Town History


Kossuth County Town Histories

St. Joseph, Riverdale Township, Iowa



The settlement of St. Joseph, formerly known as Hale, is located in section 35 of Riverdale Township - Kossuth County,  7 miles northeast of Bode, and 7 miles northwest of Livermore. 

One of the earliest histories states "the town was never laid out, as far as the records show, but grew by evolution."  St. Joe began its official existence in 1865 when Oscar Hale, the first landowner of the area, started an post office and hotel.  The new community then became known as Hale's post office or Hale.

In 1870 George Hollenbeck came from Wisconsin, and started a general store.  Casper Waldbillig moved from Dubuque in 1878, and opened a saloon.  One of the early settlers was John Devine.  John owned a large herd of cattle and was nicknamed,  the "cattle baron."   Many of the early family names are still found in the vicinity today:  Redding - Thilges - Erpelding - Faber - and Furhmann.

Since the town of St. Joe is small and unincorporated, the community's life and activities revolves almost entirely around their church and school. In 1996,  the parish numbered 141 families The parish school had 87 students K-12.

St. Joe Parish is famous for its Mulligan Stew. Each year on the third Wednesday of August, the Knights of Columbus hosts a parish dinner.  The stew is cooked in large kettles on the west side of the school building. During the 1990's, the Mulligan Stew event  drew over 2,100 people per year!

In 1871, Gregory Hollenbeck and Margaret Schreiber Hollenbeck donated land on which to build a church in Hale.  Father Lenihan was the circuit pastor at time, and the first church was build in 1872 at a cost of about $1,800.

List of the resident pastors that have served St. Joseph:

August of 1876  to 1877 Father Theodore Wegmann 

1877 until 1889  Father J. B. Zigrang

The one-room school was attached to the church in 1886.

Father John Anler 

The first school was built in St. Joe.  The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, arrived to staff the school in January, 1890. In that same year, the second school was built.

Father Charles Lechtenberg in 1894-1895. He was pastor from 1892 until 1901.

The present brick church was built during this period.  

1901 to 1903 Father E. J. Jungblut

During his two years at St. Joe, the second rectory was built.

1903 to 1916 Father Mathew Ruemmele

1916 to June 1929 Father Matthias Stork

1929 to 1930 Father John Berger

1930 to 1951 Father George Theobald

 The present rectory and the present school were built in 1938. The brick school cost $50,000 and had 140 students in 10 grades when it opened. This school building was a grade 1-12 school until Garrigan High School opened in Algona in 1959.

1951 to 1970  Father Leo Schumacher

The present convent was built in 1954-1955

1970 to 1979  Father David Hogan

1979 to 1981  Father William Wingert

1981 to 1986  Father John Thomas

1986 to 1993  Father Leo Riesberg 

1993 Father Paul Eisele

Those from St. Joseph Parish that entered the religious life

Religious Brothers

Matthias Berte, SVD Nicholas Thilges, SVD


Franciscan Sisters of Dubuque

Clare Becker Bonavita Berte Benvenuta Berte
 Carol Ann Berte Deotilla Berte

Blondina Erpelding

Lois Erpelding

Gervase Freilinger

Sienna Freilinger

Virginia Freilinger Marcellita Gisch Amalia Kayser

Marcine Kellner

Imogene Klein

Dorothy Kramer 

Phyllis Redding Olympia Schreiber Augusta Stattelman
Alda Thilges Ursuline VonBank Isabella Zeller


Order of the Missionary Sisters, Servants of the Holy Spirit

Carla Gales Engratia Rose Gales
Marguerite Gales Charlotte Thilges



Nicholas Becker Luke Becker, OSB William Devine
Charles Ernst Henry Ernst Francis Illg
  John Thilges, SVD