Ben F. Rogers


Ben F. Rogers. By establishing a municipal free employment bureau, which probably is the first and only one in Oklahoma, Ben F. Rogers, city attorney at Madill, has practically solved the problem of unemployment in his city and county. The result has been gratifying to the extent that during the first half of the year 1915 it was necessary for him to prosecute only three cases wherein vagrancy was charged.
Mr. Rogers conceived the idea shortly after he entered the office early in 1915. It was during a period of industrial depression in the United States, brought on by the war in Europe, when practically every community of the Middle West faced the problem of relieving the condition of the unemployed, or depleting their treasuries by feeding incarcerated vagrants for an indefinite time. Mr. Rogers divulged his idea to the mayor, the city council and the business men of Madill and the farmers roundabout, and they promised to support any plan he proposed to promulgate. Thereafter practically every man without employment in the city, instead of becoming a prisoner in the county jail on a charge of vagrancy, was given honest work to do.
This plan has not only been successful of itself, but Mr. Rogers finds that it has lessened the number of other offenses triable in city courts. The experiment has been one of the most interesting in the legal career of the city attorney, and he has had many incidents of interest in his work. For nearly two years he was an assistant to United States District Attorney D. H. Linebaugh of the Eastern District of Oklahoma. The moral phase of the plan appealed to Rogers, as well as the economic side of the matter, for he is the son of a Methodist minister and a member of the Educational Commission of the East and West Oklahoma Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of which commission Bishop Murrah is chairman.
Mr. Rogers was born in Prentiss County, Mississippi, January 26, 1886, and is a son of Rev. John H. and Willia Alice (Gresham) Rogers. Rev. John Rogers, who is a native of Mississippi, has been in the ministry for a good many years and has been a member of the East Oklahoma Conference for eight years. The grandfather of Ben F. Rogers was G. W. Rogers, a native of Tennessee and a pioneer settler of Prentiss County in Mississippi in 1835. The latter, who is still living at the age of eighty-five, is a veteran of the Confederate army, and Mr. Rogers’ maternal grandsire was killed in battle as a soldier of the Southland. The Gresham family is descended from Lord Gresham, an English nobleman.
The early education of Ben F. Rogers was acquired in the public schools of Mississippi. Later he was a student in the University of Mississippi and the Southern Normal University at Huntington, Tennessee. In the latter institution he prepared himself for the teaching profession and spent four years as a public school teacher. He afterward studied law at Cumberland University, at Lebanon, Tennessee, graduating in June, 1909. As has been the lot of many a minister’s son, it was necessary that he earn his way through the higher institutions of learning, but this experience doubtless better equipped him for a successful professional career than plenty of money and pampering might have done. He was valedictorian of a class of eighty when his degree of LL. B. was conferred. He began the practice of law at Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1909, as a partner of J. T. Coleman. After three years he moved to Hugo and took up practice. The year following his advent there Mr. Rogers was appointed assistant United States district attorney. He resigned that position in 1914 and again engaged in private practice, one year later being elected to his present office of city attorney.
Mr. Rogers possesses a literary bent that has occasionally led him into the realms of literature. During his years of preparation for his professional career he developed a talent for oratory, and has acquired more than local note as a platform speaker. One of his lectures, “Scraps of Sunshine,” which has been delivered a number of times in Oklahoma, has brought him many compliments from men of known forensic ability, and once was the inspiration of an invitation to enter lyceum platform work. Mr. Rogers, however, is faithful to his chosen career.
Mr. Rogers is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and of the county and state bar associations. His fraternal connections are with the Knights of Pythias and Woodmen of the World, and his college fraternity was the Kappa Sigma. He was secretary of the local commercial club for a short time, and a member of the Madill Civic League. As city attorney he drew the ordinance creating a board of library commissioners, and establishing a city library.
Mr. Rogers has three brothers and two sisters. Rev. J. W. Rogers is presiding elder of the Vinita District, East Oklahoma Conference, M. E. Church, South. Charles L. Rogers is superintendent of schools at Bennington, Oklahoma. F. H. Rogers is a druggist at Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Miss Gertrude Rogers is a graduate of the Northeastern State Normal at Tahlequah and occupies the chair of history in the Tahlequah High School. Miss Anna Lee Rogers is attending high school, and is at home with her parents at Roff, Oklahoma, where the parents reside.