Moses Bensinger, 1896 portrait
|Died||October 14, 1904 (aged 65)|
|Resting place||Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois|
|Occupation||Merchant, salesman, manufacturer, business leader|
Moses Bensinger (August 17, 1839 – October 14, 1904) was an American merchant and manufacturer. He held the position of president of the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company from 1890 until his death in 1904. He helped found the American Bowling Congress, which set in place a legislative body to establish the rules and regulations used in modern ten-pin bowling. Bensinger was also an innovator of billiard table design and manufacture.
Bensinger was born August 17, 1839, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the son of Nathan and Lena Bensinger. Bensinger went to Louisville public schools while a child. Upon graduation, he apprenticed to a jeweler. He started his own jewelry business in 1859.
Bensinger became an employee of Brunswick, a manufacturer of billiard and pool tables, in 1869. Brunswick's headquarters for his business was in Cincinnati, Ohio, and he had a branch office in Chicago. Bensinger, Brunswick and a couple of others formed the J. M. Brunswick Billiard Manufacturing Company in October 1872. Bensinger became a vice president and was general manager in charge of the Chicago branch. In January 1874 the Brunswick Company merged with a rival firm. This competitive company, owned by Julius Balke, had factories in Cincinnati and St. Louis, Missouri. On July 8, 1879, the new merged company formed was incorporated and called Brunswick & Balke Company. The incorporators were Brunswick, Bensinger, Julius Balke Sr., A. F. Troescher and Leo Schmidt. This company then merged in 1884 with another manufacturer of billiard and pool tables run by Hugh W. Collender. The name then became Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company. Bensinger was the motivating force in bringing about this conglomerate. Brunswick died in 1886. The company extended its business into bowling manufacturing in 1888 and Bensinger was made president of this new company in 1890.
Bowling in 1890 was a disorganized sport with no rules or regulations, played mostly by Germans in dimly lit Chicago saloons and basements of buildings. Bensinger helped coordinate and was the prominent figure in bringing about the initial organized set of rules and regulations for the sport of modern ten-pin bowling. He started then to make bowling balls and pins for new bowling alleys. His company also made the bowling lanes for these alleys. The first commercial regulation ten-pin bowling alley licensed was installed at the Plaza Hotel in north Chicago (Clark Street) in 1891. Bensinger sponsored traveling all-star bowling teams, managed by William V. Thompson, proprietor of the Plaza Bowling Alley, to promote Brunswick bowling products. Within two decades there were over two hundred commercial regulation ten-pin bowling alleys in Chicago alone.
American Bowling Congress
Bensinger, Brunswick's German-Jewish son-in-law, was influential in setting up the American Bowling Congress (A.B.C.) in 1895. On September 9, 1895, the A.B.C. was officially formed as a permanent organization at Beethoven Hall on east Fifth Street in New York City. The A.B.C. had their first formal annual meeting four days later on September 13 at the Elephant club on Fulton Street in Brooklyn and adopted the proposed constitution and by-laws. The new organization took effect officially on October 15, 1895. The basic organization was a legislative body that enforced uniform bowlers' rules and regulations, through a set of by-laws and a constitution of Articles, for all in the United States to follow as the official standard for ten-pin bowling. The organization, since incorporated into the United States Bowling Congress, standardized and still governs all bowling equipment for modern ten-pin bowling.
Bensinger married Eleanora Brunswick, the daughter of John M. Brunswick, in 1867. They had two daughters, Cora and Edna, and one son, Benjamin Edward. Bensinger's son Benjamin became president of the Brunswick-Blake-Collender company upon his death. Benjamin's son Robert took over in 1931, making him the third generation of the Bensinger family to hold the office as the company's president.
Later life and death
Bensinger held the position of president of the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company from 1890 until his death. He died in French Lick, Indiana, on October 14, 1904. The cause of death was heart failure. His remains are interred at Rosehill Cemetery.
Billiard table manufacturing
Bensinger experimented and researched improved billiard tables and gear, leading to significant patents for rubber bumpers and other innovations. In 1880 Bensinger, as part owner of J. M. Brunswick & Balke Company, set up a branch in San Francisco for manufacturing billiard tables, making his company the only American coast-to-coast manufacturer and distributor of these tables. He was involved in setting up tournaments for establishments that had his billiard tables and issued cash prizes and trophies.
Clubs and associations
Bensinger was a member of the Lakeside and Washington Park clubs, and of the Chicago Athletic Association. Bensinger was a Turner as a member of the Chicago German-American gymnastic club. He was a member and on the executive board of the Chicago Sinai Congregation. Bensinger was one of the original 1869 members of The Standard Club, which is predominately Jewish. He was involved with its new 1889 club-house building on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, since the original building burned down. Bensinger was its president from 1889 through 1893.
Bensinger was known as a business negotiator to settle disputes between management and labor. He was recognized as being affable, practical, far-sighted, progressive and democratically inclined in his dealing with workers. He signed the first agreement with a predecessor of the Amalgamated-Woodworkers Union, which led to a harmonious and productive relationship between union and management.
