A letter from “Petter Speacht”

This is a letter dated January 6, 1897 from “Petter Speacht” (Eva (Spect) Rumping‘s oldest brother), to Mary.  Mary would have been 18 years old at the time this letter was written and Peter was about 62.
Spelling, punctuation and capitalization are as seen in the original letter, except for edits I made as necessary to clarify meaning.

January the 6, 1897

Dear Neace,

I received your kind and welcome letter and was glad to hear from you all and I must say it was quite a surprise to us all to hear from you all.  I have asqued Tena several times about your mother and she said she had not heard from her for some time.  I should of rote to her if I new where to right to.  You was quite a small childe when I saw you.  We live with 2 children, boy and a girl.  Charley, he will bee 20 years old in June.  Laura she is 13 past.  We have now married.  We are living in the country, about 5 miles from Decatur.

We are well and hope thease few lines may find you all the same.  Charley is as large as I am.  The girl is small to her age.  She goe to Country School this winter.  Charley he workes when he can get enything to doe.  What does your papa do?  I am going to farm this next summer if nothing happens.  You spoke about your pictures.  I would like to have all of your pictures.  I will send my family’s pictures as soon as I can. 

Times are very hard hear.  Nothing going on.  I have not seen Aunt Tena for some time.  Sister Kate was to see us last fall.  I would like to see all of you very much.  The children send their love and best respects and also their mother.

I believe I will close by saying I am truly glad to hear form you all and hope you will right often.  Give my love and best wishes to your ma and papa and all the family.  Tell them to right.

Good by from your Uncle and family.

                                                                       Petter Speacht

                                                                       Decatur, Illinois


Note: Although Eva and her siblings were all born in Indiana, I believe they  may have been brought up in a home where German was their first language.  I’m doing a little research on this now and hope to update this post with more information on this point at a later date.

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Eva arm-in-arm with “Billie Be Damned”

Mary’s photo collection includes only a few photos of her mother, Eva.  This is one of them.  There is no indication of where or when this photo was taken but the location appears to be Marysville.

Eva and Frank Rumping
Undated photo of Eva Rumping with cousin and friends. Mary G. Rumping Schenk Schaffer Riordan Photograph and Personal Papers Collection

The back of the photo reads:

Cousin Frank Rumping, St. Louis

Eva Rumping, Marysville

Billie Be Damned (dead)

Frank Walken, St. Louis

Which begs the question, what’s the story behind the name “Billie Be Damned”?  We’ll probably never know.

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Mary’s mother, Eva Frances Specht

Eva Specht
Eva Frances Specht Rumping

Eva Frances Specht was born November 9, 1851, in St. Anns, Indiana.  Her parents, Blasius Specht and Frances Effa Gueringer, were immigrants from Germany and Alsace-Lorraine, respectively.  Frances died in 1853, when Eva was about 2 years old.

When she was 23 years old, Eva married John Henry Rumping in 1875 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (How Eva came to be in St. Louis and met John Rumping is unknown.  According to the U.S. census, she was still living with her family in Indiana in 1870.)

In 1879, Eva and her one-year-old daughter made a 3-month boat trip from St. Louis, Missouri to Fort Benton, Montana Territory, followed by another 160-mile road trip from Fort Benton to Belmont, near present-day Marysville – in order to join John who had arrived there in 1878 (see 1879: From Missouri to Montana for Mary’s account of this trip).  John and Eva went on to have three more children, two boys and a girl.  All three were born in Montana.

Sadly, Eva and John’s marriage was not a happy one.  And in 1893, Eva filed for divorce, which seems to me an amazing thing to do given the time period.  The case was soon dropped, as I suspect Eva had to face the hard realization that she had no way to support herself and her children.  However, according to testimony contained in lengthy court records (which I’m in the process of reviewing for a future post), Eva and John never lived together again.

In late 1906 or early 1907, while living in Billings, Montana, John filed for divorce against Eva – accusing her of abandonment – and was granted a divorce on March 23, 1907.  John remarried in May of 1907, finally a free man.  Or so he thought.  It turns out that Mary’s lawyer noticed a technical problem with John’s divorce complaint, having to do with jurisdiction, and appealed the court’s decision.  Several months after John remarried, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the divorce granted by the lower court, based on that technicality.  And in January 1908, John found himself under “nominal arrest” on a charge of  living in adultery.  After another lawsuit was filed (John against his lawyer), and a third divorce proceeding was filed (John against Eva), the couple was finally granted a divorce in March 1909.

Eva continued to live in Marysville and died there on July 20, 1912.  She is buried in Resurrection Cemetery in Helena.

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Mother’s house

black-woman-girl-thinking-white-cartoon-writingEntry from Journal #1, September 26, 1930

I dreamt of my dear Mother this morning. She came back to her house that she toiled and slaved to her liking before she took sick. She started cleaning it up and found it so wrecked and dirty since she left and I helped her scrub it the same as always.


From Mary’s photo collection . . .

Back of photo reads: Mrs. Eva Rumping [standing just inside the front gate] and her house, Marysville, Montana. Taken about 1895 or 1894. Mother planted those trees.

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