‘Discover Colchester’ hike combines exercise with local history

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Colchester - posted Tue., Sep. 10, 2013
Colchester Land Trust member and hiking guide Gary Walter educated walkers about how to read the trail marks when walking in dense foliage. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.
Colchester Land Trust member and hiking guide Gary Walter educated walkers about how to read the trail marks when walking in dense foliage. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.

About 20 people enjoyed the Colchester Land Trust’s latest “Discover Colchester” hike on Sunday, Sept. 1, including Gary Walter, who organized and guided the trek through the area surrounding Day Pond State Park in Westchester.

Hikers exercised their minds as well as their bodies as they learned about local history and how to read the markers that line the trails. The trail - steep in parts with the scraggly underbrush of slopes that surround the property - is adjacent to the geological formation called the Middletown ridge or fault. The group’s guide explained how important it is to always keep the next blue marker on a tree in sight before moving up or down a trail. When there is a fork in the trail, the marker tells the hiker to go left or right depending on whether an additional mark is on the left or right of the center blue mark.

The 3-mile hike began at the site where a clearly visible foundation marks where the early Colonial-era Day family homestead and saw mill once stood. It was the story of Edward Marvin Day’s family that fascinated some of the hikers more than the terrain. The late Day (1872-1947) was a leader and lawyer in his time, a contemporary of Gov. E. Lounsbury, for whom Day, as a young man, served as executive secretary. Colchester's Day Hall is named after Day's family, as he contributed funds to build it. He was a Bacon Academy graduate and served on its board of trustees.

Known for his deep knowledge of Christian liturgy, Edward Day was also a member of numerous judicial and corporate boards and honor societies, but most notably the Monday Night Club, an informal meeting of writers, who would gather and read one of their unpublished works to each other at home on Monday evenings. A very carefully hand-picked group, it later included Mark Twain, according to Day’s obituary in “Connecticut Reports” (Vol. 133, page 733).

His remarkable family was among the early settlers in Colchester, and Day, as a second-generation lawyer, became one of the most visible. His work at law created the leading firm Day Berry Law, which today is still known as Day Berry Howard. The family prospered through the law and his parents lived on the corner of Norwich Avenue on the Town Green. By the late 1900s, the Scott family, another family of lawyers, lived and worked there before the building was replaced to house a bank.

“Day was born in Colchester, and although he left to study law at Yale… and spent most of his career in Hartford where he practiced law and served for Colchester on the General Assembly, he came home to Colchester… [and] is buried at Linwood Cemetery,” said Walter.


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