I ran across a reference to "the mysterious Jim Whyte of Monson, Maine" while researching another book I was working on. There were references to a secret past, great wealth, world travels and more. As you can imagine, that piqued my interest and it wasn't long before Jim Whyte took me on a great adventure into the rural Maine landscape of the past and present.
In 1895, Jim Whyte arrived in the slate mining town of Monson, Maine with sacks full of money and a fierce desire to be alone. What was he hiding from? Over the years, even the FBI wanted to know.
But I found out.
This Maine hermit holed up in a cabin he built high upon a ridge. He even designed window shutters that allowed him to look out, while preventing people from seeing in. Over the years, this self-styled recluse and his wife, Tessa made a few friends in town and secrets started leaking out.
Whyte had run away from the family home in New York City when he was just sixteen. He joined the German navy, became a pearl diver, traveled the world and learned how to speak six languages fluently. He told fantastic stories about his adventures, but kept his private life to himself.
People had questions.
How did he accumulate enough money to buy a 1910 Apperson town car for $3,000 in cash (the equivalent of $89,000 today)?
– Why did his wife, Tessa leave him in 1916?
– How did Whyte lose his fortune in 1917?
– How did he make it back (and then some) during the Great Depression?
– What happened to the $40,000 he left buried somewhere?
Based on the true story, my book, Hermit: The Mysterious Life of Jim Whyte holds many of the answers (see my Amazon page to learn more about that book)
This book, In Search of Jim Whyte, tells the story behind that book — how I discovered the remarkable tale of Jim Whyte in the first place and how I set about writing my most popular book to date.