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Rogers Historical Museum  

Photo of the Month

Joe Means

Joe Means once described himself as the “meanest man” in Benton County. However, this notion does not necessarily do justice to his colorful history or his service to the citizens of our area. As he said in an interview with the Rogers Historical Museum in 1990, “I did a little of everything, in the law and out of the law.”

His grandfather originally came from Spring Valley and homesteaded at War Eagle about 18 miles east Rogers where the White River and the War Eagle Creek come together in the late 1880s or early 1890s. The Means family farmed and operated saw mills, which reflected their heritage as descendents of the well-know Blackburn lumber family. Corn, oats, and timothy hay were the main crops they grew in the good river bottom land as well as producing lumber from the surrounding stands of timber. During the early years of Monte Ne, Means even recalled that his grandfather and “Blind” Dutton often rowed the resort’s gondola.

Joe Means was born August 7, 1916 to Claude and Katherine (Thompson) Means in War Eagle. His mother died in 1925 and his father remarried. The immediate family also included one brother and one sister.

Growing up only 18 miles from Rogers seems a short distance today, but he described how he crossed the White River and made the walking trip to town on dirt roads in the late 1920s and 1930s: “I used to take a short cut and go down, I lived on War Eagle. I’d go down and cross the river and go through the hills across what was called Pine Creek Holler, go on over and down and across the river to a fella’s name of Arthur Martin at White River. Go on up past where the entrance is to Horseshoe Bend, go right straight on west and go up the bluffs and wade White River again and go up Horseshoe Bend and wade it again, and through Monte Ne walk into Rogers.” During this time, many people in the area continued to drive horses and buggies, while only a few people owned automobiles – his great grandfather J.D. Blackburn owned a Model T Ford.

In his youth, Means worked on his family farm, spent time hunting and fishing, and even caddied at the Eden’s Bluff golf course near Monte Ne. This particular job, he recalled, paid “twenty-five cents for carrying that sack around nine greens with them.” Means attended school first at Oak Grove and then later at Monte Ne. He joked that he “went through school – in the front door and out the back!”

By the time he reached 16 years of age, his outlaw reputation began to take shape. He never identified himself as a bootlegger, but as a wholesaler. A wholesaler produced and sold whiskey to bootleggers, who then sold it to the public. In 1933-34, Means typically hauled 50 gallons of whiskey to a Fayetteville man every week, who then distributed it in Rogers, Springdale, and Fayetteville. This activity usually netted at least $1.50 per gallon of whisky delivered, which was a sizable sum of money at that time. Mean Joe Means recalled in a Rogers Morning News article that “in Rogers, there was so many bootleggers, you had to wear a name badge to keep from selling to each other.” By 1937, he stopped making illegal whiskey.

Soon after, Means expanded his saw mill operations and began settling down. In 1948, Means joined a local church and it was members of his congregation who encouraged him to run for sheriff in 1954 against John Black. Means had one deputy and one day jailer and received a salary of $416 per month as well as $50 for vehicle expenses. This time period saw some crime typical of smaller communities, but the area began to greatly change during his tenure as sheriff with the rapid industrial expansion and plans for damming the White River.

In 1958, Means’ term of office ended and in 1962 he was hired as the Rogers Police Chief. His department included Quant Morris, Bill Dunson, Wayman Buttry, Bob Deason, Warren Adams, Gordon Saxson, Dennis Musteen, and Max McCoy as well as two patrol cars. Noting the changes in the community, Means urged the Rogers City Council to expand the Police Department with additional personnel and equipment, but only small gains were made. In 1965, Means submitted his resignation to Mayor Eddie Bautts.

Following his time as Police Chief, Means returned to his saw mill operations. For those people who knew Means, he was respected for never shrinking from a challenge, but also as someone who extended a helping hand to the people of his community. His self-reliant way of life extended throughout his work as a farmer, timberman, and saw mill owner as well as his career in law enforcement. He and his wife Ruby had three children, Katherine, Peggy Jo, and Homer, and he was a member of the Monte Ne Baptist Church, Masons, and Fraternal Order of Police. Joe Means passed away in 2005.

