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Dow Jones Bergstresser Industrial Average
Brian Trumbore

The founder of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Charles Dow and Edward D. Jones established Dow Jones & Co. in 1882. The two decided to later convert an afternoon newsletter, titled "Customer's Afternoon Letter," into a full-fledged newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, which commenced publication on July 8, 1889.

Well, in the history of Dow Jones & Co., one individual gets the shaft, Charles Bergstresser. It was Bergstresser who bankrolled the cash-starved Dow and Jones, beginning in 1882. Bergstresser, however, was not interested in working for Dow and Jones. He wanted to be the silent partner. The trio did think about a few names: Dow, Jones, and Bergstresser; Berger, Dow and Jones. But they were too long and they settled on Dow Jones & Company. He thus missed out on having his name somewhere when the Dow Jones Average was introduced in 1896.

Bergstresser was born in 1859, a Pennsylvania Dutchman. He worked while attending Lafayette College and saved much of what he earned. After graduation in 1881, he moved to New York City and took a job covering the stock market as a reporter for the Kiernan News Agency.

In a 1996 article for the Journal, Vanessa O'Connell writes of Bergstresser and these times:

"Stocky with thick-lens glasses, Mr. Bergstresser easily won the confidence of Wall Street executives who were his news sources, and he wowed his colleagues early on in his career by landing an interview with the great financier John Pierpont Morgan Sr. A pugnacious reporter, Mr. Bergstresser had a knack for getting bigwigs to spill details of their deals. 'He could make a wooden Indian talk - and tell the truth,' Edward Jones used to say."

At the time, both Dow and Jones were working for Kiernan as well. The two of them were looking to start their own news agency when "Buggy" heard of their plans. He wanted in. It was within 3 months (July, '82) that the Customer's Afternoon Letter was first published from a basement next to the New York Stock Exchange.

Bergstresser's savings were the seed money. Professor Richard J. Stillman, author of a book on the DJIA, said that Buggy was "the driving financial force behind the company during its formative years." When Dow Jones & Co. turned its newsletter into a full-fledged paper in 1889, it was Bergstresser who dubbed it The Wall Street Journal. Incidentally, the Journal sold for two cents back then and had four pages of text.

And what of Edward Jones? While Charles Dow was known to be a rather calm, albeit tough journalist, Jones was a hot-tempered sort and the more visible of the two. He wrote and edited the bulletins while spending his nights looking for tips at the watering holes frequented by his racy friends, the wheelerdealers of Wall Street. Stillman writes of Jones that he was "excitable, emotional and you never knew when he might explode" in profanity.

It was Dow who eventually grew uncomfortable with Mr. Jones circle of friends and both Dow and Bergstresser disapproved of his profane outbursts in the newsroom. Jones gradually felt estranged from his two partners. In 1899 he left the Journal for the glitter of Wall Street. But, no, sports fans, this Edward Jones has nothing to do with the present-day brokerage firm of Edward D. Jones & Co. That was an entirely different man.

And now you know….the rest of the story.

The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company….various articles. I'd list the authors if I could find them. Vanessa O'Connell is the only one I found.

Brian Trumbore

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