In this Aug. 11, 2021, file photo, David Lidstone, an off-the-grid New Hampshire hermit known to locals as "River Dave," speaks to media outside Merrimack County Superior Court after a status conference hearing in Concord, New Hampshire. Credit: Elise Amendola / AP

David Lidstone, the New Hampshire hermit arrested for allegedly squatting on a property by the Merrimack River for nearly 30 years, and whose home was burned to the ground, now has a new appreciation for humanity, something he separated himself from for decades.

“He just never was really able to adapt to society decently,” his younger brother, Vincent Lidstone, said recently.

He remembers his brother, known by some as “River Dave,” being independent and always exploring the outdoors.

“When we were kids, we would do everything together, but that was a world that David could control, and when that world moved on, he didn’t,” Lidstone said.

Their family grew up on a farm in Wilton, Maine. As the oldest of five, a lot of the responsibilities fell on Dave’s shoulders.

“He would kind of have to be a father a lot of the time,” Lidstone said.

Lidstone said Dave was bullied in high school and refused to go to classes. He would escape to the woods instead and only come out at night to get food from their refrigerator.

Lidstone found out his brother was permanently living off the grid about six years ago.

“I thought it was a good place for him. He wasn’t living there because he had to, he was living there by choice,” Lidstone said.

“You’re looking at a man who’s a veteran, who’s 81 years old and honestly kept to himself,” said Jodie Gedeon, who met Dave while she was kayaking.

She has been helping him find his way after losing his home and his arrest last month.

The community is now donating food, clothes and money.

“He’s kind of restored some faith that there are good people out there,” Gedeon said.

She said he’s now living with friends and working on finding a permanent home.

“Ideally, we’d like to get him back on the Merrimack legitimately so this will never happen to him again,” Gedeon said.

“People knew him who kayaked up and down the river, but he didn’t bother anybody. Nobody bothered him. They should’ve just left him alone,” Lidstone said.