Friday, April 21, 2017

A Charles Lindbergh airplane hung at the entrance of the Federal Building in Chicago.

The airplane famed aviator Charles Lindbergh flew before making his legendary Atlantic crossing in the Spirit of St. Louis was hung over the Jackson Blvd. entrance of the Federal Building in Chicago, August 1927.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hawthorn-Mellody Farms & Amusement Park, Libertyville, IL. (1907-1970)

In 1907, Samuel Insull purchased 132 acres of land called Hawthorn Farm and a farmhouse that occupied the space. It was located on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue (RT 21), and today's Townline Road (RT 60).
Construction on a new house began in 1914, but the original structure stood for some time.
The Insull's new house at Hawthorn-Mellody Farms.
Hawthorn Mellody Estate Farm House designed for Samual Insull in 1914.
1941 Photograph during the Cuneo period.
A one room schoolhouse served children of employees and servants for the Insull home in Lake County. It was demolished in the 1990s, but it had been out of use long before this time.
Hawthorn one room schoolhouse.
John F. Cuneo, who bought the 2000-acre farm from utilities magnate Samuel Insull in 1937 and sold the property in 1967 to the National Industries, Inc. of Louisville.
One of the largest dairy farms in Lake County, Hawthorn-Mellody served the North Shore as far South as Evanston.  
Beyond functioning as a state of the art dairy farm, Hawthorn-Mellody also ran a small, but successful, amusement park including a Children's Petting Zoo, a Steam Train, Country Store, Western Town and the Club of Champs, which displayed autographs and possessions of the star athletes of the time, such as Joe Louis' boxing gloves and Sonja Henie's ice skates.
Film star Hopalong Cassidy made an appearance at Hawthorn Mellody Farms.
Cuneo hoped it would serve as a fun, educational center for children and adults alike to learn about agriculture and the dairy industry. He constructed a public Milking Parlor where visitors could watch the Holstein cows that were milked there every afternoon. The "free of human touch" production process convinced visitors to try Hawthorn-Mellody milk. 

Free of human touch dairy plant.
Hawthorn-Mellody Farms was torn down in 1970 due to a decrease in attendance and an inability to compete with more modern dairy facilities.

Hawthorn-Mellody Farm, Summers of 1964/65
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Private Tour of the Lincoln Library Vault in Springfield, on the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Funeral Train's Arrival in Illinois in 1865.

In March of 2015, when I judged for the Illinois History Day state finals for junior and senior High School student history fair projects and research papers, Pete Harbison, the Student Historian Program Coordinator, invited me to visit the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum to a private tour of the vault (which I found out later just doesn't happen) celebrating the 150th Anniversary of President Lincoln's Assassination on May 2, 2015, the date the Lincoln Funeral Train arrived in Springfield, Illinois.

When I arrived at the Lincoln Library, Pete and Dr. Samuel Wheeler, the Historian and Director of Research, Collections, and Library Services, were waiting for me. Dr. Wheeler was appointed in 2016 to the position of Illinois State Historian until July of 2020.
Our first stop was the Library’s research room. Here is where the public may request materials to study. There are not many books on the shelves, so you need to ask the librarian for the material you wish to see.
The thousands of Lincoln artifacts that are not displayed in the Museum are stored in the lower level of the Museum/Library. I was taken to a sub-level where there are 6 miles worth of movable, electronic filing shelves. I was told that most of the items stored here were waiting for research on the provenance of items.

The Preservation Department is a critical function of the Library. I was introduced to the staff and allowed to take photos as they were each working on a different project.
This project was the removal of the scotch tape residue from a Lincoln document from the mid-1850s.
Another person was working on preserving the “Members of the House of Representatives of the thirteenth General Assembly of the State of Illinois” photo montage.

I was escorted into a small private conference room in the basement, where Sam left for a few minutes, then came back pushing a cart with boxes and items on it. The painting and bronze statute below were in the conference room, along with some other historical artifacts that were never displayed to the public or were removed from the Museum for a change of exhibits.
I was privileged to be allowed to photograph some of the items Sam brought out to show me, but not all of them. He told me that these were some of his personal favorite Lincoln items.

