Fort Fisher Hermit has a great article that covers Robert Harrell’s life before Fort Fisher as well as his life as a hermit. It concludes with an analysis of the Hermit as a tourist attraction and details of the controversy over the details of his death.

The website for the award-winning film The Fort Fisher Hermit: The Life and Death of Robert E. Harrill.  Check this website out as they now have a variety t-shirts, caps, mugs and other ‘hermit’ stuff.

Robert Harrill the Fort Fisher Hermit by Michael Edwards. This is the definitive book about the Hermit. unfortunately it is currently out of print However on you can purchase used copies of The last battle for independence: The story of the Fort Fisher Hermit also by Michael Edwards.

YouTube:  Search for “Fort Fisher Hermit” to find many clips with actual video of the Hermit – And don’t miss our own Leslie Bright talking about the appeal of the Hermit.


YouTube: The Fort Fisher Hermit


The Fort Fisher Hermit

Released: 2009
Running time: 56:58
Uploaded to YouTube on Nov 6, 2009

Robert E. Harrill, The Fort Fisher Hermit, spent 17 years under the stars and scrub oaks of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Surviving off the land and the contributions from thousands of visitors, the Fort Fisher Hermit became one of the areas largest tourist attractions.

But Robert’s new life wasn’t as idyllic as he made it out to be, and his untimely death is marked by mystery and controversy.

This film examines the reasons that led him to become a hermit, his growing popularity, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.



Oral History – Margaret and Bob Ford

by  Ann Hertzer

Margaret Ford

Margaret Ford

Margaret Newland finished high school in 1936 and came to live with her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis T. Weinburg, at Kure Beach and go to business school.

In 1940 Margaret married Robert Goode Ford. They lived in a garage apartment in the 2nd block of Atlantic Avenue right on the water. Margaret’s sons were born at New Hanover Hospital – Bobby in Sept ’41 (Pearl Harbor was in December); Tommy in ’43; and Jim in ’46. Sometimes there was a doctor who lived at Carolina Beach; the dentist in Wilmington; and a drug store at Carolina Beach.

A garage that Mr. Kure started was across from Big Daddy’s.

The home demonstration club met monthly to talk about crafts, landscape problems, and different things.

Breakfast was mostly oatmeal or grits, just plain with butter and salt; biscuits or cornbread for supper or dinner; noon hour was leftovers. Liver mush was like scrapple; the hog’s liver ground with cornmeal – sliced and fried. Dinner was a meat, potato, and a vegetable – a lot of sweet potatoes and a lot of fish. We tried to have a little garden.

A grocery store at the corner of K was bought by the Lewis’ family. Then for about 25 or 30 years, almost to the 1980s, Bob and Margaret Ford sold groceries, tackle, bait, and fish for eating – flounder, mackerel. On Sunday night they often closed the store early to go to the Carolina Beach boardwalk dancing and the kids would do the arcades.
Read on ..