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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(The article below was
contributed by Art Lageveen as he remembers the reasoning and activities
that were happening concerning the incorporation of DeMotte. Lageveen was
elected to serve on the first DeMotte Town Board.)
In early 1965 the DeMotte Businessmen's
organization had been holding meetings and the feelings were strong that
something should be done regarding incorporating the town. Committees were
formed to study the issue, both pro and con.
A rumor was going around that Gerrit Van Keppel, developer of Prospect
Hills subdivision and shopping center, was going to incorporate the north
end of town where the new developments were cropping up.
I was in the habit of going to the DeMotte Cafe every afternoon for
coffee. I worked in the family department store and this was a welcome
break. I happened to meet Boyd Schwanke, the local Post Master, there one
afternoon as he was taking his break.
We discussed the incorporation situation and mentioned it to Gerrit. He
was very enthusiastic about the idea of incorporation and became very
active in the cause. He hired his own lawyer, Leo Clifford from Valparaiso
to help the town.
That seemed to be the deciding moment, someone to back the incorporation
financially, with the drive to get it done. It was not long after that,
that the petition to incorporate the town was presented to the Jasper
County Commissioners and the rest is history.
I cannot fully express my gratitude to the people that helped and
supported us, nor forget completely the disappointment in those that
opposed us. The opposition tried to make it look like we, the proponents,
were doing something wrong, illegal or self-serving. In fact, I believe
that time has shown that none of the first town board members seem to have
benefited personally. If anything, we lost friends and customers. One
lesson I learned was that whenever you try to make a change while in
office, there will be opposition.
I believe those on the first town board were very
dedicated, as were the people who supported them. They were dedicated to
the idea of DeMotte becoming an incorporated town, let the chips fall
where they may.
Thinking back to before incorporation - on Halloween nights there was a
lot of damage done. Outhouses were placed in front of stores, tires and
junk on top of that. The windows of the stores were soaped and waxed until
you could not see through them. Groups of youths roamed the streets
looking for something they could carry off or tip over.
One Halloween a large bonfire was lit in the middle of the highway near
the railroad crossing. Cars could not cross, and it was quite a while
until the county sheriff arrived to over see the removal.
Break-ins were quite common with the nearest police about twenty miles
away. It was hard for them to patrol such a large area.
problem was street lights, and getting someone to pay for them. The
businessmen on main street contracted with NIPSCO to put some lights along
the main street. They were paid for with donations by persons in town and
there were probably less than 10 lights.
These and many other problems faced the town and could be corrected by
incorporating. A public meeting was held by the DeMotte Businessmen's
Association at the DeMotte School Cafeteria to discuss the proposed
incorporation of DeMotte.
Reports were given on some of the services an advantages of being an
incorporated town. This was followed by a general discussion period.
Persons with objections were heard with most of the complaints from those
worrying about higher taxes and farm animals in town.
Profile /Herald excerpts from Thursday, August 10, 1965 A large group of
interested citizens were on hand earlier this week at the Jasper County
Courthouse, when the county commissioners considered the petition to
incorporate the town of DeMotte.
Kankakee Valley Post excerpts from September 23, 1965 The Jasper County
Commissioners Tuesday a.m. formally approved an ordinance declaring the
Town of DeMotte to be incorporated as of September 21, 1965. The DeMotte
voters will go to the polls Monday October 11, to elect five trustees and
a clerk treasurer of the newly incorporated town.
Gary Post Tribune excerpts from October 12, 1965 A ban, on the election
ordered a week ago by Jasper County Circuit Court Judge Moses Leopold in
response to a petition challenging the legality of the incorporation, was
lifted Saturday by Judge Leopold. Within eight hours after the temporary
restraining order against the DeMotte election had been lifted Friday
afternoon, both major parties had selected candidates for balloting
Monday. Republicans won the clerk treasurers seat as well as all seats on
the town board. Elected to the town board seats were: Ernest Eenigenburg,
James Coffer, Donald Fieldhouse, Charles Abbring and Arthur Lageveen, Jr.
Gary Post Tribune excerpts from February 9, 1967 Bill 1766 was introduced
in the House of the Indiana General Assembly last week that would validate
the Incorporation of DeMotte as a town, and would establish by statute the
legality of the elections of the town officials and their subsequent
Gary Post Tribune excerpts from February 28, 1967 Senator Earl Landgrebe
said today he is prepared to push through a bill approved by the House
which would legalize the Town of DeMotte before the deadline Monday at
Gary Post Tribune excerpts from March 16, 1967 With the stroke of his pen
last Saturday, Governor Roger D. Branigan signed into law a bill which
gave the town of DeMotte full status as an incorporated town. The bill,
introduced by Representatives Quentin Blachly and King Telle, both of
Valparaiso, passed the House by the vote of 80-0. The bill was then sent
to the Senate where Senators Earl Landgrebe and Marvin Stewart were
co-sponsors. The bill passed 37-0. Under the provisions of the bill, the
previously elected office holders will remain in office.
Kankakee Valley Post excerpts from February 8, 1968 In a meeting of the
Town Board of DeMotte last week, the board members agreed to disannex from
the incorporated Town of DeMotte the following petitioned property owned
by: Ben Hoffman, Julius Holm-Hansen, John Zoeteman, Cornelious Abbring,
Don Radtke, Clarence Walstra, Charles Streveler, Ben Swart, Wes Mosier and
Wesley Van Drunen.
There had been discussion about disannexing when the town board and other
citizens met in Indianapolis during the Senate hearings. A court suit was
brought against the town but the lawyers agreed with the town board to
disannex those who had filed the suit. This allowed the DeMotte Town Board
to proceed as a town and receive state and federal monies. This would also
avoid further litigation. It seems to me looking back that this was the
best choice, otherwise we would have had to start all over again with the
Today we can be proud of our town with its new town hall, modern police
force, street lights, planning and zoning, and many other benefits. I
believe it has led to the fast and orderly growth that we see today.
If I had the choice as to whether or not to try and incorporate the town,
I would try it again with all the other good people who worked to make it
happen. But this time, we would make sure the petition was filed