Moses Bensinger

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Moses Bensinger
Bensinger, Moses-Portrait of 1896.jpg
Moses Bensinger, 1896 portrait
Born(1839-08-17)August 17, 1839
DiedOctober 14, 1904(1904-10-14) (aged 65)
Resting placeRosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois
OccupationMerchant, salesman, manufacturer, business leader
Years active1859–1904
Spouse(s)Eleanora Brunswick
1888 Brunswick-Balke-Collender company factory on State Street in downtown Chicago

Moses Bensinger (August 17, 1839 – October 14, 1904) was an American merchant and manufacturer. He was 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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1]

Mid life[edit]

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.[2] The incorporators were Brunswick, Bensinger, Julius Balke Sr., A. F. Troescher and Leo Schmidt.[3] 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.[4][5][6]

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.[7][8][9] 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.[7][10][11][12][13][14] He started then to make bowling balls and pins for new bowling alleys.[8] His company also made the bowling lanes for these alleys.[8] The first commercial regulation ten-pin bowling alley licensed was installed at the Plaza Hotel in north Chicago (Clark Street) in 1891.[15][16] Bensinger sponsored traveling all-star bowling teams, managed by William V. Thompson, proprietor of the Plaza Bowling Alley, to promote Brunswick bowling products.[16] Within two decades there were over two hundred commercial regulation ten-pin bowling alleys in Chicago alone.[17]

American Bowling Congress[edit]

Bensinger, Brunswick's German-Jewish son-in-law, was influential in setting up the American Bowling Congress (A.B.C.) in 1895.[8][9][17][18][19][20] 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.[21][22] 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.[23] The new organization took effect officially on October 15, 1895.[24] The basic organization was a legislative body that enforced uniform bowlers' rules and regulations,[25][26][27] through a set of by-laws and a constitution of Articles,[28] for all in the United States to follow as the official standard for ten-pin bowling.[29][30][31][32] The organization, since incorporated into the United States Bowling Congress, standardized and still governs all bowling equipment for modern ten-pin bowling.[33]


Bensinger married Eleanora Brunswick, the daughter of John M. Brunswick, in 1867.[34] They had two daughters, Cora and Edna, and one son, Benjamin Edward.[35] Bensinger's son Benjamin became president of the Brunswick-Blake-Collender company upon his death.[36] 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.[36][37]

Later life and death[edit]

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.[1][38] The cause of death was heart failure.[39] His remains are interred at Rosehill Cemetery.[40]

Billiard table manufacturing[edit]

Bensinger experimented and researched improved billiard tables and gear,[41] leading to significant patents for rubber bumpers and other innovations.[42][43] 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.[44] He was involved in setting up tournaments for establishments that had his billiard tables and issued cash prizes and trophies.[45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52]

Clubs and associations[edit]

Bensinger was a member of the Lakeside and Washington Park clubs, and of the Chicago Athletic Association.[1] Bensinger was a Turner as a member of the Chicago German-American gymnastic club.[17] He was a member and on the executive board of the Chicago Sinai Congregation.[53] Bensinger was one of the original 1869 members of The Standard Club, which is predominately Jewish.[54] He was involved with its new 1889 club-house building on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, since the original building burned down.[55] Bensinger was its president from 1889 through 1893.[56]

Bensinger was known as a business negotiator to settle disputes between management and labor.[57] He was recognized as being affable, practical, far-sighted, progressive and democratically inclined in his dealing with workers.[1][58][59] 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.[40]



