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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Walter Roorda, State Representative


Walter J. Roorda, a businessman, politician and statesman served his district well in the Indiana General Assembly from the time of the incorporation until his death in 1993.

Roorda was a driving force in the incorporation of DeMotte. He was a member of the Businessmen's Association and he served as president of the first Chamber of Commerce which he was instrumental in organizing in 1967. Roorda also helped form an active Friends of the Library group in DeMotte. He was elected to a seat in the Indiana House of Representatives in 1968, one year after the General Assembly passed a law incorporating the town.

Roorda was a life long resident of DeMotte and attributed his love for politics to Congressman Charles Halleck whom he greatly admired.

His parents, Albert and Gertrude (Walstra) Roorda, owned and operated Al's Upholstery Shop in DeMotte where Walt learned the upholstering trade. In 1965, he and his wife, Alberta opened a new furniture and re-upholstery business in the newly built Hillside Shopping Center on the north side of DeMotte. That business is now owned by Roorda's son, Mark and his wife, Retta.

State Representative Walt RoordaRoorda became chairman of the powerful Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee in 1973 and remained in that post until he died. The committee became the place where controversial legislation was assigned, partly as a way of insulating the House Speaker from the rough-and-tumble infighting that can sometimes overwhelm a piece of legislation. The Rules Committee determines how the game is played.

Roorda authored legislation that created the Kankakee River Basin Commission and the operation of experimental soil conservation programs in his district.

He also participated in several multi-state and national studies where he often served as chairman. He and his wife, Alberta were returning from such a conference held in Rapid City, South Dakota when she was killed in a car accident in 1992 as they were returning home.


He authored, co-authored and sponsored many pieces of legislation designed to help rural areas, small business, and senior citizens.

He co-authored, with State Representative Joyce Brinkman and State Senator Claire Leuck, House Resolution #56 honoring the "Touch of Dutch" Arts & Crafts Festival held annually in DeMotte each year during August.

Roorda was known as a hard-working legislator in the General Assembly. He felt the most important aspect of holding a state office was that of dealing with constituents needs. He often said, "The most satisfying (part of being a legislator) is to be able to assist a constituent through the maze of government regulations."


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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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