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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August 10 incorporation hearing


(The following article has been reprinted from the Kankakee Valley Post-News and is an account of the August 10, 1965 hearing which had been set by the Jasper County commissioners to hear the petition for the incorporation of DeMotte.)

An overflow crowd of DeMotte area residents Tuesday morning presented arguments for and against the incorporation of the town at a hearing in the courtroom of the Jasper County courthouse. Both sides were represented by attorneys.

Reviewing the arguments were the Jasper County commissioners, who withheld an immediate decision and took the question (of incorporation) under advisement.

The commissioners were forced to relocate the meeting from their regular hearing room to the courtroom after more than 80 residents appeared for the meeting and presented their view of the proposal. The capacity crowd filled all spectator seats in the courtroom and spilled over into the jury box and other seats inside the court railing.

The petitioners for incorporation were represented by DeMotte attorney Dale Schwanke. Representing the objectors were attorneys Edwin Robinson and Thomas Dumas.

Downtown DeMotte 1958Dumas contended that the signatures on the petition were not verified, that a required report from the county plan commission had been filed last Saturday rather than 10 days previous to the hearing as required by law, and that the hearing notice mailed to residents was defective because it failed to mention section 26 in the description of the area covered.

County attorney John Hopkins and the commissioners considered the plea and voted to continue the hearing.

Schwanke then called upon several of the petitioners to address the commissioners and state their reason for favoring the incorporation proposal.


Twenty-four DeMotte residents spoke in favor of the proposal, including Gerrit Van Keppel, who described a need for police protection and youth opportunity; Dr. John Wright, who told the commissioners the area needed self-government; and Bruce Todd, who presented a letter to the commissioners written by Jasper county health officer, Dr. Kenneth R. Ockermann. Dr. Ockermann stated in his letter that incorporation of DeMotte would be beneficial as a means of providing needed sanitation facilities.

Objectors to the proposal were then called to speak. Fifteen explained their positions to the commissioners. Most of the objectors were farmers living on the outskirts of the proposed incorporation area, but several town residents were among those presenting arguments against the proposal. The town residents who objected said that the community was not yet large enough to benefit from incorporation.

At one point a heated exchange of accusations and denials between the committee members and objectors interrupted the proceedings.

After the area residents were finished presenting their views, final arguments were given by the attorneys for both sides. The commissioners adjourned without voting on the incorporation proposal.


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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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