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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Kankakee Valley Schools


On January 1, 1965, the Kankakee Valley School Corporation became a reality. An interim Board of School Trustees was appointed and served until June 30, 1966. They were as follows: Vincent Stalbaum, president; Otto DeYoung, Jr., vice president; Darrell Tompkins, secretary; James Longstreth, treasurer; Lowell Woolever, member; Fred Boissy, Jr., member; Wilbur Hoffman, member.

Prior to the formation of the Kankakee Valley School Corporation (KVSC) the district was governed by the Jasper County School Corporation. The split into KVSC and Rensselaer School Corporation was put to a vote. It was passed and the people of the community also voted on the members of the board. On July 1,1966 the newly elected board took the oath of office. They were as follows: Ralph Myers, president; Wesley Meyer, vice president; Robert Cheever, secretary; Clarence Duttlinger, member; Donald Korth, member; Harry Miller, member; Wilbur Hoffman, member.

Robert Cheever, the original secretary for the board, held that office for 16 years until his retirement from the board on June 30, 1982. Cheever said that the school board met in the office on Halleck Street across from Ace Hardware, on the North side of Sixth Avenue. Next, they moved to the site of Hamstra Builders office on State Road 10. They stayed there for a few years, then, they moved to their present location on route 10.

Kankakee Valley High School under construction in 1969The census of the KVSC was 6,276 in 1960. It was projected to be approximately 7,000 in 1970. Because of this growth in the area, the KVSC commissioned a study to look at the needs of the school corporation in the future. Dr. Lindley of Purdue University did this study in 1965. Some noteworthy findings include the statement, "...Pride in the school corporation and its total educational program must be developed." A combination of the high schools (DeMotte, Wheatfield, Tefft and Fair Oaks) into one high school was recommended and Dr. Lindley felt that this action would make possible several improvements; i.e. advanced courses in science and mathematics, remedial reading programs and a modern library.


There were some members of the board who recommended that an additional elementary school be built to accommodate the stated growth in population. The pupil enrollment in 1965-66 was 1,715. The enrollment for the 1996-97 school year is 2,322. A study is being performed at the time of this writing to seek recommendations to accommodate the present surge in growth.

Kankakee Valley High School nears completion in 1970The educational philosophy of the KVSC states, "the KVSC, while maintaining flexibility in adapting to an ever changing society, will be dedicated to the total personal development of each student to the limits of his or her abilities and interests in a sequentially coordinated curriculum which allows for individual differences".

KVSC has a graduation rate of approximately 98 percent which it maintains currently. The corporation and all of the schools within excel in large part to the dedicated and caring staff of each school. Some notable events in the history of the school corporation include the formation of a joint-service cooperative to further develop programs and services for children who need special education. The remodeling and addition to DeMotte Elementary was a high point said one past board member. Another said the building of the Kankakee Valley High School was an important part of his tenure with the school board.

Former superintendent Iran Floyd (now principal at Wheatfield Elementary) was mentioned by several board members for his acute understanding of the corporation's needs and his leadership. The present board members are now striving to meet the needs of this community. The dedication that it takes to serve on the school board is evident by the hours spent outside of board meetings to research, discuss and solve complex issues before them.


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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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