” . . . going to the gold excitement . . . “

This is a tintype of John H. Rumping, Mary’s father. Probably dated about 1878. See footnote 9 below for more information.

On pages 12, 13 and 14 of Mary’s journal, there is a detailed biography of her father, John H. Rumping.

I learned some time after the first reading that Mary copied the biography from a book entitled An Illustrated History of the State of Montana : Containing a History of the State of Montana from the Earliest Period of its Discovery to the Present Time, Together with Glimpses of its Auspicious Future, Illustrations and Full-page Portraits of Some of its Eminent men, and Biographical Mention of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Citizens of To-day by Joaquin Miller, published in 1894.1

Here is Mary’s transcription of the biography, plus her annotations shown in italicized bold print. I have also added a few footnotes of my own.

John H. Rumping, one of the prominent mine owners of Marysville, was born in Hanover, Germany, August 24, 1854. His father, Colonel Phil Rumping, served as Colonel under the Hanover Government. He was a descendant of the great family of Windhursts, one of Germany’s most noted families.2 His own name was Lumdesh3, but took the name of the lady he married to enable him to hold the estate on which they still reside. They have reached the ripe old ages of seventy and seventy-three years, respectively, and are still in the enjoyment of good health. One of their ancestors made his wealth as a dealer in lumber, and at his death endowed a college4 with the proviso that his posterity should have a free scholarship in the same for four generations. Mr. and Mrs. Rumping had four sons and four daughters.

John H. Rumping, the subject of this sketch, came to America in 1870, at the age of sixteen years, after which he resided in Cincinnati, Ohio, until 1873. In that year he took passage on the Charles Mead for St. Louis, with the intention of going to the gold excitement at the Black Hills.5 Learning that the Government troops had compelled the emigrants to return, on account of the conduct of the Indians, Mr. Rumping accepted a position as engineer in a flouring mill, remaining in that city until the spring of 1878. Still desiring to reach the gold fields, he engaged at St. Louis as engineer on the Fontenelle, and came to the Cheyenne agency.6 He afterward returned to Yankton, took merchandise to Fort Benton for the Government, and next came to Helena to look for a position as engineer, but was unsuccessful. He then tramped to Silver Creek, where he met the pioneer, William Brown, who gave him information in regard to the resources of the creek. Mr. Rumping first mined on Silver creek, for John Brooks, afterwards worked for Nathan Vestal at Penobscot, assisted in building the Belmont mill, and next purchased an interest in a prospect which proved worthless, losing $260 in the transaction. Not discouraged by his failure, he invested his earnings in mining property, and became very successful. At one time he paid $250 for a one-sixth interest in a mine, and afterward sold his share for $12,500.  Soon afterward Mr. Rumping purchased a one-third interest for $500 in lot 48, of the Fabian placer claim, in which he sold his share for $1,200, also receiving a two-thirds interest in the Oregon placer claim. He mined on that property two years, and took out considerable gold. He now owns thirty-seven acres of placer land north of Marysville, 320 in Judea Basin7, four miles below Stanford; two residences in Marysville, two at Belmont, has 2,000 shares in the Bald Butte, 25,000 shares in the General Grant, one-sixth interest in the Secot Group, five-sixths interest in the Shakopee (He died in 1922. The mine now belongs to Marry & Wm Rumping & Alb Shaffer.) and a half interest in the Nile. Although Mr. Rumping has had many varied experiences in Montana he has held his own among the capable and successful mining men of the county, and has accomplished valuable mining property.

He was married in St. Louis, in October, 1876, to Miss Eva Frances Specht, a native of North Vernon, Indiana. They have had four children, the eldest of whom, Mary G., was born in St. Louis, and the remainder–John Joseph, William Walter and Maud C.,–were born in Montana. The family resides in Marysville.  In political matters Mr. Rumping acts with the Democratic party, but, although well informed on all the topics of the day, gives his time and attention principally to mines and mining. He has visited his relatives and his childhood home in 1890 in Europe, and the rest of the family visited at No. Vernon, Indiana until his return to America, but is a pronounced American citizen, in full sympathy with all that is American, and is only one of hundreds of thousands of Germany’s brave sons who come to this free land to make their own way in the world, his brothers Joe, and Frank came to St. Louis later on and went in the dairy business there, and by their own efforts have become our most enterprising citizens. He has a large farm near Calgary, Canada in 1904, also a hotel at Billings in 1908, was married the 2nd time in Dubuque, Iowa. He died in Bisbee, Arizona in about 1922.8  9


