Editors' Note:

Entries relating to the below letters have been positioned according to the text. Two of the documents are reproduced in full in Appendix C. The edited affidavit can be viewed here.


Smoking Gun


  Springfield, May, 30th, 2011

  My dear Barry Bauman:  

Notwithstanding the disadvantageous circumstances, under which I am now labouring, I hasten to reply to your last, most acceptable letter, received so gladly yesterday. As to Bloom, he will prove himself to be, the most unmitigated scoundrel and hell will be his portion and doubtless he will have company. (53)

I am sure, now, is the time, to have justice rendered me. I have been a deeply wronged woman. Let not Bloom's wickedness triumph. Go back, and revisit the affidavit. This is, in no uncertain terms, your smoking gun. It is a most malignant invention. There is beyond question the most unmitigated villany in this case. (54)

Fail me not, write and tell me everything. (55)

  M. L.  





River Forest, Illinois

Dear Mrs. Lincoln,

  As you directed, I have researched the affidavit's information and now I understand why you referred to it as the smoking gun. This is a notarized document--something that is curious in itself, as if someone was trying to offer indisputable evidence. I enclose the affidavit's first paragraph.  

Bloom Affidavit
First Paragraph

  Jacob Neafie was a wealthy shipbuilder and engineer. He is listed in Abraham Van Doren Honeyman's 1900, Joannes Nevius and His Descendants. Neafie was married four times, lastly to Mary Aaronson, who was alive at the time of the book's publication. (56)  

Abraham Van Doren Honeyman--1900
"Joannes Nevius and His Descendants"
Entry 902
  Neafie's third wife, Annie, also known as Anna, died in 1860; I enclose her death certificate. In the government's 1870 census, Neafie records himself (fifty-five years old), his fourth wife, Mary A. (forty), and their son, Hewson (nineteen).  

Anna Neafie
1860 Death Certificate

1870 United States Federal Census
Jacob G. Neafie
  I then began a census search for Lew Bloom and his sister, Susan Deborah Bloom. This produced negative results suggesting something was wrong. Bloom stated he brought the painting to his "father's home in Reading, Pa. in the year of 1884."  

Bloom Affidavit
Last Sentence

While I sense you had a hand in this, it just happens that my wife's cousin, Ms. Susan Buehler, and her co-worker, Mr. Robert Schneider, are experts in genealogical research. Robert was able to break the case. Bloom was not the family name, it was Pflum. How Bob was able to make this breakthrough still baffles me. (57)

In the 1909 Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County Pennsylvania, Bloom wrote that he had five siblings: Susan Deborah; Louisa; Charles; Adolph; and Edward. He also referenced his father, Lewis, and his mother, unnamed. (58)

Bloom rewrote history. I enclose his family's entry from the 1880 census.


1880 United States Federal Census
Ludwig Pflum

His father's name wasn't Lewis, it was Ludwig (fifty-six years old)--and Bloom's first name wasn't Lew, it too was Ludwig (twenty-one). His mother is listed as Louisa (fifty) and four of his five siblings are recorded: Susan (twenty-five); Louisa (twenty-three); Charles (eighteen); and Adolph (ten). (59)

The "smoking gun" that you referenced in your last letter is now clear, all too clear. In 1880, Susan was twenty-five years old; therefore, she was born in 1855. Neafie's third wife, Annie, died in 1860 when Susan was five, and Neafie's fourth wife, Mary, was listed as "living" in Honeyman's entry from 1900. Further research indicates that she didn't die until 1913. It's impossible that Susan Deborah Bloom was given the painting for her "constant nursing through many long years of illness of the Late Mrs. Jacob G. Neafie." Bloom's statement that he picked up the painting in 1884 is also impossible, for both Mr. and Mrs. Neafie were alive at the time.

Bloom goes out of his way to make everything "a big secret." The portrait was "secretly unknown to any one including her colored maid." This is laughable. The cited "maid" was actually your seamstress, Elizabeth Keckley, who was with you virtually every day in the White House. You referred to her as your "best living friend." (60) Nothing goes unnoticed in the White House, especially something as obvious as having one's portrait painted.

Bloom goes on to attest, "Mr. Carpenter also told my sister after she became the owner of the portrait, not to mention about the secrecy of the painting." Bloom did everything he could to justify an archival empty trail within a fabricated, self-serving, "notarized document."

