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.

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Her first week on the job, and Marshal Beth Mayo is hit with a sex assault case. It’s a nasty shock for the bucolic mountain town of Sugarloaf and for Mayo, who is still recovering from her husband’s death. Her initial skepticism grows into disbelief over the victim’s zany story, and she dismisses the case as a false report. Unfortunately, the same woman is soon discovered in the ruins of a ghost town, most definitely murdered.

Mayo unravels the complex case through a parade of colorful suspects and misfit family members, all the while following a common thread from 150 years earlier — Colorado history’s most notorious event, the Sand Creek Massacre.

68 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!

    • My great grandmother was Ada E. Krowell aka Ada Crowell aka Johnson aka Perkins aka Fulton aka DeLue. Her daughter, Lillian C. Crowell was my grandmother. I am very interested in any information you have. Thank you.

      • My great-uncle John Craske Tebo married Lillian Crowell in 1920 according to the Cook county marriage records. I’m fairly certain it’s John Craske, although the marriage records show John C. Tebo. The birthdate matches my John though. Apparently he disappeared in 1925, per a 1948 ad in the Chicago news looking for him. Their two kids, Phyllis and John were born in Michigan in the 1920’s. Lillian was back in Chicago on the 1930 census still listed as married but without John or the kids. By 1940 the kids are with her again. I have wondered if someone else answered the 1930 census taker for her and didn’t know about the kids or if not, where the kids were in 1930. She changed the name to Thibault. I once found the records for that but since can’t find them. Her mother Ada also changed all the kids names to her last husbands name of Crowell and then changed that to Krowell. The name change shows all the kids real fathers names. If Lillian was your grandmother we should share DNA through John Tebo since he was my grandfathers brother and Lillian’s husband. I assume your mother was Phyllis. I’ve been in contact with one of John Crowell Tebo’s daughters but she hasn’t gotten back to me since I told her her great-grandmother was a notorious madame in Indiana, Denver and finally Illinois. I find it immensely interesting. I’m a history nut though. I’m just sad that John C Tebo disappeared. His brother George also disappeared after the 1940 census when he was in a VA hospital in Kansas. Their brother, my grandfather was the only one to lead a long, full life. I have a ton of information on the Tebo (and Brockman, Sullenger, Craske) family in Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma. You would also be related to the Brockmans, Sullengers and Craske’s. John Craske Tebo’s mother was Geneva Craske. His grandmother was Nancy Brockman and his grandfather George Tebo (b 1809 in W.V. and moved to Indiana, then Illinois. Henry Craske was quite involved in politics in Schuyler County Illinois and came from England to NY and immediately entered the Civil War.

  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.

    • Lillian Cleopatra was my grandmother. She married John Craske Tebo and they had two children. John Crowell Tebo (Thibault) and Phyllis Tebo. I cannot trace my grandfather. According to my mother he left Lillian in approximately 1925 when my mother was one and a half years old and was never heard from again. My great aunt, Cyrene, married Joseph Perry. I never heard any info about her being a twin.

      • Edwina–did you know that John Craske Tebo was married before? August 1919 he married Elsie Hartung who died Feb 1920 (might have been in childbirth)–then in August 1920 he married Lillian Crowell (mighty quick move!) I’m wondering if JCT changed the spelling of his last name when he left your grandmother?

