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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Asparagus & truck farming


(Much of the information for the following article was gleaned from the booklet, DeMotte 1876-1976 and from material supplied by Art Terborg. It has been edited and written by Joan Whitaker.)

Agriculture has always been the mainstay of the economy in the DeMotte area. Traditional crops such as corn and soybeans are raised in abundance, but DeMotte has gained fame throughout the midwest for truck farming, egg production and raising hogs in a confined environment, growing Christmas trees, strawberries, and many other crops.

The descendants of the Dutch settlers have been leaders in producing fresh fruits and vegetables, some of which are trucked to customers in the city. Garden centers and produce stands draw thousands of out of town customers into the local economy during the growing season. Asparagus, blueberries, cabbage, melons, tomatoes, pumpkins, pickles, strawberries, any crop that will produce a good income, is grown in and around DeMotte.

Asparagus harvesterDuring the 1940's and 50's asparagus was the biggest crop which was exported from DeMotte. Today, blueberries hold that distinction. John Sauer brought the first blueberry bushes to DeMotte when he moved here in 1943 coming from Cedar Lake, Indiana. To begin with, he had six plants. He became a self-taught expert on blueberries and started his own root cuttings in peat moss in propagation boxes. He was soon able to expand his fields.

Sauer became a licensed nurseryman in the State of Indiana which enabled him to sell his cuttings when they were established. Many blueberry growers got their start from Sauer's six plants. Sauer retired in 1956 and he sold his eight-acre farm to Ernest Eenigenburg. Today, there are several u-pick, we-pick, blueberry farms in the area with many people coming from surrounding states to pick the berries.


Before blueberries became the dominant crop, tons of asparagus was shipped every spring from DeMotte during the 1940's and 50's. Harvesting asparagus during the early years meant walking the rows and cutting the asparagus underground with a sharp forked knife. The spears were gathered and put in baskets which the workers passed down the rows to one another. Later, instead of cutting the spears, they were snapped off just above the ground.

John Terborg, Ernest Eenigenburg and the local blacksmith came up with an innovative idea to make harvesting asparagus both easier and use less manpower. A machine was rigged up on which workers could ride rather than walk down the rows as they previously did.

Terborg eventually even put a roof over his machine so his workers could be in the shade and keep dry when it rained.


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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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