Sedona Arabella (Miller) Schnebly was born in Gorin, Scotland County, Missouri, on February 24, 1877, one of 12 children of Phillip and Amanda Scheafer (Mohr) Miller.  Her father was of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.  The Millers, devout Methodists, gave their daughter a fine education and even sent her to a finishing school.

The aristocratic Millers were disappointed when Sedona, at age twenty, announced her intention to wed Theodore Carlton “Carl” or “T.C.” Schnebly (b. Maryland 1868), a Presbyterian hardware peddler.  The couple nevertheless married on February 24, 1897, in Gorin.  They moved to Harrison, Scotland County, Missouri, where Carl became a hardware merchant.  There Sedona bore two children: Ellsworth (b. March 1898) and Pearl (b. November 1899). 

In the meantime, Carl’s brother, Ellsworth “D.E.,” and his wife, Mary Luella Higbee Schnebly, had ventured west to the Arizona Territory and settled in the Red Rock area of Yavapai County.  Ellsworth urged Carl and Sedona to join them at their farm.  In October 1901 Carl got off the train at Jerome, Yavapai County, and began moving the family possessions to his brother’s farm.  Eleven days afterwards, Sedona and the two children followed.  The foursome worked their farm in “Camp Garden,” along Oak Creek. 

Within a short time Carl built a large two-story home that also served as the area’s first hotel and general store.  He became the first postmaster in the area, and Sedona’s brother-in-law, Ellsworth “D.E.,” suggested that the growing town be named “Sedona” after her “because she was a character that would stand well as a symbol for the community.”  At the hotel, Sedona served meals to travelers using the fresh vegetables from Carl’s farm.  So hers was Oak Creek’s first tourist Mecca.  Sedona played the piano at gatherings that took the place of church services, and at picture shows, rodeos, and club meetings.  The couple’s third child, Genevieve, was born in Sedona, Coconino County, Arizona Territory, on October 22, 1904.

Tragedy struck in 1905 when little Pearl was killed in a horse-riding accident.  The Schneblys buried her in the front yard of the family home, but Sedona became so grief stricken that the family moved back to Memphis, Scotland County, Missouri.  There, Sedona bore a son, Henry (b. August 22, 1907).  Eventually they moved to Boyero, Lincoln County, Colorado, where they took up farming.  In Boyero, Sedona bore two more children: Clara A. (b. January 31, 1912) and Margaret M. (b. June 20, 1915). 

Around 1930 or 1931 the Schneblys returned to Sedona.  The family farm by that time was long gone, so they rented a one-room house.  Sedona took in laundry for the Civilian Conservation Corps, and Carl worked at a local orchard.  Residents remembered her as a generous and spirited woman who taught Sunday school and spearheaded efforts to build Wayside Chapel.

According to the Schnebly children, Sedona’s great-granddaughter once said, “I hear her saying Rats! When Carl annoyed her and threatening to go to live in the barn.  I can also visualize them holding hands, as they always did, in church or when walking somewhere.  Whenever she had to carry buckets of water from the creek, she was planning how she would set her table with a touch of class.”

Sedona died on November 13, 1950, just a few years after celebrating her Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1947 with Carl. She was buried with her daughter Pearl in a small cemetery in Grasshopper Flat, Sedona, next to Airport Road.  Carl Schnebly died March 13, 1954, and was buried with them.

Further information and family photos may be found in the Rose Garden files.

Donors: Ellsworth Schnebly, Clara McBride, Henry Schnebly and Margaret Wallace, children
Photo Located: Photo Courtesy Sedona Historical Society - RGC MS-39, Box S, F-Schnebly, Sedona (Miller)
Updated: 9/15/2017, Tom Collins