– The Associated Press

MIDDLESEX, Vt. – Historians eager to peer into the depths of Vermont history have a new treasure trove of documents that highlight the mundane, the unusual, and the bizarre cases decided by courts over 150 years in the Northeast Kingdom’s Caledonia County.

The records from 1795 to 1945 were recently pulled from the courthouse basement and organized by archivists at the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration.

n One case, hand-written in archaic cursive, tells the 1800 equivalent of a malpractice case. Chloe Eddy alleged she had a breast amputated by two Montpelier doctors who wanted to do nothing more than practice the operation.

Eddy and her husband sued for $3,000. After two county court juries awarded far less in damages, an appeal was heard by the Vermont Supreme Court in 1802, which increased the award. The case is thought to have been one of Vermont’s first medical malpractice lawsuits.

n Another case, from 1850, details the legal case against New York counterfeiter William Warburton, an Englishman, who thought he could escape justice by setting up shop in Groton. A June 25, 1850 order to the sheriff commanded that Warburton be taken to the Vermont State Prison in Windsor to serve a 10-year sentence “at hard labor.”

Court records for Orleans County were opened for research in July 2012 and Lamoille County court records will be completed this summer.

The records are being organized with a $118,078 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, an arm of National Archives and Records Administration.

By far the greatest number of lawsuits involved debt, but there also are divorces and criminal cases, from arson to murder.

“This is a really large set of case files for that era,” said archivist Susan Swasta.

“What I discovered in working with all of these, with any given case, if you are lucky, there are three different pieces of information: There’s the docket books, and then, if you’re lucky, the case files and then if it reached some judgment they recorded that in those big books over there,” Swasta said in one of the rooms at the Middlesex archives. “Each one might have slightly different kinds of information on the case.”


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