AncestorNews: Arizona Pioneers

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

As I write this, I’m looking out onto an unbelievable view of the red rocks of Sedona, Ariz. Although a Spaniard named Antonio de Espejo explored the nearby Verde Valley in 1583, Sedona wasn’t settled until Jim Thompson arrived here in 1876. Thompson, an Irish immigrant, took squatter’s rights on an area known as Indian Gardens—so named for the Apache farmers forced by the US Army onto the San Carlos Reservation.

The town itself wasn’t named until 1901, when Carl and Sedona Schnebly arrived to be close to Carl’s brother, Elsworth. The Schneblys build an 11-room house here, which was later used as a hotel. When the town needed a name, locals wanted to name it Schnebly Station, but the US Post Office said the name was too long to fit on a cancellation stamp. It was then decided to name the town for Schnebly’s wife, Sedona.

Although none of my ancestors settled in this area, I’m intrigued by the people courageous enough to go west when things were still wild—and who stayed long enough to build a home.

Were your ancestors Arizona pioneers? If so, I bet you have some great family stories. I’d love to hear them.

Here are a few great Arizona resources for tracing your Grand Canyon State family tree.

Arizona GenWeb
Links to state and county resources, including free queries.

Arizona Genealogy Forum
Free bulletin boards for leaving Arizona-related queries.

Arizona Genealogy
Information on location, population, and Arizona records.

Arizona Map Collection
Historic city as well as National Parks maps.