Vol. 1 of the 1914 Delaware Co., IA History pgs. 311-314
H. Kasson, of Baraboo, Wisconsin, about the year 1854 left the place
mentioned, with the intention of joining a colony of homeseekers
at Grinnell, Iowa. Upon reaching Delaware County he had grown tired and disspirited and being pleased with the location of section
11, in Oneida Township, purchased the southwest quarter,
on which he built a frame house. This tract of land eventually became the site
of Almoral. In the spring of 1856 a group of men,
styled the Stafford Emigration Company, of Amherst, Massachusetts, sent delegates to Iowa in search of a place to locate a
colony. The men composing the delegation, upon inspection of the country, did
not see enough to interest them and returned east without making a selection,
but did report unfavorably to the company of their investigations. At the time
the organization was effected in Massachusetts, Rev. H. N. Gates and D. S.
Noble were living at the Yankee Settlement; L. O. Stevens at Hopkinton; and
Joseph Dunham, F. W. Dunham and J. B. Dunham, at Bowen’s Prairie. These
persons, with their families, had joined the colony and expected to become
members of the colony. After the failure of the delegation to select land for
the proposed scheme of colonization, F. W. Dunham, Rev. H. N. Gates, L. O. Stevens
and D. B. Noble took up the investigation of the country through Western and
Northwestern Iowa, and finally came upon the present site of Almoral, where they camped and met Rev. J. H. Kasson, who
had by this time secured a neighbor in the person of John A. G. Cattron, who had built a home on the northwest quarter of
section 11. Mr. Kasson was induced to dispose of his holdings. Adjoining land
was purchased by the quartette of homeseekers, making
in all six hundred and forty acres, which was intended as a nucleus of a
settlement whose people should build up the Congregational Church and an
institution for the education of their children. One-fifth of the land thus
secured was donated as a permanent endowment for an academy or high school.
On November 23, 1857, James H. Kasson laid out the town
of Almoral on section 11, being part of a
tract of land he had retained. F. W. Dunham was the surveyor. Here Rev. H. N.
Gates had built a house in the previous fall, the first one in the village. The
structure was removed to Earlville about the year 1860.
was opened in Almoral in the summer of 1857 by Abbie E. Dunham, in a log cabin, which stood on the
northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 11.
September, 1858, the progenitors of the settlement, which was first designated
as the Stafford Colony, incorporated the Almoral
Institute under the laws of the State of Iowa. The incorporators were J. H.
Kasson, L. O. Stevens, Joseph Dunham, William G. Strickland, H. N. Gates,
Elijah Gates, J. A. G. Cattron and David Roland.
These worthy men were also the first trustees. Building operations were
commenced immediately and a frame structure, 24x30 feet, was erected on lot 1,
block 10, in which the first term of the Almoral
Institute opened December 1, 1857, under the charge of Rev. H. N. Gates. There were about
twenty pupils. Before the institution closed its doors, Rev. H. N. Gates, L. O.
Stevens, R. M. Marvin and F. W. Dunham taught here and a district school was
conducted in connection with the institute until its close in 1860.
close of the institute this property reverted to the donors, who transferred it
to the Almoral Congregational Church, together with
other property. The church had been organized in 1857. Rev. H. N. Gates was
the first pastor, and W. G. Strickland, deacon.
The postoffice was established here March 24, 1857, and F. W. Dunham was placed in
charge. At first mail was received weekly. The first arrived at this office in
April, 1857. The office has long since been discontinued.
Almoral has the distinction of having organized the first brass
band in Delaware County. It came into existence in 1858. J.
B. Dunham was its leader. This musical organization appeared in different parts
of the county at political meetings during the national campaign of 1860, and
when a number of its members enlisted for the Civil war, the band became
commodious schoolhouse to replace the log cabin was built in 1864 in Almoral, at a cost of about one thousand dollars, and when
it was completed it was one of the best buildings of its character in Delaware County.
Almoral became quite a bustling little trading point and remained
so a few years. A creamery was started early in 1876, by William G. Strickland,
J. B. Dunham, J. A. G. Cattron, William Hockaday, and others, and was operated successfully a long
Cruise later established a creamery on section 12, near Almoral.
The town itself has been wiped off the map.
HISTORY OF ALMORAL
J. B. Dunham (1907)
fall of 1856 a small colony of eastern people came to Almoral,
which was then a wild prairie country, to make homes and build up religious
institutions. During that winter Sabbath services were held at the home of
Rev. James H. Kasson.
spring of 1857, March 26th, a meeting was held at the home of H. N. Gates, and
the Almoral church was organized, consisting of the
following thirteen members: Messrs, and Mesdames H. N. Gates, L. O. Stevens,
Joseph Dunham, Francis Dunham, W. G. Strickland and James Kasson, and Miss
number only five are living: Mrs. Mary Kasson, of Des Moines, Iowa; Mrs. Jeannette Stevens, of Blair, Nebraska; Mrs. A. M. Sanborn and Mrs. Eunice
Strickland, of Almoral, the latter being in too
feeble health to attend the celebration of this semi-centennial.
N. Gates was the first pastor. May 16, 1857, the church voted to approve the action of Rev. Mr. Gates
in requesting the admission of the church into the Dubuque association, at its meeting at
Maquoketa. During that summer services were held in a log house near the
creek, on the place now occupied by Austin Slick.
school building was completed that season and services were held in it. In the
fall of 1871 this building was repaired and reseated as a church, and divine
services were maintained there until the first church was erected.
arrangements were made that the Methodists should occupy the church every
alternate Sabbath. Reverend Platt was the first Methodist minister. A union
Sabbath school was maintained and the associations were very pleasant.
Everything was in perfect harmony for many years until the Methodist society
became so small, on account of removals and losses by death, that those
remaining were transferred to the Earlville church. I remember some of the
ministers saying they could not tell who were Methodists
or who were Congregationalists, such a spirit of Christian fellowship was
manifested by both societies.
through the generosity and untiring efforts of one of the pioneers who has
recently passed to his reward, forty-five acres of land were donated to the
church, the proceeds of which the society has enjoyed ever since and will
continue to do as long as it exists.
earliest years of the church a Sabbath school was maintained, and during the
period of union services the superintendent was sometimes Methodist and
sometimes Congregationalist. The Sabbath school at the present time is in a
very prosperous condition and although it is now a Congregational school the
present superintendent, F. E. Bell, is a Methodist.
spring of 1902, the old church building was found to be unfit for use and it
was decided to build a new church. Through the combined efforts of pastor and
people the present edifice, costing over twenty-five hundred dollars, was
completed that fall and dedicated February 8, 1903, free of debt. The church is at present in a prosperous and
harmonious condition. The membership numbers sixty-nine—the
largest in its history, twenty-seven having been added during the past year.
May the church continue to grow in numbers and Christian influence, and may
many present at this glad anniversary live to celebrate the centennial
anniversary of its institution.
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