Woodstock, Connecticut, 1796
Moved to OSV, 1965
Early 19th-century lawyers were members of a growing, powerful, and challenging profession. Like their city counterparts, country lawyers spent much of their time collecting debts for prosperous citizens and drawing up leases, mortgages, property deeds, contracts, and partnerships in trade. Many also solved commerce-related problems and advocated for economic development.
Rural lawyers represented their clients at informal local courts, where they argued minor cases before justices of the peace. Four times a year, they could take other cases to the Court of Common Pleas at the county seat. Occasionally, they went before the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. Many country lawyers worked in small freestanding offices like the Law Office at Old Sturbridge Village, built for John McClellan of Woodstock, Connecticut. Others worked out of rooms in their homes.