Jessie Waldron

Charles Dow and Edward Jones founded Dow Jones Publishing and the Wall Street Journal, while Dow developed the two averages, Rail and Industrial, that became an index for gauging the market.

Clarence Barron bought these entities from Dow in 1902, but it was Jessie Waldron, Barron’s new wife who initially took over the management. How odd. How amazing! Wall Street was not a woman’s world in 1902. It must have been difficult for Jessie to manage a large staff of men and reporters, and at the same time mix among corporate America, which was clearly a boys’ club.

It is even interesting that Clarence Barron would be so bold as to appoint not only a woman but his wife to that New York management position. But Barron had even written in Boston financial reporting that Jessie was an astute business person, and he relied on her advice. He also didn’t pay much attention to public opinion. While Boston society required that one be born into elite social status, Barron was the son of an Irish dock worker. He had pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. He married Jessie, his boardinghouse landlady, legally adopted her two daughters, and purchased a mansion on Boston’s Back Bay section. At that point, he sent a dig to Boston’s blueblood society, “It’s a fitting tribute to American free enterprise that I, a virtual waif thirty years ago, can now mingle with the Cabots and the Lowells.”

So, Jessie headed to New York to run the Wall Street Journal, and that delighted Barron. She set up residence in a three-room suite at the Waldorf-Astoria. She worked hard and was a good manager. The Journal grew but slowly, and there were a myriad of growing pains: how much to charge for advertising when print costs were constantly rising in a period of inflation; usual problems of bill collection even though sales were high; and how to service and deliver to an ever-growing circulation.

Both of Jessie’s daughters had married; the oldest, Martha, to Horace W. Endicott of the then-Endicott shoe fortune; daughter Jane to Hugh Bancroft, a true Bostonian blueblood and a lawyer. It wouldn’t be long before Jessie would bring her son-in-law, Hugh Bancroft, to New York to help her manage the Wall Street Journal.

I write of the Journal history in my book:  “Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime”.

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