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Casey Miller (1919-1997) and Kate Swift (1923-2011), ignited a movement that reshaped our language to reflect a more inclusive, gender-balanced world. They realized, while editing a sex education handbook for high school students in 1970, that seemingly neutral terms often defaulted to male interpretations, thereby marginalizing women.


That discovery led to their groundbreaking articles and books that chronicled gender bias in language and demonstrated through how to fix it. Through their work and their actions, Miller and Swift showed how the power and potential of words can serve as catalysts for broader social change.

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Anita Marie Gelston Ballek (1930-2023) deeply loved her hometown and the farm she grew up on, land that has been in her family since 1662.


After earning a UConn degree in Dairy Husbandry with a minor in Chemistry and Genetics in 1951, she planned to build the "best Holstein herd on the planet" on her ancestral farmland. When economic and lifestyle changes devastated family dairy farms, she adeptly pivoted, selling her herd and starting Ballek’s Garden Center in 1969, eventually involving seven of her children and grandchildren as partners.


Anita was a passionate advocate for "clean soil, fresh air and pure water," sharing her expertise and perspectives through countless presentations for the land trust, the historical society, and area schools, among others. She practiced what she preached, using sustainable agriculture and protecting her beloved land in perpetuity through CT Farmland Trust.

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George Comer (1858-1937) was born in Quebec. His father was lost at sea and his mother couldn’t support the family, so he was adopted by an East Haddam family as a young boy. He lived in town for the rest of his life.

When he was 17, Comer walked from East Haddam to New London and joined a whaling expedition. That was the beginning of a 44-year span during which he spent time at sea.

Comer specialized in Arctic whaling and sailed as captain or master of a ship for the first time in 1895. Over his many trips to the Arctic, he became friends with the Inuit and an authority on their culture and environment.

He researched and collected for leading natural history museums and was the last of the many whaling captains who sailed out of New London. After retirement, Comer was elected to the Connecticut Legislature. 

Abner Beebe's Chapman Falls mill was destroyed.

Elizabeth Mathers was the town's sole suffragette.

Evelyn Durand's impetuous marriage ended badly.

What do an 18th-century Tory sympathizer, a 19th-century suffragette champion, and a 20th-century love-struck traveler have in common? All three were East Haddam residents whose distinctive life stories were the subject of Mysteries of East Haddam, the popular annual event at the East Haddam Historical Society and Museum by Municipal Historian Dr. Karl Stofko.

Watch as Dr. Stoko tells the life stories of these three East Haddamites: British loyalist Dr. Abner Beebe, tarred and feathered in 1774 by a Revolutionary mob who then destroyed his Chapman Falls mill; prolific 1800s writer on social justice issues Elizabeth Mathers, who campaigned to get women the vote; and aspiring actress Evelyn Durand, whose 1922 whirlwind shipboard romance with a dashing, titled British war veteran led to an impetuous marriage soon followed by cheating and heartbreak.

Longtime Residents Tell Their Stories of Life in Town and Out

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