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What's in a name? DeMotte

Photo of Col. Mark L. DeMotte

Have you ever wondered where some of our small towns got their names? The Town of DeMotte's name dates back to just after the Civil War, and was named after a man from the region who was well known and respected in Jasper County.

The name DeMotte is a place name of French origin. The DeMotte family erected castles named after the original family seat in several parts of France. There were some DeMottes who migrated to England and then to Colonial America.

As settlers came to the Grand Kankakee Marsh area, residents met to decide on an official name for the settlement to replace the name “Little Village” that was given when the town was established.

Many of the settlers had served in the Civil War. These veterans chose to name the village after Col. Mark L. DeMotte. He was a lawyer from Valparaiso and a political figure who had served under Major General Robert H. Milroy from Rensselaer during the Civil War.

In 1879, Col. DeMotte founded the Department of Law at Valparaiso University. In the 1880s he served terms in Congress and the State Senate. From 1890-1894 he served as Postmaster in Valparaiso, being appointed by President Benjamin Harrison.

Col. Mark Lindsay DeMotte died September 28, 1908 and is buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Valparaiso, IN.

It’s not clear the exact year the DeMotte name was chosen.  Land office records indicate the year 1871 but a Jasper County map dated 1868 also shows the name of DeMotte.