Daughters of the
Welcome to the official site of the
Fort Massac Chapter DAR!
We are Daughters, friends and colleagues and we would love for you to learn more about us. As you explore our site you will find the history of our chapter as well as information about our society.
History of Our Community
Massac County has had a
great role in American history
because of its location on the
Ohio River. It is home of Fort
Massac, Superman, and many
Metropolis, Illinois in Massac
County, is located on the Ohio
River across from Paducah,
Kentucky. When Illinois was under French colonial control,
Fort Massac was built on high ground at a strategic point on the Ohio River.
It was originally named Fort De L' Ascension because construction began on May 1757 on Ascension Day, but the name was later changed to Fort Massiac, after the French Minister of Colonial Affairs.(1) Massiac was subsequently anglicized to Massac, its current name. After the end of the French and Indian War, the fort was transferred to British control through the Treaty of Paris.(2)
The British made little use of the fort, but they did monitor the Ohio River region through their troops.(3) During the Revolution, the patriots of the colonies took the western territory, a campaign that included George Rogers Clark unfurling the American flag over Fort Massac.(4) The fort was the site of conspiracies in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as the French tried to get Americans to join their army in pushing Spain out of Louisiana territory and as Aaron Burr conspired unsuccessfully to establish his own empire.(5) The Fort saw Lewis and Clark come through Illinois on their way to western exploration.(6) William Clark returned to the region with a deed to the land and founded Paducah, Kentucky, which is across the Ohio River from Massac County.
The fort was used as a military post by American troops throughout the 1800s, and in 1843, Massac County was organized by the legislature after Metropolis was founded in 1839 by William McBane and J.H.G. Wilcox.(7) Metropolis was intended to be a major city, hence its name meaning "largest city," but it was primarily a river town with an industry of making riverboats and making use of the wood in the region.(8) Massac County went through a lawless period in the 1840s as kidnappings and robberies were rampant and no one could establish law and order until the 1850s.(9)
Because of its location near Kentucky and the southern part of the United States, Massac County had pro-slavery leanings in the region called "Little Egypt."(10) However, the county did provide soldiers for the Union Army and even housed Union soldiers at Fort Massac for a brief period of time. Fighting in the Civil War occurred in Paducah in 1864 when Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked the Union Army occupying the city.(11) Massac County did not see any fighting of its own during the Civil War.(12)
In the 20th century, Massac County became home to workers at the electric power plants that generated power for the atomic energy plant in Paducah.(13) In 1937, the Ohio River flooded a large portion of Massac County, a record flood that is still remembered by some residents.(14) The Black Devils (an African American company of the army in World War I) trained in Metropolis and John Steele was from Metropolis, whose story was presented to moviegoers in The Longest Day.(15) Frances Willis, the first female ambassador from the United States, was born in Metropolis. The "Birdman of Alcatraz" is buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Metropolis. The Kincaid Mounds are the preserved evidence of the Native American influence in Illinois. History is all around in Massac County.
1) Massac County Illinois History, Vol. 1, 1987, Turner Publishing, page 96;
History of Massac County, George May, 1955, page 31.
2) History of Massac County, May, page 37.
3) Ibid, 38-41. 4) Ibid, 41. 5) Ibid, 54, 59.
6) Massac County Illinois History, Page 96.
7) History of Massac County, May, page 67-71, 74, 179.
8) Ibid, 179-180, 182, 154, 160. 9) Ibid, 78-90. 10) Ibid, 91-92. 11) Ibid, 94. 12) Ibid. 13) Ibid, 224.
14) History of Massac County Illinois, page 94-95.
15) Ibid, page 91, 105-105.