Foreword & Acknowledgement
Before the White Man/Coming of the
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
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
Lageveen Remembers Incorporation
Belstra Remembers When...
Kankakee Valley Schools
DeMotte Elementary School
(DeMotte) Christian School
Mark L. DeMotte
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
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
St. Cecilia Catholic Church
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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Fairchild and Tanner
The proper name of what was once the
winding, sprawling Kankakee River is actually the Marble-Powers Ditch.
After the river was channeled its governmental classification was changed
from a river to a ditch.
The river did not have banks or levees before it was dredged. In an
account written by Effie (Garis) Fairchild on October 14, 1922 on her 76th
birthday she said, "This part of the country was so flat and the Kankakee
so crooked it would not carry the water off."
Mrs. Fairchild recounted that when she moved with her parents from Porter
County to Jasper County they crossed the Kankakee on a ferry boat as there
were no bridges. She said the area was plentiful with deer and other wild
life and at night the howl and chatter of wolves were often heard.
According to Mrs. Fairchild the town of DeMotte now sits on what was once,
"the thickest and best growth of timber on these uplands."
Effie Garis and her parents were among the first settlers, coming to
Keener Township in 1856. In 1866, Acton Fairchild, his wife and two sons,
Daniel and Elam arrived. Effie became the bride of Elam Fairchild.
Fairchild recounted that when she first came to these parts there were
very few permanent settlers, "There were 'squatters' or 'floaters' as they
were called. They would build a shack on any land, stay awhile and then
move on." She said there were no roads as we know them today, "There was
water in most of the marshes or low ground. We wound around (the low
spots) to the groves and sandhills following someone else's wagon track by
blazed (notched) trees. That is what is meant by blazing the trail."
She said most of the land was owned by men living in cities and held for
speculation. Many of them failed or avoided paying taxes which were used
to build roads and schools. Mrs. Fairchild said finally the Jasper County
officials made the landholders pay their assessments and as others bought
land and fenced it, roads and schools were slowly improved.
The early settlers longed to hear from the families
they left behind, and were hungry for news of the outside world.
"Finally," Mrs. Fairchild said, "The railroad came. A longed for link to
the outside world, especially the mail."
She said before the train brought the mail it came "just any old way." She
said it wasn't unusual to get it only once a month. The telephone was
unheard of and telegrams were received only on railroad routes. If an
important urgent message needed to be delivered to someone in the outland,
it was sent to the nearest railroad depot and then brought by a rider on
horseback to the person it was addressed to.
an interview given by Dan Tanner to Laverne Terpstra on December 28, 1994
he recalled his father telling him about the 'Corduroy Road' between
DeMotte and Hebron. Tanner said, "The Old Grade was started as one of the
first crossroads that went from Rensselaer to DeMotte and Hebron across
the Kankakee River." He said, "This was the old Kankakee River, not the
ditch they've got dug there now.'
Tanner said his father told him the road began about where 700W and 1700N
intersect today and went north. He said the 'Corduroy Road' got its name
from the fact that it was built out of logs. "They would cut the logs,"
Tanner said, "I don't know how long, but long enough so they could pass
two wagons going and coming." The logs were laid side by side on top of
the mud in such a way that those traveling the road wouldn't sink. A crude
wooden bridge was made spanning the river allowing them to cross to the
other side and onto another 'Corduroy Road' until they were on higher
Tanner's father told him that every spring the high water would wash the
bridge away and some of the logs would pull out. When it got dry enough
for the early settlers to go back in, they would rebuild it all over
After the Marble-Powers Ditch was dug, life changed in the Kankakee River
Valley. Most would say that the change has been for the good, but not all
are in total agreement.