February 17, 2015

Mary Stanley Shindler

   Mary Stanley Bunce Palmer Shindler was a poet of the southern United States. Her father, the Rev. B. M. Palmer, was pastor of a Congregational Church at Beaufort, and when she was three years old he moved with her to Charleston, South Carolina, where she was educated. In Charleston, she was educated by the Misses Ramsay, the daughters of David Ramsay, the historian. The summer of 1825 her parents spent in Hartford, Connecticut, and she was placed for six months at a female seminary in the neighboring town of Wethersfield. In 1826 she was placed at a young ladies’ seminary in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. She pined for her Southern home, and at the expiration of six months was allowed to return to the arms of her parents. She subsequently spent several months at a seminary in New Haven, Connecticut.

   In June 1835, Mary Palmer married Charles E. Dana, and moved with him first to New York City, and in 1837 to Bloomington, Iowa. During this time she occasionally wrote little pieces of poetry, but did not publish them. Before her marriage, however, she had written considerably for the Rose-Bud, a juvenile periodical published in Charleston by Mrs. Gilman. On her husband's death, she returned to her family in Charleston.

   To give herself mental occupation, she now began to indulge in literary pursuits. She had always been very fond of music, and finding very little piano music that was suitable for Sunday playing, she had for several years been in the habit of adapting sacred words to any song which particularly pleased her. To wean her from her sorrows, her parents encouraged her to continue the practice, and this was the origin of the first work she published, The Southern Harp. At first she had no idea of publishing these little effusions, but having written quite a number of them, she was advised to print a few for the use of herself and friends. The work, however grew under her hands, until finally, becoming much interested in the design, she decided to publish, not only the words, but the music. She visited New York for this purpose in 1840, and the work appeared early in 1841.

   In the early 1840s, she experienced a change in her religious views, which attracted considerable attention, and led to her next publication. She had been bred a Calvinist, but during the year 1844 she began to entertain doubts about the doctrine of the Trinity, and finally, to the grief of her revered parents, and numerous friends, early in the year 1845, she avowed herself a Unitarian. Both her parents died within weeks of each other, and in 1848, she became an Episcopalian. In May of that year, she married the Rev. Robert D. Shindler, a clergyman of the Episcopal Church, who was for a time professor in Shelby College, Kentucky. She moved with her husband in 1850 to Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and in 1869 to Nacogdoches, Texas, where she passed away in 1883.

31° 36.187, -094° 38.932

Oak Grove Cemetery

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