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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Lageveen looks back
(The following article was
written by Art Lageveen remembering DeMotte before incorporation. Lageveen
was elected to sit on the first town board that served after
Thinking back on the things that
transpired before the incorporation goes back many years.
One of the first memories I have is of the main business district burning
a huge cloud of black smoke billowing up into the sky. I was in the first
grade and I was standing by the fence watching, knowing that my dad and
his store were over there somewhere in that black smoke. That was in 1936
the year that the town burned.
It was never determined how the fire started, but it was believed that
burning trash was the cause.
Many people rushed to help move merchandise from the buildings. Some
people loaded their cars and drove away, others carried clothing across
the street where the heat caught it on fire. Some clothing, shoes and
groceries were saved by taking them to a garage that was located across
from what is now the DeMotte Fire House. That building today houses
Within a couple of days Art Lageveen, Sr., plus Sam and Henry DeKock had
opened up shop again selling what had been salvaged from their stores. The
owners of the burned buildings soon started rebuilding making the stores
better than they were before.
the east side of the street was the DeMotte State Bank and next to it was
a barber shop. Next to them, the other buildings were burned and not
replaced until in later years.
I remember on the west side of the street was Bill Swart's Grocery &
Hardware, Lageveen's Dry Goods, Mary's Restaurant (run by Henry and Ruth
Starkey), Pop Rowen's Bakery, DeKock's Grocery and Hardware (owned by Sam
and Henry DeKock), Herman and Marie Osting Shoes and Clothing, Otto
DeYoung's John Deere Implements, U.S. Post Office, Al Ewart Insurance,
Jerry's Barber Shop, with Jerry Knip as the barber. The DeMotte Cafe was
next and had many owners over time.
Cheever's Garage was on the corner. Maurie and Elb fixed many an
automobile. They also pulled them out of the ditches and gave stranded
motorists free gas to get them on their way. Ed DeBuin had a grocery store
next to Cheever's.
Across the road to the south was a gas station and
across from the station was a large building with a rounded roof once used
as a gym, meeting hall and many other uses.
Wiers Chevrolet and Fieldhouse Ford were the auto dealers in town. The
former Orsburn Texaco and Shell gas stations changed hands several times
Paul Bush, Corky Barker and Rudy Zylstra, to name a few. Blanche Henrichs
worked for the newspaper collecting advertising.
stores remained open on Wednesday and Saturday nights. People would come
to town, stand on the street corners, visit and shop until late in the
For a time during the summer months, the merchants hired a man to come to
town and show free movies. The movies were quite old, and in black and
white, but the children and adults loved them. I remember the old man that
ran the projector would say, "Don't step and make a short in the wire!"
This happened quite often and everything would go black.
These are memories of when I was growing up during the 40's, 50's and
60's. It was quite different then, there were no TV's, every one listened
to the radio. Telephones were on party lines and operators worked at the
switchboard connecting the callers. Highways were two lanes, and it took
much longer to travel from city to city. Families spent more time together
as did communities.
Times have changed since then but I like to think that DeMotte is still
the same small town where businesses and businessmen still care for their
customers. And the number of churches still out number the saloons. I
believe the town my set a record for the number of churches per capita and
that makes DeMotte a great place to live.