the fort fisher hermit's school of common sense" well you would have actually had to know him and evidently not many people did. he was a sweet old guy, and nuts.

October 28, 2006


Y Rio Mihal

My family donated home movie footage for this work, and I saw it at the Cucalorus festival in Wilmy when it was first shown. My parents, aunts and uncles visited Mr. Harrill on numerous occasions and all liked him a great deal. Congrats to the guys that worked on this. Its great to see the film finally come out for sale.

October 23, 2006


Darren Woods
Winston-Salem, NC

My wife and I purchased the DVD last week at the Fort Fisher Aquarium and really enjoyed watching it. I read the little book about the Mr. Harrill a few years ago, but the documentary was neat because of the actual footage and recordings it contained of him. He really was a fascinating man.
I have a few questions that I'm hoping someone can help me out with. I noticed in the documentary that there were often dogs present. Did Mr. Harrill have dogs at the time of his death and, if so, what happened to them? My wife and I asked the folks at the aquarium about the trail to Mr. Harrill's bunker and we were told that it was closed. Is this true? If not, how would we go about visiting the bunker? We also wanted to visit his gravesite, but when we got to the cemetery, the road leading to it was chained off. Is it ok to park alongside the road and walk back there or has the cemetery been closed? Thanks in advance for any information provided!

September 12, 2006


Nice info. We just watched the documentary in the park at Carolina Beach. I had never heard of the hermit, but his story is fascinating.

September 12, 2006


Randy Kaser Middlefield,

I am one of the great grandsons of of the Hermit. I am very excited about this project, I do however, take exception to the reference of the Hermit being "homeless". He was not homeless the bunker was his home for many years. Many times people tried to get him out and he wouldn't leave. He refered to the bunker as "his home" as long as he was there. He was a very interesting person, to say the least.

September 9, 2006


Kannapolis, NC

We just watched the documentary in the park at Carolina Beach. I had never heard of the hermit, but his story is fascinating.

September 1, 2006


Piedmont, NC

When I was a child in the '60's and '70's, a visit to "the hermit" was a regular part of our annual vacation at the beach. I think I was most interested in his bunker. My dad liked his stories, and my mom's main memory is all the fleas that came from his hat when he tipped it to greet us. I still have 8mm video from one of those visits.

August 31, 2006


Beth Carter
Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach

One day when I was in high school, my friend and I came across this old, littered cement bunker (about 1998 or so). We had no idea what is was, or what it was used for, but it had made us curious to know what this thing was doing in the middle of the marsh/beach. After asking around, I had found out the story of the Fort Fisher Hermit. I cannot wait until I get my copy of this documentary because I hope to have many of my questions answered. One question that I do believe will remain, is who and why? Does anyone know if there are any leads, suspects, etc.?

August 2, 2006


Bailey Jernigan
wilmington nc

i happened to come across a book my sister had at her place in carolina beach nc. i found the book very interesting and would like to know friends and i used to skip school to go and see the hermit. he was always very friendly to my friends and i.even fixed us some fish on several occasions. i was very saddened to learn that MR HARRIL was deceased.i can't remember if we ever signed his guest book,but i do know that we were some of the last people tosee him in the year he passed (1972),the year i graduated.i send my sympathies to his family.

bailey jernigan.
July 25, 2006


Christopher Creech

I never knew him personaly but my Family did

July 21, 2006


Y Lee Harrill
Cleveland, OH

That's my Great Grand Father! I did not know him, but his mannerisms remind me of his son, my Grand pap. I find myself wishing I could here more about the "School of common sense."

July 14, 2006


Edward E Rider
Jamestown, NC

I remember visiting the Hermit when I was a young boy. I was absolutely in awe. It was about 1964. A happy time it was.

July 5, 2006


mary james hurlburt
rocky point nc

this is a verw good story i was 12 years old when i first met my dear friend my hermit i love him i would always go visit him . he was a wonderful man i sign his guest book every time i would go . he love to live his life . hear i am 48 years old and still can reamember him so well. he was always happy to see people he was a hermit an he sure look like one , i still miss him every time i go to the beach.

June 27, 2006


Matthew Harrill

It is great to be able to see pictures and read documents regarding my great grandfather.

June 17, 2006


Mike Oakes

Great job guys! A must see for all who are interested in local or history in general. Hope The Hermit makes it to TV so that all have an oppertunity to see. Keep up the good work.

May 23, 2006


Tiffany Pickler-Rice
Wilmington, NC

This is a great film. A must see for anyone interested in the Hermit!

May 5, 2006


Michael Edwards
Indian Harbour Beach, FL

This film is a WONDERFUL effort! The "hermit" is still a big and exciting part of my life. I continue to tell the incredible story of his determination and courage at every opportunity, and try to instill the same confidence to members of the US Air Force who are in my class at Patrick AFB . I'm always thrilled to hear a new story or meet someone who knew Robert Harrill. Thanks to all my good friends for telling Robert's story in such a moving way!

Michael Edwards, President--"The Hermit Society"
April 19, 2006


Kia Rogers

Just saw the film. Very intriging, well done and such a poignant story!

April 18, 2006


ricky norris
benson ,north carolina

i was one of the five boys who found the hermit.

March 24, 2006

Photos Courtesy Fred Pickler
All other content © 2006-2007 Common Sense Films

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