Harvey Jones (1900–1989)
Harvey Jones founded Jones Truck Lines and made it the largest privately owned and operated truck line in the United States. By 1980, Jones Truck Lines was traveling more than 100,000 miles a day, with forty-one terminals in fifteen states and 2,300 employees.
Harvey Jones was born on August 19, 1900, just east of Springdale (Washington County) to farmers Taylor and Jimmie Jones; he was the older of two children. At age sixteen, Jones moved to Springdale, where he set up his first business venture, a mercantile store. Two years later, in 1918, when the railroad went on strike, Jones purchased an old Springfield wagon and two mules and began hauling goods between Rogers (Benton County), Springdale, and Fayetteville (Washington County), a trip that took thirteen hours each day. In 1919, Jones sold his wagon and mules to buy a Federal truck and named his business Jones Transportation Company. He added the cities of Eureka Springs (Carroll County) and Seligman, Missouri, to his route and became known for his dependability and punctuality.
Throughout the 1920s, Jones continued to add cities to his route, including Wichita and Topeka, Kansas; Kansas City, Joplin, and Springfield, Missouri; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). By this time, Jones was hauling everything from tools and dry goods to lumber and fruit. Even through the Depression, Jones’s business flourished—he never turned a customer down and even bartered as payment for goods delivered.
In 1933, the company changed its name to Jones Truck Lines and continued adding more cities to its routes. Jones purchased new trucks and broke new shipping ground with the use of refrigerated trucks. When World War II began, Jones put his business on hold to help the war effort, often using his trucks to haul supplies and parts for airplanes and tanks. In 1949, the company incorporated, becoming the largest privately owned and operated truck line in the nation.
Jones married Bernice Irene Young on August 19, 1938. They never had children of their own, but they found ways to support the schoolchildren of Springdale. In the early 1930s, when the trucking business was booming, Springdale schools were being closed because of a lack of funding. Jones rented a church, found a teacher, and purchased school supplies for all the elementary school students whose school had closed. Springdale schools reopened the next year, but Jones continued to purchase supplies and give scholarships to those who were going on to college. He served on the school board for twenty-eight years, as president for nineteen of those years. He and his wife formed the Jones Foundation in 1957, providing college scholarships to students from Springdale High School who were interested in nursing. A school was named after Jones in 1959.
In the late 1940s, Jones was instrumental in planning a hospital for Springdale. When it was built, Jones’s funds helped the hospital to establish its Coronary Care Unit, open a hotel facility for families, and purchase a device used in eye care. Jones also served as chairman of Springdale Memorial Hospital’s board.
Jones opened a museum in 1968 in Grove, Oklahoma, called Har-Ber Village, which remains open as of 2009; served as president of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the board of the First National Bank of Springdale; received various awards, including the Arkansas Hospital Association’s Distinguished Service Award; and was named “Layman of the Year” by the Arkansas Medical Society in 1983. In 1985, Jones received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the College of the Ozarks (now the University of the Ozarks), and in 1988, Governor Bill Clinton declared July 30 as “Harvey Jones Day in Arkansas.”
Due to his deteriorating health, Jones sold Jones Truck Lines in 1980 to Sun Carriers. He died on March 29, 1989, and is buried in Bluff Cemetery in Springdale.
The Jones Center for Families currently occupies the building in which Jones Truck Lines operated its business until 1980. The names of Jones and his wife also survive through Har-Ber Village, Har-Ber High School, and the subdivision of Har-Ber Meadows.
For additional information:
“Harvey Jones: Arkansas Business Hall of Fame Inductee.” Arkansas Times, January 21, 2000, p. 16.
“The Jones Legacy.” The Jones Center. https://www.thejonescenter.net/(accessed March 14, 2022).
“Truck Lines Founder Dies in Springdale.” Arkansas Gazette, March 30, 1989, P. 5B.
Shiloh Museum of Ozark History
Last Updated: 03/14/2022