Henry and Sophronia DeLong – Early Citizens of Council Bluffs

Reverend Henry DeLong is a well known figure in Council Bluffs history. He was born September 7, 1834 in Pennsylvania. In 1844 his family traveled west with the Mormons, but unfortunately both of Henry’s parents died in 1845, leaving him an orphan at the age of 11.
He continued traveling west with the Mormons and settled in what was then Kanesville in 1846. His schooling was limited, but he did learn to read and write. In his late teens he went to work at the Ocean Wave, a gambling house. Henry spent 3 three years learning to be a gambler, hoping to be the best in Council Bluffs. In 1858 Henry DeLong’s plans changed when he attended a church meeting.  He went with the intention of disrupting the proceedings but instead was so moved by the preaching that he converted on the spot. By 1860 he was a licensed preacher for the Methodist Episcopal Church. Reverend DeLong became a hard working and well respected preacher in southwest Iowa.

In 1864 Henry enlisted as a soldier in the Third Iowa Battery. While in the army he managed to earn and save $200. In 1866 this $200, along with a $50 loan, bought the old Ocean Wave lot.  It was Henry’s intention to build a Methodist church on the lot. Broadway Methodist Church now sits on this site.

In 1856 Henry DeLong married Amantha Miller. They had two children together, but around 1860 Amantha divorced Henry when he left the Mormon faith.

In 1862 Henry married Sophronia Whitcomb. Sophronia was born in 1834 in Ontario, Canada. She came to Council Bluffs with her family in 1850. Together Henry and Sophronia had 10 children. Only 3 of Henry’s 12 children survived him, Anna, Harvey and Henry.

At their marriage Sophronia and Henry made a pledge that they would “earn all they could, save all they could and give all they could”. They also vowed that they would always pray whenever they should separate. According to Reverend DeLong, these pledges were never broken.

Reverend and Mrs DeLong spent their lives together practicing their faith and helping those less fortunate.

Sophronia DeLong passed away in 1925 at the age of 90. Henry passed away 2 years later in 1927 at the age of 92. They are both buried in Fairview Cemetery.