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 Chamber of Commerce


Immediately after incorporation in 1967, business leaders recognized DeMotte was entering a new era. The Businessmen's Association had served the community well since the early 1930's, but a new direction was called for to help the town that was once called "Little Village" grow into the orderly, thriving small city that it is today.

The DeMotte Chamber of Commerce was first organized in 1967, and according to Gilbert (Tim) Schultz, one of their first priorities was to urge the town board to create ordinances which would govern animals in town, junk vehicles, mowing property, and generally urging a "let's cleanup DeMotte" campaign.

When I-65 was built in the middle 1960's, DeMotte was not yet incorporated and the signs at the I-65 interchange did not mention DeMotte, only Roselawn. The Chamber worked with the newly elected State Representative Walter Roorda and other state officials to have the signs changed to bear the name of DeMotte also at the exchange.

The Chamber was active the first few years after incorporation. Members planned innovative sales for the merchants, Christmas decorations were purchased for the town, a beautification committee was formed, a committee worked with the telephone company on improving the system between DeMotte and Wheatfield and many other projects and details that needed attention was taken on by the Chamber. A very successful Old Fashioned Farm & Town Day was organized in 1972 which included a parade, farm tours and activities on the elementary school grounds.

Looking at United Methodist Church from DeMotte SchoolInterest began waning after 1972. Some say the group had taken on to many projects and Chamber business was taking to much time from the members own businesses. For whatever reason, in 1974 the first DeMotte Chamber of Commerce voted to disband.

By 1978 talk was circulating about starting another Chamber of Commerce to fill the void created, especially in the business community, after the first group discontinued to meet.

On October 30, 1980 several business people met at the DeMotte Legion and the second DeMotte Chamber of Commerce was organized. Because many present felt that over-organization had been the downfall of the first Chamber the new Chamber was structured to be run on a day to day basis by a 12-member board of directors. The directors meet monthly at 7 a.m. the first Friday of each month. Chamber members are encouraged to attend these meetings, but only directors are allowed to vote on a matter. The directors serve staggered terms and are elected from among the Chamber membership. Each director is responsible for a committee and can draw people from the Chamber membership for needed help in fulfilling the requirements of the committee.


The Chamber of Commerce has proven to so successful that in 1995, Mrs. Pat Kopanda was hired to work for the Chamber on a part-time basis. A Chamber of Commerce is one of the biggest assets that a community can have. This Chamber has established the Christmas lighting program with a yearly fund-raiser of which the proceeds go directly for new lights and refurbishing the older ones. A Santa House, where Santa comes to visit during the Christmas season, is put up each year. The "Touch of Dutch" Arts and Crafts festival parade each August is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

DeMotte State Bank Building then Town Hall then H & R Block

The members have worked with the town council on many projects for the betterment of DeMotte including getting stop lights in town and working on other road projects which affect the community. Some of the yearly sales, such as sidewalk sales, are sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Maps of DeMotte and area subdivisions have been made available through the Chamber and a Chamber brochure is available to send to people who make inquiries about DeMotte. The Chamber has participated in Hoosier Hospitality Days in Indianapolis hoping to interest an industry to locate in one of the industrial parks in or near DeMotte.

This booklet, "Thirty Years of Growth, 100 Years of Tradition", which is also the theme for the arts & crafts parade this year, has been a DeMotte Chamber of Commerce project commemorating the 30th year of the incorporation of DeMotte.


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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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