Right around 5th grade, most kids start to hear about "the Dow
Jones Industrial Average." And passing newsstands, it's hard to
ignore the "Barron's" name dominating the cover of one of the most
prominently featured publications. But while most of us know the
names, we probably don't know the story behind them.
In the end, few men had a greater impact on America's financial
landscape than those mentioned below. Read on to learn more about
these investing visionaries.
Born into very humble roots, Dow cut his teeth as a reporter,
eventually covering the silver mines in Colorado. He found the raw
associated with the mining boom to be fascinating, and started
analyzing and documenting the investment gains and losses.
In 1880, the 29-year-old Dow moved to New York City and began
working at the Kiernan Wall Street Financial News Bureau. He soon
hired an old colleague,
Edward D. Jones
(who is not related to brokerage firm Edward Jones Investments).
Just two years later, they bolted to start their own company, Dow,
Jones & Co., along with a daily investment-focused newsletter.
Readership of the newsletter quickly grew, becoming especially
popular for its newly-created
of 11 stocks: nine railroads, one steamship line, and
Western Union (
In 1896, Dow officially created the
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)
, right at a time when a number of conglomerates were being created
through the purchase of competing companies in similar industries.
(A trend that would be broken up a decade later as President Teddy
Roosevelt grew concerned about too much corporate power in too few
Dow Know-How: What Moves the World's Most-Watched
Business was so good, that by 1889, it was time to upgrade the
newsletter into a real newspaper -- the
Wall Street Journal
. To set it apart from the other financial papers of the era, Dow
made transparency a hallmark, pressing reporters to never take
bribes, and pressuring companies to provide an increasing level of
financial disclosure. That helped cement the paper's reputation
among readers, and eventually led circulation to dwarf that of any
Dow also created an index of railroad stocks, which in turn led to
." He believed that when both the DJIA and these railroads stocks
(eventually known as "transports") were both trending in the same
direction, it was a clear confirmation of the direction of the
. Both indices hitting new highs signaled a
With his health fading, Dow sold his stake in the company to
in 1901, who had been an employee in the firm's Boston office.
Barron may actually deserve greater credit for turning the
into the premier source of financial journalism, developing
reporting standards that would eventually be mimicked by the
business sections of many leading newspapers around the country.
In the early 1920s Barron launched the eponymously-named newspaper
that continues to this day.
quickly became a must-read as the investment frenzy of the Roaring
'20s got underway. Major corporate executives came to consult
Barron before making major moves, hoping to glean a sense how he
thought their actions may play out with investing public. No
journalist, either before or since, played such an important role
in shaping the public discourse about investing. Barron died in
October, 1928, just one year before the investing world would be
upended by a devastating crash.
Clarence Barron's heirs ran the Dow Jones company for the next 80
years, ultimately selling out to publisher Rupert Murdoch's
News Corp. (
Three other icons of 19th century investing:
Perhaps best known for his attempts to create a panic in gold
markets in the 1870s, Gould's wealth was not built on the panic. He
instead amassed his fortune by gaining control of 11% of the
nation's railroad tracks and then parlaying his riches into
meaningful stakes in Western Union and New York City's emerging
"Diamond Jim" Fisk.
Fisk partnered with Jay Gould on a series of efforts to manipulate
markets. He was also a key patron of the Boss Tweed's Tammany Hall,
which enabled him to influence legislation from which he could
The son of a well-known banker, he really started on his
wealth-building by wresting control of a pair of railroads from
Gould and Fisk in 1869. Twenty years later, his railroad wealth
started to spread to other industries such as electricity
generation, steel and banking. He focused on business and
industries that were inefficient, aiming to boost their
through a process known as "Morganization." In 1901, his
U.S. Steel (
, was the first company to ever exceed $1 billion in
If you want to read about some of the famous investors that
followed Dow, Jones, Barron, Gould, Fisk & Morgan, click here
to check out the following articles:
What Investors Can Learn from Legendary Investor
Sir John Templeton
The Man Warren Buffett Dubbed a Superinvestor,
50 Warren Buffett Quotes to Inspire Your