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In Their Own Words

January 27, 1735

Limited Food in Colonial Georgia

What kind of food items were available in the early years of the colony? Not a lot. Elisha Dobree had come to Georgia eight months earlier, and apparently was working at the Trustees’ store in Savannah. Also, he hoped to use his five-acre garden lot to grow crops for the store, as noted in a letter to the Trustees:

“…[T]he settling your Store’s account [is] taking almost my whole time and gives me no small trouble through the confused state they are in … .

“As to my garden, I have with all the endeavours I possibly could make us of got seeds from sundry places and am now daily expecting more … .

“As we have no fresh beef nor pork out of the Store, eating so much salt meat heats the blood and causes the scurvy. I have sowed a vast quantity of greens and have now fine salad, peas and cabbage plants and almost ready to eat. Turnips from Carolina are sold this day at 2/2 Sterling per bushel. Good cabbages would readily sell for 6 and 8 pence [a]piece, but none good to be had. At any rate few are coming from New York but mostly spoiled… .

“… I am now going to sow the following seeds: almonds, currants, raisins, lime, lemons and other foreign seeds. I have already put in orange, cotton, olive &c. I have poppies, which grow up very fine. Some people tells me they are valuable in physick, for which reasons I shall take care to make the best of them.

“I design to plant or sow this week a sort of beans which grows about 12 or 15 foot high and produce extraordinary large beans of wonderful size, scarce and hard to be met with… .

“Molasses from Charles Town have been lately sold here by Mr. Houston at 2/6 per gallon and at the rate I see them in the London invoice it would save some money to send them there… .

“Mr. Musgrove is very ill and like[ly] to die. I should gladly accept of some of his trade were Your Honours pleased to grant me license for the same… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 118-120.