Katharine A. Van Zandt (1873-1944) was a published poet and teacher with a playful spirit who grew up in Blawenburg. She was the youngest of four children of John Nevius Van Zandt (1844-1935) and Margaretta Updike Van Zandt (1844-1916). Her siblings, in birth order, were Mary Updike Van Zandt (1867-1909), James Nevius Van Zandt (1869-1932), and Frances (Fannie) H. Van Zandt (1871-1956). In her later years, she lived in the house her father built behind the corner store where he served as postmaster.
Katharine’s grandfather was James Van Zandt who built the Van Zandt mansion on Blawenburg-Belle Mead Road (now Route 601) in 1860. For many years it was owned by the State Village for Epileptics and subsequent state facilities. Today, the mansion is part of the SAVE animal shelter and the farmland is where Montgomery High School is located. James is described in the Van Zandt history as “one of the model agriculturalists in Somerset County.” He adopted many modern agricultural practices, including an underground drainage system. James was devoted to his home, family, and church (Blawenburg Reformed Church).
John Nevius Van Zandt, Katharine’s father, was born at the Van Zandt house his father built. He was a lifelong resident of Blawenburg and was the second longest serving postmaster in the United States at the time of his death. According to the Van Zandt history, he served “Blawenburg Post Office from 1866 until his death in 1935 without missing one day due to illness.” The post office was in the back corner of the store at Route 518 and Great Road where Blawenburg Bistro is today. Katharine’s account of her father’s service and national award appears in Blog 18.
This picture was taken in Washington, D.C., in 1926 when John was reco