Story at a glance

  • An 81-year-old New Hampshire man who has spent the last 27 years living in a small cabin in the woods is in jail after squatting on the private land.
  • David Lidstone, known as “River Dave,” was recently taken to court by the landowner after learning in 2015 that Lidstone had been living on the land for years.
  • Lidstone has claimed that he had a verbal agreement with the previous landowner that he could stay there.

An 81-year-old New Hampshire man who has spent the last 27 years living in a small cabin in the woods is in jail for civil contempt after squatting on the private land.

David Lidstone, known as “River Dave,” was recently taken to court by the landowner, Leonard Giles, 86, after he learned Lidstone had been living on the land in Canterbury for years in 2015. Lidstone has been held in jail since July 15.

“You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em,” Lidstone told the judge on Wednesday, according to The Guardian. “I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir.”


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Lidstone has claimed that he had a verbal agreement with the previous landowner that he could stay there, where he grows his own food and tends to his cat and chickens. However, the judge said the law is on the current property owner’s side.

“You’re doing your own thing in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, so there’s a lot of sympathy to you for that,” Judge Andrew Schulman said. “But there’s a lot of weight on the other side of the balance sheet, and not just about what the [landowner] wants to do with the land, but the weight I feel to uphold the judgment of the court and the rule of law.”

Locals, such as Jodie Gedeon, who have befriended Lidstone, are attempting to help Lidstone by creating a petition and collecting funding so he can pay the property taxes.

“He’s just a really, really, big caring guy, and just chooses to live off the grid,” Gedeon said. “It really is about humanity, it really is about compassion, empathy … he’s not hurting anybody.”


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Published on Aug 05, 2021