It seems there are hermits a-plenty living in Michigan, for one reason or another.

In the late 1800s, the man known as “Uncle Eph” hermitized himself in Benzie County, around Platte Lake near Honor and west of Traverse City. Taking a look at his three-wall shack, there's a huge wood-burning stove that kept him warm.

Roch Tybushewsky - “The Rock” - became a hermit after he accidently killed a student. He was teaching classes in Alpena when this accident happened (details unknown). Feeling terribly guilty and hurt, he traveled across the state to the Leelanau Peninsula, where he settled at Suttons Bay. He put himself in a hermit lifestyle as some kind of self-imposed penance for the killing.

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In his younger years, Bill Matilla worked in a Detroit factory; it finally took its toll until Bill stated he wanted “to live off the land as his grandfather had done in Finland years ago” he did.

There was also a semi-well-known hermit from the McBain area, but no details, name, or whereabouts seem to be available...except for the picture we have here in the gallery.

One hermit who I do not have a picture of (but wish I did) was Max Hackel, known to locals as “Michigan Slim”. Slim went into the woods and found an abandoned lumber camp blacksmith shop and turned it into a tiny cabin he called 'Grasshopper Ranch', nine miles from Big Bay, 28 miles north of Marquette. Why that name? According to Slim, the land “won’t grow anything but grasshoppers in these sand plains.”

Born in 1889, Slim lived in his cabin with few mishaps, except for a few bear encounters. One bear smashed through the door and after making a mess, crashed out through the window. Another time, Slim was walking home after a good day of fishing when a bear – who smelled the fish -  met him on the road. Slim had a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth, so he spit a good portion of chaw juice into the bear's face, causing the bear to turn and run.

Before becoming a hermit, Slim married in 1913, enlisted to fight in World War I in 1918, and came home after a year – only to find his wife had run off with another man. Slim began wandering, ending up in Canada for four years until he returned to Michigan.

In 1925, he thought he'd try marriage again. At least this one lasted longer – they divorced in 1934. Disheartened, Slim went back to the woods and continued the hermit life for 44 years. When he was 89 years old, he put himself into a nursing home where he died just three weeks later in April 1978.

The gallery below shows the previous four hermits, but until I can find a legal one to use about Slim, you can see what he looks like here.

Five Michigan Hermits


Four Characters From Michigan's Copper Country

The Hermit of Suttons Bay

Clem Sohn, the Bat Man/Birdman of Michigan

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