AUGUSTA — The Kennebec Historical Society’s January public presentation, “Hermit: The Mysterious Life of Jim Whyte,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the Maine State Library, 230 State St., according to a news release from Scott R. Wood, administrative director, KHS.

When Whyte settled outside the slate mining town of Monson in 1895, people hardly knew what to make of him. And almost 130 years later, we still don’t. A world traveler that spoke six languages fluently, Whyte came to town with sacks full of money and a fierce desire to keep to himself. It was clear that Whyte was hiding from something — enough to make even the FBI to eventually come looking. But even the Feds couldn’t imagine how Whyte, who lost every penny he had when World War I broke out, amassed another fortune

Jeffrey Ryan Photo courtesy of Kennebec Historical Society

before he died. Based on the true story, Hermit follows one man’s quest to discover all he can about Whyte’s secret life before it’s too late.

KHS speaker, Maine-based author and photographer Jeffrey Ryan has a contagious passion for exploring the outdoors, particularly on foot. Ryan has hiked thousands of miles including his first trip of a lifetime, a 6½-month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.

In 1985, he began section hiking the Appalachian Trail with a childhood friend, a journey that would take 28 years to complete and culminated in his first book, “Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America’s trail.”

Intrigued by the question of how the legendary trail came into being, he researched and wrote his second book, “Blazing Ahead: Benton MacKaye, Myron Avery and the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail.” His latest book, a historical novel titled, “Hermit: The Mysterious Life of Jim Whyte,” is centered in Monson on the Appalachian Trail. When he is not researching and writing, Ryan explores the backroads of the USA and Canada in his vintage 1985 VW camper.

The Kennebec Historical Society January presentation is co-sponsored by the Maine State Library and is free to the public; donations gladly accepted. The presentation will be followed by some light refreshments.

For more information, contact Wood at 622-7718.

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