Local History
and Such

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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DeMotte Christian School


Building a Christian school became the dream of members of the congregation of the Christian Reformed Church of DeMotte during the early 1930's. During that period in history many Dutch Reformed Calvinists had moved into the area. These were mostly farmers with the know-how to reclaim the land in the Kankakee River Basin.

In church consistory minutes from 1937 to 1940 several references are made concerning building a Christian school in DeMotte. Requests were made from the National Union of Christian Schools (NUCS) for free literature concerning the what, where, why and how to begin the school. In the pre-war days of 1940, the National Union advised the parents to organize the school on their own and they would lend their support in any way possible.

The first recorded minutes of the School Society were from a meeting on a hot summer day, July 17, 1940 which was held in the Christian Reformed Church. At this meeting Mark Fakkema, a representative from NUCS, gave a lecture on Christian education. Membership lists were distributed through the audience which showed 37 names of those who subscribed as members of the society. Today the society involves 600 parents and extended school families.

The School Society held an election to form a school board and the following people were chosen to serve on the first board: C. VanderMolen; William Recker, Ed DeBruin, Sam VValstra, Carl Berghorst, Gerrit Boer and Martin VanderMolen.

The first meeting of the board was held July 22, 1940 with C. VanderMolen elected president. A yearly membership fee of $5.00 was set and it was moved that the consistory of the Christian Reformed Church would be approached to hold monthly collections for the School Society.


In the ensuing years, the Young Men's Society and Ladies Aid and other organizations gave money to the school fund. Eise Kingma promised to donate two acres of land for the school. In 1944 a committee was appointed to look into what kind of building must be built according to Indiana law and other information concerning the operation of a school.

The committee reported it would cost about $5500 to build a 35'x55' facility but because of World War II and the shortage of materials caused by the war, all thoughts of building were put on hold.

Incorporating the school went ahead and when the papers were received and approved, a board of directors was chosen. The board consisted of the following: John Terborg, Frank DeHaan, Peter J. Walstra, Gerben A. Hamstra, John E. DeVries, Bastian Boer and Gerben Kingma.

A fund drive was held in 1945 which brought the building fund to $3,084 and two more acres of ground were purchased from Kingma with an option to buy on a little over two more acres. In 1947 it was definitely decided to start the DeMotte Christian School. A two room building would be built with no basement hopefully to be completed for the next school term. Permission would be asked for temporary use of the basement in the Christian Reformed Church in case the building was not completed in time for the start of school. Since that time support for the school has grown to include several churches in the DeMotte community and surrounding area. The Bert Struble house and property was also purchased for $8500 to use as a home for the principal of the school. Jacob Ahrens was the first principal.

In 1948 the Christian School Circle was organized with seven dedicated women concerned for Christian education. The purpose of the group at that time was to bring about a closer relationship between home and school, parents and teachers, and to promote the welfare of the child. The lunch program was also sponsored by the Circle.
In 1951 the schooi board voted to apply to the Keener Telephone Corporation for telephone service at the school and also the principal's residence.

The continued growth of the school called for two additional classrooms to be added to the building in 1954 and an extensive junior high building program took place in 1965. The Harvest Sale was begun that year and is one of the school's largest fund raisers to this day.

Ivan Van Essen had been teaching seventh grade students for several years at the Christian School. In 1968 he was selected to serve as principal and continues in that capacity today.

A long-range planning committee was appointed in 1970 to assess future expansion needs of the school. As the school was preparing to celebrate its 25th year in existence in 1972, the School Society granted approval to build an all purpose addition at a cost of $123,750. Approval was also granted to sell the house owned by the school which had been used as a residence for the principal.

As they looked ahead in 1972, many wondered what the next 25 years would hold for the school.

At present, the DeMotte Christian School sits on close to 15 acres at 1220 Begonia Street with an additional 30 acres of land which was purchased about 15 years ago for future expansion. There are three auxiliary organizations that compliment and support Christian education. They are: (1) DMC Mother's Circle - Each year this active ladies organization operates the daily hot lunch program plus raises approximately $60,000 annually for educational endeavors/enrichment. (2) DMC Band Boosters - This group conducts two fund raising dinners yearly to help purchase new band equipment. The organization also encourages the band program in the school. (3) DMC PTA - This organization provides educational opportunities for parents/teachers. They have an annual magazine sale as a fund raising event.

In 1987 the DMC Foundation was established. A special board of directors was appointed to over-see this endeavor to raise money that could be invested. All interest made on the principle amount is used to defray some of the tuition fees at DeMotte Christian. The main growth in this Foundation comes from the yearly golf outing held each July. At this time in 1997, approximately $580,000 is invested in the DMC Foundation.

A year long celebration is planned for the 50th anniversary of the school during 1997 with the motto. "Praising God Always, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." DeMotte Christian will enter the 1997-98 school year with a new school logo as well as a new mascot, the DeMotte Christian School Eagles.

Van Essen said, "One of our goals this year is to upgrade our computer lab and program. We hope to have this accomplished by the summer of 1997."
He went on to say, "Someday Christian secondary education will come to our community. As parents/board/and teacher, we march forward. May the Lord continue to bless our efforts in this special training of the youth of our community. May our community be blessed through our efforts, (and) "To Him be the Glory."


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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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