The first item is Lincoln’s personal house key. The same house as the “Lincoln Home National Historic Site” at 426 South 7th Street in Springfield, where the Lincolns actually lived. I can just imagine Lincoln using this key every day!
The second item is Lincoln’s personal travel shaving kit which he took with him on his travels. Lincoln was clean-shaven when he began running for president. You see the kit open and the highly polished metal reflective surface (a crude mirror) Abe would look into to shave. 
Lincoln grew a beard after receiving a letter from Grace Bedell, an 11-year-old girl from New York, in October 1860, a few weeks before the election. Lincoln responded to Bedell a few days later in a letter. Read the Letters Here.
Abraham Lincoln's first whiskers in 1860.
By growing a beard, Lincoln nearly bankrupted a young entrepreneur named Milton Bradley, who had a booming business selling daguerreotype photographs of the clean-shaven candidate. Bradley destroyed his supply of daguerreotypes and turned to designing board games to make a living. Milton Bradley invented his first board game, on a red-and-ivory checkerboard of sixty-four squares. He called it the Checkered Game of Life in 1860.

I was shown (no photos allowed) a beautiful Tiffany (from New York) heart pendant owned by Mary Todd Lincoln. On one side were perfect diamonds (of course - it's Tiffany, after all) covering the entire heart – on the reverse side was a single flawless heart-cut diamond allowing you to view the spectrum of colors from the reverse side diamonds, making it see-through. 

Now comes my favorite item. Again, no pictures were allowed. I saw a handwritten letter from Mary Todd Lincoln the day after Abe died, written on mourning stationery (black-bordered paper) where Mrs. Lincoln gives instructions (i.e., her last will and testament) about what she desired after her death. She thought her sorrow was so massive that she was going to die. 

The very first sentence stated that she should be in-state, open casket, for 48 hours. She was terrified of waking up after being pronounced dead after being buried.

Doctors some times didn't know if a patient was actually dead as medical technology wasn't very accurate yet. Sometimes, people were buried, by mistake, still alive (evendent by scratch marks or tattered fabric on the cover of the casket). To combat this issue with a backup system, people were buried with one end of a rope tied to their wrist. The other end of the tope was hooked to an above-ground bell. If the person awoke in the casket, they would pull on the rope, ringing the bell, summoning help to dig them up before they suffocated.
Hence the term"Dead-Ringer."

Last but not least, I saw 1 of the 3 Lincoln surviving stovepipe hats. Dr. Wheeler told me they were researching the hat to pin down its provenance. He told me it might be an early hat from before Lincoln became President. It is made of beaver fur where the other two surviving hats were made from silk. There were two worn spots on the brim where the fur had worn through. It is where Lincoln's fingers would grab the hat's brim to tip it in greetings.

All in all — a wonderful way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's assassination.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Why does Chicago have Multilevel Streets?

Downtown Chicago, Illinois has some double-decked and a few triple-decked streets immediately north and south of the Main Branch of the Chicago River and immediately east of the South Branch.
The most famous and longest of these is Wacker Drive, which replaced the South Water Street Market upon its 1926 completion. The resulting bi-level street has an upper-level riverfront boulevard, a lower-level roadway for commercial and through traffic, and a recreational walkway at water level.

This configuration was due to geography and traffic patterns in the Loop. Unlike most parts of the rest of the city near the river, most downtown streets crossed the river. All of these crossings are done by bascule bridges and each bridge required height clearances at the approaches to and over the river. Further necessitating clearances were many existing railroad tracks that were along the river (as in the west bank of the south branch) or tracks that ended at the river (for example the tracks ending at Randolph Street). Thus along the river at points of many closely spaced crossings, a clearance zone was created. Many double-decked or triple-decked streets came into being as a result of falling within this clearance zone.
Upper & Lower Wacker Drive on the Chicago River.
This also created an anomaly not only in the layout and uses of streets but also in the planning of buildings. Generally, the upper levels of the multi-level streets usually serve local traffic. The primary entrances of buildings are usually located on this level. The lower levels generally serve through-traffic and trucks serving businesses along the roads. This level houses the receiving/shipping entrances to the buildings on these streets. Noticeable is the absence of such loading docks at the street level.

The raising of Chicago streets out of the mud began in 1858 when streets and buildings were raised between four and seven feet above their former elevation, just a few feet above the constantly muddy lake level. The higher elevation allowed for sewers and proper drainage.

