Levi "Lee" Mumper was born in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania on May 7, 1843. The second of seven children born to farm couple Samuel and Catherine (Shultz) Mumper, he completed a public school education before becoming a cabinetmaking apprentice. In August 1862, the 19-year-old entered the Civil War by enlisting in Pennsylvania's Volunteer Infantry, Company I of the 127th Regiment. During the next nine months, he served under Colonel William W. Jennings. Wet-plate photography, a highly labor intensive process which had been introduced a decade earlier, was utilized extensively to document the Civil War.
After his tour of duty expired in May of 1863, Pvt. Mumper elected to settle in Gettysburg rather than re-enlisting. Although he was likely introduced to photography during his military service, it was only after meeting local photographers Charles and Isaac Tyson that his formal education commenced in earnest. The Tysons introduced him to landscape photography and stereoviews, in which he excelled. This required a transportable darkroom (usually a covered wagon) and fair amount of physical stamina to carry the bulky equipment, most notably a dual-lens camera required to capture the same image with two different lenses (to mimic human vision). These images were transferred onto a glass plate, which after processing could be positioned onto a stereoview card that would then be inserted into a 3D viewer.
By 1864, the photographic novice went professional, and purchased Samuel Weaver's studio located on Middle Street in downtown Gettysburg. "Mumper & Co." capitalized on the town's Civil War fame by recreating combat scenes on their actual locales. Mr. Mumper quickly established an impressive professional reputation rivaling the Tysons and another local Civil War photographer, William H. Tipton. He soon relocated to a larger gallery at 25 Baltimore Street, which specialized in the regionally popular battlefield stereoviews, and subsequently built up a sizeable clientele. He married Sarah "Sallie" Schaeffer on February 26, 1865, and the family grew to include nine children. In 1869, Mr. Mumper moved his ever-expanding brood to Littlestown, Pennsylvania, but returned to his adopted hometown of Gettysburg five years' later. His reopened gallery photographed local landmarks and souvenirs sought by the steady stream of tourists, which besides stereoviews included albumen silver prints, CDVs, and lantern slides. During the 1870s, Mr. Mumper's firm became a family business when he was joined by his sons Jacob and Clyde.
A few years after his wife's death, Mr. Mumper married Ida Bell Fry, and welcomed a tenth child, Frederick Levi Mumper, in 1898. Around the same time, he sold his photography studio to his son Jacob, and spent his later years operating a boarding house with his wife. Jacob operated the establishment until 1911, when he sold his interest in the business to brother Clyde. Seventy-three-year-old Levi Mumper died on November 28, 1916, and was buried in Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery. Clyde and another brother, John A. Mumper, operated the company until its closure in 1948. Several of Levi Mumper's images can be found at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, the photographic collection at the New York Public Library in New York City, and nine of his memorial photographs are housed in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
2021 All About Bison (URL: https://allaboutbison.com/furriers-tanners/bison-robe-mumper).
1886 The Alpha Tau Omega, Vol. VI (Gettysburg, PA: J. E. Wible), p. 149.
2021 "Amputation Scene" from Views of Battle Field of Gettysburg (URL: https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/amputation-scene-from-views-of-battle-field-of-gettysburg-l-mumper/7gGIqxxugkrqUw?hl=en).
2021 CDV Civil War Photographer Mumper, Gettysburg, PA (URL: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/cdv-civil-war-photographer-mumper-1927448308).
2020 Dillsburg Native was Prominent Photographer of Gettysburg Battlefield by Scott Mingus, Sr. (URL: https://yorkblog.com/cannonball/dillsburg-native-photographer-gettysburg).
1995 Early Photography at Gettysburg by William A. Frassanito (Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications), p. 404.
2013 Gettysburg: The Last Invasion by Allen C. Guelzo (New York, NY: Vintage Books/Random House LLC), pp. 170, 330.
1886 History of Cumberland and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania (Chicago, IL: Warner, Beers & Co.), pp. 366-367.
2002 Levi Mumper (URL: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6540300/levi-mumper).
2021 Photography and the Civil War (URL: https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/photography-and-civil-war).
2021 Welcome to the Union Drummer Boy (URL: https://uniondb.com/products/middle-street).
2021 Yankee Rebel Antiques (URL: https://www.yankeerebelantiques.com/gettysburg-photograph-by-levi-mumper).
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