Lewis Van Blarcom

A member of one of New Jersey’s oldest and most prominent families, Captain Lewis Van Blarcom, of Newton, whose death occurred February 20, 1904, was one of the foremost citizens of this State, an esteemed and valued member of the legal fraternity, and a beloved and respected resident of this community. Captain Van Blarcom exercised an inspiring influence in all affairs of this vicinity, having taken an active part in the various civic organizations and in political matters as a leader of the Republican party in Sussex County, and was known to everyone as a fair and honest party chieftain. His grandfather was Garret Van Blarcom, of Bergen County, who married Mary DeGraw, and to this union were born two sons and two daughters. Garret Van Blarcom was noted for his courage and patriotism, serving with distinction in the War of 1812. He removed to Sussex County in 1820 and engaged in farming, and both he and his wife were active in community affairs and were prominently interested members of the North Hardyston Presbyterian Church. He died in 1834, and Mrs. Van Blarcom died, 1864.

William Van Blarcom, second son of Garret and Mary (DeGraw) Van Blarcom, was born in Bergen County. He devoted his activities to agriculture in Sussex County for many years. His children were: Lewis, of further mention; Garret; Lucy A., married James E. Price; Susan C., married Nelson Ackerson; Andrew J., and Hannah, who married Charles Y. Dolsen.

Lewis Van Blarcom was born in Sparta Township, July 19, 1835, and was educated in the public schools of the vicinity, being regard as an unusually bright and diligent student. He afterwards had the advantage of private instruction under E.A. Stiles, the well-known educator in Wantage Township. His youth was spent on the farm of his father, where he assisted in the various works requisite to farm operation and later, for four successive years, taught in public school. Having a desire to study law, he entered the legal office of M.R. Kimble, the prominent Hamburg lawyer, where he read law. One year later he became associated with John Linn in the latter’s office in Newton, and he was thus engaged in preparing for his chosen profession when the advent of the Civil War caused him to cease his studies. Full of patriotic enthusiasm inherited from his pioneering forefathers, Lewis Van Blarcom enlisted on August 25, 1862, as first lieutenant in Company D, 15th New Jersey Volunteers, being actuated by the desire to serve his country in this tragic time, anxious to do all in his power to further the cause of freedom which he so earnestly espoused. A brilliant soldier and fired with an inspiring zeal, it is not surprising that he was promoted to the rank of Captain of Company C in June, 1863. He saw active service in many of the fiercest battles of the war, among which were the first and second battles of Fredericksburg, Salem Heights, Gettysburg, Rappahanock Station, and Spottsylvania. In the last-named battle Captain Van Blarcom was seriously wounded and carried from the battlefield a prisoner. His leg was amputated in an enemy hospital, in which he was permitted to remain but ten days, after which he was taken to Richmond and there placed in Libby Prison, from which he was discharged September 12, and for a time received care and medical treatment in the Annapolis Hospital until he was discharged from the service, December 19, 1864.

Returning to Newton, he at once resumed his law studies and, after passing the required examination, was admitted to the bar as a practicing attorney in 1865, and as a counsellor in 1868. Shortly afterward he formed a partnership with Joseph Coult, Esq., which continued from 1869 to 1873, in which year he became associated with Lewis Cochran, and this partnership continued until 1880. In active public life he was a popular figure for many years, having been appointed by Governor Randolph on March 25, 1869, to the office of prosecutor of pleas, and served the full term of five years, while in 1864 he had been nominated by his party for the office of county clerk. For two years he served as chosen freeholder for the town of Newton, and in 1885 stood as the party candidate for Congress from the then Fourth Congressional District of New Jersey. Divisions in the ranks of the Democratic party made his election possible, and he carried his native county of Sussex with such a majority as had never been accorded his party. For many years he was chairman of the Republican County Executive Committee, being just as brave in the field of politics as he had been on the battlefield, and his thorough honesty and integrity, fairness and candor were recognized and acknowledged by all, even political adversaries. Captain Van Blarcom was deeply interested in the prosperity and development of Newton, and aided its progress with all his influence and support. The welfare of Civil War veterans was one of his chief concerns, and he was never too busy to assist in promoting their happiness or aid them in necessity, while he was one of the principal factors in securing the soldiers’ monument now located in the public park in Newton.

Captain Lewis Van Blarcom married, August 17, 1871, Mary Thomson, daughter of Dr. Alexander H. Thomson, of Marksboro, Warren County, and they were the parents of three children: Kate, married Judge Henry T. Kays, of Newton; Andrew, see following biography; and Lewis, a practicing lawyer in Newton.

Source: Honeyman, A. Van Doren. 1927. Northwestern New Jersey: A History of Somerset, Morris, Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex Counties. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company.

Kate Van Blarcom & Henry T. Kays

Newton, N.J., Aug. 14 — The marriage of Miss Kate Van Blarcom, of Newton, N.J., and Mr. Henry T. Kays, also of Newton, took place here on Saturday afternoon at about 4 o’clock in the home of the bride, 39 High street. Miss Van Blarcom is a sister of Prosecutor Lewis Van Blarcom of Sussex county and Andrew Van Blarcom, of Sussex county.

