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.

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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.

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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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Mary’s father, John Henry Rumping

John Henry Rumping circa 1878

Mary’s father was born August 24, 1854, in Hanover, Germany.  His parents were Johann Carl Philip Zum Dresch and Anna Maria Gertrud Reumpfing.  He arrived in the United States at age 16 and married Eva Frances Specht in 1875 at St. Louis, Missouri.  John arrived in Montana Territory in 1878 and was joined by Eva and his one-year-old daughter Mary in 1879.  John and Eva had three more children, two boys and a girl.  All three were born in Montana.

In 1893, Eva filed for divorce against John.  The case was soon dropped but according to court records, Eva and John lived separately after that time.

In late 1906 or early 1907, John filed for divorce against Eva and was ultimately granted a divorce on March 23, 1907.  In May of 1907, he married Freda Molitor in Des Moines, Iowa.  Unfortunately for John, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the divorce granted by the lower court several months later, based on a technicality.  In January 1908, John was under “nominal arrest” on a charge of  living in adultery.  He was ultimately granted a divorce from Eva in March 1909 but by 1912, he and Freda were divorced and John was on his way to Bisby, Arizona.

Based on Mary’s journal and other documents, it appears she and her father were estranged at the time of his death in Bisby in 1921.

The back of the photo above reads: “Mr. Jno. H. Rumping.  He was the first engineer in Col. Thos. Cruse’s five stamp mill in Marysville in about 1881.  He came to Belmont, Deer Lodge Co. Mont. in 1878 from St. Louis Mo.”  The note was probably written by Mary.

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