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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In September, 1972 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unveiled a million dollar study they had been working on for about a year entitled, "Chicago - Southend of Lake Michigan Wastewater Management Study" or (C-SELM). If their plan to take care of the metropolitan industrial sewage had been successful, it would have changed the map of northern Jasper County.

A public meeting held in Hammond, Indiana in September, 1972 heard Col. Richard Welles detail several alternatives the corps had studied to handle the Chicagoland sewage from 1990 through 2020. About 700 area residents attended that meeting.

One of the proposed schemes involved moving both the towns of DeMotte and Wheatfield (including cemeteries) and building huge lagoons across northern Jasper County. The wastewater would be transported from Chicago through large deep, underground tunnels cut through the granite under the earth and fed into the lagoons. From there it would have gone through a purifying process and eventually have wound up on farm ground as fertilizer.

Upon hearing the Army Corps proposals, on September 25, 1972 a group of about 200 people from across Newton, Jasper, Starke and Pulaski counties met at the Kankakee Valley High School and formed the Kankakee Valley Association (KVA).

The meeting was conducted by State Representative Walter J. Roorda who introduced John DeGraff, Walter Drees, and attorneys Tom Fisher and Jack Nesbitt to help with the proceedings. A 12-member executive board, who would conduct the business of the KVA was elected that night. Officers were: John DeGraff - chairman; Joan Whitaker - vice chairman; Henry Huppenthal - 1st vice chairman; John Cervenka - 2nd vice chairman; Walter Drees - secretary/treasurer. Other directors were: Zone 1 - Fr. George Kashmer; Zone 2 - Irvin Dorn, Dale Rainford and Donald Tilton; Zone 3 - Thomas Reimer, Lawrence Parish and Harold Budde.


The board met almost weekly for several months under the leadership of John DeGraff. State Representative Roorda and Jack Nesbitt served in an advisory capacity to the board.

An. overflow crowd of about 5000 people attended a public meeting held in 1972 in the gymnasium of the Kankakee Valley High School. The meeting was called by the Army Corps of Engineers and was designed to hear testimony concerning the pros and cons of the C-SELM issue. A later public meeting called by the corps was also held in Rensselaer.

By the end of 1974, the controversial issue was mostly dead, largely due to the tremendous efforts put forth by the executive board of the Kankakee Valley Association. The association is still in existence today with Edson Murray serving as the chairman.


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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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