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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The fire of 1992


Early Wednesday morning, June 17, 1992 downtown DeMotte was on fire for the second time in its history.

Keener Township Volunteer Fire Department chief Mike Orsburn said the blaze began at 2:34 a.m. at Indiana Pride Furniture Manufacturing, which was located in the rear of a building located at 822 S. Halleck Street.

"The first fire department pumper was on the scene at 2:37 a.m.," Orsburn said, "And we didn't leave until 14 hours later at 4:35 p.m." There were several recalls for minor flare ups. Keener Township was assisted by 12 other volunteer fire departments from Jasper, Porter and Newton Counties. These included Wheatfield, Lincoln Township, Rensselaer, Hebron, Kouts, Porter Township, Washington Township, Boone Grove, Lowell, Morgan Township, Lake Eliza and Lake of the Four Seasons. Several of those departments also helped during the 1936 fire.

Keener Township, Wheatfield and Porter Memorial ambulance crews were on hand in case of injury and they provided firemen with moist towels to help protect them from the intense heat. Only minor injuries were reported.

Orsburn cited the lack of having available water nearby as a hindrance in fighting the fire. The massive quantities of water needed to fight the blaze came from various sources including from the assisting fire departments.


The backwash holding tank at the town's sewer plant holds up to 35,000 gallons of water and was pumped dry. Boone Grove firemen traveled back and forth to the Hodge Ditch for water and local farmer Carey Hamstra also assisted by bringing around 10,000 gallons of water to the scene.

The collected water was emptied into portable tanks that were set up in the middle of Halleck Street and behind the burning businesses so the trucks could continue bringing more water from whatever source was available.

Two buildings, one owned by Fern Traster and the other by Robert Schultz, housed six businesses which were totally destroyed. The businesses were Indiana Pride Furniture Manufacturing, Country Catch All, Benda's Bridal and Evening Wear, Consolidated Insurance, Tiki's Hair Salon and the Second Time Around clothing resale shop.

Several stores along the west side of Halleck Street suffered heat and smoke damage.


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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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