Category: Robert Hale / The Pilgrims

The strange story of Papa Pilgrim

Robert “Bobby” Hale, the Scripture-quoting “Papa Pilgrim” who used the Bible to pound subservience into his 15 children, went before a judge in Alaska last month, looking old and frail beyond his 66 years as he learned his punishment — 14 years behind bars — for sexually assaulting one of his daughters.

Homesteading Families Blend

The Pilgrim family’s life in the place they called “Hillbilly Heaven” ended in September 2005, when a Palmer grand jury handed up 30 felony charges of rape, assault and incest against Robert Hale involving one of his daughters. Hale, 65, the son of a famous FBI agent, who grew up in a country club lifestyle in Texas before disappearing into a vagabond life of the 1960s, was arrested outside Eagle River after 12 days on the run.

Papa Pilgrim arrested

Robert Hale, the McCarthy-area patriarch known as Papa Pilgrim, was taken into custody in Eagle River around 1 p.m. Wednesday after a manhunt of nearly two weeks, Alaska State Troopers said. He was wanted on charges of raping and assaulting one of his daughters.

Pilgrims vs. Park Service

The Pilgrims are used to making a strong first impression: the 15 children raised on horseback bearing biblical names, such as Bethlehem and Moses, with their flowing hair, hand-me-down clothes and home-tooled leather hats, fanning out in wings beside their parents and listening attentively as Papa speaks.