Rev. Mary G. Bumstead Coates


1863 — 1898

Mary g. Bumstead CoatesMary Greenough Bumstead Coates was born in Roxbury, (Boston) MA on July 10, 1863, the daughter of Deacon E. B. and Rebecca D. Bumstead of Eliot Congregational in Roxbury. Mary grew up in the area where she eventually graduated from the Normal Art School.

At about the age of 25, Mary traveled to Worcester, South Africa, where she joined her older sister Anna at the Huguenot Seminary and began her career as a missionary teacher. Seven years later, failing health forced her to return home to Boston where it was hoped that she would soon recover. Unfortunately, the moist humid climate of Boston was not the best medicine for her lungs. In 1894 she decided to go west as so many others of her day did, to look for a cure in the clean, dry air of Colorado. This journey eventually led her to visit a friend’s home in Highlandlake.

The first mention of Mary being in Highlandlake that I could find was in the Highlandlake column in the Longmont Ledger August 3, 1894. "The CE Society to hold a missionary social at schoolhouse at which Miss Mary G. Bumstead will speak of her work in South Africa, where she spent seven years as a missionary."

Later in the same column of the Ledger was the note, "In the absence of Mr. Root next Sunday, our pulpit will be occupied by Miss Bumstead."

The August 23rd issue of the Ledger, carried this note in the Highlandlake column, "Miss Bumstead will supply our pulpit for a few weeks."

By Oct. 12, 1894, according to the Ledger, "Miss Bumstead was granted license to preach by the Congregational Association in Denver last week. Has accepted the call and now occupies the parsonage with Miss Garlinger."

In the autumn of 1895 Rev. Bumstead went back to Boston for a two month vacation. Much to the surprise and joy of her congregation, she returned with $1000 in donations from friends and family to build a church.

Work started immediately and on May 10, 1896, the cornerstone was laid. The new church was dedicated the last Sabbath in December of 1896 and a week later, the January 8, 1897 issue of the Longmont Ledger reported, The first preaching services were held last week in the new church."

On April 18, 1898, the Ledger announced, "The Highlandlake people experienced a great shock last Monday, when the news was reported that Rev. Mary G. Bumstead and Forbes Coates had gone to Boulder to get married. It was a complete surprise to everyone, not even the most intimate friends of the contracting parties being in on the secret. Lew Kerr, uncle of the groom, escorted them to the train. They expect to be absent two to three weeks."

Another shock was awaiting the Highlandlake citizens when only a few days later the news arrived that Mary had died in Denver of Pneumonia. Part of her "Biographical" in an unknown paper states that, "One who knew her during her school days likens her spirit to the skylark in its buoyancy of faith, its spontaneity of love and joy. But this high plane of thought did not prevent her from giving herself to her people, always ready to share their joys and sorrows and ready with tender sympathy to comfort, counsel and to cheer."

At the funeral service she lay as on a bed of roses in a casket bearing the word "Peace" encircled by lilies of the valley. Strong men wept like children,and many of the people gazed so long that they had to be asked to move on. A member writes: "We were not prepared to let her go -- her work has been so good and great. The people are going to erect a monument; but the church will ever be her best monument, lasting for years to show how well she labored. We who love her, sorrow not as those without hope, for well we know that her cherry smile will joyfully greet us on the other side." 

Mary G. Bumstead Coates is buried in the pioneer Highlandlake Cemetery.