Foreword & Acknowledgement
Before the White Man/Coming of the
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
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
Lageveen Remembers Incorporation
Belstra Remembers When...
Kankakee Valley Schools
DeMotte Elementary School
(DeMotte) Christian School
Mark L. DeMotte
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
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
St. Cecilia Catholic Church
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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Fire destroys main
building at Kaper's
In 1934, in the middle of the
depression, Cornelius H. (Neil) Kaper and his wife, Johanna moved from
Roseland, Illinois to DeMotte in search of better times.
In 1936, after limited success hauling livestock to Chicago, Kaper bought
a small used lumber and feed business from Richard Grevenstuk. The
business was located three miles west of DeMotte in the area commonly
known as "Dutch Corners".
Kaper relocated his new business to a building he leased in downtown
DeMotte and rented the house adjacent to it to live in. The house once sat
where Fagen Pharmacy parking lot is today. The building which once housed
the feed mill is now home to ConvaCare and is located next to J & H Tire
on Halleck Street.
The feed business began to prosper as Kaper branched out to supply the
needs of the farmer, but the used lumber end of the business started to
fizzle. Just before the start of WW II, Kaper sold the lumber end of the
business back to Grevenstuk.
After the war, Kaper purchased the lumber business back from the
Grevenstuks determined to make both the feed and lumber businesses prosper
He separated the two businesses and moved the used lumber to the present
day location of the lumber yard on 15th Street.
In 1954 he sold the feed business to Albert K. (Bud) Belstra. Belstra
Milling is now located just a couple doors east of the lumber yard.
expanded his business by bringing in other building materials plus a
limited supply of new material.
In 1963 there was a change in ownership. Bob and Bill Kaper bought the
business from their father and instituted many changes through the years.
The last load of used lumber came into the lumber yard at Kaper's in 1964.
The next 30 years brought many changes in faces, equipment, buildings and
property. The direction of the company's trade was geared to the
contractor trade which was booming due to the increased growth in the
On Sunday night, January 13, 1984 at 11:50 p.m. a call went in to the
Keener Township Volunteer Fire Department that the main building at
Kaper's was on fire. The fire destroyed the offices, store and display
rooms although the firemen managed to save all company records and
important papers. Several fire departments from around the area were
called to help.
The lack of an ample water supply was cited as a hindrance to the firemen
in fighting the blaze. A nearby ditch became the main source of water used
by the firemen.
Bob Kaper said he believed that the fire may have been
started by an electric heater which had been placed in a well enclosure to
keep a pump from freezing.
The main building was rebuilt and looks as is does today.
July 1994, Kaper's Building Material entered a new phase when they merged
with Erlanger Lumber Company of Erlanger, Kentucky. Erlanger Lumber has
been in the building material business in northern Kentucky for more than
"Like Kaper's, Erlanger specializes in meeting the building material needs
of professional contractors," spokesman Mike Hinde said, "The enhanced
buying power of the combined companies has positioned both operations to
better meet the competitive challenges of the next decade."
Other than the position of general manager, no other staffing changes were
made after the merger. Selected inventory items were added, and a 4,000
sq. ft. addition was completed in 1995. The company's name was left
unchanged, and Kaper's continues to be one of the largest employers in the