Monday, August 24, 2015

Death of a Socialite


On June 19, 1908, the New York Times reported the death of 29-year-old socialite Miriam Frances Bloomer of Cincinnati. One year previous, under mysterious conditions, Miss Bloomer had been burned on the face by acid. She traveled to Saranac Lake, NY in order to recover from her burns. In late September 1907 she declared that she had fully recovered from a serious illness following the burning, and expected to soon return to Cincinnati. Instead she moved in with her brother, J. Ralph Bloomer, a broker, at 50 Broad Street, in apartments at the Madison Square apartment house, 40 East Twenty-sixth Street. Then 6 months later, she dies under weird circumstances:

New York. June 19--The strange death of Miss Miriam Frances Bloomer from cyanide of potassium poisoning on Wednesday evening is a sealed mystery, along with the story of how she was burned with acid a year ago. Her brothers were permitted to start for Cincinnati with the body yesterday.

No further information was given regarding the tragic accident, which occurred in the apartment of J. Ralph Bloomer, a brother, at 40 East Twenty-Sixth street, than the statement issued by Coroner Acritelli that the poison had been left in a glass by Miss Bloomer's maid, who had been cleaning jewelry.

The reticence on the part of the family, the physicians, and the coroner to discuss the case veils the death of Miss Bloomer, who was at one time the fiancee of Congressman Nicholas Longworth (who was later the 43rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives), in almost as much mystery as was created just a year ago, when it became known that she had been strangely burned about the face and body by an acid.

J. Ralph Bloomer, who is a prosperous broker, with offices at 20 Broad Street, and Martin B. Bloomer, who is connected with the Link Chain Belt Company of New Jersey, accompanied the body, which will be buried from the Bloomer home at the Hotel Arms, Walnut Hills, Cincinnati.

Yesterday Coroner Acritelli, who issued a permit for the removal of the body on Wednesday night shortly after he was called into the case, gave a slightly different version of the facts from that which was supplied to the newspapers on the night of the tragedy. While discussing the case, the coroner exhibited the glass from which the fatal draught was taken, and which still contains as sediment a quantity of cyanide of potassium sufficient to kill a dozen people.

J. Ralph Bloomer has figured strangely in the life of his sister, who was tall, queenly, always exquisitely gowned and described as being a splendid type of the American beauty. Until he moved into the apartment at 40 East Twenty-Sixth Street, he occupied a part of a house at 35 Madison Square. It was at the latter address that the first accident occurred.

One morning in April 1907, Ralph Bloomer was notified by his sister's maid that Miss Bloomer had been seriously burned with acid during the night. He went to her bedroom, but was unable to get an explanation of the strange state of affairs. Miss Bloomer was in a semi-hypnotic state, but marks on the side of her face, her body, one hand, and a leg, showed that she had in some strange way been the victim of acid.

"The glass did not contain water when Miss Bloomer rushed into the bathroom of her brother's apartment to relieve a choking sensation caused by eating a cracker," the coroner said. "She evidently took no heed of what she was doing as right by the side of the glass which she took was another glass, which either she or the maid, Joanne Pierre, had filled with pure water for the purpose of rinsing a belt buckle which had first been placed in the glass containing the cyanide solution to remove tarnish."

The coroner said there was not enough of the poison in the untouched glass to have seriously harmed the young woman. The statement of Dr. Forbes Hawkes, who lives in the adjoining house and who was summoned immediately after the accident, with the circumstances as related by the maid and J. Ralph Bloomer, convinced the coroner, he said, that he would not be justified in holding a formal inquest.

The doctors who were called in could not rouse the patient, and were unable to make a diagnosis which was even satisfactory to themselves. Finally a clairvoyant, Mrs. Pandora, was taken to the sick room with the hope that the beautiful girl might yield to the influence of mystics, but this, too, failed of satisfactory result.

To the newspapers the family alternately denied and confirmed the story of the burning, but the true circumstances, if known to the immediate relatives, were never revealed to the public. As soon as she was able to be removed, Miss Bloomer appeared at Saranac Lake, where she remained in practical seclusion until September.

Yesterday Ralph Bloomer was almost prostrated by the shock of his sister's death and remained all day in the apartment where the accident occurred, until time to leave on the Pennsylvania Limited, by which the body was conveyed to their former home.

"I can make no explanation," he said through a friend. "It was such a terrible accident that I am not yet over the first shock. My sister was in the happiest frame of mind when I reached home Wednesday evening, and had for a number of days been making arrangements to go with a party of friends for an outing on Lake Erie. Before the close of the summer she intended going abroad with other members of our family."

Mr. Bloomer and his friends declined to discuss the mystery of the burning.

NOTE: Miriam's brother, James Ralph Bloomer, probably figured more prominently in her demise...but there was never a coroner's inquest. At the time, James had been a well-known athlete...an All-American college football player at Yale. Bloomer worked in the stock brokerage business beginning in 1905. He later formed the New Mexican Era Mines Company, after serving during World War I, and was also the vice president of the San Juan Mines Company. He was active in the real estate business, serving as the treasurer of the Howard Cole & Co., buying and selling land in Florida, Louisiana, and the West Coast. He later specialized in the sale and rental of mansions located on Long Island's North Shore, an area known as "the Gold Coast." There are many vintage mysteries that receive very few inquiries. Once in awhile I like to take a peek. Lon

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