However, this did not produce any two-level streets; the first of those was Michigan Avenue in the late 1910s. When the Illinois Center development was built on the east side of downtown, a new upper level was built, making most streets in that area three levels.

After about 1890, special interest groups, including recreational bicyclists, farmers delivering harvested crops to market, and motorists, began to mount support for concrete paving to replace the previously common dirt roads. Public road planning in Chicago began in 1910 when the Chicago Plan Commission was created to implement Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett's plan.

The double-decked portion of Wabash Avenue north of the Chicago River was built in 1930, in conjunction with the single-level Wabash Avenue Bridge.
On January 3, 2005, the upper and lower levels were closed at Kinzie Street for reconstruction (in conjunction with the Trump Tower Chicago development) and have since been reopened to traffic.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Marshall Field Delivery Wagons, State Street Store, Chicago, Illinois

Delivery wagons are lined up neatly in this 1897 image of Holden Court, the alley that traversed the store. Initially, boys made deliveries, toting bundles on foot or via public transportation, but in 1873, the firm switched to wagons.
By 1907, Marshall Field's used 700 horses and 300 wagons to cover its 350-square-mile delivery area. Stabling and caring for so many horses required a hefty annual budget of $686,000 ($18,315,547 in 2017).

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

John Kinzie, one of Chicago's Founding Fathers.

In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM introduces present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. Presentism is a form of cultural bias creating a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present fact-based and well-researched articles.

Facts don't require one's approval or acceptance.

I present [PG-13] articles without regard to race, color, political party, or religious beliefs, including Atheism, national origin, citizenship status, gender, LGBTQ+ status, disability, military status, or educational level. What I present are facts — NOT Alternative Facts — about the subject. You won't find articles or readers' comments that spread rumors, lies, hateful statements, and members instigating arguments and fights.

The use of old commonly used terms, disrespectful today, i.e., REDMAN
or REDMEN, SAVAGES, and HALF-BREED, are explained in this article.



John Kinzie (1763–1828) was born in Quebec City, Canada (then in the Colonial Province of Quebec) to John and Anne McKenzie, Scots-Irish immigrants. His father died before Kinzie was a year old, and his mother remarried. In 1773, the boy was apprenticed to George Farnham, a silversmith. Some of the jewelry created by Kinzie has been found in archaeological digs in Ohio. By 1777, Kinzie had become a trader in Detroit, where he worked for William Burnett. As a trader, he became familiar with local Indians and likely learned the dominant language. He developed trading at the Kekionga, a center of the Miami people.
The Kinzie Mansion. The House in the background is that of Antoine Ouilmette. Illustration from 1827.
Successive owners and occupants of the Kinzie Mansion:
  • Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable: circa 1796, fur trader/farmer. Moved from his 1790 farm on the Guarie River [1] (north branch of the Chicago River). He departs Chicago in 1800.
  • Jean Baptiste La Lime: 1800-1803, owner {{a careful reading of the Pointe de Sable-La Lime sales contract indicates that William Burnett was not just signing as a witness, but also financed 100% of the transaction, therefore being the owner}}.
  • Dr. William C. Smith with Jean Baptiste La Lime: 1803. (Kinzie forced Métis[2] Jean La Lime to relinquish De Sable's large house, which he then occupied with his family. When La Lime protested the loss of his property, Kinzie first quarreled with the man and then killed La Lime.)
  • John Kinzie's Family: 1804-1828 (except during 1812-1816).
  • Widow Leigh & Mr. Des Pins: 1812-1816.
  • Anson Taylor: 1829-1831 (residence and store).
  • Dr. E.D. Harmon: 1831 (residence & medical practice).
  • Jonathan N. Bailey: 1831 (residence/post office).
  • Mark Noble, Sr.: 1831-1832.
  • Judge Richard Young: 1832 (circuit court sessions).
  • Unoccupied and decaying in 1832.
  • Nonexistent by 1835.
In 1785, Kinzie helped rescue two sisters, U.S. citizens, who were kidnapped in 1775 from Virginia by the Shawnee Indians and adopted into the tribe. One of the girls, Margaret McKinzie, married him; her sister Elizabeth married his companion Clark. Margaret lived with Kinzie in Detroit and had three children with him. After several years, she left Kinzie and Detroit and returned to Virginia with their children. All three of the Kinzie children eventually moved as adults to Chicago.

