County students learn local history at Gibson House

By SARAH DOWLING | sdowling@dailydemocrat.com | Woodland Daily Democrat

Many of the students from North Davis Elementary School were concerned that the Gibson Mansion was haunted.

The structure, built in 1857, carries a lot of Yolo County’s history and on Tuesday morning the mansion and grounds were opened up to the 3rd-grade class, who wore handkerchiefs and aprons for the occasion.

The docent leading one of the groups assured the students it was not haunted but did contain a lot of old items from the Gibsons as well as other prominent Yolo County families.

“William Gibson was a farmer,” she explained in her introduction before taking her group to a cement structure at the very front of the house, which appeared to be a small bench. However, it was really used as a stepping-off point for people to board their carriages long before cars were speeding down nearby Gibson Road.

She explained how people lived in the 1800s, spending time reading, painting and playing instruments instead of watching television or playing video games. Many of the students were intrigued by an antique telegraph on William Gibson’s desk, which also had laminated copies of his handwritten letters.

Outside, another group was able to play with vintage toys, including a wooden cup-and-ball toy, which a docent explained. This same group was excited to use old washboards to wash laundry in an area outside.

A third group spent time in the onsite dairy room, where they learned about making butter and other dairy products. When the docent showed the group an old container used to make ice cream, the students shouted out and smiled.

This was the first year the 3rd-grade tour program involved YoloArts, an organization now charged with managing the Gibson House.

Jenna Harris, education manager with YoloArts, explained that 3rd graders have been chosen for the tours because it lined up with their curriculum of learning local history. It also sets them up for 4th grade, where they will learn more about California history.