Robert E. Harrill Papers

1923-1981, undated
Manuscript Collection #428
Harrill, Robert E., 1893-1972
Physical description
0.7 Cubic Feet, 2 archival boxes, consisting of business and personal correspondence, financial papers, photographs, and miscellaneous materials.
Preferred Citation
Robert E. Harrill Papers (#428), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1923-1981, undated) Including correspondence, writings, newspaper clippings, photographs, pamphlets and miscellaneous.

Biographical/historical information

Robert E. Harrill (1893-1972), a native of South Carolina, worked for many years as a linotype operator and jeweler in Shelby, N.C. Possibly influenced by the Taylor School of Bio-Psychology, Harrill about 1955 moved to Fort Fisher, N.C., where he lived in an abandoned World War II bunker until his death.

Scope and arrangement

For further information concerning the Fort Fisher Hermit, see newspaper clippings and biographical material in this collection. Although the Hermit's family name is legally spelled "Harrill," he adopted the spelling "Harrell" for much of his correspondence.

Correspondence of Robert E. Harrill (1933-1973, undated) comprises the bulk of the collection. His letters, primarily to his sister, Mae, and his son, George, discuss family matters, mental health, psychology, politics, and his philosophy of life. Scattered letters to and from the Taylor School of Bio-Psychology of Chattanooga, Tennessee, reflect Harrill's interest in that field. The Harrill correspondence written from Fort Fisher reflects many themes present in the earlier correspondence but also discusses his life as a hermit.

Correspondence of George Harrill and others (1972-1981, undated) largely deals with publicity concerning the Hermit and George Harrill's desire to reopen the investigation of his father's death.

Robert Harrill's writings include poetry and discussions of family matters and his philosophy.

Also included in the collection are photographs of the Hermit, newspaper clippings (1958-1980, undated) and documents pertaining to his life at Fort Fisher and to his death, his 1937 divorce papers, and manuscript biographical material. The collection also contains pamphlets concerning the Taylor School (1923), writings by Harrill's wife, Katie, and Anson Gustavus Melton's Where is Love? and Other Poems (1938).

Administrative information
Custodial History

June 19, 1981, 160 items; Papers of the "Fort Fisher Hermit," including correspondence (1933-1972), clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous materials. Gift of George Edward Harrill, South Euclid, Ohio.

October 21, 1981, 30 items; Correspondence (1972-1981) and miscellaneous. Copies of original in possession of George Edward Harrill, South Euclid, Ohio.

February 2, 1984 (unprocessed addition 1), 1 item; photograph of Fort Fisher Hermit. Donor: Richard F. Becker.

February 25, 1993 (unprocessed addition 2), 3 items; a clipping, proclamation, and poem concerning Robert E. Harrill. Donor: Michael F. Edwards.

April 21, 1993 (unprocessed addition 3), 1 item; a copy of "The Ft. Fisher Hermit." Donor: Michael F. Edwards.

June 15, 1995 (unprocessed addition 4), 1 item; Booklet entitled "The Fort Fisher Hermit" by Stanley South. Donor: Dr. Stanley South.

February 8, 2000 (unprocessed addition 5), 2 items; Audio cassette tape "My Life- The Ft. Fisher Hermit" and computer disc containing information about Robert E. Harrill. Donor: Mr. Michael F. Edwards.

Source of acquisition

Gift of George Edward Harrill

Gift of Richard F. Becker

Gift of Dr. Stanley South

Gift of Mr. Michael F. Edwards

Processing information

Processed by M. York, November 1981

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Harrill, Robert E., 1893-1972
Corporate Names
Taylor School of Bio-Psychology
Eccentrics and eccentricities--North Carolina
Hermits--North Carolina--Fort Fisher
Melton, Anson Gustavus, 1890-1960. Where is love? and other poems

Container list
Box 1 Correspondence; Robert Harrill's writings
Box 2 Clippings, photographs, Katie Harrill's writings, pamphlets, papers pertaining to Harrill's death, miscellany