More Photos of the Month

Rogers Academy Class of 1896
Applegate Family
Bingham, George H.
John Black and Hugh “Tater” Black
Blackburn, J.A.C.
Blaylock, Sarah
Carter, C. Jimmie
Clarke, A.O.
Curry, Dr. William Jasper
Decker, Charles
Felker, William R.
Ford, Edsel
Funk, Erwin
Harvey, Coin
Hawkins, Harold and Frank Jr.
Hill, Fred
Jacobs, Thomas
Keck, Jack
Key, Vera
Kirksey, Birch
Lingle, Greer
Lockhart, Tracy
McNeil, Tom
Means, Joe
Morgan, Tom
Morsani, Al
Myler, John
The Sagers
Sikes, J. Wade

J.L. Shinpaugh, Rogers City Marshal
Steele, John Bell and Mary Van Winkle
Thaden, Louise
Rice, Dr. Rufus S.
Rogers, Betty Blake
Rogers, C.W.
Rogers Dough Boys
Rogers, Will

Tribble, Letsie
Truman Boling, Master Builder

Vick Will

Beaver Dam
Beaver Lake
Butterfield Trail
Camp Joyzelle
Confederate Monument
Coin Harvey’s Spring Lake and Falls
Lake Atalanta
Monte Ne
Old Highway 12 Bridge
Park Springs Park
War Eagle
The Amphitheater at Monte Ne
Silica Mining
Frisco Tunnel at Winslow
Wonderland Cave in Bella Vista
The Ozark Bluff Dwellers
Fisherman's Camp
Kruse's Gold Mine
Highway 71
Hanging Tree


The Apple Industry
Callahan's Station
Cattle Ranching
Coca-Cola Bottling Company
Daisy Manufacturing
Decker Motor Co.
Dyke Lumber Co.
Hailey Motor Co.
House of Webster
McNeil Chevrolet
Poultry Industry
Pressing Sorghum Cane
Rogers Champion
Rogers Hardware Co.
Rogers Transfer & Storage
Suzie-Q Malt Shop


Rogers Academy
Rogers High School
Sunnyside Elementary School

The Applegate house
112 South First Street
Bank Of Rogers Building
Benton County Jail
B.F. Sikes Log Cabin
Central Methodist Episcopal Church
J.B. Steele House, 303 South First Street
Juhre Building (1894)
Golden Rule Building (circa 1894)
Lane Hotel
Love's Sanitarium
Mutual Aid Union Building
Palace of the Ozarks
Rogers City Hall
Rogers City Jail
Rogers Milling Company
Rogers Opera House
Rogers Post Office
Rogers Wholesale Grocery Company
The Key Wing
The Stroud Building (1899)
The Victory Theater
James and Sally McDaniel Home

The Stroud Home
The Tribble House
The Rocky Branch School

206th C.A. A.A
Home Demonstration Club
Rogers First Elks Lodge
Rogers Garden Club
Women's Study Club/Mas Luz Club
Benton County Possum Hunters
Rogers High School Football Team 1921
Rogers High School Marching Band 1942
936th Field Artillery Battalion in the Korean War
1960's Rogers High School Spirit
Arkansas State Guard in WWII


Apple Blossom Festivals
Benton County Fair
Bolin Murder Inquest 
Ozark Golden Jubilee
Rogers Centennial Posse
Rogers Diamond Jubilee (1956)
Santa's Rocket Sleigh
The Arrival of Santa Claus (1945)
The Brightwater Train Wreck (1907)
The Great Car Skate on Lake Atalanta (1940)
Thanksgiving (1904)
The Last Reunion of Pea Ridge Veterans


Chemical Engine
Christmas Memories
Frisco Railroad
Mining in Northwest Arkansas
Natural Resources
Rogers' Congregational Church
Rogers Fire Department
Rogers Police Cars
St. Mary's Hospital
Tobacco and Benton County
Still Busting near Bentonville
John Boat
Tall Tree Tales

Civil Defense in the 1960's
Early Cars
Rogers Yuletide
Brick Streets
Rural Road Work



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