In 1789, Kinzie lost his business in the Kekionga (modern Fort Wayne, Indiana) and had to move further from the western U.S. frontier. The U.S. was excluding Canadians from trade with the Native Americans in their territory. As the United States settlers continued to populate its western territory, Kinzie moved further west.

Antoine Ouilmette was the first permanent white settler of Chicago building a cabin at the mouth of the Chicago River in July of 1790

In 1800 Kinzie married again, to Eleanor Lytle McKillip. By the time they moved to Chicago, about 1803, they had a  son, John H. Kinzie. John H. was brought to Chicago by his fur-trading-friend-of-the-Indians father in 1804 when Fort Dearborn was just being completed. When John H. was 9 years old he witnessed the Fort Dearborn Massacre on August 15, 1812.

Eleanor had three more children in Chicago. Their daughter Ellen Marion Kinzie, believed to be the first European child of European descent born in Chicago, was born in 1805; followed by Maria Indiana in 1807, and Robert Allen Kinzie in 1810.

In 1804 Kinzie purchased the cabin and land from his partner William Burnett who in turn bought it from Jean Baptiste La Limewho worked as an interpreter at Fort Dearborn, which he purchased it from the original builder, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (the "du" of Point du Sable is a misnomer. It is an American corruption of "de" as pronounced in French, "Jean Baptiste Point de Sable" and first appears long after his death). The cabin was located at the mouth of the Chicago River. His partner William Burnett had owned the house since 1800. That same year, Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory appointed Kinzie as a justice of the peace.

After the U.S. citizens built Fort Dearborn, across the Chicago River from Kinzie's house, Kinzie's influence and reputation rose in the area; he was useful because of his relationship with the Indians. 

In 1810 Kinzie and Whistler became embroiled in a dispute over Kinzie supplying alcohol to the Indians. In April, Whistler and other senior officers at the fort were removed; Whistler was replaced as commandant of the fort by Captain Nathan Heald.

Kinzie was said to be an "aggressive" trader and was described as a "volatile and violent character" who clashed with some American soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn.

Jean Baptiste La Lime worked as an interpreter at Fort Dearborn and was a neighbor of John Kinzie. La Lime was Chicago's first murder victim. Tensions between Kinzie and La Lime came to a head on June 17, 1812, when the two men met outside Fort Dearborn. La Lime was armed with a pistol and Kinzie with a butcher’s knife. There was a witness account.

The War of 1812 began between Great Britain and the United States, and tensions rose on the northern frontier.

Kinzie fled to Milwaukee, then the Indian territory. While in Milwaukee, he met with pro-British Indians who were planning attacks on U.S. settlements, including Chicago. Kinzie went back to Chicago. During this period, an inquest at Fort Dearborn under Captain Nathan Heald exonerated Kinzie in the killing of La Lime, ruling it was in self-defense. Historians speculate that La Lime may have been informing on corruption related to purchasing supplies within the fort and had been silenced. The case has been called "Chicago's first murder."

The Fort Dearborn Massacre was partially due to the attack by Indians at Charles Lee's Place, today's Bridgeport neighborhood. On April 6, 1812, a party of ten or twelve Winnebagoes, dressed and painted, arrived at the Lee house, and, according to the custom among savages[1], entered and seated themselves without ceremony. What happened next was horrific. This incident was the precursor to the Fort Dearborn Massacre later that summer.

Although worried that Chicago would be on heightened alert, the Indians attacked Fort Dearborn on August 15, 1812, and killed most of the people in the fort. Billy Caldwell arrived on the scene just after the battle and saved the lives of the John Kinzie family. That’s the traditional account of what had happened. Historians have been unable to verify it. 

Kinzie escaped with his family unharmed and returned to Detroit. Identifying as a British citizen, Kinzie had a strong anti-U.S. streak.

In 1813, the British arrested Kinzie and Jean Baptiste Chardonnai, also then living in Detroit, charging them with treason. They were accused of having corresponded with the enemy (the U.S. General Harrison's army) while supplying gunpowder to chief Tecumseh's Indian forces, who were fighting alongside the British. Chardonnai escaped, but Kinzie was imprisoned on a ship for transport to England. When the ship put into port in Nova Scotia to weather a storm, Kinzie escaped. He returned to the U.S. held Detroit by 1814.

