” . . . 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!

Gathering at the local bar

Marysville men


This undated photo from Mary’s collection (probably taken in the 1920s) seems to be a gathering of men inside a bar, possibly in Marysville. The men are identified on the photo back as follows:

Basil Bom [Bonn?], Sr.

Wm Robertson

Alb. Schaffer

Jack Traufler

Since Albert Schaffer is third from the left (including the bartender behind the bar), I assume “Wm Robertson” is the bartender.  However, there are six men in the photo but only four names listed.  A little confusing but share-worthy nonetheless.

“Read over KGIR Butte, Mont. on March 30, 1946”

By Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
On March 30, 1946, the following story, written by Mary and entitled Belmont-Montana, was read over the air on radio station KGIR out of Butte.  She won a $4 prize for the story.

Belmont-Montana: Written by Mrs. M. Schaffer Riordan

This picturesque and rich gold mining camp is a big flat– surrounded by the lofty Rockies and about a mile west of Marysville around the bend. It is about forgotten by many pioneers and not known of by the younger generation of today; even those living at Marysville.

My father, Mr. John H. Rumping, left St. Louis, Mo. for western adventure in 1878 coming by boat, the Fontenelle1, to Ft. Benton, Montana. He helped as an engineer. They were sent part way back from Indian attacks, but they buckled up and came on again to Ft. Benton.  From there, he took the covered wagons and helped going over mountains and prairie lands where Great Falls now is built, on to Silver City, Montana and up Silver Creek to Belmont over roads built on the mountain sides2.

Mr. J. Rumping helped build the Belmont mill in 1878-79. A fire later broke out on the entrances of the mine smothering seven miners3. The town had hundreds of miners, a store and a couple of saloons. The store was owned by Mr. Henry Jurgens and Price.  They later moved down to Marysville and Mr. George Padbury Sr. of Helena was the clerk and delivery boy. The tunnel had its blacksmith shop and forge at its entrance. Jurgens was sheriff in Helena 1896.

Mrs. Eva Rumping, John’s wife, came from St. Louis in 1879.  I, the first child, was a year old when she left.  We were three months on the way coming to Belmont June 7th, 1879.  Ed Conrad of Helena, my brother John Joseph (born in Belmont in 1881, he lives in Helena) and myself, are the yet living survivors of Belmont. John Joe Rumping was born in Belmont Mar. 19, 1881.

Belmont was found by Mr. Ed. Stemple, Sr.  There were two or three rasters (water wheels) along the creek from the mine.

Later Thomas Cruse, another miner of adventure, came from Ireland, around the Horn to Australia, then to Marysville, California and on to the new gold fields of Montana, on a beautiful black horse, stopping at Silver City first. It was the first town built in now Lewis & Clark County.

Holburt discovered gold bars at Prickley Pear gulch 1862, Aug. 18th, which built Silver City to 150 members. William Brown, William Meagher, Edgerton and others.  The first seat of Justice was here. Henry Jurgens and Courtands opened a store April 18, 1884.  Rich placer diggens were taken up in 1864-65. It was first known as Edgerton, then Silver City.

Jacob Fournais was its first settler. Indian squaws were married to some miners. Cruse came up Trinity gulch into Belmont and the place later called Marysville.

Mr. George Detweiler, a prospector, also came and had partly located & found rich float, but he went to the first Fair at Chicago and asked Cruse to finish locating it for him.  But on his return, Cruse located it in his name.  Detweiler is buried at Marysville.  Mr. Rumping was the first engineer at Cruse’s five-stamp mill.

Mr. and Mrs. Lightbody had the first boarding house. Other eating houses were Sampson’s, Peterson’s, Schaffer’s and Drum Lummond.

Cruse sold his mine to an English company and they called it the Drum Lummond Co.

Buschline Hotel, Drum Lummond Hotel, Masculine Hotel.

