CANTERBURY, N.H. — For almost three decades, 81-year-old David Lidstone has lived in the woods of New Hampshire along the Merrimack River in a small cabin adorned with solar panels. He has grown his own food, cut his own firewood and tended to his pets and chickens.
But his off-the-grid existence has been challenged in court by a property owner who says he’s been squatting for all those years. And to make Lidstone’s matters worse, his cabin was burned to the ground Wednesday afternoon in a blaze that is being investigated by local authorities.
Lidstone, or “River Dave” as he’s known by boaters and kayakers, was jailed July 15 on a civil contempt sanction. He was told he’d be released if he agreed to leave the cabin, but he has stayed put.
“You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em,” Lidstone told a judge in a court appearance Wednesday morning. “I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir.”
Lidstone is accused of squatting for 27 years in the cabin on private property in Canterbury. The wooden, two-level A-frame cabin had a small, cluttered kitchen with pots hanging from the ceiling, some appliances, and curtains on the windows. His porch had a footstool with a base made of stacked beer cans. He converted a wood stove into a beehive. He attached lights, a mirror and a pulley for a clothesline to logs supporting the cabin. There were piles of firewood.
Nearby was a gravel path…