” . . . 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!

A letter from Heinrick von Bobart to Mary

One of the more interesting items discovered among Mary’s belongings is this letter from a cousin in Germany.  Dated in 1905, the letter appears to have been written in response to correspondence that Heinrick’s parents received from Mary.  She would have been 27 at the time and he was 15.

Since Heinrick’s last name is “Von Bobart”, I believe Mary’s father, John H. Rumping, and Heinrick’s mother, whose maiden name is unconfirmed at this time, were probably siblings.

Continue reading

My heart was broke then and is yet . . .

Mary Rumping graduation photo
Mary’s High School Graduation, 1895. Mary G. Rumping Schenk Schaffer Riordan Photograph and Personal Papers Collection

I love this picture of Mary.  She clearly valued education so this must have been a proud moment.  Her confidence and optimism for the future are evident.

The note on the back of the photo, however, discloses a far different story.


Mary's graduation photo_back
Back of “Mary’s High School Graduation, 1895.” Mary G. Rumping Schenk Schaffer Riordan Photograph and Personal Papers Collection







Transcription of photo back:

Mary Rumping (1895) Schenk (1900) Schaffer (1916)1, Marysville, Montana

I graduated in May 1895, was 16 years old March-3-1895.2  I had a teachers certificate in the Fall of 1895.  Taught two weeks in Wilborn, Mont.  Somebody told I wasn’t 18 and I lost my position.  I asked my father to let me go normal3 he said no “you ___ ___ ___ go and work out.[“]  My heart was broke then and is yet as I preferred that work instead of working in an old house or kitchen.  1929-6-29  M.G.S.

To provide some context, it’s important to note that at the time Mary made this request of her father, her parents were in the midst of a long and contentious separation.  In the final divorce proceeding years later, her father testified that Mary’s mother had turned the children’s hearts against him.  Perhaps this explains, in part, her father’s hostile response.

1.  Mary Rumping (1895) . . . Schaffer (1916).  The year after each surname appears to reference the surname used on the occasion of each date (i.e., she was single in 1895 and used her maiden name Rumping; in 1900 she married for the first time and used the surname Schenk; etc.)
2.  16 years old March-3-1895.  Mary herself stated on several occasions that she was born March 3, 1878 – which would have made her 17 years old on March 3, 1895, instead of 16.  I have not yet located any record to confirm her birth date.
3.  go normal.  “A normal school is a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers. Its purpose is to establish teaching standards or norms, hence its name. Most such schools are now called teachers’ colleges.” Normal school. (June 27, 2015). Retrieved July 5, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:CiteThisPage&page=Normal_school&id=668969191.

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.