Rev. J. 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
dispirited 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
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.
A school 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.
In 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.
After the 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
A 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
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 time.
John Cruise later established a creamery on section 12, near Almoral. The
town itself has been wiped off the map.
HISTORY OF ALMORAL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
By Mrs. J. B. Dunham (1907)font>
In the 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.
In the 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 Sarah
Of this 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.
Rev. H. 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.
A high 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
In 1872 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.
In 1856, 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.
From the 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
In the 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