WOLCOTTVILLE Ind. (WFFT) – A family of farmers in Wolcottville will receive the 2023 John Arnold Award for Rural Preservation at the Indiana State Fair. Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Farm Bureau will present the award to the Evers family on August 3 during the Indiana Department of Agriculture’s Celebration of Agriculture at the Normandy Barn, located on the north side of the fairgrounds.
The award will honor the efforts of seven generations of the Evers family to maintain and operate the historic farmstead. Three brothers established the farm in 1854, originally harvesting wheat, oats, corn, and soybeans. Today, the primary cash crop is hay.
The brick house and barn were built by Frank Myers, the son of one of the founders. Myers used to gather stones from the surrounding countryside as a child, and 40 years later, built the house and barn using the stones as a foundation.
Myers, his wife Nellie, and their family were the first to live in the three-story house, which was completed in 1923.
The home has covered porches, oak, mahogany, birch, and birdseye maple hardwood. It features an impressive staircase, sterling silver chandeliers brought by railroad from Toledo, and a third-floor ballroom with a piano that was lifted in through an upper-floor window before the house was completed.
Myers’ great-grandson, Frank Evers, and his wife Evelyn, raised nine children in the farmhouse, where they still live.
Evers oversees farm operations with their oldest son Mark, his wife Christie, and children Nathan, Andrew, Emily, and Olivia.
Throughout the years, they have preserved the house as much as possible, maintaining the hardwood floors, leaded windows, plaster walls, and bathroom fixtures. The ballroom houses family artifacts and serves as a gathering space hosting graduations, weddings, square dances, and other celebrations.
The nearby brick barn has a fieldstone foundation and was first used to house milk cows as Plainview Dairy in the ’20s and ’30s.
Evers and his wife resumed dairy operations in 1975, building a milking parlor, adding a concrete silo, converting horse stalls into maternity pens, and turning hog farrowing pens into calf pens.
The landscape and the lettering on the 1950s Harvestore silo inspired the family to name the property Plainview Farms.
In 2002, dairy farming took a hit to profit margins, prompting the family to shift operations, first raising replacement dairy heifers for other farms, then expanding to a herd of Texas Longhorns and Angus.
For the past 17 years, Evelyn has worked to instill respect for the land into her grandchildren by operating Plainview Playtime, a year-round family daycare and preschool on the farm.
The children learn traditional subjects but also receive hands-on lessons in animal care, farm chores, and tending sheep borrowed from a neighbor during the summers.
“With a deep appreciation for their historic property and a commitment to preserving its heritage while operating it as a working farm, the Evers family exemplifies the tenets of the Arnold Award,” said Tommy Kleckner, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Western Regional Office and Arnold Award coordinator.
The annual award is named in memory of John Arnold (1955-1991), a Rush County farmer committed to preserving Indiana’s rural heritage.