      • Hi Edwina. Your mother Phyllis was my dad’s cousin and Lillian was my grandfathers sister in law. My grandfather Lee Tebo was the brother of John Craske Tebo. I sent my okay for you to email me. I have pics of Lee Tebo if you are interested. John’s middle name Craske is the maiden name of his mother, Geneva Craske who married John W. Tebo. Geneva and John W. died in Oklahoma in 1909 and 1914/15. John W had remarried after Geneva died (to Annie Jones Kirkpatrick) so there are also some step siblings as they had two more children- as I recall Ted and Melvin Tebo. The earliest I find the Tebo family is 1809 in VA. From there they went to Indiana where George (John W’s father & John Craske’s grandfather) married Nancy Brockman in about 1834. She was the daughter of Job Brockman and Ellen (Alcy) Sullenger. They then went to Illinois and settled in Brown County. John W moved to Adams County Illinois where he owned a saddle and harness business and raised cattle and horses (that he entered in the state fair competitions) before moving to Oklahoma. Some of his siblings and aunts and uncles went to Kansas and Colorado. The Craske family came from England- Bury St. Edmonds to NY. Henry Craske, Geneva’s father, was in the Civil War and then a later a grocer and developer who was heavily involved in politics in Schuyler County Illinois. I guess you are also related to the Craske’s, Brockman’s and Sullengers- as much as I am- through John Craske Tebo my grandfathers brother. I guess we’d be something like second cousins one or two times removed…Not sure. Anyway, hello cousin. Hope we can both get some pics of John Craske. I’d love to see how much he resembles my granddad. I have been searching for so many years for some connections to my dad’s Tebo family.

  10. 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….

  11. I have Andrew Fulton (at one time the mayor of Pittsburgh) as the reputed father of “Emma Johnston”/Ada Perkins’s son. Her Ledue twins were Mary and Dora, b. November 6, 1890. Emma was well-known as a madam in Pittsburgh before her Denver years. In court, lots of newspaper mentions. She’s listed as a running a laundry with lots of “laundresses” working for her. I haven’t found any divorce papers for A. Fulton and Emma, or a death notice for her under any of her names. The mysteries continue…

  12. I am Lillian Cleopatra Crowell (Krowell) Tebo’s granddaughter. I would love to know more about my great grandmother Ada Perkins- Delue-Crowell/Krowell and whether she and “Emma Johnston” are the same person. I, too, am fascinated by the disappearance of my grandfather, John Craske Tebo, who was Lillian Cleopatra Crowell (Krowell) Tebo’s husband. What an interesting side of the family! If anyone has the newspaper articles about Ada Perkins- Delue-Crowell/Krowell, I would love to see them. Thank you, Nicole Story Thibault Parks.

  13. Nicole–I think Emma and Ada are one and the same person. Your best bet for seeing the newspaper articles is to go to newspapers.com (Ancestry) and start typing in Ada/Emma’s various fake/real names in different combinations. There’s too much to send you and it took me about five years to keep at it. As said in an earlier note by someone–we’re not even related to this woman but the story just keeps growing! Re marriages-I’m beginning to think the marriages were common-law partnerships and not true marriages, so ‘divorce’ was easy. Just move apart. She moved around the country. BTW–someone has asked me about Emma and her laundry. “Laundress” was a euphemism for prostitute in the Pittsburgh census where I found her. And Andrew Fulton, one of her lovers, was a mayor of Pittsburgh. If they were married I think he would have been a bigamist because he had a ‘real wife.’ I wish someone had a photograph of Emma/Ada. Anyone? thanks.

    • I did know that he was married before. I do not know how Elsie died. It is my understanding that my grandfather and grandmother knew each other prior to his marriage to Elsie. I don’t have any information as to whether or not he changed his name. I do know that my grandmother divorced him about seven years after he disappeared and years after that she had him declared legally dead. She became a nun in 1956 or 1957 and passed away in 1969.

    • Linda I am looking through my belongings. I did have a photo of Ada and my grandfather, John Craske Tebo. If I locate the photos I will let you know.

      • Edwina, this story of Emma/Ada is fascinating. I have learned so much about empowered women of the West (and East, if you count Emma’s time in Pittsburgh before Denver). Emma obviously made a life for herself and her children. I hope you find the photos–it would be lovely to ‘meet’ Emma/Ada.

