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Dividend University

The Complete History of the Original Dow Dozen

Shauna O'Brien Dec 18, 2014


The original Dow Jones Industrial Average was established for the first time in 1896. When the Dow was originally calculated, it contained just 12 companies, compared to the 30 big-names that are listed today.


Out of the 12 companies, General Electric (GE ) is the only company that remains on the list, although it was removed twice. Similar to the stocks that are listed on the Dow today, the original companies listed below were some of the largest, most well known companies in the United States.

See also the Unofficial History of Warren Buffett

Below, we look at the original Dow components and see what happened to these companies.


The American Cotton Oil Company


The American Cotton Oil Company was founded in the 1889 and later merged with Best Foods. Stakes of the company were then sold off to Kraft (KRFT ), Unilever (UL ) and Corn Products International.

history of american cotton oil company

The American Sugar Refining Company


The American Sugar Refining Company was founded in 1891, and in 1900 it was renamed as the Domino Sugar Company that we know today. The company was acquired by Tate & Lyle and was later purchased by ASR Group.

See also Companies that Own the World’s Most Popular Brands.

history of american sugar refining company

The American Tobacco Company


The American Tobacco Company was founded in 1891. The company was forced to spilt into four companies in 1911 due to an antitrust suit. The four companies became Reynolds American (RAI ), Lorillard (LO ), Beam, and Vector Group (VGR ).

Be sure to also see the Visual History of the Tobacco Industry.

history of american tobacco company

Chicago Gas Company


The Chicago Gas Company was founded in 1849 and was later acquired by Peoples Gas. When Peoples Gas merged with WPS Resources, it resulted in Integry. In June 2014, Wisconsin Energy (WEC ) announced that it had agreed to acquired Integry for $9.1 billion.

See also the Complete Visual History of Standard Oil.

history of chicago gas company

Distilling and Cattle Feeding Company


The Distilling and Cattle Feeding Company was established in 1887 and was also known as Whiskey Trust. It later changed its name to Quantum Chemicals and was merged with Hanson – creating Millennium Chemicals, which is now a part of Cristal.

history of distilling and cattle feeding company

General Electric


General Electric (GE ) was founded in 1892 and is a current member of the Dow 30. Since its inception, GE has created several business segments including GE Capital and GE Oil and Gas. For more information, be sure to check out the Visual History of General Electric.

history of general electric

Laclede Gas Light Company


The Laclede Gas Light Company was founded in 1857 and was listed on the NYSE in 1889. The company later changed its name to Laclede Gas and formed its parent company, The Laclede Group, in 2001.

history of laclede gas light company

National Lead Company


Although the company has been operating since 1772, the name National Lead Company was not established until 1891. In 1896, the company was added to the Dow. The company later changed its name to NL Industries (NL ).

Be sure to read through our Dividend Tax Rate History page for a perspective on how the investment landscape has changed over the years.


Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company


The Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad company was founded in 1852. The company became one of the largest iron and steel companies in Alabama, but was later hurt by the Panic of 1907. After its stock price plummeted, it was acquired by the United States Steel Company (X ).

Be sure to also check out our Look Back at the Oldest Names on Wall Street.


United States Rubber Company


The United States Rubber Company was established after several rubber companies consolidated. The company later merged with Continental, creating Uniroyal. Uniroyal was later acquired by Michelin.

history of United States Rubber Company

North American


North American is the result of a 1886 merger between Milwaukee Electric Company and Light Company. The Company was later dissolved into Milwaukee Electric Railway Company and Wisconsin Energy Company (WEC ).

Take our quiz and test your Wall Street wits – Which Company Is 100 Years Old?.


United States Leather Company


When the United States Leather Company was in the Dow 12, it was the largest leather company in the world. Despite its size, the company eventually liquidated. There are no traces of the original company left.

See our list of Best Global Brands that Pay Dividends.


The Bottom Line


Over the years, the Dow Jones has become a lot more diverse as more companies have been established. Although the index has changed, it is still based on the same concept as when it was established in 1896.

We have seen an enormous amount of M&A over the years. As shown above, these types of deals go way back in the business world. Aside from General Electric, all of the companies in the original Dow Dozen have changed over the years.

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