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In the 1880s Bensinger added another product line, bowling pins and bowling balls. Taverns had begun installing lanes, interest seemed to be growing, and Bensinger was determined to be ready for this new market. He actively promoted bowling as a participatory sport and helped to standardize the game. Bensinger also was instrumental in organizing the American Bowling Congress in 1895.
- Rapoport 2001, p. 237.
- St. James Press 2006, p. 70.
- "Brunswick Corporation – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Brunswick Corporation". Adameg, Inc. 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
Bensinger was determined to be ready for this new market. He actively promoted bowling as a participatory sport and helped to standardize the game.
- Vierow 1938, p. 59.
- Gems 2009, p. 13.
- Pfister 2013, p. 47.
- Mitchell 2001, p. 401.
- Martin & Lehman 1994, p. 298.
- Cayton, Andrew R. L., Editor; Sisson, Richard; Zacher, Chris. The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
In 1895, Moses Bensinger of the Brunswick Company founded the primarily mid-western American Bowling Congress.
- Bunyan 2010, p. 164.
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- Belsky 2016, p. 190.
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- Schmidt 2007, p. 4.
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- Rotary International 1960, p. 57.
- Haller 2001, p. 132.
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- Marquis 1911, p. 56.
- "Bensinger Heads B.B.C." Kingsport Times. Kingsport, Tennessee. March 17, 1931 – via Newspapers.com .
- "Heart Failure Causes Death". Marble Rock Journal. Marble Rock, Iowa. October 20, 1904 – via Newspapers.com .
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- "Death of Moses Bensinger". International Wood Worker. The Amalgamated-Woodworkers Union. 14 (10): 435–436. October 1904. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
- "Improvement in combined billiard and dining table". Google Patents. U.S. Government Patent Office. January 7, 1879. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
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- "Big Billiard Event Planned for C.A.A." Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. November 15, 1903 – via Newspapers.com .
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- "Walkout leads to Open Shops". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. July 4, 1905 – via Newspapers.com .
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- Cayton, Andrew R. L. (8 November 2006). The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-00349-0.
In 1895, Moses Bensinger of the Brunswick Company founded the primarily midwestern American Bowling Congress.
- Gems, Gerald R. (January 2009). The Chicago Sports Reader. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07615-2.
Moses Bensinger, the heir to Brunswick, was bowling's biggest supporter. He pushed the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company in the 1890s to manufacturer bowling equipment, hired traveling all-star teams to promote his products, and in 1895 helped organize the American Bowling Congress (ABC).
- Haller, Charles R. (1 January 2001). German-American Business Biographies: High Finance and Big Business. Money Tree Imprints. ISBN 978-0-9703748-1-3.
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- Martin, Susan Boyles; Lehman, Jeffrey (1 November 1994). Notable Corporate Chronologies. Gale Group. ISBN 978-0-8103-9217-5.
1895 Sept – A group of bowlers and proprietors, organized and headed by Bensinger, meet to discuss the standardization of bowling rules and regulations, thereby forming the American Bowling Congress.
- Mitchell, Julie A. (2001). Notable Corporate Chronologies: A-K. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Group. ISBN 978-0-7876-5050-6.
A group of bowlers and proprietors, organized and headed by Bensinger, meet to discuss the standardization of bowling rules and regulations, thereby forming the American Bowling Congress (ABC).
- National Cyclopaedia (1910). Moses Bensinger. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. J. T. White Company.
- Pfister, Gertrud (18 October 2013). Gymnastics, a Transatlantic Movement: From Europe to America. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-96542-8.
Moses Bensinger since the 1870s, engineered mergers with business rivals and orchestrated the founding of the ABC, which standardized rules and equipment.
- Rapoport, Ron (1 October 2001). Chicago: City in the Spotlight. Towery Pub. ISBN 978-1-881096-95-5.
Bensinger was a founding member of the American Bowling Congress (ABC), and he campaigned eloquently for a national bowling championship. His vision became a reality in 1901, when the first ABC tournament was held in Chicago.
- Riess, Steven A.; Gems, Gerald R. (20 February 2009). The Chicago Sports Reader: 100 Years of Sports in the Windy City. Sport and Society Series (1st ed.). Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 13. ISBN 9780252076152.
- Rotary International (March 1960). The Rotarian. Rotary International. ISSN 0035-838X.
- Schmidt, Doug (2007). They Came to Bowl: How Milwaukee Became America's Tenpin Capital. Wisconsin Historical Society Press. ISBN 978-0-87020-387-9.
- St. James Press (2006). International Directory of Company Histories. ISBN 978-1-55862-581-5.
Bensinger also was instrumental in organizing the American Bowling Congress in 1895.
- Vierow, Howard L. (1938). The Chicago Recreation Survey, 1937. Chicago Recreation Commission and Northwestern University.
The first regulation bowling alley in the city of Chicago was installed in 1891 in the Plaza Hotel, situated at Clark Street and North Avenue.
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