When Family Legends Intersect History

Sedona Schnebly, Sedona Library,
Sedona Schnebly, the pioneer, stands outside the Sedona Library

When I recently dropped several copies of Häling and the Scottish Templars by the Sedona Library, I was thrilled to see a bronze statue of Sedona Schnebly. The story goes that she and her husband established the first Post Office in the area. T.C. Schnebly named the area Sedona after his wife…. a true pioneer spirit.

I feel a special connection to the early pioneers of Sedona and Arizona, even though I am a sixth generation Texan, with distant cousins in distant places. The short version is ….Way back during the Texas Revolution 1836, one of my ancestors, Jacob Snively, served as secretary to General Sam Houston.  After the revolution he was a surveyor for Texas land grants, so he knew the value of land. He went on to prospect for gold in Arizona and is to be found in both Texas Handbook online, and Arizona wild west stories. Much of his compensation for surveying was paid in land grants, which wasn’t easy to hold on to unless  he could find someone to homestead. He was a rambler.

As I understand it, that’s where T.C. Schhnebly came to Arizona… to homestead land tied to Jacob’s titles. The surname of Snively is an Americanization of Schnebly. Some of Jacob’s relatives back in Ohio and Pennsylvania kept the Palatine spelling from the 17th century when they immigrated to American colonies.

Now, Jacob never married or had any children that we know of. But he had a twin brother named David with a wife and family. The story goes that Jacob Snively was my grandmother Snively’s great uncle. My grandmother Marjorie’s stories of the pioneer west filled my imagination with more than the drama of bison herds and arrowheads There was more truth in those kernels of history than I realized..

I do not fancy myself anything more than an admirer of the history of northern Arizona. But I am grateful to those very distant relatives for warming the hearts of so many folks today who drive through Sedona on the way to the Grand Canyon, or visit the sacred red rocks and wilderness areas each year.

As I gaze at the statue of Sedona Schnebly with her basket of apples, I smile. It means a lot to feel a connection to the past; to belong to a continuum of human experience rooted in apple orchards and fragrant cottonwoods.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA