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LOCAL WWI VETERAN AND RECLUSE
TO BE HONORED IN BELFAST
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In August of 2015, the Monson Historical Society was contacted by a University of Maine student who was writing a thesis on Hermits of Maine. Apparently the Monson/Elliotsville/Onawa area of Piscataquis County contained many such reclusive men over the span of years and thus began the journey for several members of the Historical Society.
One of them, known locally as Hank the Hermit, was especially interesting to member Estella Bennett as she found her father was one of only three people who attended Hanks funeral. Census records found that Hank was born to a prominent family in Belfast, the only child of Horace and Villa Perkins. His name was Ralph Albert Perkins.
At a young age the family of three moved to Massachusetts where Ralph’s father was foreman in a large shoe factory located in Chelsea. Ralph himself worked in the shoe factory in his late teens. At age 20 Ralph lost his father in a tragic train accident. In 1917, at the age of 24 Ralph enlisted in the service.
Coming back from WWI he went to Chesuncook, Maine to work in a woods camp for Great Northern. There the paper trail ends for Ralph as he moved further into the woods of the Elliotsville area and became known to all as Hank the Hermit.

Ralph Albert Perkins, Hank the Hermit, to be honored on Sunday, July 30th in Belfast.
After many interviews with several in the Monson area who remembered Hank the consensus was he was a large man in stature, bearded and friendly on his own terms. He was known to enjoy the company of the quarry workers in his later years but came into Monson rarely. However, for one family Hank was a hero. In April of 1948 Hank was at his cabin near South Pond when he heard cries for help. Tragically by the time he arrived on the scene Bob Zimmerman had drowned, Clifford Douglass had made it to shore but Charles Douglass was clinging to an overturned canoe in the frigid water. Hank found a nearby canoe, broke the chain and rescued Charles. Without fanfare he built a fire for the two men and returned to his cabin.
Many stories of Hank survive and one known photo. Hank died in his sleep October 20th, 1962 and was buried in Belfast next to his family. It was discovered he didn’t have a headstone and the Monson Historical Society applied for and received a VA stone in the fall of 2016.
But the story has come full circle. This spring while researching WWI Veterans Estella found Ralph had relatives in Belfast. The family knew very little about Ralph other than his given name. Information has been shared and a joint ceremony will be held for Ralph on Sunday, July 30th at 2 PM in Belfast at the Grove Cemetery located at 98 Waldo Avenue.
This WWI Veteran will be honored by the Jerry W. Dobbin American Legion Post #157 of Stockton Springs and the Towne- Holmbom Post #116 of Monson. The public is welcome to attend. For more information contact Estella Bennett at 876-3073 or embweb@myfairpoint.net.