NH hermit ‘River Dave’ gets $180,000 from tech billionaire

David Lidstone, an off-the-grid New Hampshire hermit known to locals as “River Dave,” doffs his hat after speaking to media outside Merrimack County Superior Court after a status conference hearing, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

CONCORD, N.H. — The billionaire CEO of a software company has given a former hermit in New Hampshire $180,000 to rebuild his cabin in a new location.

A spokesperson for Palantir Technologies told the Concord Monitor that CEO Alexander Karp wrote a personal check to David Lidstone, who had spent nearly 30 years living on someone else’s property.

He was jailed last month, and the cabin burned to the ground in early August in a blaze that is being investigated by local authorities.

Lidstone’s friend, Jodie Gedeon, says the money will be used to rebuild the cabin in a new location and that he has secured temporary housing for the winter in the meantime.

The 81-year-old Lidstone lived in the woods of New Hampshire along the Merrimack River in a small cabin adorned with solar panels for nearly three decades. He grew his own food, cut his own firewood and tended to his pets and chickens.

His off-the-grid existence has been challenged in court by a property owner who says he’s been squatting for all those years.

The woodlot where Lidstone lived was just a few miles away from Interstate 93, but it was hidden by the trees. It’s on 73 acres that has been used for timber harvests. The property has been owned by the same family since 1963. There are no plans at this time to develop it.

Lidstone has claimed that years ago, the owner gave his word — but not in writing — allowing him to live there. But the current owner sees him as a squatter and wanted to tear down the cabin before the fire.

Current owner Leonard Giles, 86, of South Burlington, Vermont, didn’t know Lidstone was there until the town administrator found out in 2015 and told him, expressing concern “with regard to the solid and septic waste disposal and the potential zoning violations created by the structure,” according to Giles’ complaint in 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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