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
local history books about your town
or search Amazon.com
Kankakee Valley Post-News
For several years until the middle of
the 1920's, the Kankakee Valley Review had been the weekly newspaper which
served the area. The Review would be published for a while from Roselawn,
then it would move to DeMotte, then to Wheatfield, back to Roselawn, etc.
On July 28, 1932 the first edition of the Post was published at DeMotte.
The paper has had various publishers and editors over the years and has
undergone two or three name changes, but it has served the DeMotte
community as its own weekly newspaper since 1932.
The Runyon Printing Company was the first to publish the Post. The first
edition stated in part, "The success of the newspaper is measured by its
service to the communities it represents and is supported by, and it will
be our endeavor at all times to promote the welfare of this region and its
inhabitants. Schools, church and civic welfare will ever find a ready and
willing champion in the columns of the Post."
The news in the Post encompassed all of northern Jasper County and part of
Newton County as it does today.
The October 6, 1932 issue reported DeMotte held its first community
meeting and decided to meet monthly on the last Tuesday of the month. The
following officers were elected: Cecil Thurner - president; Richard Tysen
- vice-president; Charles Curtin - secretary and Mrs. Henry Swart -
first publishers didn't last long. On December 1, 1932 the Post combined
with the Griffith Herald and was then published by R.L. Joiner. The
paper's office was located in the DeMotte Bank building.
Joiner sold the paper on February 2, 1933 to J. Barton Cox and his wife.
Cox and his family moved to DeMotte from Owensville, Indiana where he had
been editor of the Owensville Star. Cox also began a print shop for flyers
and auction bills.
Since the depression was taking its toll on the country, Cox ran a
promotion for subscriptions saying, "Swap Produce For Your Subscription."
He indicated he would take chickens, eggs, honey, apples, potatoes,
popcorn, nuts, canned fruit and vegetables, turkeys, lard, geese, beans,
or 'what have you'. If you were a subscriber, you also got free
The Post duly noted that on June 1, 1933, Mrs. Roy True became
postmistress at DeMotte. She replaced Sadie Fairchild.
That same month, John Terborg announced plans to a start a coffee roasting
plant. Nick Zylstra started the building in November. Terborg called it
the Colonial Coffee Company and it was located between Curtin Bros.
Restaurant and the Post Office on the west side of Lilly Street (Halleck
St.). Since 1921, Terborg had been working out of his home selling coffee,
teas and other supplies to retail and wholesale merchants.
In an editorial Cox wrote in December 1933, he said, "an inventory of the
Town of DeMotte gives the following information: There are 35 business
firms which includes one of the largest department stores in northwest
Indiana, groceries, gasoline stations and garages, a good bank, three of
the best restaurants found anywhere, a feed mill, lumber and coal yards,
machinery and building material firms, cheese and pickle factories, beauty
parlor and barber shops, general stores, hardware, newspaper and job
printing shop, hotel, sheet metal shops, drug store..."
According to Cox, it had once been considered to change the name of
DeMotte to Swartville. During the time Cox published the Post he
editorialized almost weekly on the need for DeMotte to incorporate. The
subject was very controversial, and the ones against incorporation accused
him of 'harping'. Cox identified the early advocates of incorporation
(besides himself) as 'Stub' Fairchild, Al Konovsky, and Frank Hart.
On May 23, 1940, Cox sold the Post to Mary Peterson from Tampico, Illinois
and her nephew, Richard Ruck. Cox bought another newspaper and moved to
Peterson owned the paper until May 25, 1946 when she sold the plant and
newspaper to Alvin Johnson from Michigan City. Under Johnson, Dorothy Van
Dam became the advertising representative making weekly calls on the
Johnson soon sold the Post. On October 1, 1946, Keith Robinson purchased
the paper. Robinson's father owned the Rensselaer Republican. Robinson
changed the banner of the paper to the Kankakee Valley Post.
That same month, Evelyn Kelly (she later became Evelyn Roorda) began
collecting news and advertising for the KV Post. In November, the paper
moved to a small building located north of the railroad in DeMotte and
Blanche Henrich became the office manager. Henrich later became editor of
the KV Post, a position she remained in until 1968.
The first Lions Club was organized May 27, 1947. In
1948 the club, in cooperation with the Northern Indiana Power and Light
Company, diagrammed the streets of DeMotte for a network of street lights.
The system called for an outlay of $1800 per year for five years by the
townspeople and involved installing 43 street lights. Al Ewart, Neil Kaper,
Louis Hoekstra, Sam DeKock and Otto DeYoung, Jr., were in charge of the
drive to contact the merchants and townspeople about providing funds for
It took two years, but in June, 1950 the Civic Improvement committee
(consisting of Bruce Todd, Otto DeYoung, Jr., Sam DeKock and Paul Bauman)
of the DeMotte Lions Club, signed a contract with Northern Indiana Public
Service Company to install street lights the length of highway 53 within
the town limits. Although representing the Lions Club, those four men
guaranteed the cost of installation and electric service for a period of
five years. On October 11, 1950 the lights were turned on at a dedication
ceremony at which Congressman Charles Halleck was the guest speaker.
In 1954, George Konovsky drew up the plans for a new fire house to be
built in DeMotte. American Legion Post #440 donated tent space at their
annual 'Homecoming' festival which was being held for four days in July
that year. The drawings of the proposed building were displayed and
donations were solicited at the 'Homecoming'.
In June, 1955 the new building was dedicated. The following men were the
officers and members of the fire department in 1955: Maurice Cheever, fire
chief; Gus Bormann - assistant fire chief; Jack Stellingwerf -
secretary/treasurer; firemen - Bob Walstra, Neil Kaper, LaVern
Blankenbaker, Einar Anderson, Bob Kelly, Otto DeYoung, Jr., and Paul
It was noted at the dedication service that the new fire station, the fire
fighting equipment and the E & J resuscitator were the evidence of more
than 20 years of labor and planning, on the part of many people, to make
it all a reality.
Although the talk of incorporation was always looming in the background of
the minds of the businessmen, it wasn't until October 2, 1959 that the
subject came to the forefront again. A public incorporation meeting was
held at that time. Although it would take eight more years after that
meeting to accomplish, incorporation was without doubt the most momentous
event in DeMotte history.
Gerald Kenning became editor of the KV Post in November of 1969 after
Blanche Henrich retired. In 1971 the newspaper underwent another name
change when Robinson purchased the Jasper County News, a paper affiliated
with the Democrat party. He consolidated the two papers into the Kankakee
On April 1, 1973, Robinson purchased the Profile/Herald, a weekly
newspaper published at Wheatfield which was owned and operated by Joan
Whitaker. Whitaker then came to the Kankakee Valley Post-News where she
served as editor and general manager for 23 years until her retirement in
Under the management of Whitaker, the newspaper grew steadily from a small
eight-page weekly to a large weekly supporting over 32 pages in each
issue. In 1975 the four-page DeMotte Shopper was renamed the Action Plus,
a shopping guide with an average of 16-pages published weekly in addition
to the newspaper.
In ill health, Robinson sold the group of newspapers he owned in 1978 to
the Dear Corporation of Henderson, Kentucky. Robinson owned the Kankakee
Valley Post-News along with the Rensselaer Republican, Morocco Courier and
Remington Press. Since that time the Kankakee Valley Post-News has
been-owned by the Thomson newspaper group, American Publishing newspaper
group and in February 1996 was purchased by the Community Media Group out
of West Frankfort, Illinois.
After Whitaker's retirement February 1, 1996, Sally Snow became editor and
general manager of the Kankakee Valley Post-News. The paper has 11
employees in 1997.