Local History
and Such

DeMotte, Indiana History 1997

30 Years of Growth
100 Years of Tradition


Foreword & Acknowledgement

Before the White Man/Coming of the First Settlers

DeMotte Grows into a Town

Early Transportation & Farming

The First Schools

Dredging of the Grand Kankakee Marsh

Leonard Swart (Interview)

Casper Belstra (Interview)

Northern Indiana Land Company

The Halleck Telephone Company

DeMotte Mercantile Company

DeMotte Library Grows

Cheever's Garage

Eighty Years of Community Banking

Fairchild & Tanner History

Earl Schwanke Article

Keener Township Fire Department

(Art) Lageveen Looks Back

Fire Almost Destroys DeMotte in 1936

Kankakee Valley Post-News

Asparagus & Truck Farming

Businessmen's Association

Lageveen Remembers Incorporation

Belstra Remembers When...

Kankakee Valley Schools

DeMotte Elementary School

(DeMotte) Christian School

Mark L. DeMotte

Charlie Halleck

Walter Roorda, State Representative


Van Keppel Construction Company

Fire Destroys Main Building at Kaper's

The Hamstra Group

DeMotte Historical Society

Tysen's Family Food Center

Belstra Milling

The Fire of 1992

United Methodist Church

DeMotte Christian Church

Community Bible Church

Calvary Assembly of God

Bethel Christian Reformed Church

First Christian Reformed Church

Faith Lutheran Church

St. Cecilia Catholic Church

United Pentecostal

First Reformed Church

American Reformed Church

DeMotte Town Court

Incorporation of DeMotte

August 10 Incorporation Hearing

September 1965 Incorporation

First Town Board Election

The First Town Board

DeMotte Town Council 1969-1997

DeMotte Town Hall

DeMotte Park Board

Wastewater Treatment Begins

DeMotte Chamber of Commerce

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Cheever's garage


Cheever Towing is the oldest continuous business still in operation in DeMotte and has slowly evolved over the years into what it is today. During the late 1800's William Wallace Cheever started a blacksmith shop and taught the business to his son, Caleb.

With the invention of the motor car, horses were no longer a necessity and began to lose their popularity. Although horses were no longer needed for transportation they were still used extensively in farming until the late 1930's and early 1940's. As the number of vehicles grew, Caleb started towing cars and bringing them in to his place for repairs. There was still a need for blacksmiths so he also continued that end of his business.

Caleb's sons, Elbert and Maurice learned the trade from their dad and worked in the garage and towing business until their death. Maurice's daughter, Carol, married John Klip who carries on with the business today.

Cheever's garage not long after the invention of automobileCarol said the first tow trucks were made from old funeral cars which were used to haul flowers in Chicago. The back of the body was cut off and a hand cranked winch was bolted onto the frame. To make the towing business a little easier, mechanical chain powered wrecker bodies came along. Since then, hydraulic wreckers have become the standard in up-to-date equipment being used today.

The building has been remodeled several times. The last facelift was in 1980 when the office was remodeled and a new front was put on the building. Two new storage buildings and a storage lot have also been added since then.


The KIips' said their trucks are all state-of-the-art equipment run by hydraulics. They have equipment to handle all types of towing and recovery from passenger vehicles to semis and offer 24-hour emergency service to the community.

Cheever's earliest tow truckUntil the remodeling was done in 1980, various other enterprises have shared the building with the garage and towing business. The south part of the building has housed Hockney's grocery store which then became a co-op grocery run by Ed DeBruin. At one time Charlie Jensen owned a drug store there and Rose Cheever ran a restaurant which later became Curtin's Restaurant. Over time there have been other restaurants, a dress shop, ceramic shop, plus other ventures.

The north part of the building is now leased by Jerry Fagen and serves as the headquarters and operational center for Fagen Pharmacies.


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Historical and Community Content

NEW!! DeMotte, Indiana History (1997)

New project: American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
      (This will be an ongoing project with entries added frequently.)

Churches in DeMotte, Indiana

City Methodist - Gary's Sacred Ruin
     Selections from 1967 City Methodist Church Directory (January 2004)
     Historic Gary Church Set for Wrecking Ball (June, 2005)
     Aerial Photos of City Methodist (August, 2005)

Photographs of Historic Places in Jasper County, Indiana
     Jasper County Courthouse  (February, 2002)
     Rensselaer Carnegie Library (February, 2002)
     St. Joseph Indian Normal School (Drexel Hall) (February, 2002)
     Independence Methodist Church (October, 2002)
     Fountain Park Chautauqua (October, 2002)
     Remington Water Tower (February, 2005)

Memorial to Victims of Flight 4184 (February, 2002)

Lake Michigan Vistas (May, 2002)

Door Prairie Auto Museum (LaPorte, Indiana) (September, 2002)

Northwest Indiana District Church of the Nazarene former Campground (San Pierre, Lomax Station)
     Aerial Photos of former Campground (August, 2005)

Who's Who In the District (Northern Indiana Church of the Nazarene, 1939-40)

Nazarene Album (Northern Indiana District Church of the Nazarene, 1934)

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