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Farm History

The Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, OH was once home to Bob Evans, founder of Bob Evans Farms Inc., and his wife Jewell for nearly 20 years.  When they bought the farm in 1953, Bob and a group of eight family members and friends had been making sausage for local groceries and meat markets.  They called it Bob Evans Farms Sausage – “made by a farmer on the farm” – and before long, the sausage was being delivered by a fleet of 14 trucks to nearly 1,800 locations.

Bob’s television ads invited people to “come down and visit us” at the farm.  Before long, so many people came that it was hard for Bob and Jewell to accommodate them.  So in 1961 the company built a restaurant at the farm, with four stools and six tables, to better serve them.  The Sausage Shop, which is now a Bob Evans Restaurant, was the company’s first venture into the restaurant business.  Visitors could sample sausage products and start farm tours from the shop.

Bob and Jewel Evans raised their six children in the large, brick farmhouse known as the Homestead.  The Homestead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Built in 1825, it served as a stagecoach stop and an inn in its early years.  Today, the Homestead serves as a company museum and historical center. 

Bob and Jewel lived in the Homestead and hosted sausage company customers, until a steadily increasing flow of visitors began to keep them too busy.  Bob Evans Farms Inc. acquired the Rio Grande farm in 1973, to maintain as an active farm and as a recreation and local historical center.

Today, you can visit the original Bob Evans Restaurant and experience the traditions of an all-American farming community “down on the farm.”  Hay, sorghum, corn and wheat are grown on the farm, which is also home to many horses.

A beautiful country setting of nearly 1,000 rolling acres awaits visitors to the Bob Evans Farm.  The farm offers something for everyone – whether your interests are in taking a nostalgic journey to the past to sample simple pioneer living, viewing an exhibit in the Event Barn or visiting the Homestead museum – you’re sure to come away with memories to share.

The history of the farm and the southeast Ohio area is reflected in the farm’s log cabin village, Adamsville Village.  Originally settled in the early 1800s, it is today the site of four authentic log cabins and a log schoolhouse that have been reconstructed on the site at the Bob Evans Farm. 

Scenic Raccoon Creek, having retained its name even after being re-classified as an Ohio river, makes the perfect backdrop for tent and RV campgrounds.  Click here to learn more about camping near Bob Evans Farm.

Bob Evans Farm Historical Sites:

Homestead Museum
Nehemiah Wood built the Homestead in 1820.  This federal-style farmhouse was built from clay bricks manufactured on site.  The Homestead served as the Wood family home and as a stage coach stop.  Its original hotel license was issued to Harrison Wood in 1862 to “carry on the business and occupation of a hotel eighth class.”

Harry Wood sold the farm to Rio Grande College (now the University of Rio Grande) in 1938.  The college used the farm as a self-help program, with students working there to pay their expenses and the college operating a daily farm and using much of the food that was raised on the farm.

The Homestead and farm were purchased by Bob Evans in 1953.  The Evans family lived there for 17 years and moved to a new home closer to Gallipolis, Ohio, in 1970. 

In December 1987, the Homestead was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

In 2003, the Homestead was renovated into a company museum containing history of the company, Bob Evans’ family and the local area, as well as the farm. 

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Event Barn
When Bob Evans purchased the farm, he used the barn for dairy and sheep.  When the Bob Evans Farms company purchased the farm from the Evans family, it converted the Quilt Barn into a craft demonstration barn and visitors’ center. 

The two quilt squares on this dairy barn were dedicated on April 1, 2008, to commemorate the beginning of the Gallia County Quilt Barn Trail project.

Recently, the Quilt Barn has been converted to an Event Barn.  A great site for your meeting, party of reception for up to 100, featuring delicious Bob Evans catering.  For more information please call the Farm office at 740-245-5304.

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Coal Mine
Throughout southeastern Ohio, coal lies under the sandstone and shale hillsides. This bank-type coal mine which reopened in 1974, was once a small family mine providing the much needed fuel to heat the homes on the farm.

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Grist Mill
The Grist Mill Barn was hoisted and moved in 1975 from behind the restaurant to its present location.  The barn was upgraded to include gristmills and a wall display in 1978.  In 1981, a larger working mill exhibit was completed.  Corn is ground in the Grist Mill during the Bob Evans Farm Festival.

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Sorghum Mill
Constructed in the mid-1800s, this mill still operates every fall, making sorghum molasses from sorghum cane grown on the farm.

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The Bicentennial Barn (Tobacco Barn)
George Brown was the owner in 1843 and probably the builder.  This barn is held together with pegs and is built in two levels.  Sheep were raised in the barn for several years.  It is the oldest barn on the farm and has been used to store equipment and for drying tobacco.

The Bicentennial logo was painted on the barn during the 29th annual Bob Evans Farm Festival in October, 1999.  The logo was created by the Ohio Bicentennial Committee to commemorate Ohio’s 200th anniversary of statehood in 2003.

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The windmill has been a familiar landmark for passersby since it was reconstructed on the farm in 1971.  It was built by James Beam, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, as a replica of windmills found in Holland.  It originally housed French burr stones that were powered by the wind to grind grain for livestock.  The 20-foot blades were imported from Holland.

