Local History
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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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Eighty years of Community Banking


The Bank of DeMotte, today known as the DeMotte State Bank, was first chartered 80 years ago in 1917. The ground for the first bank building was purchased from John Bunning and was located just south of the railroad on what is now Halleck Street.

The bank started out as a privately owned bank with $10,000 in assets and two officers, president John Bunning and cashier, John J. DeCook. There were five shareholders, Daniel Wolf, Frank M. Hart, Albert Konovsky, Henry C. DeKock and Ate L. Lageveen.

When the stock market crashed in 1929 the U.S. Government ordered that all banks be closed. The Bank of DeMotte was closed for only one day and was one of the few in existence to survive the crash. Due to the intervention of August Schultz and stockholders who contributed their resources to keep the bank open, the bank rallied and remained solvent through the Great Depression that engulfed the country during the next ten years.

The Report of Condition of the Bank of DeMotte as of October 26, 1933 lists Frank M. Hart, bank president; A. Crawford, vice president; Harry Rathburn, cashier; Frank M. Hart, Jr., assistant cashier. The resources and liabilities of the bank at that time totaled $114,582.97.

The first DeMotte State Bank building in DeMotteThe bank was robbed in 1937 at machine-gun point by three men who escaped with $2,422.32. Hart wasn't able to get the safety catch off of a gun that was kept at the bank at the time or, "I would have shot the son-of-a-gun," he was quoted as saying. The trio were later caught and prosecuted and all losses were covered by insurance.

With the advent of World War II the country began to prosper again. The war effort put everybody back to work and there were sweeping changes in the laws governing banking institutions.

In 1942 the United States Government ordered all banks to be chartered by the state in which they were located and stringent government regulations were put in place. The bank was again chartered, this time as the DeMotte State Bank. The board of directors were: Henry Swart, president of the bank from 1942 until 1959; August Schultz, Cornelius Westerhoff, Henry C. DeKock, Otto DeYoung, Albert Hamstra and Andress Crawford. Westerhoff became bank president in 1959 and remained in that capacity until 1966.

In the early days of banking, transactions were recorded by hand in ledger books. It wasn't unusual for the bank when it first opened in 1917 to have less than 10 transactions a day. In 1997 the bank uses state-of-the-art computer equipment and electronically processes around 30,000 items every day. DeMotte State Bank became the second bank in the state of Indiana to offer 'Image' DDA statements and was one of the first twenty in the nation to offer this in 1994.


During the 1960's the DeMotte community experienced much growth and it became apparent that a larger facility with drive-up windows would be needed. Paul Bauman, bank president from 1966 to 1983, steered the bank through the growth period of the 70's. In 1971 the board of directors paved the way for a new building to be constructed at 210 South Halleck Street and the bank was moved from its location in the old downtown part of DeMotte. Since that time DeMotte has experienced unbelievable growth, as has the bank. The building has been added on to four times. Additionally in 1994 a 4,000 square foot 'Operations Center' was constructed which houses the bark's computer equipment. The new center also made room for a remodeling project in the back office area of the main bank which provided a more private environment for new account customers.

Inside DeMotte State Bank, 1924The former bank building was sold to the Town of DeMotte and was used as a town hall and police station from 1971 to 1995 when a new town hall was built at the Spencer Park location.

Since the 1937 robbery, the bank was robbed again in 1971 after they moved to their new facility. The robbers got away with a considerable amount of money and were never apprehended. In 1996 a robbery attempt was thwarted by bank employees.

Prior to deregulation in the late 1970's, banks were permitted to offer only a narrow range of products which were limited to non-interest bearing accounts, savings passbooks and a four year certificate of deposit. After deregulation a wide array of services and products could be offered to customers and banking has practically become a science.

Not only did the bank have to deal with deregulation and the high interest rate environment of the 80's, it also was faced with the change in banking structure. 'Hometown' banks were originally protected by law in that a bank from another community could not branch into an area where a main office bank was located. In the early 1980's this protection was lifted and banks were allowed to branch into towns within counties that were contiguous to where their main office was located. Donnie R. Morrison was bank president from 1983 to 1988 during these tumultuous years of upheaval in the banking industry.

Pearl (Hart) Fairchild and Alex Jensen inside first DeMotte State BankIn 1985 Senate Bill-1 was passed. The bill allowed out of state banks to purchase Indiana based banks. According to Donald E. Goetz, who became bank president in 1988 and is still at the bank in that capacity in 1997, the banking industry has experienced tremendous consolidation under the guise of economies of scale due to Senate Bill-1. During that time, according to Goetz, the Board of Directors of the DeMotte State Bank felt that there would be no economies of scale experienced & decided it was in the best interest of the shareholders & customers of the bank to remain a locally owned & operated institution.

They further realized that in order to be competitive, the bank needed to expand into other markets. During that period the bank opened offices in the following markets: purchased Morocco State Bank in 1987; opened an office in Lowell in 1991; purchased an office in Knox, 1992; opened a mini-branch near Wheatfield, 1995; and purchased an office in Hebron from NBD Indiana. The bank also currently has four ATM locations.

In the early 1980's DeMotte State Bank was billed as the 'Bank of Firsts'. The bank offered Jasper County its first Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) and package checking account. The bank brought extended hours to the marketplace in 1981 by extending traditional bank closing hours from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Also starting in 1981, customers were first able to bank in DeMotte twelve hours a day during the week and nine hours a day on Saturday with the opening of its' first mini-branch located in Tysen's Family Food Center in DeMotte. Today, according to Goetz, that branch handles a large percentage of the DeMotte market's transactions.

From two employees and $10,000 in assets in 1917 to over 100 employees and $155 million in assets in 1997, the DeMotte State Bank is proof positive that their motto, 'Dream it, together we can achieve it', has had true meaning, not only for their customers but for the bank as well.


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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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