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Trunk full of history a teaching tool

Carolyn Jones-Rogers carries history on the back seat of her maroon Honda sedan and shares it with students in local schools.

It’s an old, beige-colored trunk belonging to Harry Body, her great-grandfather, who came from Cornwall to Grass Valley in 1885. He was 18 when he arrived in Nevada County, Jones-Rogers said.

Body was a master mechanic, she added.



Jones-Rogers, a Nevada County resident since 1987, got the trunk from her paternal grandmother’s sister – Body’s daughter – after the latter’s death.

“I visited my grandaunt a lot, but she never told me about the trunk,” Jones-Rogers said. “She probably had it in her attic.”




Jones-Rogers, who teaches third grade at Sierra Hills School in Meadow Vista, has created a presentation on local history for third- and fourth-graders in Nevada County using the trunk and some artifacts as reminders of the past.

The presentation matches the state mandated standards of teaching local history to third graders and California history to fourth graders, Jones-Rogers said.

In her presentation, Jones-Rogers talks about the transcontinental railroad, the history of the narrow gauge railroad, Grass Valley’s hospital before Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital was built, the contribution of Chinese people to the area, hard-rock mining and the history of her family and her great-grandfather.

Some of the artifacts she shares are a Native American purse her granduncle bought from Tahoe for her grandmother in 1911, a buggy blanket that kept travelers warm and a notebook belonging to her great-grandfather.

“I chose Nevada County (for the presentations) because my great-grandfather lived in Grass Valley,” Jones-Rogers said.

The house that Body owned stands at 403 Mill St. and was the home of her paternal grandmother, according to Jones-Rogers. Her father and paternal uncle sold the property in 1970, she added.

Jones-Rogers gave three presentations at Grass Valley Charter School Monday. She is paid by the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office for her work, she said. She has given 44 presentations at Grass Valley, Nevada City and Union Hill schools so far this school year.

“(The presentation) was really fun,” said Ruth Gillespie, a 9-year-old student at Grass Valley Charter. “She explained things really well. She made it kind of a game because she chose students to pick one of the antiques, and she would tell us about it. It was really interesting.”

Gillespie said she was particularly impressed with the history of Jones-Rogers’ great-grandfather and called him ” a really cool person.”

“I think the most important lesson is how much fun history can be,” said Alan Rosenbloom, a third grade teacher at Grass Valley Charter. “The texts we often use aren’t exciting, but a person who has enthusiasm helps bring history alive and creates sparks.”

Another lesson Jones-Rogers said she wants to teach students is “to talk to their families and write down their history so that it’s not lost.”

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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