      • Edwina, This is Tammy Sipfle Tebo. I am the great-niece of John Craske Tebo. I have a photo of his brother Leonidas Brockman Tebo. I’d love to exchange photos with you. I would DIE to have a photo of John Craske Tebo to see if he resembles my grandfather. Is there a way we can talk privately so I can give you my email address? I have been on the trail of John Craske Tebo and his grandfather George W Tebo for 20 years. BTW I think it was Lillian who changed the name to Thibault. I’m certain I found a name change article in a Chicago newspaper. I also found one where the mother Ada changed all the kids names. Of course I didn’t print it at the time. I need to sort through all my records and see if I at least kept a transcription. Sometimes I just write stuff down instead of printing.

    • I give you my permission to give my email to Edwina Heine. You have no idea how excited I am to get photos of my great uncle John Craske Tebo. I may put the search for him to bed after this. It’s been so many years. Maybe some folks will just never be found. I think having a photo would give me some closure at least. Thanks so much.

      • Hi–Carol, you have my permission to give my email address to anyone in this wonderful on-going Emma Johnston/Ava Krowell story. I have lots of information regarding her Pittsburgh years and some on her Denver years. I hope the Tebo folks will be interested. I, too, hope someone has photos of all of these faces from history. Thank you. L. Granfield

      • Okay, I sent your email along to the other 3 who seem involved in that history. I’d love to see a picture of Emma / Eva too if one is available! I’m guessing she must have been a rather attractive woman to pull off all those shenanigans.

      • Thanks, Carol. I hope the others who have been sharing will not just take it all away–it has been a true learning experience on your blog re Ada/Ava/Emma and I’d hate to miss out on learning more because everyone goes onto emails! History—fantastic! LG

      • I agree totally. Keep it here if possible. Who knows who else might stumble into the conversation. Another article on here (about Henry Dickens of Longmont) practically served as a family reunion of folks who didn’t know each other. It was the coolest thing!

  14. I did find a transcription of the news article where Ada changed all the kids names to Krowell. Andrew was Fultons son according to the name change information. Walter and Mary were DeLue’s and Lillian and Cyrene (Ada’s mothers name) were Crowell’s. I’ve often wondered if Ada Emma Perkins Fulton Delue Crowell Krowell became a camp follower during the Civil War and that’s how she got into the business she was in. Interestingly, her brother was also a detective. If anyone is interested I’ll put the transcription on this site. It was in a Chicago newspaper in about 1904.

  15. Hi all–I didn’t see this May 1st/m sipfle offer about the transcription. Any chance it still stands? Has anyone found Ada/Emma’s photo yet? What a mystery woman! thanks to all

    • I’ll trade the transcription for the photo of John Craske Tebo and Lillian Crowell…I’ll also throw in a photo of his brother Leonidas Brockman Tebo. I’d love to see a photo of Ada but am more interested in John and Lillian since John Craske Tebo is my great uncle. Anyone do the ancestry DNA? I have done mine so let me know if you are a descendent of Lillian and John (John Crowell Tebo (Thibault) and Phyllis Thibault Heine and we can compare since we would share a set of great-grandparents: John W Tebo and Geneva Craske.

      • I just “re-found the name change tonight. I had transcribed it but not noted the source originally.

  16. I’d still like to SEE a photo of Ada/Emma. We’ve been exchanging this information for so long. It would be great to see the transcription about the kids’ names all being changed. Thanks so much. I’ve learned a lot over the years on this blog.

    • The name change was in the National Corporation Reporter on May 16, 1904. I just searched on Google for Ada E Crowell, the Newspaper and the date I think.
      I took a pic of it if you want me to text it to you.

      • Hi Mary– I just checked the NCR online and couldn’t find an issue for that date. Let me look a bit harder before putting a cell number up in public. Thanks for the lead and I hope you are getting the info you asked for in this blog.

  17. Mary T. Sipfle- No, couldn’t find that issue. Could we possibly exchange emails via the host in order to share your copy?
    And I’m wondering if anyone has located any photos of Ada/Emma? A newspaper sketch is all I’ve ever found over the years.
    Thank you!

  18. Hi, I am John Crowell Thibault’s daughter, Nicole Story Thibault Parks. I’m happy to share my DNA report and any info or photos. John Craske Tebo is my grandfather and I’ve never known much about him.

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