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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The first town board
The DeMotte Town Board got off to a
rocky start. The election was held under the cloud of a lawsuit filed by
disgruntled property owners charging defects in the incorporation
proceedings and asked for the incorporation to be invalidated. It also
asked for a restraining order against holding the election on October 11,
The restraining order was lifted two days before the election by Jasper
County Circuit Judge Moses Leopold. Judge Leopold so ruled, on the
condition that if the incorporation was found to be invalidated when the
lawsuit came to trial, the election would also be null and void. The
lawsuit was brought by Mr. and Mrs. Ben Hoffman, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence
Walstra, Mr. and Mrs. Lester Crawford, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Yeagley, Mr.
and Mrs. Ben Swart, John Konovsky, Eva Mosier and Cornelius Abbring.
Justice of the Peace Jasper (Jack) Stellingwerf swore in those elected to
the five member board on October 21, 1965. They were: Charles Abbring,
James Coffer, Ernest Eenigenburg, Don Fieldhouse, and Art Lageveen, Jr.
Harry Stockman was elected Clerk-Treasurer.
With the election just two weeks behind them, the first official meeting
of the board, which turned out later to be an unofficial one, was held on
Tuesday afternoon during the last week of October, 1965. The first action
of the board was to elect Art Lageveen, Jr., as chairman. Other business
at that first meeting involved securing deputies to perform a 'vigilance
patrol' over the Halloween weekend that was coming up.
was notorious for smashed pumpkins scattered through town, overturned
privies and the windows of all the downtown merchants soaped so badly they
couldn't see through them the next morning.
In November 1965, the lawsuit concerning the incorporation was to be
heard. On the day of the trial, several DeMotte citizens went to
Rensselaer to hear the proceedings. In the meantime, the lawyers for the
two sides (Attys. Dale Schwanke and Thomas Dumas) had worked out an
agreement with Judge Leopold to declare the incorporation invalid due to
defects, therefore the election held the month before was also
According to Don Fieldhouse, the board continued to meet on a monthly
basis in an unofficial capacity. Fieldhouse said, "We just were meeting to
try and determine if there was anything anyone could do. We didn't have
the power to make a decision and we had no money."
A group of local citizens contacted state politicians to enlist their help
in getting a bill passed that would validate the incorporation.
State Representatives Quentin Blachly and King Telle along with State
Senators Earl Landgrebe and Marvin Stewart managed to get a bill passed
through the state legislature which would 'cure all defects' in the
previous incorporation of the town and DeMotte would again be
incorporated. An excerpt from the Gary Post-Tribune on March 16, 1967
reported that the bill was signed into law by Governor Edgar Whitcomb on
March 14, 1967. This gave the town of DeMotte full status as an
incorporated town. Under the provisions of the bill, the previously
elected office holders would remain in office.
Fieldhouse said the town board met at the old Legion Hall (where
Yesteryear is now located) and invited all opponents of the incorporation
to a meeting. Excerpts from the February 8, 1968 issue of the Kankakee
Valley Post reports: In a meeting of the Town Board of DeMotte last week,
the board members agreed to disannex from the incorporated Town of DeMotte
the following petitioned property owned by: Ben Hoffman, Julius
Holm-Hansen. John Zoeteman, Cornelius Abbring, Don Radtke, Clarence
Walstra, Charles Streveler, Ben Swart, Wes Mosier and Wesley Van Drunen.
Fieldhouse said although the town board was now legal, "We had no money"
All governing bodies in the State of Indiana set their budgets in July or
August. This budget determines the amount of the tax draw (money) that is
received on December 31 and June 30 each year.
Fieldhouse said, "Personally, the police department was
so important to me." He said he pushed to get that department set up the
first thing. Even though the town had no money, they were able to start a
police department with the help of local merchants and others who
voluntarily gave money to the town. Albert Clark was hired as the first
Town Marshal in DeMotte. He said Clark organized 'volunteer deputies' to
help in emergencies and other times of need (such as traffic control,
said he donated the first car to be used by the police a 1961 Ford 4-door
sedan. He said the car was dark blue and had a white top which just so
happened to be the colors of vehicles in 1967."
"The goal of the first town board was to make DeMotte a safer place to
live," Fieldhouse said, "And to help the community grow in an orderly
fashion," He said a short-term goal was getting street lights and a
long-term goal was sewage disposal.
Before incorporation DeMotte's streets had been maintained by the county,
now they became the responsibility of the town.
Tom Fisher served as DeMotte's first attorney. Ordinances had to be
written by which to govern the town. Fieldhouse said the board spent a lot
of time that first year looking at the ordinances of other towns of