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MICHIGAN CHAPTER 15

The Old French Habitants and their Ways


LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR HAMILTON, quoted in the preceding chapter, describes the French peasant settled at Detroit as a lazy, happy-go-lucky sort of fellow, contented to satisfy his stomach in a moderate way and let the world take care of itself. He had no ambitions beyond his modest sphere in life. As a farmer he was indifferent. In spite of a luxuriant virgin soil, a superb climate and abundant crops his cattle starved in winter for lack of fodder. He drove a shaggy little pony, about two«-thirds the size of an average horse, possessed of a number of vicious traits, exceedingly tough and hardy and able to pick up its living the year round. His pigs were of the "razor back" variety. They had enormous appetites, and though in season they found an abundant supply of acorns and beech nuts, they never, by any possible exaggeration could be considered fat. He knew nothing of sheep raising—evidently had little use for wool and no predilection for mutton. His implements were as crude as his system of farming—a plow and a harrow, a spade and a hoe, a sickle and a flail, made up the list. The licensed blacksmith fashioned these according to his best instincts. They might have been more serviceable if they had been better made, but they served. The dwellings were patterned after those of the peasantry of the home country. They were of wood, sometimes the exterior covered with clapboards, one and one-half stories high, the long stretch of roof sloping toward the street, pierced with dormer windows. The little garden in front of the house was protected by pickets and was given over to onions, lettuce, artichokes, cucumbers and other garden stuff.

MICHIGAN


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