Leonard DeLue — Denver’s Turn-of-the-Century P.I.

During my research for Notorious Jefferson County, the name of Leonard DeLue kept popping up in all kinds of interesting circumstances. DeLue was a private detective in Denver at the turn of the last century and was often called upon by local authorities to help in their cases. He appeared in the “Murder of the Judge’s Son” case, a story of a partnership of con men gone bad. He also helped with the “Mystery of the Crescent Postmaster” case.

Born in New York City in 1862, DeLue arrived in the middle of a family of eight children. The 1870 census shows the DeLue family in Chicago, with father Abram DeLue working as a peddler. Young Leonard shows up in a Denver city directory in 1881, working as a clerk for the W.D. Sims & Co. at 450 Blake Street. He would have been 19 years old at the time. On April 5, 1881, he married Media E. Redman.

The 1887 Denver directory lists him as follows: “DeLue, Leonard, detective, bds [boards], Revere House.” In another section of the directory lists him as chief of the Mercantile Detective Agency, 31 and 33 King Block. On March 12, 1890, he married Ada E. Fulton. It’s not clear what happened to his previous wife, Media. His marriage to Ada did not last long either; Colorado marriage records show Leonard DeLue marrying for the third time on August 1, 1894, to Mary F. Long.

In 1898, Delue is a deputy sheriff with an office at the courthouse, living at “b Hotel Broadway.” (Not sure what that means either). By 1899, Deputy Sheriff DeLue has moved to the Sheriff’s Office at 1538 California.  In 1900 he lived as a lodger in Rose Maddox’s boarding house. His third marriage also ended through death or divorce, and on October 7 1901, he married Julia L. Halstead. His life finally stabilized with Julia, and they had two children: Leonard, born 1908, and Virginia, born in 1912.  By the 1920s, he ran his own Leonard DeLue Detective Agency at the “Gas and Electric Building” in Denver.

In future, look for stories from Leonard DeLue’s case files in the “Notorious Denver” category.

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39 thoughts on “Leonard DeLue — Denver’s Turn-of-the-Century P.I.

  1. I decided to Google his name after buying a book in Estes Park that is filled with wanted posters from the west from that era. FRANK L. SMITH was wanted by DeLue, address showing 444 gas building. Thanks for his history!

  2. Thanks for the post on Leonard De Lue. In a city directory bds. means boards. Julia was born Julia Lenora Etherton, she had m. 11 Jun 1895 Ross Halstead. Their son Leonard William De Lue m. Eleanor Gertrude Lloyd, my grandfather’s half-sister. I keep a De Lue page on my website.

  3. My grandmother, Julia Etherton DeLue, live with our family until she passed. My Mother, Virginia Katherine DeLue was married to Stanley M. Ferguson. She lived with me and my husband for the last three years of her life until she passed at 94 yrs. Juia and Ross Halstead had one son. Ross and the son contracted TB and they move to Arizona to heal but they died there. Eleanor Lloyd married Leonard DeLue, Jr., my uncle and aunt. The last time I saw them both was when they lived on the 9th hole of Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, CO. My cousins, Ronnie, Diana and Jerry (my favorite cousin) all died from an inherited lung condition. Leonard still lives in Albuquerque, NM. Much more but later.

      • I don’t know who the Jerry is who is commenting on this blog; perhaps the son of my favorite cousin Jerry who died in Las Vegas on a business trip while having emergency appendectomy. The Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency killed 3 of my 4 cousins and all the offspring should be checked by their doctors to see if they have it. As soon as I found this out from Leonard I had a blood test to see if it was in my dna. It was not so may be coming from Eleanor’s side of the family. I was told they owned Lloyd’s Baby Furniture in Canada.

        My cousin, Leonard and his wife, Donna, live in Albuquerque, NM. We last saw them in 2003 on a road trip. He did not have a computer at that time and really had no interest in getting one. At the time his son lived in San Francisco, Bart, and a daughter, Diane, in Colorado and another daughter lived in Albuquerque.

        Please ask questions and if I know I will tell you. I was very close with my Grandmother DeLue who I shared a room with me most of my life. I loved her very much.

        I remember going to places and seeing wanted posters my Grandfather had posted. I would love to get a copy of that book from Estes Park showing them.

  4. I recently purchased a tin sign from Leonard’s Dic agency. I know of Leonard due my research on Denver jails and sheriffs. I once had a letter signed by him while he was the chief deputy sheriff or undersheriff under Sheriff Alex Neisbet. I’m not sure habut his career after being a deputy sheriff…was he a Denver police officer/dic? I see he started the dic agency in the 1920’s.

    • Hi Lenny, Leonard was Denver Police Commissioner at least 1912 and 1913. Where’d you get the sign? Sounds cool. His descendant Jerry DeLue, who comments above, made a reproduction of a DeLue sign. I need to do another post on Leonard and put up some pix.

  5. i have a leonard deLue working with me at a security company in albuquerque, new mexico who says his grandpa started the agency

  6. In September, 1913, at the start of the infamous 1913-14 Colorado coal strike, an officer of the United Mine Workers tipped off then Denver Police Commissioner Leonard DeLue that a large crowd of armed men were in Union Terminal waiting to catch the C&S train to Trinidad. DeLue sent his men search the travelers, none of whom were armed but most of whom had in their baggage rifles, etc., broken down and ready for quick assembly. They were permitted to resume their journey.
    The group were mainly thugs and layabouts recruited in Denver flophouses by Colorado Fuel & Iron chief detective Bill Reno as strikebreakers. In less than a year the coal strike culminated in the ghastly “Ludlow Massacre,” in which elements of the State Militia, mine guards and perhaps some of Reno’s men attacked and burned down a tent colony of striking miners. And Delue was out of office, accused of cooperating in a large gambling operation.

