Thursday, August 14, 2014

Take the Long Way Home

    This past spring I had the opportunity to go to Little Rock. Normally, the driving time is about 2 1/2 to 3   hours, but many times I have a strong compulsion to take alternate routes between here & there to break up the monotony. These times of randomness have times have often paid of by going down a different road.  

    This past year I have become fascinated with some of the pioneers of the Ozarks and enjoy seeing what they left behind. One such person is Lt. Col. James Adams "J. A." Schnable, C.S.A.

Lt. Col. James Adams Schnable
    Mr. Schnable was a Rolla, Missouri, businessman before the Civil War, and he was contracted to build the Rolla Jail before the war began. Interestingly enough, once the war began, he joined the Confederacy, and the Union was out to capture him and put him in the jail he constructed a few years prior. This confederate soldier was an amazing man and because of many of his actions, two of my Great, Great Grandfathers lived through some of the hardest battles & circumstances. If it were not for this man, I may not have been born.

Rolla, Missouri, Jail built by James Adams Schnable
Arkansas Tax Ledger shows J. A. Schnable's occupation as Construction / Builder.
    I discovered on Find A Grave that Schnable was buried at the Chinn Cemetery on Cave Creek 14 miles north of Batesville, Arkansas. This cemetery was literally out in the middle of nowhere. To get there was amazing, and the Lord orchestrated circumstances perfectly to make it a success. I have driven around and searched for his grave site for the past 3 years. I knew the general location, but it seemed I was always missing it. This was another one of my Lessons of Patience in the Lord's good timing.

    Sometimes, I can't resist seeing an old-timer sitting on a front porch and not stop and introduce myself. I love to hear what they know in the stories they might tell. There are always hidden gems & nuggets to discover by listening. 

This is exactly what I did.

    After talking to a few new-found neighbors, I was instructed to follow a couple of county roads. I scribbled a few notes in haste and started off on my extended adventure. I drove by another house that looked at least 40 - 50 years old, and I saw two more people sitting on their front porch. I pulled in the driveway, got out of the car, introduced myself, and started up a conversation. After 15 minutes, I headed back to the car and determined to follow the gravel road I was on, found another house, and visited for a few minutes. After getting a couple more details, I headed down the road with full expectations. After driving another mile, I spied a cemetery and made a quick stop. I was so excited talking to myself and thanking the Lord for his guidance. I spent a half hour of taking pictures of all the tombstones of this small plot. After photographing the last stone, it became relevant that I was at the wrong cemetery. My goal was still clear in my mind...find Lt. Col. Schnable's tombstone, and there was some reason I was in the middle of nowhere.

    Looking at my watch, I knew my time was slipping away, but I decided to find the end of the dirt road I was on. I finally approached an abandoned farm house on an ungraded dirt road in a beautiful valley that reminded me of the Lick Creek Road in Ozark County, Missouri. It felt like home, and I somehow knew I was close. The road also looked like it doubled as a creek part-time, and the cemetery I was searching could not be seen from this road. I found out later this valley was called Chinn Valley, and it was quite renowned in times past, but that's another story.

    As I was slowly creeping down the road, a farmer & his wife happened to meet me driving in their pickup. I stopped my car and rolled down my window to chat with them. I made mention of my goal of finding an old cemetery, and they told me to follow them. Lo and behold, this is were we landed. 

    As I walked through the cemetery, I found somebody was still mowing the grass. My eyes were drawn to the upper end to the older stones, and I found my Lt. Col. Schnable. As I anxiously gazed at the stone sentinel standing guard, chills ran down my spine. The sweet farmer's wife took my picture, and I don't know if I was sweating or crying in this picture. 


   I stood there realizing what I could not discover on my own...the Lord brought me to the place I longed to find. 

   It was a wonderful lesson in faith.

   One 3 hour trip from Little Rock turned into a 6 hour discovery. 

   Life Lesson..."Take the Long Way Home and Enjoy Your Ozarks' History."


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