  1. Joaquin Miller, An Illustrated History of the State of Montana (Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1894), pp. 728-729; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 16 September 2017).
  2. I’m in the process of researching this connection.
  3. I’ve also seen ZumDresch as a possible alternate spelling.
  4. Possibly Windthurst Gymnasium in Meppen, Germany? I am researching this connection.
  5. Was John originally interested in going to South Dakota??
  6. I wonder if records exist that might help me confirm some of this information?
  7. I think “Judea Basin” is probably “Judith Basin”.
  8. Of these last comments by Mary, there is a reference in either her journal or a letter from or to someone that references a farm in Canada, and I am unaware of the hotel in Billings. More research needed on those two points! I am aware that John married a second time in Dubuque, which will be the subject of a future blog post. And I have confirmed that he died in Bisbee, Arizona.
  9.  The tintype image of John H. Rumping is probably dated circa 1878. Interestingly, when this image is flipped horizontally, the sign in the chair becomes somewhat legible. It reads, “Eagle Rock” and then something about “Helena, Montana”. The words at the bottom of the sign are not clear. Some preliminary research indicates “Eagle Rock” may refer to the city of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Apparently Eagle Rock was located on the Montana Trail and served miners on their way to the gold mines in Montana. This route is at odds with the biography above, but since Montana was very isolated at the time, perhaps John travelled back down to Eagle Rock, or even Salt Lake City, in order to purchase additional supplies. More research needed!

More on the Steamboat Rose Bud

Since I was feeling lucky and excited to have located a picture of the steamboat Rose Bud, referenced in the post 1879: Mary’s Trip to Montana, I got curious this morning and decided to do a little more research.  This was a fun – and very fruitful – research project!

First, I found another wonderful photo of the Rose Bud, courtesy of the Montana State University Library, James Willard Schultz Photos and Personal Papers.  The description of this photo is as follows:

“Photo of a steamboat docked on a river. It has 2 tall smoke stacks and a letter P on a banner between them. The name Rosebud on the wheelhouse. There are men on deck and a group of men including soldiers are standing on the shore with bags of freight stacked nearby.”

Rosebud_MSU image

Next, I learned that Missouri River steamboats transported passengers and freight to the gold mines in Montana from 1862 until 1888.  Many only made one or two trips.  Most were small stern-wheelers built for other rivers and not adapted to the strong currents and tortuous channel of the Missouri River.  Consequently, a large number of the ships were lost.  [see Complete List of Steamboats Operating on Upper Missouri River]

However, it seems the Rose Bud fell into a slightly different category from other Missouri River steamboats.  According to a 2011 article in the Billings Gazette, the Rose Bud was built in Pennsylvania in 1877, and was designed to work the shallower waters of the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone.  She was 193 feet long and could carry 286 tons, plus passengers and crew.  Her maiden voyage was in the summer of 1877 – with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman on board.  He was on a tour of military facilities following the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876.

The Rose Bud made more than 50 trips to Montana over a 19-year period, and was one of the last steamers on Montana rivers before railroads made them obsolete.  The Billings Gazette article goes on to state that the Rose Bud was wrecked on pilings of a railroad warehouse in Bismarck, North Dakota, when the water level on the Missouri went down unexpectedly.1

And finally, I learned that the Rose Bud pilot’s wheel is located at the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena.  I will definitely check that out on my trip to Helena this summer!

1.  went down unexpectedly.  I found a source that states the Rose Bud sank in the Missouri River near Bismarck on May 25, 1880.  If the Billings Gazette article is correct that the Rose Bud’s career spanned a 19-year period, this date is incorrect.

1879: From Missouri to Montana


Entry from Journal #1: circa 1935


My mother (Mrs. Eva Rumping) left St. Louis in March 1879, being 3 months on the Missouri river up to Fort Benton1, the boat was checked in the waters by heards [sic] of buffaloes and there [sic] calves fording the river . . . My Father coming up some months before Mother.  I (Mary) was born in St. Louis, 1878-3-3 and the first white child coming to Belmont, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilkenson Fletcher Forlander, next, Lawrence Welch found my baby shoe on the road to Belmont. The Indians and white mens [sic] scalps were met traveling by stage from Fort Benton to Old Silver, 300 miles, a place 6 miles below Marysville. Swamps and beaver dams were first where Marysville was built afterwards. Penobscot, Empire, Gloster, Mt. Plesant [sic] and Belmont were the mines working.  My Father was an engineer in the first 5 stamp mill built in Mary’le by Thos. Cruse.  T. Cruse came here clad poorly riding a black horse from California 49 yrs. ago.  Mother did his washing & baking, he used to fondle me and call me Mamie.  Father had a claim on the Drum Lumond [sic] hill he sold for $12,500 in about 1889 . . .

Later, Mary added the following three sentences at the top of the page:

Mother rode 300 miles on stage from Ft Benton to old Silver City.  Heavy sand bars delayed the boat for days.  The boat was the “Rose Bud”.2

And also this entry at the top of another page:

Mother came to Belmont July-7-1879 & so did Wallace Burkhead from St. Louis, MO. and myself, 12 mos. old.

  1.  Fort Benton. Originally established in 1847 as a fur trading center, Fort Benton (nicknamed “The Birthplace of Montana”) later attracted steamboats carrying goods, merchants, gold miners and settlers, arriving from several ports including St. Louis, Missouri. See this website for more information.
  2. Click here for additional research in this blog on the Rose Bud.