    • Hello Bill,
      I’ve learned that DeLue was probably involved with the Lou Blonger gang but it’s been tough to find details about him. I knew his tenure as commissioner was short lived and he was apparently involved, with Bat Masterson, in chasing voters away from the polls but not much else. Do you remember where you found that info?

  7. Leonard DeLue had twin daughters with Ava Emma Perkins/Johnson/Fulton/DeLue–Dora E. and Mary B. born Nov 6, 1890 in Chicago. I’ve been trying to track Emma–quite a story! House of ill-repute in Pittsburgh, affair with ex-Mayor of Pittsburgh, ranch in Denver area, two children with ex-Mayor, then marriage to De Lue. Don’t know what happened to Dora and Mary. Just thought you might be interested.

      • Hi Carol –the birth certificates for Dora and Mary are on Ancestry. I searched “Leonard De Lue” (two separate words-surname) and the family tree shows the two girls, and Emma Johnson as “Ava Emma Perkins” (still figuring out her aliases). I can’t find anything else about the twins. I’m still digging into all the names.I came upon all this because I’ve been searching Emma in terms of the Pittsburgh mayor Andrew Fulton, relative of the Magee family of Pittsburgh (my main research area). What a progression through Emma’s life! She claims to be Mrs. Fulton but no marriage is listed anywhere (two children born to them, though), and she’s in newspaper articles for her pistol-toting, shooting at folks (Fulton), etc. And even appears under more than one name in the same Le Due articles. Amazing! Happy New Year!

  8. Carol, and others–have you come across the name of Emma’s ranch out there? (nothing in Denver city directories of the time) And she was “Mrs. Fulton” when she supposedly got a divorce from Andrew Fulton to marry Leonard De Lue. But no record of that either. And she already had two children with Fulton (she said) who lived in Denver with her–plus the twins with LD. Does anyone have ANY information about any of this? Much appreciated!

  9. is this the same Ada Perkins- Delue-Crowell/Krowell who lived in Chicago and died there in 1910? She was in papers all over the country for running a house of prostitution in the hamburger district in Chicago while living and raising her children in a genteel lifestyle. She owed her getting into prostitution to the death of her husband which she said put her into dire straits. The census records show her widowed in 1910 and she died in Chicago in 1913.
    Her daughter Mary B Crowell (born 1890 (father Leonard DeLue, mother Ada E. Perkins) (Krowell) McKinney; Sabin sued her for slander not long before her death. Per the census records Ada had 10 kids, 5 of whom lived. Walter Perkins DeLue was born in December 1891 and so he and Mary would likely be DeLue’s children, although on all the census I can find they are all five listed as Crowell or Krowell.
    Per census records, She had another son Andrew, born in 1884 (no idea who his father is) and then Lillian and Irene (or Cyrene). So: Andrew b 1884; Mary b 1890; Walter b 12/1891.
    Lillian- b 10/1895 and Irene b 8/1896. I have only used census for this info and so dates would need to be verified with other documentation. Even death certificates are incorrect sometimes.
    I think Irene or Cyrene was the twin because Irene was born on the same day that a child of Ada’s died in 1896 and she (Irene) is listed on the 1910 census with Ada.
    I guess maybe Ada was married before marrying DeLue…Need to find out who fathered her son Andrew…. I’m interested because Lillian Cleopatra Crowell married my grandfathers brother in Chicago ine 1920, right after his first wife died. He disappeared and I can’t find a trace of him. It’s a true mystery and there is even an ad in the Chicago paper in 1948 asking if anyone knows the whereabouts of my great uncle since he disappeared in 1925. Lillian changed the spelling of their name (as this family seemed to love doing) and apparently moved on. People don’t just disappear so it’s driving me nuts. I never heard a peep about this mystery from any family members.

  10. Hi–I keep getting shut down on this site–security issues. I think we have a match of your Ada Perkins and my Emma Johnston. Looks like the same woman. If so, I know the father of Andrew. Can we continue this discussion via email? Safer given what’s going on with this site.

    • Are you on ancestry? I don’t usually give out my email address. I think the father of Andrew is either Fulton or a previous husband? I did find the divorce record from Fulton. I also found a newspaper article saying she was giving up her “bagnio” which was a term for a brothel. It also called her a madame. Apparently it didn’t hurt your reputation to marry a madam in pre-20th century frontier America. It also indicated she was quite wealthy and that’s why she married DeLue….he was after her money. They divorced a year later, in 1891 after she had her daughter Mary and son Walter Perkins Delue (Perkins is shown as her maiden name on all the records I’ve found). Walter was born in Colorado, but Mary in Chicago. There are articles all over the Chicago papers about Mary suing her mother Ada for defamation and how Ada educated her children, etc. etc. It sounds to me like she was a beautiful, wealthy, savvy woman who made a lot of money in the brothel business. When she was caught/exposed in 1910 in Chicago it was only because 1) a man exposed her. 2) the Mann act had passed. What amazes me is the granting of all the divorces. In my experience it wasn’t all that easy at that time for a woman to escape a marriage. This is so weird that this interests me so much because this woman is not related to me. I find her fascinating. And after her daughter married my great uncle, he disappeared off the face of the earth. Starting to think it was shady….

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