Although Sister Mary Magdalen entered the community as a widow, community lore tells us that after many years as a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, she came upon her husband in Leavenworth while waiting for the street car at Veterans’ Station. Evidently, he had been badly injured in the war, but was mistakenly reported dead. He now resided at the Leavenworth Soldiers Home, known today as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Medical Center and administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Her husband wished to claim her as his wife, while Sister Mary Magdalen desired to remain a Catholic sister. Ultimately, her husband gave up his pursuit of her because he was not in good enough health to support her. Sister Mary Magdalen remained with the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.
While this story certainly captures our attention and imagination, we have no primary source documentation verifying its truth. As a result, the archives staff have set about documenting the story to the best of their ability. The first step of documentation: locating Sister Mary Magdalen and her husband in the census. Fortunately, this proved not to be a challenge. Christina M. Rumpff, born in Prussia, and her husband, Joseph D. Rumpff, were easily located in the 1860 census. They were 22 and 27 years of age, respectively, and resided in St. Louis.
The next step required verifying Joseph D. Rumpff’s military service. Again, this proved a relatively simple process because the National Park Service developed an online database containing information about men who served in the Civil War, the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. To our surprise, we learned that Jospeh D. Rumpff served in the Confederate Army, in the 5th Regiment of the Missouri Infantry.
With this information, we then requested Joseph D. Rumpff’s military file from the National Archives. From the file, we gleaned quite a bit of information: his rank at time of “death” (4th Sergeant), his enlistment date (December 12, 1861), his occupation before the war (printer), and his battle history. Joseph D. Rumpff had a difficult military career, suffering a severe head injury at the Battle of Corinth (Miss.) in 1862 and taken prisoner a month later. After a prisoner exchange, he was left wounded on the field at the Battle of Baker’s Creek (Miss.) and presumed killed.
Now, it remains to document Joseph D. Rumpff’s presence at the Leavenworth Soldiers Home and to match his dates of residence in the Soldiers Home with S. Mary Magdalen’s missions in Leavenworth. Archives staff also will make an inquiry to the Archdiocese of Kansas City (Kans.) Archives to determine whether any correspondence between the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Mother Superior and the Bishop of Leavenworth remains, for surely they discussed this matter. Stay tuned to this blog for the rest of the story….
 Chronicle of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Vol. 4, 725. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives.
 Sister Mary Magdalen Rumpff Drop File. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Archives.
 “United States Census, 1860,” database. FamilySearch (accessed 11 December 2015).
 “Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System” database. National Park Service (accessed 11 December 2015).
 Joseph D. Rumpff Military Record, 1861-1865. National Archives and Records Administration.