Mothers Day in Sedona, Arizona



May 6, 2022


Happy Mother’s Day weekend! Sunday, we celebrate Red Rock moms on a day that means so much to every one of us. Whether you are a mom, have a mom, are caring for or remembering a mom, are a mom’s significant other or a combination of the above, there is always a reason to pause and reflect on the incredible difference these women have made to each one of us.

Our ad in today’s Red Rock News highlights some of the achievements women make to our local and national economy – such as the fact that 120 of our Chamber business owners are women and that in American households, 40% of the primary breadwinners are moms. My favorite fact:  whether inside or outside the home, ALL moms are working moms!

Sedona’s namesake Sedona Schnebly was a mom who singlehandedly brought her two children across the country by train to join her husband on the banks of Oak Creek in 1901. She was well-known as an affectionate mother, a strong pioneer and a gracious host in her home, which doubled as a boarding house. The Schnebly’s never charged more than a dollar, and Sedona’s reputation for preparing savory fare from the limited ingredients available made the Schnebly’s a favorite travelers’ rest. She was a community leader, too, helping raise money to build a chapel and teaching Bible studies.

Sadly, the greatest tragedy of her life was related to her motherhood. The family story goes that Sedona, her son Ellsworth and little Pearl were rounding up the milk cow when Pearl, then five years old, spotted an arrowhead or other interesting object on the ground. Jumping off her pony, she wrapped the reins around her neck while she bent down to pick it up. At that instant the cow, knowing what she was supposed to do, headed for the barn; and the pony, knowing she was to follow the cow, started after it. Pearl fell, the pony panicked and ran dragging Pearl to her death.

Heartbroken, Sedona needed years to recover, even leaving Arizona for her native Missouri for a time to restore her physical health and mental balance.

Sedona died in 1950, one of the few people –  perhaps the only one – to live in a town that bore her first name. It may surprise you to know  that her middle name was Arabella, also the name of one of our most well-known hotels.

She is buried next to Pearl in Cook Cemetery on Airport Road, one of Sedona’s 23 designated historic landmarks. This spring, the Chamber launched a fundraising drive to improve the cemetery and her gravesite, and we’ve already raised thousands. We’re devoted to our past as a critical part of a sustainable Sedona, and we love Sedona Schnebly, our unofficial “First Mom.”

May is Historic Preservation Month, an excellent time to enjoy the stories like Sedona’s that surround us. Of our designated landmarks, nine, including Cook Cemetery, are accessible to the public. The others are Chapel of the Holy Cross;  the Hart Store at 100 Brewer Road; George Jordan’s Sales Building at 479 N. SR 89A; Jordan Ranch homestead at 735 Jordan Road; the USFS pumphouse; the Pushmataha Building at 360 Brewer Road and the Ranger Station at 250 Brewer Road. The Chapel of the Holy Cross, Pushmataha Building and Pumphouse are all on the National Register of Historic Places, as is Jordan Ranch, home of the Sedona Heritage Museum.

The Museum is the best place to encounter Sedona’s history and talk with people who know the area and its past intimately. It is open today, this weekend and seven days a week at

This weekend and throughout the month of May, let’s celebrate moms and our history as two of the threads running through the amazing tapestry of Sedona – a place filled with beauty, inspiration and love – just like Mom!

Michelle Conway, Interim President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau