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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Tysen's Family Food Center


In 1967 Sam DeKock owned the DeKock Grocery store in downtown DeMotte. The store was located where Carolina House Furniture store is at the present time.

The store had been owned and operated by members of the DeKock family for many years, even dating prior to the fire in 1936 when it was known as H.C. DeKock & Sons Hardware and Grocery. At the time of the fire, it was totally destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up, as were many of the other businesses destroyed that day.

Bernard Tysen purchased the grocery store from DeKock in 1970. At that time the size of the store was approximately 6,000 square feet. Tysen operated the store in that location for six years.

In September 1976, Tysen and his wife, Evelyn relocated their business to the DeMotte Plaza and changed the name to Tysen's Country Grocery. The new store consisted of about 24,000 square feet, almost four times larger than the downtown store. It had many new features, including a deli with home made foods.

There have been two major remodeling projects at the store. The first was in 1985 when an atrium style cafe was added. New office areas were also added and the DeMotte State Bank opened a branch bank inside the store.

In 1986 the Tysens' retired from the business and a son-in-law, James Spenner and a son, Larry Donis bought the business retaining the name of Tysen's.


In 1991 Spenner and Donis undertook a huge remodeling project, adding an additional 10,000 square feet and completely updating the equipment, redecorating and adding an in-store bakery. The deli and the deli kitchen were enlarged and name of the store was changed to Tysen's Family Food Center.

In April, 1995 Donis and Spenner opened a second store in the School Crossing Market Place, a plaza which was developed by Wilbert Hamstra across from the KVHS on S.R. 10 between DeMotte and Wheatfield. This store was patterned after the DeMotte store as far as the decor and services offered.

When Bernard operated the downtown store where he first started out, he had a staff of 10 to 12 people working for him. At present, a total of 120 people are employed by Tysen's at the two stores which makes them one of the larger employers in the area. There are 85 employees at DeMotte and 35 at the Wheatfield store.


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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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