Formerly identifying as a British citizen, Kinzie switched citizenship to the United States. He returned to live in Chicago with his family in 1816.

Kinzie suffered a stroke on June 6, 1828, and died a few hours later. Originally buried at the Fort Dearborn Cemetery, Kinzie's remains were moved to City Cemetery in 1835. When the cemetery was closed due to concerns it could contaminate the city's water supply, Kinzie's remains were moved to Graceland Cemetery.
John Kinzie's headstone at Chicago's Graceland Cemetery.
John Kinzie's Spouses
Eleanor Lytle Kinzie
1769–1834 (m. 1798)
Margaret MacKenzie Kinzie

John Kinzie's Children
William Kinzie
Elizabeth Kinzie
James Kinzie
John Harris Kinzie
Ellen Marion Kinzie Wolcott Bates
Maria Indiana Kinzie Hunter
Robert Allen Kinzie

Kinzie Family Firsts
John Kinzie called his house "The Mansion."
The bronze plaque is considered lost.
The first person born at Chicago of white parentage was the daughter of John and Eleanor Kinzie and the sister of Maria and Robert A. Kinzie. The event happened, in what was afterward known as the Kinzie House on the north side [of the river], (so Mrs. Whistler tells us,) and the little lady first saw the light upon the shore of the Divine River, (a name sometimes applied to the creek here in former days, though scarcely divine at present, if purity is an essential attribute), on one of the days of December of 1804. [Her published obituary, gave the date of her birth as December 1805; yet Mrs. Whistler assures us that it occurred earlier by some months than that of her son Lewis, and that it was in winter or cold weather. Allowing the month to have been December, agreeable to the obituary referred to, the conclusion must be, that the year was that of 1804.] 

In due time, she was given the Christian name of Ellen Marion [Kinzie], and her playmates in early childhood were often the Indian children, with whom she gathered the summer flowers along the sedgy banks of the quiet stream. But the war came, Fort Dearborn was abandoned, and then occurred an exhibition of brutal carnage which savages so delight in; it was the massacre at Chicago [Fort Dearborn]. But the household of John Kinzie, after various perils and escapes, under the care of friendly captors, were taken to St. Joseph, and thence to Detroit. The rebuilding of Fort Dearborn brought back the Kinzie's to their old home.

The First Negro Slave in Chicago. 
"Black Jim" was brought here by John Kinzie in 1804.

Chicago's First Murder.
Jean Baptiste La Lime was killed by John Kinzie on June 17, 1812.

The First Wedding in Chicago.
Ellen Marion Kinzie, the daughter of John Kinzie one of Chicago's founders, married [at 18 years old] Dr. Alexander Wolcott, Jr. (1790-1830) who came to Chicago from Windsor, Connecticut, as an Indian Agent in 1820. They married on July 20, 1823. Her married name would, therefore, be Ellen Marion Wolcott. The marriage was eight years before the formation of Cook County, and at that time, this unorganized region was attached to Fulton County.

Everybody in the settlement received an invitation to the wedding. If anybody failed to be present it is not recorded in the “antiquities” of Chicago. Fort Dearborn had been evacuated a few weeks before the nuptial event, otherwise, the festivities would have been attended by the officers and men of the garrison.

The Guest List:
  • Mr. and Mrs. John Kinzie, parents of the bride.
  • John, Harris and Robert Kinzie, brothers of the bride.
  • Maria Indiana Kinzie, sister of the bride.
  • James Kinzie, half brother of the bride.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Jean Baptiste Beaubien, and son Madore Beaubien.
  • M. du Pin, a French trader, and wife, the latter was the widow of Charles Lee, who was scalped by the Indians at Fort Dearborn in April of 1812.
  • David McKee, the “village blacksmith,” who was a recent arrival.
  • Joseph Porthier, employee of McKee.
  • Victoire, Genevieve, and Jean Baptiste Mirandeau, servants in the Kinzie household.
  • Antoine Ouilmette and wife, the former was in Mr. Kinzie’s employ.
Besides the mentioned, there were two Indian chiefs in attendance at the wedding Billy Caldwell (Indian name: Saugannash) and Alexander Robinson (Che-che-pinqua). Both were sons of British officers, who had taken Indian wives, and both played a prominent part in early Chicago’s history.

