Our discreet and discriminating philosopher-poet, Oliver Wendell Holmes, has said that the most important act of a man’s life is the selection of his grandfather. In this respect Hon. Horace Tool DeLong, state senator for the sixteenth district of this state, seems to have been unusually wise before his day and generation, for he chose as judiciously in his maternal as in his paternal ancestry, being a scion of distinguished and forceful families on both sides of his house. He is the grandson, on his mother’s side, of the Adam Tool who founded Tool’s Point, now Monroe, in Jasper county, Iowa, where he secured a considerable body of land at an early day and built an inn that became a famous hostelry at which all travelers of the time through that region found comfortable entertainment “for man and beast.” He rose to consequence there and his family were the leaders of thought and action in all that section of the country. His two sons, James and John, were both members of the legislature and otherwise prominent in public affairs, and his daughters were among the leaders and ornaments of society there and in domestic life were excellent wives and mothers. One of these, Susan Adaline, was the Senator’s mother.
In the paternal line are several men who have won renown in our day, among them Lieutenant George DeLong, of the Jeannette arctic exploration fame, who is a relative of the Senator, and another of the name and family who was conspicuous in connection with the recent Boxer uprising in China. His grandfather, George DeLong, was a good tailor and a man of sterling character; his father, William DeLong, a farmer, successful and prosperous.
Of these progenitors Mr. DeLong sprang, and was born on April 20, 1860, at the Tool’s Point or Monroe, above mentioned, or rather on the family farm not far from the town. There he grew to manhood and started his scholastic training in the Monroe public schools. When he was about sixteen he entered for a course of instruction in the preparatory school of Simpson College at Indianola in the adjacent county of Warren. After finishing this he returned to his native town of Monroe and completed the course at the high school there, receiving the first diploma issued by the institution and being the valedictorian of his class. He then taught winter schools and boarded himself at twenty dollars a month, even at that salary saving money for a further development of his ambitions. Later he became principal of the Monroe high school, from which he had recently graduated, and afterward was superintendent of schools at Victor, Iowa. Between times he went to college, passing a year or two at the Central University, Pella, Iowa; but while pursuing his studies there with zeal and distinction, his eyesight failed in a measure and he was obliged to abandon his books. He came to Denver, Colorado, in 1885, and after making short trips to neighboring towns wintered at Aspen, where his parents dwelt and where his sister, Mrs. Annie Shelledy, still resides. While there he arranged by correspondence with a college chum, Newton R. Beck, then living at Colorado Springs, to go into the real estate, loan and insurance business with him at Grand Junction. On his way to that town he passed through Glenwood Springs, whence there was a stage line to the Junction, the stage making the trip in three days. Instead of taking the stage Mr. DeLong determined to make the journey on foot, which he did in three days and a half. The business enterprise was begun and for a time was conducted under the firm name of Beck & DeLong. Soon Mr. Beck returned to Iowa and Prof. Ira M. DeLong, now of the Colorado State University at Boulder, became a member of the new firm organized under the name of DeLong Brothers & Marsh. Since the dissolution of this firm Mr. DeLong has conducted the business alone.
He is prominent and successful in the commercial, social, fraternal and church life of the state, and has a commanding influence in its politics. In religious work he is active and serviceable, being a member of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Grand Junction and the teacher of its young folks’ Bible class. He was a delegate with Governor Evans to the general conference at Omaha in 1892. In Masonic circles he has the highest rank. He was made a mason on the twenty-first anniversary of his birth in his native town of Monroe, but for years has been a member of the lodge of the order at Grand Junction, and in it he has held every office of prominence, becoming thereby a member of the grand lodge. In this body his interest was so active and his services were so signal that he rose to the position of grand master of the state, which he filled with conspicuous ability, giving general satisfaction to the craft throughout the jurisdiction. He is also a valued member of the Woodmen. In politics he has through life been an unwavering Republican, although not active in party work until after his arrival at Grand Junction. He never desired office, or consented to accept a nomination until his party named him as its candidate for state senator in 1902. The senatorial district has for some years been giving a Democratic and Populist fusion majority of eight hundred to nine hundred, but he carried it by two hundred and ninety-three as a straight party man, which was a phenomenal gain and an impressive evidence of his popularity and his ability as a campaigner.
The ensuing session of the legislature is memorable for its storms and party dissensions, but through them all he followed the habit of his life in business and other relations by pursuing a straight-forward and manly course, always acting and voting in accordance with his convictions. In fact, so wholly free from any desire to conceal an act or a motive in his legislative course was he, that his bill file contained memoranda in his own hand of the fate of every bill, his vote on it and his reasons therefore. He was a strong man in the senate, and although one of the most rapid, was one of the clearest and most logical speakers that ever sat in the body.
In March, 1887, Mr. DeLong began the organization of the Grand Junction Building, Loan and Savings Association, being ably assisted therein by the late Dr. F.P. Brown and E.E. Emrick. The Senator was the vitalizing and hustling spirit in the enterprise and secured the necessary subscriptions to the stock. His efforts were soon crowned with success, the association being incorporated on May 2, 1887, with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars, divided into one thousand shares of one hundred dollars each. This has since been increased to three hundred thousand dollars and there is about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of it issued and outstanding. This association has done more to develop the city of Grand Junction than any one other enterprise, and to Senator DeLong belongs a large share of the credit. He has aided greatly through this channel in making it a city of homes.
On Christmas day, 1887, Mr. DeLong married Miss Kate Weston, then one of his Sunday school class. Their children are Bessie, William Weston, Gladys and Gretchen (twins) and Ira Mitchell.
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.