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Welsh Log Church
Using 18th century building methods but new materials, an old fashioned “church raising” was held on the farm on September 21, 1985.  Yoked oxen were used to hoist logs and costumed Welsh women prepared a traditional repast for the workers. 

The church depicts the log Welsh Tyn Rhos Church located in Gallia County about eight miles from the farm, which was built in 1841. 

The antique, hand tooled wooden pews are made out of a combination of chestnut, walnut, oak and poplar.

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Revolutionary War Cemetery
Many 1800s grave sites are contained in this cemetery, including that of Adam Rickabaugh (1761-1836).  Rickabaugh founded the former settlement of Adamsville on Raccoon Creek and fought in the Revolutionary War from 1777 – 1781.  The cemetery is also the final resting place of several members of the Nehemiah Wood family and H.S. French (1833-1941) family.

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Raccoon Creek
Early surveys reported its length as less than 100 miles, which explains its original classification as a “creek” rather than a “river.”  It was later re-classified as an Ohio River, yet retained its original name. 

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Village of Adamsville
The village was first settled in 1800, when Adam Rickabaugh, a Revolutionary War veteran, brought his family from Virginia to the valley that he had seen while in service. He applied to the federal government for this land with his bounty from the war.  His deed is signed by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison.

Adam built a grist mill on the creek, and the community expanded to include two grocery stores, a meat market, two blacksmith shops and a livery.  The village was plotted by Rickabaugh’s sons. In 1805, Nehemiah Wood bought the grist mill and added a fulling and saw mill.

As the village grew, the settlers applied for a post office, but were notified that there was already a town in Ohio named Adamsville and they were required to choose a different name. During this time (1846-1848), the war with Mexico was on-going.  Stories of fighting on the Rio Grande River headlined a newspaper delivered to the mill.  Sylvester Wood, son of Nehemiah Wood, read the newspaper and said “I’ll bet no one would have a Rye-O-Grand post office.”  Even though the villagers mispronounced the word, it became the name of the post office that was established on Aug. 10, 1846.

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 Log Cabin Village
The log cabin village on the Bob Evans Farm includes cabins and a schoolhouse that have all been reconstructed on the farm. 

The cabins include:

Ingles’ One-Room School House
Our one-room log school house resembles those that were commonplace throughout rural America until 1920. In most rural and small town schools all of the students met in a single room. There, a single teacher taught academic basics to grades one through eight.

Cabin History: This two-story log cabin is probably one of the largest original log structures of its kind. It was built near Lowell, Ohio in 1860 and served as a schoolhouse until 1918. In 1986 Wayne Ingles donated the logs to the Farm and the cabin became part of the reconstructed Adamsville Village.

Appalachian Crafts (Evans Cabin)

In the craft making industry, Appalachia is best known for basket weaving, quilting, wood carving, rug making, and making musical instruments (dulcimers and fiddles). This cabin includes displays representing each of these Appalachian crafts, most made by local artisans. Cabin History: In 1880, James Sprague built this cabin on land he owned in Springfield Township, about 6 miles from the Bob Evans Farm. In the early 1980s, Bob Evans purchased the Sprague property. He donated the cabin to the Farm in 1992 when it became part of the reconstructed Adamsville Village.

Freedom Seekers: Ohio & The Underground Railroad

The “Freedom Seekers” exhibit traces the history of Africans who were captured and brought to this country as slaves and their journey to freedom. The text, artifacts and photographs included in the “Freedom Seekers” cabin brings this story to life. Cabin History: This is one of the cabins built to house the 100 freed slaves who came to the Farm with Nehemiah Wood and his family in 1805. On May 3, 1987, this log cabin was dedicated in honor of Ilo Hurt. Ilo lived in this cabin in the early 1940s and was an employee of Bob Evans Farms for thirty-three years.

Adamsville Mercantile (Stormont Cabin)

Early country stores were known as general stores, mercantiles, and emporiums. These establishments provided one stop shopping to small towns, villages, and farmers. The Adamsville Mercantile is filled with supplies, equipment, and tools of yesteryear. Cabin History: Between 1800 and 1830 the Stormont family built this cabin near Johns Creek about 14 miles from the Farm. Samuel Stormont owned the cabin as late as 1874. Adam Hineman (1837-1928) was the next owner of the cabin. Bob Evans bought the cabin in 1971 and moved it to the Farm.

Phillips’ Pioneer Home (Phillips Cabin)

Pioneers were the first people to settle in the frontiers of North America. When pioneers arrived at their destinations, there were no rentals or pre-fabbed houses. They had to make due with what they had and learn to create their own homes. This cabin depicts a permanent type of home built and furnished by the pioneers. Cabin History: In 1850, 28 year old Abraham Phillips built this two-story log cabin near the town of Kerr about 5 miles from the Bob Evans Farm. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Isaacs owned the cabin in the 1970s and sold it to Bob Evans who donated it to the Farm. In 1974-75 this cabin became the first log building reconstructed at the previous location of the Adamsville Village near Raccoon Creek.

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