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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Keener Twp. Fire Department


The DeMotte Businessmen's Association formed a volunteer fire department not long before the 1936 fire that nearly destroyed DeMotte's downtown area. The first fire truck was a Ford Model-T the men purchased from Hebron. It had not yet been delivered the day of the fire.

Since DeMotte was not incorporated, the town did not receive any income from tax money for fire protection, police protection, roads, etc. It was during the heart of the 'Great Depression' and the businessmen found they could not afford to keep the fire department going. The men petitioned the Keener Township trustee to take the department over because the township was a legal taxing entity. Keener Township could fund the fire department with taxpayers money by putting it into the township budget. The Keener Township Volunteer Fire Department finally came into being the late 1930's.

The second vehicle that served as a fire truck was a Packard automobile which had the trunk area cut away and two tanks installed which were basically oversized soda-acid fire extinguishers. The truck was stored behind Cheever's Garage.

At that time, the telephone office was across the alley in back of Cheever's. One operator was always on duty and when a call came in that there was a fire, the operator plugged in the town fire siren. The volunteer firemen came to the garage, got the truck and found out where the fire was at.

Today, the fire department is alerted to a fire through an emergency phone system which is answered at the DeMotte Police department. This system sets off pagers carried by the volunteers. The department can also be alerted through the 911 system operated by the Jasper County Sheriff's department located in Rensselaer.

The fire station was built in 1955 with donations made by businesses and local citizens. It was three-bay facility which is still being used. A large two-bay addition was put on in 1973. In 1990, a business meeting room, a small kitchen and two additional bays were added.


The department serves about 8,000 people who live in an 88 square-mile area. This area holds about a quarter of the population of Jasper County.

Keener Township has a growing number of subdivisions with the population moving from an urban area. Keener Township Trustee Fred Boissy said, "A large number of calls are for brush and grass fires which occur when newcomers do not recognize the danger of burning on windy days."

Fire protection is now contracted to the Town of DeMotte and the northern half of Union Township. Union Township borders Keener Township to the south and includes the small town of Fair Oaks.

DeMotte and surrounding areas do not have a water system. All water to fight a fire must be trucked to the scene. In 1995 a well system was installed at the Keener Township Ambulance Center which is capable of filling tankers at 400 gpm. These wells were installed with the assistance of a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Both brush trucks are capable of drawing water from ponds and ditches to make water available in remote areas to fill the tankers.

There are 26 volunteers on the department in 1997. LaVern Blankenbaker has been a volunteer member since 1945 and is the oldest serving member. William Krueger is the second longest serving member. He has been with the department since 1965.

The fire department boasts owning three tankers, two brush trucks, two pumpers, one rescue vehicle and a command vehicle.

The department maintains a Class 9 rating with ISO. Mutual aid response is provided to the volunteer fire departments surrounding Keener Twp. in Jasper, Newton and Porter Counties.


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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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