  1. ^ a b c d National Cyclopaedia 1910, p. 294.
  2. ^ "Severe Storms". Cincinnati Daily Star. Cincinnati, Ohio. July 8, 1879 – via open access.
  3. ^ "Brunswick & Balke Company". The Cincinnati Daily Star. Cincinnati, Ohio. July 8, 1879 – via open access.
  4. ^ Lukas, Paul; Overfelt, Maggie (2003). "Brunswick – When it Comes to the Pastimes of Bowling and Billiards, This Company Has Long Defined the Games People Play". CNN Money. Cable News Network. A Time Warner Company. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  5. ^ "Brunswick Corporation History". Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  6. ^ "John M. Brunswick". The Pillar of Achievement. International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. 1996. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Cayton 2006, p. 881.
  8. ^ a b c d Jones 2012, p. 66.
  9. ^ a b Riess & Gems 2009, p. 13.
  10. ^ "St. Paul Against Chicago". The Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. March 3, 1895 – via open access.
  11. ^ "International Directory of Company Histories". "Brunswick Corporation". 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2016. 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.
  12. ^ Rapoport 2001, p. 237.
  13. ^ St. James Press 2006, p. 70.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ Vierow 1938, p. 59.
  16. ^ a b Gems 2009, p. 13.
  17. ^ a b c Pfister 2013, p. 47.
  18. ^ Mitchell 2001, p. 401.
  19. ^ Martin & Lehman 1994, p. 298.
  20. ^ 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.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Bunyan 2010, p. 164.
  22. ^ "New Rules for Bowlers". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. September 10, 1895 – via open access.
  23. ^ "American Bowling Congress". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. December 30, 1895 – via open access.
  24. ^ "Bowlers leave today for Buffalo Congress". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. January 19, 1902 – via open access.
  25. ^ Belsky 2016, p. 190.
  26. ^ "American Bowling Congress / It will introduce uniform playing Rules throughout the country". St. Louis Dispatch. St. Louis. January 22, 1896 – via open access.
  27. ^ "A.B.C. Institutes Tourney Reforms". Indianapolis Star. Indianapolis, Indiana. January 1, 1911 – via open access.
  28. ^ "A Bowling Congress". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. January 14, 1896 – via open access.
  29. ^ Schmidt 2007, p. 4.
  30. ^ Grasso & Hartman 2014, p. 27.
  31. ^ "New Bowling Rules". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. October 12, 1895 – via open access.
  32. ^ "BOWLING". Harrisburg Telegraph. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. January 19, 1945 – via open access.
  33. ^ Rotary International 1960, p. 57.
  34. ^ Haller 2001, p. 132.
  35. ^ "Moses Bensinger Estate Bequeathed To Family". Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. October 26, 1904 – via open access.
  36. ^ a b Marquis 1911, p. 56.
  37. ^ "Bensinger Heads B.B.C." Kingsport Times. Kingsport, Tennessee. March 17, 1931 – via open access.
  38. ^ "Heart Failure Causes Death". Marble Rock Journal. Marble Rock, Iowa. October 20, 1904 – via open access.
  39. ^ "Heart Failure". Daily News-Democrat. Huntington, Indiana. October 15, 1904 – via open access.
  40. ^ a b "Death of Moses Bensinger". International Wood Worker. The Amalgamated-Woodworkers Union. 14 (10): 435–436. October 1904. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  41. ^ "Improvement in combined billiard and dining table". Google Patents. U.S. Government Patent Office. January 7, 1879. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  42. ^ "Important Events". Brunswick Billiards. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  43. ^ "Portraits of Chicago". Chicago Billiard Museum. Archived from the original on 2016-08-19. Retrieved August 17, 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  44. ^ "Billards". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. March 9, 1880 – via open access.
  45. ^ "Billiards for Ducats". Ottawa Daily Republie. Ottawa, Kansas. December 1, 1885 – via open access.
  46. ^ "Won by a Scratch". Cincinnati. Cincinnati, Ohio. July 6, 1878 – via open access.
  47. ^ "Schaeffer the LevenworthBoy, Matched Against Sexton". Atchison Daily Champion. Atchison, Kansas. June 16, 1878 – via open access.
  48. ^ "Billiard Match". The Republic. Columbus, Indiana. May 13, 1884 – via open access.
  49. ^ "Big Billiard Event Planned for C.A.A." Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. November 15, 1903 – via open access.
  50. ^ "Will Leave It A Tie". Saint Paul Globe. Saint Paul, Minnesota. November 24, 1885 – via open access.
  51. ^ "Some Square Propositions which may result in a Tournament". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. December 30, 1886 – via open access.
  52. ^ "Billiards for Ducats". Parsons Daily Sun. Parsons, Kansas. December 3, 1885 – via open access.
  53. ^ JSTOR 23600043 Directory of Local Organizations, The American Jewish Year Book, Vol 1 (September 5, 1899 to September 23, 1900) – page 127
  54. ^ "The Standard Club". The Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. March 9, 1890 – via open access.
  55. ^ "Elegance and Luxury". The Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. February 22, 1889 – via open access.
  56. ^ "At The Standard". Inter Ocean. Chicago, Illinois. October 22, 1893 – via open access.
  57. ^ "The Demands of the Funitureworkers". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. April 22, 1886 – via open access.
  58. ^ "Walkout leads to Open Shops". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. July 4, 1905 – via open access.
  59. ^ "Labor in Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. April 9, 1886 – via open access.


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