Grace Stone Coates (1881–1976)

Author of Black Cherries

Includes the names: Grace S. Coates

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Grace Stone Coates was born on a wheat farm in Kansas. Her father Heinrich Stone was a German immigrant with a classical background, having taught Greek in Berlin before coming to the USA. He recited poetry to his daughter and taught her Greek mythology as well as the names of all the trees and plants. Some of her later writings reflect this childhood influence. The family moved to Wisconsin when Grace was a teenager, and she attended Oshkosh State Normal School. She went on to study at the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, and the University of Hawaii but never finished a degree. She obtained a teaching certificate in 1900 and moved to Montana to be closer to her sister Helen. In the mining town of Butte, she met Henderson Coates, and married him in 1910. They moved to Martinsdale, where her husband opened a general store with his brother and Grace taught school and served as Meagher County Superintendent from 1918-1921. She also started writing poetry, short stories, and letters. Her published works included two volumes of her collected poetry and the acclaimed book of short stories, Black Cherries (1931). She conducted a long correspondence with William Saroyan, who credited Grace with influencing his work; Frank Bird Linderman; Charles M. Russell; art historian James Rankin, and others. In 1927, H.G. Merriam asked her to write articles and poems for his western literary magazine The Frontier, and she eventually became the assistant editor. During the Great Depression, she helped write the WPA Federal Writers' Project Montana state guidebook. In 1963, after her husband's death, she moved to a retirement home in Bozeman and wrote a column for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
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