The Legacy of Sedona Schnebly
Sedona grew up in Missouri where she met Carl Schnebly. While they loved each other, they were of two different Christian religions which in those days made a big difference to her family which did not approve of her marriage to Carl. But marry they did and started a family of their own. After a few years Carl ventured out to Arizona to help his sick brother and also realized that he and his family could make a new start away from his wife’s family.
Sedona took her 2 small children a boy named Elsworth (aka Tad) who was named after his uncle and a girl named Pearl and off they went to the wild wild west Arizona where Carl met her and took her off to Red Rock country.
Carl had gone ahead 2 weeks prior and settled some land along Oak Creek in which his brother Elsworth had 80 acres of land at the time called Camp Garden by some.
Starting over was an understatement. When she arrived there was no home, just a bunkhouse and later a tent and just two weeks later Carl left his family in this new wilderness to retrieve the family furniture and belongings which had come originally on a Santa Fe immigrant train to Jerome. To his amazement all the families belongings were all there and in one piece.
The family lived in the bunkhouse while Carl set about building their log home which would take time due to the fact he would need to travel to Flagstaff for all the timber.
At this time the only way to get to Flagstaff was the old Beaver Head stagecoach road located today 11 miles south off what is now Hwy 89A.
Always looking to improve his surroundings and a Better Way, Carl discovered that a rancher had a cattle trail right over the mountain to Flagstaff via a shorter route called Munds reducing travel time to only 2 days one way. Later one of the areas first settlers, J.J. Thompson was contracted by Coconino county to complete the road for stagecoach travel. Both Carl and brother Elsworth were both paid to help transform the road for wagon travel. Today this road is known as Schnebly Hill road.
Carl quickly was able to build for his family a lovely and large two story home with 11 rooms with a basement measuring 30×32. The bunkhouse then became a playhouse for the children,
Their family home was never intended to be a hotel but word got around about the Schnebly’s charming home on Oak Creek and Sedona’s wonderful cooking. People found great peace and healing by staying there along with the wonderful dry climate. People from all over migrated in and just lingered on the Schnebly grounds renting tents and enjoying Sedona’s wonderful food. While never considered a hotel, Sedona never charged more than $1.00 a day. The Schnebly’s within two years of arriving was helping to turn Oak Creek into a thriving town.
The Schnebly’s had the first hotel, first grocery store, and later a profitable truck farm and a bit of a health spa. They also housed the first post office and Carl was the first post master.
It was while trying to establish with the government the name of the post office that the town first started to go by the name of Sedona. Carl first requested the name Oak Creek Crossing which the locals were calling the area back then. That name was turned down by the Postmaster General as it was to long a name to put on the stamp that letters were stamped with. Several other names were submitted including Schnebly Station which was also to long. Finally it was Carl’s brother Elsworth, which also was living in the area suggested why not name the post office after your wife for she is so loved here. That name was approved and since 1902 the town has been known as Sedona. Sedona herself was only 25 years old when she became the Mother of our town.
The townsfolk loved Sedona, they admired her hard work, taking care of the entire farm and family and guests on her own for Carl was mostly in Flagstaff. Thanksgiving was anticipated by the whole town with all coming to Sedona’s Thanksgiving feast.
Tragic struck the Schnebly’s on June 12, 1905 when a horse accident took the life of young Pearl at the tender age of 5. This absolutely devastated and haunted Sedona and she simply had to leave the memory of this horrific accident behind, leaving the area to go back to Missouri to grieve Pearl with her family and be with her Dad who was making his own transition as well.
The Schnebly’s stayed a bit in Missouri then off to Colorado. After a outbreak of influenza, Carl took ill and was bedridden. Upon doctor’s advice that if he was going to heal he needed to go to a warm dry climate, in 1920 the Schnebly family returned to Sedona.
Febuary 24, 1947 Carl and Sedona celebrated their 50 year wedding anniversary and the entire town showed up to pay homage. Three years later just before the Wayside Chapel, which was built in part though the efforts of Sedona, was to be dedicated on April 5th 1950 Sedona was taken to hospital for major surgery. She returned home for the dedication but one month later was back in the hospital with cancer. Carl never left her side until her passing November 12 1951.
Sedona, the town’s Mother, was laid to rest beside her daughter Pearl in the Cook Cemetery. Sedona requested that instead of sending flowers to her funeral for everyone to make a donation for a bell to be put on Wayside Chapel. Within a month there was quite a donation and Hank her son found a bell in Denver Colorado and on Mother’s Day 1951 the bell rang and every seat in the chapel was full as the Pastor recounted the Life story of Sedona. Two years later a organ was donated in her name.
Carl Schnebly was found slumped over his washing machine on March 13, 1954 and quietly slipped away at the age of 86 to join the love of his life.
The Schnebly’s may be gone but they will never be forgotten.