A clearer picture of the formative years of one prominent pioneer family in Carson Valley, and hopefully other historical figures to come, is being produced by students of Leadership Douglas County.
Students of the program, which is organized by the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, decided to create an oral history of the Henningsen Family Ranch as their class project for the year.
Videotaped interviews with John Henningsen are tentatively scheduled to begin Sept. 10 inside the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center.
"Our area is based on history," said Paula Lochridge, LDC student and manager of Main Street Gardnerville. "It's something we don't want to lose. We need to stay in touch with our roots. Our class had a lot different ideas when we first started in January. We thought this would be something that would leave a legacy."
Classmate Brian Fitzgerald, who is also the recreation manager for Douglas County, put together a summary explaining the scope of the project.
"The Henningsen Family Ranch and history is on the short list of Nevada Centennial Families," read the summary. "John's grandfather Carsten Henningsen migrated to the Carson Valley from Denmark in 1874. There is much documented history of Carsten Henningsen, his dairy business and involvement in the creation of the Douglas County Creamery. Carsten's two sons, Clarence and George, both inherited parts of the original ranch. Clarence and then his son John continued to operate a dairy business until 1992. John is a graduate of the Douglas High School class of 1943. He and his wife Virginia have many stories of growing up in the Carson Valley, working a hard farmer's life and can provide a unique perspective of our community and the changes witnessed over decades."
Included in the summary is a list of topics for the interviews, including immigration to America, childhood in Douglas County, school years, family ties, first jobs and careers, marriage and raising children, then-and-now comparisons, retirement, family and personal legacy.
"LDC 2012 classmates hope to create a comfortable environment for John, one which will encourage reflection, trigger memories, and generate discussion about the good old days," the summary read. "We hope to capture thoughts on life, the good times, the hard times, the challenges. We want to talk about the Henningsen Barn, old family photos, and about family values."
Lochridge said the class hopes to have interviews wrapped up by September, editing done by October, and a finished product by mid-November. She said Lloyd Higuera of Douglas County Cable Access Television will assist with technical setup and will broadcast the interviews at a later date.
The group also hopes to collaborate with the Douglas County Historical Society and Douglas County School District.
"Our hope is to not only make it available at the local museum, but online on YouTube and other websites," Lochridge said. "We've formed a legacy committee to work with the historical society and the high school to see if they can continue on with this program."