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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DeMotte Park Board


About two years after incorporation, on February 10, 1969, the DeMotte Town board took under advisement the request for a town park which was put forth by the DeMotte Chamber of Commerce.

On June 9, 1969 an ordinance was passed creating a DeMotte Park Board. A four member board was appointed consisting of Jack Stellingwerf, Toni Lapsley, Cel Bol and Wally Abbott to study the park issue and bring recommendations back to the board. Abbott was chosen president of the first park board.

In 1969, Thomas Ciurus donated a 40-acre wooded area about two miles southeast of DeMotte. Ciurus donated the acreage on the condition that the land was to be used as a park or nature preserve in perpetuity or it would revert back to the Ciurus heirs. A town board meeting on February 9, 1970 reflected the fact that the Ciurus property would be surveyed by the town.

Today, Ciurus Park is a nature preserve managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for DeMotte. It is located across the road (600W) from the Sandy Pines Golf Course. On January 26, 1973 the Town of DeMotte and the Kankakee Valley School Corporation entered into a contract concerning a 10-acre tract of ground which lays across Birch Street SW behind the DeMotte Elementary School. The property is owned by the school corporation and is leased to the town for a dollar a year to be used as a park until such time as the school might need it or conditions should change. It is still leased from the school corporation in 1997.

The park was first called DeMotte Park, but the name was later changed to Freedom Park. Tennis Courts and playground equipment are a feature of this park. The south end of the park was also used as a Little League field until the 'Field of Dreams' was built in the early 1990's. The annual 'Touch of Dutch' festival is also held in this park on the second Saturday in August.

On January 13, 1974 Dr. Roy Kingma was charged with making an offer for an option on property owned by Regal and Nell Spencer with the option to be good until the end of January 1976. On November 24, 1974 the town board voted to purchase the 13.7 acres of the Spencer property for $2000 an acre and Spencer Park was on its way to becoming a viable park. The next spring it was decided to have Hollandale Builders construct a pavilion at the park site for $3600. Additional land to enlarge the park was purchased from the Spencer property in 1981.


After the property was purchased a municipal swimming pool became the dream of those sitting on the board at the time. On September 25, 1978 a hearing was held and a municipal bond was approved to build the pool. The bonds were signed at the DeMotte State Bank for $82,000 on March 31, 1980 and construction began immediately. On September 22, 1980 a final inspection was held and the pool was pronounced ready to go for the next season.

In the spring of 1984 lights were installed in Spencer Park so the ball fields could be used at night. A walking path was added later in 1991.

In the fall of 1990 property on 15th Street SW was purchased from Dr. Roy E. Kingma to construct a Little League field and additional land was purchased in 1995 from A A Builders. In 1991 local school children were asked to suggest names for the park and 'Field of Dreams' was picked as an appropriate name.

A grant from the Hoosier Lottery Commission was awarded to the town in 1992 to help develop the park. Since that time the park has been seeded and the parking lot expanded with an eighth ball field added. Two pavilions are now at the park, the last one was built with labor donated from the DeMotte/Kankakee Valley Rotary Club. Two street lights have been added on the north end of the field and the park is used by many youngsters.

In 1993 a plaque was awarded to Joe Kopanda for his many years of service to the Park Board.


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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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