Note that there is no sugar in this recipe. Although Mrs. Bryan suggested cooking the muffins in fancy “scalloped” pans the recipe itself is already generations old. Sugar was expensive and difficult to obtain during the early years of settlement and was seldom used and then only for special desserts or food preservation. The addition of sugar to cornbread comes later in the century and interestingly mostly in recipes originating in the South. New Englanders continued to eat their cornbread “sugarless.”
For most of the 19th Century, the most plentiful crop in Indiana was corn. [...] food made from corn was a staple of the average diet in 1836.
However, eating ‘corn on the cob’ like we do today would not have been a common thing in 1836. Many folks would have harvested some corn while it was still soft – in the ‘green’ or ‘milk’ stages, as they would call it – and cut the corn off the cob to make pudding and other dishes. But the average Indiana settler’s teeth were far too weak and rotten to be able to comfortably eat the corn right off the cob. Instead, most corn was let to dry in the fields and then ground into meal and used for baking.