Ralstons came over Trinity early too and built the first two-story log house that still stands in the other new camp below Belmont. Thomas Cruse then named the new bonanza “Marysville” after Mrs. Mary Ralston.  It came to be the richest, happiest and most contented town in Montana.

On June 13, 1901-2, Mr. Frank Hauley, who now is a hoisting engineer at the Steward mine in Butte, and my first husband, Mr. George Schenck, drilled 27 1/8 and 31 7/8 inches in ten minutes and would drill anyone in Montana their weight of 145 lbs.  31 7/8 was the deepest ever drilled at Marysville by George Schenck and Frank Hauley.

All that’s left of Belmont now is the two old Longmaid buildings the miners used and the Montana Power Plant of Great Falls. Later Marysville went down for some years but is now being revived by Mr. Wade and a new mill that was built in 1944-45 soon burnt down.

Belmont had Bald Mt., Gloster, Empire, Towsley, Penobscot on the other westerly slopes. Bald Butte, Mt. Pleasant, Carter & Aickie are good mines played out.

Silver City was Montana’s first capital for a short while and George Detweiler finally owned the beautiful pearl handled revolver that was used as a gavel at its meetings and donated it to Mr. O. M. Lanstrum. Silver Creek had its Chineymen working the gold diggens and I remember their nice gardens.

In 1878-79 Marysville had beaver swamps and the road left the gulch and went up the mountain side behind Fabien and Snablins’ cabins (bought by Mr. Rumping about 1885, where my brother William and sister Maude later were born), and on up to Highland Street up to the mountain side again and on over the mountain side to Belmont.

The typewritten copy of the story was followed by this note:

This is more than I put in my story for K.G.I.R. radio station in Butte.

 1Fontanelle.  The Fontanelle was built in Pennsylvania in 1870.  It burned at New Orleans in 1873 but was rebuilt with a longer hull.  In the spring of 1881, it was crushed by ice upstream from Yankton, South Dakota.  Putz, Paul M. “Missouri Riverboat Wreckage Downstream from Yankton, South Dakota.” Nebraska History 64 (1983): 521-41. Nebraskahistory.org. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.
2roads built on the mountain sides.  In all likelihood, the “roads” he travelled would have been the Mullan Road.
3A fire later broke out on the entrances of the mine smothering seven miners. According to an article in The River Press (Ft. Benton, Mont.), there was a fire in Tunnel No. 3 of the Belmont mine at 1:00 a.m. on February 11, 1881.  The fire spread to the shaft near the blacksmith shop and then on to Tunnel No. 3, which then ignited a magazine with “Hercules Powder”.  It was reported that the explosion resembled the shock of an earthquake.  Eight men were working in the mine and two escaped with minor injuries.  The six men who died were: J. Shorter; H. McDonnell; Thomas Woods; James Kugur; — — Braslaw; and Pat Loughlin. The river press. (Fort Benton, Mont.), 16 Feb. 1881. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85053157/1881-02-16/ed-1/seq-8/>

Just hangin’ out by the swing

There are only a few men identified in this photo – but it’s a good one to share and has lots of interesting detail.  It appears to be a special occasion1 of some sort, as the men are dressed in suits and ties.   The man standing left of the man in the swing appears to be holding a pitcher of beer in his right hand and a mug in his left.  And several of the men are smoking cigars or cigarettes.  The young boy standing to the right of the swing is holding something in his hands but I can’t make out what it might be – a tray of beer mugs?  There’s only one female in the photo – the little girl in white between the last two men on the right.  Just to the right of the man on the far right is what appears to be a hammock.  And the shed behind the trees contains a couple of wagon wheels, or perhaps a wagon.Swing photo_with ref to photo collection added

Men on swing_back_with ref to collection added

Transcription of photo back:

1900- about Sept.





5  Jack Judd


7  Gus Johnson on swing


9  Oscar Ford behind swing rope

Mike Herzog



Marysville, Montana

1. special occasion.  Mary and George were married on August 29th of 1900 but the date on the back says “about Sept.”