Mr. Kays is Sussex county general counsel and former Assemblyman from Sussex county for 1913, 1914 and 1915. At present he is a candidate for Democratic nomination for State Senator. The wedding ceremony was attended only by a few close relatives. Rev. Charles W. Rouse, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, officiated. The couple left immediately after the wedding for an automobile trip to Pennsylvania and will return Thursday.

Source: Middletown Times Press, August 14, 1918.

Henry T. Kays

As Vice-Chancellor of New Jersey, Henry T. Kays, of Newton, occupies a prominent place in the judiciary of this State.

Vice-Chancellor Kays was born September 29, 1878, in Newton, New Jersey, son of Thomas M. and the late Marielle Ryerson (Anderson) Kays. He received his early education in the Newton public school, and in the English and Classical School in Newton, from which he was graduated in 1899. In that year he entered Princeton University, where he was graduated with the class of 1903 with the degree of Bachelor of ARts. He then taught science at the English and Classical School, after which he studied law in the office of his father. In February 1910, he was admitted to the New Jersey bar. In 1910 and 1911 he was a member of the board of chosen freeholders of Sussex County, and in 1911 and 1912 he served as county counsel. He was again named county counsel in 1917, and held the office continuously thereafter until his appointment to the Court of Chancery.

In 1913, 1914 and 1915 he rendered Statewide service as representative of Sussex County in the New Jersey Assembly. In 1918 he was elected State Senator from Sussex County, and in 1921 was reelected. While a State Senator he was chosen minority leader for the 1921 session. During the First World War he was Federal Food Administrator for Sussex County. In 1924 Governor Silzer appointed him a job of the Court of Errors and Appeals to succeed Judge Ernest J. Heppenheimer, who had resigned from the office. In order to accept this post, he resigned as State Senator on March 8, 1924, being sworn in on that day as a member of the Court of Errors and Appeals.

On his appointment at Vice-Chancellor by Chancellor Luther A. Campbell, Judge Kays resigned as judge of the Court of Errors and Appeals and was sworn in as Vice-Chancellor on June 24, 1935. He was reappointed for a second term in 1942. The Court of Chancery of New Jersey dates back to 1705, after which, until 1844, the Governor or person acting as chief executive was ex-officio Chancellor. Since adoption of the 1844 constitution, chancellors have been appointed by the Governor by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. From the time of Lord Cornbury the first Chancellor of what was then the province of New Jersey, many distinguished men has graced this office. The office of Vice-Chancellor was a natural creation arising out of increased business devolving upon the Chancellor. In 1871, when the office was first established, there was but one Vice-Chancellor. The number has since grown to ten, of whom Vice-Chancellor Kays is one. In his political views he is a Democrat.

Vice-Chancellor Kays is a man of broad interests. He was elected president of the Merchants National Bank, of Newton, and upon its consolidation with the Sussex National Bank, became chairman of the board of directors and afterward president of the new institution, the Sussex & Merchants Bank, of Newton. He is a trustee of the Newton Library Association, the Newton Cemetery Company, the Newton Hospital, and has been interested in many civic improvements to the advantage of Newton.

Vice-Chancellor Kays married Katherine Van Blarcom, daughter of the late Lewis Van Blarcom and the late Mary (Thomson) Van Blarcom.

Source: Myers, William Starr. 1945. Prominent Families of New Jersey. Volume II. New York: Lewis Publishing Company.

Henry Kays Dies; Ex-Jersey Judge

Vice Chancellor of State 1935-1948 Served on Bench of Superior Court, 1948-1949.

NEWTON, N.J., July 27 — Henry T. Kays of 97 Main Street, Vice Chancellor of New Jersey from 1935 to 1948 and State Superior Court Judge in 1948-1949, died yesterday in Newton Memorial Hospital after an operation. His age was 79.

Mr. Kays, a lawyer, had been president and chairman of the Sussex and Merchants National Bank of Newton, vice president of the Newton Library Association, president of the New Jersey Herald and a director of the S&M Building and Loan Association. He was president of the Sussex County Bar Association from 1948 to 1954.

A great-grandson of New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cox Ryerson, Mr. Kays was born in Newton. He was also a descendant of Daniel Haines, Governor of New Jersey from 1848 to 1851.

Graduating from Princeton in 1903, Mr. Kays read law in his father’s firm and was admitted to the bar in 1910. He served as counsel for Sussex County in 1911-12 and from 1917 to 1935.

Elected as an Assemblyman from Sussex County on the Democratic ticket, Mr. Kays served from 1913 to 1916. He was State Senator from 1919 to 1924 and minority leader in 1921.

Mr. Kays served in the Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey from 1924 to 1935. He represented Sussex County at the 1947 Constitutional Convention in New Brunswick and was named to County Welfare Commission in 1943.

He belonged to the Princeton Club of New York, the Sons of the American Revolution and the Sussex County and New Jersey Historical Societies.

Survivors include his widow, the former Katherine Van Blarcom.

Source: New York Times, July 28, 1958.