Friday, April 2, 2010

Har-Ber Village

Har-Ber Village is a gift to the American people from Springdale, Arkansas trucking magnate Harvey Jones and his wife, Bernice. It is located on a lovely wooded hillside sloping down to Oklahoma's Grand Lake of the Cherokees in Grove, Oklahoma, near the Missouri/Arkansas border. The museum's motto is "Remember the Past, Celebrate the Present, Imagine the Future" and it is a reconstructed turn-of-the-century village of over one hundred buildings and hundreds of amazing collections.

The Joneses purchased the property in 1944 for a summer home, and the concept of an entire village began in 1968 when Harvey built Bernice a church on the banks of the lake from bricks handmade before the civil war and taken from three huge fireplaces in the old Van Winkle home in War Eagle, Arkansas. The stained glass windows were custom made in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and the pulpit came from the Zion Methodist Church, six miles southeast of Springdale, Arkansas, which was built in 1850. In front of the church and facing the lake is a white marble statue of Christ with out-stretched arms sent from Italy.

After the church was built and the statue of Christ in place, vacationers boating on Grand Lake started coming ashore. Bernice thought a cabin for the preacher and his family would be nice. Harvey found one, dating back to the 1840's, and brought it to the Village to be recreated log by log. Next they added the schoolhouse and the dream began.

"From this beginning" Bernice said, "one thing led to another and now there are more than 100 buildings, each of which houses its own display." Buildings depict aspects of life during the 1800s/1900s including doctors' and dentists' offices, a jail with gallows, courthouse, bank, drugstore, jewelry store, hat and dress shops, print shop, post office, harness and shoe shop, barbershop, all arranged in a village setting on two long loops.

She added, "Harvey loved auctions, and we attended dozens over a four state area." And the 100+ structures contain tens of thousands of items collected or donated over a span of 40+ years. Collections on display include musical instruments...

...over 600 pipes, artifacts, Roaring 20s memorabilia, an immense barbed wire collection, Alaskan and Canadian animals, toys, dolls of all sorts including these clowns...

...woodworking tools, plows, farm machinery, horse-drawn wagons, buggies, and hacks, metal tools, pottery, lamps, military uniforms from the Civil War through Desert Storm, Boy Scout/Girl Scout uniforms and memorabilia, pitchers, butter dishes, chairs of every ilk, brass beds and accessories, wicker, stoves, milking machines, glass and china, washing machines, and way more than I could ever list.

In 1918, Harvey Jones had purchased a team of mules with an old Springfield wagon and began a trucking business, and in 1919 he bought his first used hard-rubber tire Federal truck and began the Springdale Transportation Company. In 1933, the Springdale Transportation Company became Jones Truck Lines, Inc. and over the next 60 years, JTL would become the largest privately-owned truck lines in the United States. By 1980 when JTL was sold, the company was in 15 states and traveled over 100,000 miles daily. They had 41 terminals, 2,000 pieces of equipment and employed 1,500 people.

Harvey was also an avid civic leader. In the early 1930's, Springdale could not afford to keep all of its schools open so Harvey rented a church building, hired a teacher, and paid for supplies to open a school for grades one through six. The following year the schools were re-opened, but Harvey continued his support of education by buying supplies and giving a multitude of scholarships so children in the community could continue on to college.

Harvey was chairman of the Springdale Memorial Hospital Board, President of the School Board, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Board of the First National Bank of Springdale among other important posts. In 1969, he was the first recipient of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce "Outstanding Civic Service Award"

In all of these endeavors by Harvey, Bernice was an important and equal partner. However, she had a strong identity of her own. Shortly after the truck line was sold in 1980, Harvey became ill and progressively incapacitated. All of the Jones' remaining business endeavors became Bernice's responsibility, and it was her decision to expand their philanthropic endeavors.

Beneficiaries of her generosity include libraries, museums, children's homes, churches, and substantial gifts to several colleges and universities. She has provided for hundreds of nursing scholarships, and together with Harvey, has been a lifelong supporter of Springdale Memorial Hospital. In fact, she was one of the first women to serve on the hospital's board of directors.

Har-Ber Village museum now serves as a fitting tribute and lasting memorial to them. It is open March through mid-November and charges a nominal admission of $3 ($2 for seniors.)

1 comment:

Goldenrod said...

How interesting! It's really amazing how much was built and expanded upon since the property was originally purchased. Plus, the Harvey and Bernice Jones story is worth reading all by itself. Great post, Chuck!