top of page

Mary Reynolds Schauffler (1802-1895)



While reading through The Proceedings at the Centennial Celebration of the Incorporation of the Town of Longmeadow, October 17th, 1883 I came across an intriguing photograph of one of the invited speakers for the celebration. Mary Reynolds Schauffler was born in Longmeadow on April 3, 1802 to Lucy and Samuel Reynolds and considered to be of “Puritan stock”. Her great-grandfather was Stephen Williams, the original minister of the First Church, and her grandmother was Martha Williams Reynolds, the famous minister’s daughter. The Williams family had emigrated from England in 1638.


Mary spent her later childhood in Somers, CT and taught for a while in New Haven, before focusing upon missionary work overseas. Typical of women of her era, born more than a century before full suffrage was given to people regardless of gender, Mary Reynolds Schauffler’s sphere of influence was within the world of her family and her faith. The Second Great Awakening inspired an evangelical movement which led to the creation of foreign missions. According to Professor Daniel Bays, “One of the striking features of the American foreign missionary force in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was that women composed about sixty percent of it.” Mary became involved with the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM) and was sent to Smyrna (Izmir,) a Greek-influenced city in the western Ottoman Empire (Turkey) in 1830. She was the first single, female foreign missionary and opened a school for girls with the goal of spreading the Christian faith among non-Christians.


The ABCFM was among the first American Christian missionary organizations, established in 1810 by recent graduates of Williams College. In the 19th-century, it was the largest and most important of the American missionary organizations. Within the archives of the Longmeadow Historical Society, you can see that it was an organization supported by many 19th-century congregants of First Church. We have certificates showing donations and membership, and people were known to have left money to the group in their wills.


In 1834, Mary Reynolds married William Gottlieb Schauffler, a German-born, American-trained missionary whom she met during their mutual work in Constantinople.

They continued their missionary work in Constantinople for 40 years. The Schaufflers had four sons, two became ministers, one a physician, and another an educator. In 1874 the couple moved to Austria to reside with their oldest son Henry Albert, who was doing missionary work there. William Schauffler died in 1883, the same year Mary was invited back to Longmeadow to speak at the Centennial Celebration of Longmeadow’s incorporation. Not only did she represent a connection to the important first minister of the town, but also a successful pillar of the Christian faith that was at the core of the early community. In her address she said she wished “to congratulate Longmeadow that she has sent out so many missionaries, six of whom were born here and five of their children also having taken up the work. I trust Longmeadow will send out many more of her sons and daughters to the foreign field.”


Mary died in 1895 at age 92. She and her husband are buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx with two of their sons. Her contribution to foreign missionary work and presence at the Longmeadow Centennial Celebration is a very interesting aspect of Longmeadow’s history.

-Contributed by Lenny Shaker, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member


References:

Bays, Daniel H. “The Foreign Missionary Movement in the 19th and early 20th Centuries” from https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/nineteen/nkeyinfo/fmmovement.htm

Springfield Republican 1895

Storrs, Richard Salter, ed. Proceedings at the Centennial Celebration of the Incorporation of the Town of Longmeadow, October 17th, 1883.

Wikipedia






5 views0 comments
bottom of page