Benjamin Franklin had just invented the stove, but it was not yet widely available. What did Michigan settlers eat to survive in the days long before the territory became a state?

Explorer Sir Walter Raleigh first landed in Virginia in 1585. Although that colony failed, pioneers would continue to try to tame the unsettled lands and subdue the native inhabitants of America. It was French furriers and adventurers that laid European claims to what is now Michigan, founding Detroit in 1700. The territory came under British rule after the French and Indian War in 1762.

Michigan DNR has shared what it might have been like to eat like a founding father. Obviously, there were no grocery stores and not even a Dollar General in the neighborhood during the eighteenth century. Settlers had to grow their food and hunt to survive. It's easy to see that, while animal furs were sold and traded commercially, the meat was valuable for survival. Small game was common in the diet of early European colonists in North America and likely was something these early settlers were quite familiar with.

Take a look at this mouth-watering recipe for jugged hare from the period. "Jugged" referred to the way the meat was cooked: sealed in a jug or pot that was placed in a pot of simmering water, usually for a long time – basically a low-tech crockpot. Would you eat this?

Cut a Hare in pieces, but do not wash it; season it with half an onion shred very fine, a sprig of thyme, and a little parsley all shred, and beaten pepper and salt, as much as will lie on a shilling, half a nutmeg, and a little lemon-peel; strew all these over your hare, and slice half a pound of bacon into thin slices; then put your hare into a jug, a layer of hare, and the slices of bacon on it; so do till all is in the jug; stop the jug close that not any steam can go out; then put it in a pot of cold water, lay a tile on the top, and let it boil three hours; take the jug out of the kettle, and put half a pound of butter in it, and shake it together till the butter is melted; then pour it in your dish. Garnish with lemon.

-Eliza Smith, "The Compleat Housewife," circa 1742

Get our free mobile app

MORE: General George A. Custer Historic Sites


More From WBCKFM