Bloom knew he could get away with it, for all of the individuals mentioned in the affidavit were dead when he approached the Milch Galleries in 1929. Jacob Neafie had died in 1898, Francis Carpenter in 1900, Susan Deborah Bloom in 1910, and Mrs. Jacob Neafie in 1913. (61)

I know the above information is both helpful and hurtful for you. But, at last, the truth is known.

Your friend,


  Editors' Note:

This letter documents several instances where our father implies Divine Providence influenced his research. We were in his study on April 30, 2011, when he called the Reading Historical Society hoping to find information about Susan and Lew Bloom. Miraculously, the person who answered the phone said, "This is Mark Pflum, can I help you?" When our father explained his purpose, Mark said, "I know exactly where they are buried. I'll be happy to send you images." The gravestones are pictured below. Mark Pflum is the great-great-great-grandson of Lew Bloom's uncle. He is Lew Bloom's first cousin, four times removed. (62)

Lew Bloom Pflum Gravestone
Charles Evans Cemetery
Reading, Pennsylvania

Susan D. Bloom Gravestone
Charles Evans Cemetery
Reading, Pennsylvania

 Page 13 



Page 1--Editors' Introduction

Page 2--You Must Not Fail Me

Page 3--An Artistic Conspiracy

Page 4--Principal Conspirator

Page 5--Co-Conspirator

Page 6--The Affidavit

Page 7--Unknowing Participants

Page 8--Accessories A, B, C, D

Page 9--Springfield

Page 10--Cleaning

Page 11--All That is Excellent

Page 12--Smoking Gun

Page 13--Judgment

Page 14--App./Acknowledgments



53. Notwithstanding...yesterday. Turner. p. 520. Letter to Sally Orne. 10/23/1869. As to...company. Pritchard/Emerson. p. 118. Letter to Myra Bradwell. 6/18/1876.

54. I am sure...triumph. Pritchard/Emerson. p. 120. Letter to Myra Bradwell. 6/18/1876. It is a most malignant invention. Turner. p. 535. Letter to Sally Orne. 12/16/1869. There is...in the case. Pritchard/Emerson. p. 124. Letter to Judge Bradwell. 6/22/1876.

55. Fail me not. Pritchard/Emerson. p. 68. Letter to Myra Bradwell. 8/?/1875. Write and tell me everything. Pritchard/Emerson. p. 136. Letter to Myra Bradwell. 12/1/1876.

56. Jacob Neafie is listed in Wikipedia and other sources. He sold ships to the Union during the Civil War and developed the first submarine to see service with the U.S. Navy. Thanks to Ms. Susan Buehler and Mr. Robert Schneider for their breakthrough work on Bloom's family name and all of the cited genealogical information. Abraham Van Doren Honeyman. Joannes Nevius and His Descendants. Honeyman & Company. Plainfield, N.J. 1900. Entry 902.

57. The breakthrough information was sent in an email dated April 29, 2011.

58. Morton L. Montgomery. Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County Pennsylvania. J.H. Beers. 1909. p. 874.

59. Eddie isn't listed and may have been living elsewhere at the time. His obituary is recorded in the Reading Eagle. August 16, 1906. p. 1; and in Montgomery. p. 874. He was born in 1869 and died at the age of thirty-seven.

60. Best living friend. Turner. p. 440. Letter to Elizabeth Keckley. 10/6/1867; and in Keckley. Kindle location 2205.

61. Susan Pflum's obituary is recorded in the Reading Eagle. December, 27, 1910. p. 1. The death of the fourth Mrs. Neafie is recorded in The Yearbook of the Pennsylvania Society. 1913. p. 200.

62. Hoping to find a record of the painting, Mark Pflum checked the Prothonotary Office in Reading and Philadelphia for the possibility that Lew's or Susan's wills were on record. They were not. The family is buried at Reading's Charles Evans Cemetery. Surprisingly, Lew is buried by himself, and away from the family plot, in a distant part of the cemetery. After this Study was published Mark Pflum, in an email dated February 21, 2012, was able to find Susan's will in the Recorder of Wills office in the Reading Municiple Services building. There was no mention of any paintings or artwork in the will. Her estate consisted of her father's house and a few simple furnishings. Lew was the executor.




Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
Ph.(708)771-0382  Fax.(708)771-1532