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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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St. Cecilia Catholic Church


On November 22, 1987, St. Cecilia Catholic Church celebrated its 35th anniversary in DeMotte. Bishop John G. Bennett established St. Cecilia Catholic Church as a mission of Sorrowful Mother parish in Wheatfield on July 22, 1952. Father Donald Hardebeck, pastor of Sorrowful Mother at the time, was given the charge of establishing the DeMotte church.

Exactly one year later on July 22, 1953, Father Hardebeck broke ground for the mission church of St. Cecilia on 9th Street in DeMotte. Thus began the fulfillment phase of the mission that Bishop Bennett had established at DeMotte in 1952. Bishop Bennett had just closed St. Cecilia parish in Fairmount, Grant County, Indiana where it had existed since the 1900's "gas boom". When he sold the property in 1952 it is likely he used some of the money for the purchase of the DeMotte land when he asked Father Donald Hardebeck, pastor at Wheatfield, to name the mission in honor of St. Cecilia. Two thousand dollars came from the Diocesan Mission Fund and $1,000 from the Wheatfield parish as a gift to start the mission.

The first building was designed by Krol and Hastrup, Engineers, Inc. of Chicago, and cost $30,624 which was some $20,000 below its completed value because of 42 volunteers that also worked on the project.

St. Cecilia Catolic Church after completionThere were 52 families in the mission parish in 1953. Fr. Hardebeck celebrated Mass for the first time in the new church on Easter Sunday, 1954. On June 20, 1954, Bishop Bennett came from Lafayette to formally dedicate the new church.

The mission church was intended to become a rectory with a garage when parish growth developed to the point of expanding. From 1954 to 1974 the pastors of Wheatfield came to celebrate one Mass each Sunday. In 1974, Father David Cooley, coming from the Medaryville parish, became the first resident pastor ending the church's mission status.

On his arrival in 1974, Fr. Cooley came to the 9th Street rectory which Fr. David Clifford of Sorrowful Mother had purchased in 1973. As plans for a new church with parking facilities unfolded, it became evident the intended site on 10th Street would be impractical. Meanwhile, Bishop Raymond Galagher and Father Frederick Perry, pastor at Sorrowful Mother had purchased 20 acres in 1966 from John Toppen at 15th and Birch in DeMotte. It was on this site the new St. Cecilia Church and rectory was selected to be built. The old church was sold in 1978 to the Jasper County Library system to be used as a branch library at DeMotte.


By 1967 St. Cecilia had grown to about 100 families and its growth continued until in 1987 church rosters named 364 families that belonged to the church. Today, in 1997 there are 380 active families who call St. Cecilia their home parish.

St. Cecilia Catholic Church from 1954-1979Father Thomas Fox, who became the second pastor of St. Cecilia's in June, 1976, broke ground for the new church on May 15, 1977. The construction contract was awarded to Hamstra Builders. The new church facility included the church, offices, and parish hall along with a large parking lot. It seats 400 people and has a Blessed Sacrament Chapel for weekday Mass with additional space in the choir and cry room. The hall capacity is 250.

The estimated cost of the new edifice was $480,000 and it was dedicated on June 24, 1979. Bishop Galagher dedicated St. Cecilia's Education Center on September 13, 1981.

Father Fox was pastor of St. Cecilia until July, 1984 when Father Edward Stone was appointed pastor. In July, 1987, Father Paul Wicklum was assigned pastor of St. Cecilia and remains in that position in 1997. Fr Wicklum states that he has served longer in one church than any other pastor in DeMotte. The dedication program booklet printed in 1979 said, "The substantial church built by this generation is a testimony not only to the faith of our fathers but to the future Catholics who may rejoice in the many celebrations that take place in the house of God, the gate of heaven."


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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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