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Karl Stofko's Annual 'Mysteries of East Haddam'

Three Decades Researching, Writing and Presenting Town History

Dr. Karl Peter Stofko loves to tell stories of town history. Over the last three decades, he has  discovered, researched and presented 126 of them in his annual "Mysteries of East Haddam" program, held at the East Haddam Historical Society Museum.

We recorded the 2022 edition,  which includes stories of local suffragette Elizabeth Mather, globe-trotting Evelyn Durand, and Revolutionary War loyalist Abner Beebe. Scroll down to see the videos.

Dr. Stofko was a well-known, popular dentist in town for more than 50 years after relocating here in 1965. When not treating patients, he devoted his spare time to singing in various productions.

Town Historian Karl Stofko has presented 126 stories of town history since his first annual "Mysteries of East Haddam" presentation in 1991. After the 2022 event, Selectwomen Theresa Govert and Irene Haines presented certificates of appreciation to Dr. Stofko for more than 30 years of service to the community.

For the past 40 years, he has been knee-deep in town history. He has served as the East Haddam Municipal Historian for almost 40 years.  He has co-authored local histories of Connecticut state architectural surveys and historic district reports. Dr. Stofko is the East Haddam Historical Society historian and has been an active member and presenter at the museum for many decades.


He founded and continues to host the annual Venture Smith Day, which raises awareness, among other things, of the importance of the diverse history of the Connecticut River Valley. Dr. Stofko is esteemed throughout New England for his deep knowledge of history, which he enthusiastically shares with academics, authors, educators, schoolchildren, and the public. He's served as president and superintendent of the First Church Cemetery in East Haddam. In 2023, he was recognized by the Connecticut League of History Organizations for his achievements.

Dr. Stofko’s unwavering dedication to the research and promotion of East Haddam history makes him an indispensable civic resource and a much-cherished part of the East Haddam community.

Dr. Abner Beebe (1725-1801)

He Was Attacked by a Revolutionary Mob, Which Also Destroyed His Mill

As Revolutionary passions rose in the 1770s, Dr. Abner Beebe, owner of a grist mill at Chapman Falls. remained publicly loyal to the English crown. This led town officials to formally shun him in 1774. When the Brits attacked New London that year, a local gang of young men called the Sons of Liberty went after him. After stopping on the way to recruit some schoolboys, as young as 11 years old, they arrived at Beebe's Millington Green home, stripped him naked, tarred and feathered him, covered him in dung, publicly humiliated him, and then destroyed his mill.  Dr. Beebe had a very bad day. He later repented in a newspaper statement, his reputation soon restored.

Evelyn May Carroll Durand (1894-1988)

She Might Have Been a Baroness Had Her British Hubby Not Strayed

Evelyn Durand, the daughter of a Brooklyn, NY, steamboat worker, often joined her father on cruises, including visits to relatives in East Haddam. After her family relocated here about 1905, Evelyn continued to indulge her love of travel and the arts. It was on a 1922 cruise to Europe that her life took a cinematic turn when she met Lt. Cdr. Mortimer Durand, son of a British baronet. Their intense shipboard romance was followed by marriage soon after their arrival, thrusting Evelyn into London high society. The fairy tale ended in 1927 when Mortimer cheated during one of Evelyn’s extended annual trips back to town. She returned here to spend her remaining years.

Elizabeth Louisa Mather (1815-1882)

She Wrote about Women's Suffrage, Religion, and Capital Punishment

Elizabeth Mather played a pioneering role in the 19th-century movements for women's rights and social reform. Born into a religious East Haddam family that was rooted in education and public service, Mather developed a lifelong passion for learning and writing. When she married local farmer Eleazer Watrous Mather, their shared commitment to principles of social justice led them to convert to Universalism. For 40 years, Mather wrote fervent essays, articles and poems for national publications on religion, capital punishment and women’s suffrage, becoming a widely known and vocal advocate for the social justice causes of her time.

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