Additional Reading:
John Kinzie - Chicago House Chronology. 
John Kinzie - Important Chicago Firsts by the Kinzie Family.
John Kinzie - Kills Jean Baptiste La Lime, Chicago's first murder victim in 1812.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] "SAVAGE" is a word defined in U.S. dictionaries as a Noun, Verb, Adjective, and Adverb. Definitions include:
  • a person belonging to a primitive society
  • malicious, lacking complex or advanced culture
  • a brutal person
  • a rude, boorish, or unmannerly person
  • to attack or treat brutally
  • lacking the restraints normal to civilized human beings
Unlike the term "RED MEN," dictionaries like Merriam-Webster define this term, its one-and-only definition, as a Noun meaning: AMERICAN INDIAN (historically dated, offensive today).

The term Red Men is used often in historical books, biographies, letters, and articles written in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.

I change this derogatory term to "INDIANS" to keep with the terminology of the time period I'm writing about.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Paul's Grove ─► Storybook Park ─► Storybook City USA, in Medina, Illinois (Addison, IL). (1952-1961)

The land that Storybook City sat on was originally owned by Paul Werner and was known as Paul's Grove. It is unknown exactly when Werner began to operate Paul's Grove. It consisted of 24 acres and hosted a restaurant and a dance pavilion.

It was located at the northwest corner of Medinah Road and Lake Street in the Chicago suburb of Bloomingdale, Illinois, but all advertisements and the mailing address read "Addison, Illinois."

Paul's Grove was purchased by John and Marie Spiezio in 1952 and they managed it until 1958.
C. Diane Bishop: "My first job was Cinderella here in 1959. That's Mike the coachman in the seat. My fondest memory is when the horses spooked one day and jackknifed the coach into a tree. Moms were not happy."
Sometime in 1958, the park was purchased by Richard Barrie who changed the name to Storybook Park, then later Barrie changed the name to Storybook City, USA. The park was geared to families with young children.

Richard Barrie was the founder and owner of the private, corporate event amusement and picnic park called, "Hillcrest Park" in Woodridge [formerly Lemont], from 1952 to 2003.
Barrie added some kiddie rides, built a fairy-tale castle, and hired people to dress in costumes, thus bringing the storybook characters to life. After some financial problems, Barrie sold Storybook City USA to Durell Everding in 1961.
Notice the odd seating arrangement on the miniature train.
Chicago Tribune Ad, December 10, 1960
Everding renamed it Adventureland in 1961 and expanded the focus of the amusement park to include older children, teens, and young adults. The original Storybook City structures remained and the kiddie rides were grouped together in a section Everding called the "Kiddie Korral". Adventureland grew and became the largest amusement park in Illinois after Chicago's Riverview Park closed in 1967. It would retain this title until Marriott's Great America opened in 1976 (now Six Flags Great America since 1984), and Adventureland closed in 1977.
The Original "Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" from Storybook Park (the toe was enclosed) can be seen at the miniature golf course at Green Valley Golf Range in Hanover Park, Illinois.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Fort Massac, Metropolis, Illinois.

The high bank overlooking the Ohio River at Metropolis drew a series of occupants to the site. Prehistoric Native Americans camped near here. In 1757, after years of intermittent use for trading purposes, the French constructed a fortification to block British expansion into the Mississippi River basin.
The fort was named in honor of the Marquis de Massiac, a French naval minister. The end of the French and Indian War in 1763 marked the fort passing into British hands. 
In 1778 as a prelude to his march on Kaskaskia, George Rogers Clark and his men landed at the mouth of Massac Creek and advanced to the fort, which they found abandoned. Under orders from President Washington, the fort was rebuilt in 1794 and garrisoned to guard American interests on the lower Ohio River. A customs port was opened, as was a post office. Zebulon Pike, for whom Pike's Peak is named, served here as a Lieutenant. 

After the War of 1812 the post was no longer needed, and it was again abandoned.
In 1908, recognizing its historical importance, the site was dedicated as Illinois' first state park. Archaeological excavations in the 1930s, 1960s and 1970s provided information that ultimately resulted in a reconstructed fort from the American period. Dedicated in 1973, the reconstructed fort was not placed in the original location to the west to preserve the site's integrity. 
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.