Mark L. DeMotte, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Mark L. DeMotte


It is a pleasure to describe a man of unusual personal merit, the possessor of a combination of gifts so rare, so varied and so comprehensive that happiness and success in business were bound to follow the application of his qualities to the solution of almost any problem. Some men were not made to plod or to crawl, and Mark L. DeMotte is one of them. His diversified talents rendered it easy for him to select a congenial pursuit, and his perception and intelligence guaranteed that success would reward effort. Mr. DeMotte, the ex-congressman from the Tenth Congressional District and ex-postmaster of Valparaiso, was born near Rockville, Parke County, Indiana, December 28, 1832. His father was of French and his mother of Dutch origin, the former being a native of New Jersey and the latter of Kentucky. The father, Rev. Daniel DeMotte, was a pioneer Methodist minister who began his labor in the good cause in Indiana about 1830, and continued the work until his death in 1875. He was a man of great force of character and was possessed of indomitable energy. To his marriage were born eight children, six of whom still survive. The subject of this brief memoir received a classical education in Indiana, Asbury (now Depauw) University, of Greencastle, where he was graduated in 1853, receiving the degree of A.B. Immediately afterwards he began the study of law, and in 1855 graduated at the law-school of the same University with the degree of LL.B. The same year he opened an office for the practice of his profession at Valparaiso, Indiana, where he immediately took high rank among his professional brethren. In 1856 he was elected, as a Republican, prosecuting attorney for the judical circuit composed of the counties of Lake, Porter, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Marshall and Starke. Early in 1861 he entered the service of the United States as Senior First Lieutenant of the Fourth Indiana Battery, and continued with his command until April, 1862, when he resigned and accepted a commission as Captain and Assistant Quartermaster, being assigned to duty with General Fremont in West Virginia. He remained with that command until the campaign of 1862 had practically ended with the second battle of Bull Run and Antietam, and was then ordered to West Virginia with Major General Milroy. He remained with this division until after the battle of Gettysburg. The remainder of his service was on post duty at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In August, 1865 he removed to Lexington, Missouri, and entered upon the practice of his profession. In 1869 he became the owner and editor of the Lexington Register, a Republican paper, which under his management attained a very high standing for ability and influence. It was the leading journal of the Eleventh Congressional District, then as now the heaviest Democratic district in the state. In 1872 Mr. DeMotte was nominated by the Republicans of that district as their candidate for Congress, and made a vigorous campaign without hope for election of course, but succeeded in making a big reduction in the Democratic majority. In 1876 he was again nominated for Congress, but with a like result. He was a member of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Convention which met in Chicago in 1868, on the day prior to the Republican National Convention of that year which nominated Grant and Colfax. He was also a member of the National Republican Convention which met at Cincinnati in 1876. The following year Mr. DeMotte returned to Valparaiso, Indiana, his old home, and again resumed the practice of law. In November, 1879, he founded the department of law in the Northern Indiana Normal College of Valparaiso, to which he has since given most of his attention, and which institution has grown to be the largest and best law-school in the State, having now an enrollment of over a hundred students. In 1880, at the Republican Convention held at Logansport June 22, Mr. DeMotte was nominated to represent the Tenth District in Congress, and was elected to the Forty-seventh Congress against J. N. Skinner, who received the nomination from National Greenback, Labor and Democratic parties. In 1882 he was again nominated, but defeated with the balance of the ticket. Mr. DeMotte was elected to the State Senate in 1886, and served on several committees of importance. He was a hard worker in the effort to remove the obstruction in Kankakee River at Momence, Illinois. During President Harrison's administration he was appointed postmaster of Valparaiso, and his commission expired in March, 1894. He was first married to Miss Elizabeth Christy, who died on March 20, 1890. By this union two daughters were born, Mary, wife of Rev. J. H. Wilson, presiding elder of the M. E. Conference; and Louise, wife of Lawrence Letherman, postoffice inspector. On the 12th of January, 1893, Mr. DeMotte was married to Miss Clara Stevens. He is a Mason and Past Grand Regent of the Royal Arcanum of the State of Indiana. Our subject is a positive man and a fluent, forcible and convincing speaker. He possesses intellect of a high order, has labored earnestly for the good of his section, and is public spirited and enterprising.

Source: Goodspeed Brothers. 1894. Pictorial and Biographical Record of La Porte, Porter, Lake and Starke Counties, Indiana. Chicago, Illinois: Goodspeed Brothers. 569 p.
Page(s) in Source: 95-97

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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