Select Dow Miscellany



Here are some Dow stories and accounts over the years:

Dow in England


In many counties of England there were men of mild manner, whose personalities called for a gentle name like that of a dove.  That name or a name close to it first surfaced close to 1200 in a Parliamentary writ directed to a Nicholas le Duv and a Richard le Duv.  As time went on, the method of spelling tended to crystallize different in different parts of the country.  In Norfolk the tendency was towards Dowe and probably all Dows in Norfolk have a common ancestor (there were no fewer than twenty original families of Dow).  In Hampshire the tendency was towards Doue.  Elsewhere the spelling was Dove.

The earliest spelling as Dow occurred in Norfolk in 1505 when Eleanore Dow of Rekynhale received a legacy from Edmund Sparhawke of Laxfield.  Henry Dow of Runham spelled his name as Dowe and Dove in 1613.  The surname pronunciation at that time was unlike the American-sounding "cow" or "now."  It was long and halfway between the pronunciation of "doe" and "dove."



Dow and Variants in America

In Massachusetts Bay colony, Henry Dow spelled his name Dowe, Dow and Dove in 1653.  About 1725 the final "e" got lost, although it was subsequently resumed in a few instances.  Several branches of the Connecticut Dows were Dowe for several generations.


That Crazy Dow Preacher

Lorenzo Dow was born in Coventry, Connecticut in 1777 and became an itinerant evangelical preacher, "that celebrated and eccentric preacher." 

He was personally unkempt; he did not practice personal hygiene and his long hair and beard were described as "never having met a comb."  And his public speaking mannerisms were like nothing ever seen before among the typically conservative churchgoers of the time.  He shouted, he screamed, he cried, he begged, he flattered, he insulted, he challenged people and their beliefs.  He told stories and made jokes.  It is recorded that Dow often preached before open-air assemblies of 10,000 people or more and held the audience spellbound.

Dow's fame spread and so did his travels.  He traveled on foot and occasionally on horseback throughout what was then the United States.  He also visited Canada, England and Ireland.  A fierce abolitionist, Dow's sermons were often unpopular in the southern United States and he frequently was threatened with personal violence.  He sometimes was forcibly ejected from towns, pelted with stones, eggs, and rotten vegetables. That never stopped him; he simply walked to the next town and gave the same sermon again. 

He kept a journal History of Cosmopolite, or the Writing of Rev. Lorenzo Dow, which was published in 1859. At one time was the second best-selling book in the United States, exceeded only by the Bible.  His influence and popularity led to many U.S. children of the early 19th century being named after him.  



Wentworth Dow


Wentworth Dow was born in New Brunswick in 1829 and came to America in 1856.   He settled in Wisconsin as a lumberman.  Later he joined a regiment of the Wisconsin infantry and fought in the Civil War between 1862 and 1865.  He is remembered today for the diary he kept of his experiences during the conflict which were subsequently published (minus the entries for 1865 which had been lost). 

Wentworth Dow married Mehitable Dawes back in Wisconsin in 1866 and they had nine children.

 

Neal Dow's Civil War

It is difficult to know what to say about Neal Dow.  An internationally known celebrity well before the war for his tireless campaigning against liquor, he was the author of "The Maine Law," the toughest statute against the sale and consumption of spirits anywhere in the world.

When the Civil War broke out, his prominence was such that he had to be made a Colonel when he offered his services.  He badgered the Adjutant General and Governor with hourly bulletins offering advice, suggestions and demands that read like the pompous effusions of a self-important pest, yet betray a genuine concern for his men.  He made his regiment "take the pledge" (although some of the boys were able to sneak across to visit the grog shops in Augusta once the river froze over). 

Many anxious mothers wanted their boys to go in Dow's outfit - the "Temperance Regiment" - in the hope that Dow would make sure that ne'er a drop of demon rum would touch the lips of their darlings.  The regiment wound up under the command of General Butler.  It is said that the two men detested each other; yet Dow prospered and was promoted to Brigadier General under Butler's aegis.  He saw some action at Port Hudson, was wounded, and finally captured. 

He managed to antagonize both his Confederate captors and fellow prisoners in Libby prison by giving temperance tirades to starving and thirsty men; spying and keeping lists of prison officials' misdeeds, as well as those of other prisoners.  Both guards and prisoners accused him of hoarding food and blankets and it was a great relief to all when he was finally released in exchange for Fitzhugh Lee. 

His personal courage was never in doubt, however, and he went home to continue his lifelong assault on the evils of drink.


Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal

In 1880, Charles Dow arrived in New York, realizing that that was the main place for business and financial reporting.  He found work at the Kiernan Wall Street Financial News Bureau.  When John Kiernan asked him to find another reporter for the Bureau, Dow invited Edward Davis Jones to work with him.  Jones, a Brown University dropout, could skillfully and quickly analyze a financial report.  He, like Dow, was committed to reporting on Wall Street without bias. 

The two young men believed that Wall Street needed another financial news bureau. In 1882, they started their own agency, Dow, Jones & Company.  The business' headquarters were located in the basement of a candy store.  One year later, the company started putting out an afternoon two-page summary of the day's financial news called The Customers' Afternoon Letter.  It soon achieved a circulation of over a thousand subscribers and was considered an important news source for investors.  It included the Dow Jones stock average, an index that included nine railroad issues, one steamship line, and Western Union.

In 1889, the company had 50 employees.  The partners realized that the time was right to transform their two-page news summary into a real newspaper.  The first issue of The Wall Street Journal appeared that year.  It cost two cents per issue or five dollars for a one-year subscription.  Dow was the editor and Jones managed the deskwork. 

The paper gave its readers a policy statement:

"Its object is to give fully and fairly the daily news attending the fluctuations in prices of stocks, bonds, and some classes of commodities.  It will aim steadily at being a paper of news and not a paper of opinions."




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