Monday, May 11, 2009

The Kansas Hermit

It was less than a week ago that I first heard of Kirk Hughes, "The Hermit of Kansas." He was mentioned in passing, and not by name, as an eccentric guy who lived in the trees on the outskirts of Lawrence around 100 years ago. On Saturday I was walking with my friend Phil to go see a show at Burcham Park when we came across a plaque commemorating the man at the location of his last tree house. Then, today lawrence.com comes out with a piece that fleshes out more of his story. I have no idea why this came up three times in four days but I guess I should go ahead and share it here.

The story still resonates today because it is so easy to see the parallels between this radical, eccentric guy and a lot of the people in Lawrence today. The negative quotes from the newspaper article upon his death also sound like they could have been taken out of the Journal-World today on some of those very same characters. In fact, just replace every reference to Cameron with White Owl and tell me it's not pretty much spot on:
General Hugh Cameron is dead. The picturesque old man, with his queer costumes and queer ways, has passed away. He took great delight in the attention that was paid to him and considered the reputation of being a hermit as valuable as another would the holding of a place of great distinction. Furthermore, he considered that a hermit was entitled to special consideration and was not holden to the petty customs of social and business life.


Anyway, kind of interesting story about a hermit who helped make Lawrence weird for over 100 years.

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