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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Mark L. DeMotte


DeMotte, Indiana was named in honor of Col. Mark L. DeMotte: lawyer, soldier, newspaper editor, politician, writer, Post Master and first Dean of the Valparaiso University Law School. In the years following the Civil War, settlers began to invade the Grand Kankakee Marsh region to drain the swamps and claim the region for farming. A small settlement called Little Village was established.

As Little Village grew, residents met to decide on an official name for the settlement. Many of the settlers had served during the Civil War. These veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic chose to name the village after Col. Mark L. DeMotte, an area lawyer and political figure who had served under Major General Robert H. Milroy. Milroy, from Rensselaer, was one of only three Hoosiers to rise to the rank of Major General during the Civil War.

Mark L. DeMotte came to northern Indiana when he was twenty-three years old. He was born near Rockville, Indiana on December 28, 1832 to the Rev. Daniel DeMotte and his wife, Mary. Mark's father was a Methodist circuit rider of French Hugenot descent. His mother was of Dutch descent. For 15 years Daniel DeMotte also served as financial agent for Asbury College in Greencastle (present day DePauw University).

Mark was the youngest of 8 children, three elder brothers and four sisters. He enrolled in Asbury University and after receiving an A.B. degree, enrolled in Asbury's School of Law. After graduating from the law school in 1855 at the age of 23, he moved to Valparaiso and opened his law practice.

In 1856, DeMotte was elected prosecuting attorney for the judicial circuit comprising Lake, Porter, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Marshall and Starke counties.

Blond haired and blue eyed with a blonde beard, DeMotte must have been an imposing figure as he traveled the circuit. In December, 1856 he married his first wife, Elizabeth Christy. They would have two daughters, Mary and Louise.

It is not clear the exact year that the name DeMotte was chosen for Little Village. Records in the U.S. Land Office in Indianapolis show the name DeMotte being officially used in the transaction of deeds pertaining to land in 1871. A map of Jasper County, bearing the heading of Modecai F. Chilcote, Attorney at Law and Notary Public at Rensselaer, Indiana, and drawn by L.A. Bostwick dated 1868 also bears the name of DeMotte.


DeMotte's law career was interruped in 1861 by the start of the Civil War. In 1862, he was commissioned a Captain to serve in the northern army and was promoted to a Colonel before the end of the war.

Col. DeMotte did not return to Indiana again until 1877 when he made Valparaiso his home for the second time. He was devoted to his law career and in 1879 he founded the Department of Law which is a part of Valparaiso University.

The latter years of Col. DeMotte's life included a variety of activities. He continued to put forth much effort expanding the law department at the University and tried his hand at being a political candidate. In 1880 he was elected to Congress, only to be defeated in 1882. Col. DeMotte participated in state politics also, and was elected to the State Senate.

In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison appointed DeMotte to serve as a Post Master at Valparaiso until 1894.

DeMotte's first wife, Elizabeth died in 1890 and in 1893 he married Clara Stevens who would survive him.

President of the Western Writers for two terms, DeMotte wrote many articles and short stories. His writings were based on local characters, and his boyhood experiences while growing up in southern Indiana.

Colonel Mark Lindsay DeMotte died September 28, 1908. He was buried in Maplewood Cemetery just south of the Valparaiso University Campus.

On June 18, 1955 a monument was placed on DeMotte's grave to honor Valparaiso University Law School's first dean.


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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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