I am fine and "dug in" here on IWO JIMA...

William 'Bill' Van Blarcom of New Jersey joined the Marines in 1943 to do his part in World War II. This letter is one of many from his nearly 3 years away from home, but may be one of the most historically important. Bill scratched off this letter 7 days after landing on Yellow Beach #1 at Iwo Jima during Operation Detachment.

Feb. 26, 1945

Hello Dad -

I suppose you all have been wondering where the "H" my mail has been, huh? Well - things have been happening pretty fast [...]


An Unbalanced Mind

The Van Blarcom family history is largely documented which had given me a really solid head start in my research. Despite that fact, many of the intricacies of specific family members have been lost or buried by time and their lives are generally boiled down to a birth date, a marriage date, births of their children, and their date of death. Though it is good to know when our ancestors existed in time, these small pieces don't even partly satisfy my curiosities and my never-ending quest to 'know' my ancestors better. Picking up small pieces year-after-year can help personify those who came [...]


I Would Advise Nobody to Come to this Place

Jacob Van Riper Van Blarcom of New Jersey headed west on a hunt for treasure, as did many prospectors of the day. This letter explains a good deal of his journey with some interesting details that really outline the time and circumstances. Direct family members are in search of this original letter or other letters sent to and from Jacob during his trip west in search of gold. Pl[...]


155 Years of Misspelling the Van Blarcom Name

All of my life, my last name has been violated time and time again. Name tags, yearbooks, documents, and pieces of mail have displayed egregious misspellings. When I was a child in the pre-caller ID days, and the phone would ring, it was always easy to tell if a telemarketer was on the other end by the way they would butcher the pronunciation. Some would attempt to say it while others would give up immediately saying, "Van", and then mumbling incoherently.

Spelling it out for people hasn't been an easy task either. Listening to my parents spell it out for people over and over was [...]


The Survival of Thought - Letters from the Past

Recently I was fortunate to find a letter posted on ebay which was one correspondence from James E Price of Michigan to my great grand aunt, Lucy Ann Van Blarcom, the first daughter of William and Catherine A Sutton Van Blarcom and sister of my great grandfather, Joseph C Van Blarcom. I love finding these types of items and am grateful to those who have collected them and taken care of them these p[...]


Stories From Our Ancestors - The New Jersey Fighting Fifteenth

One of the most rewarding aspects of my family research has been finding stories, photos, and artifacts that help me recreate what life may have been like way back when. I have been lucky in some cases that some family members carried a bit of prominence—nothing like the celebrity of today—but enough so that some of their stories have lived on. One story in particular is a narrative by Lewis Van Blarcom, Captain of Company C, 15th New Jersey Volunteers. The New Jersey "Fighting Fifteenth" saw action in many major conflicts of the Civil W[...]


5 Lessons Learned as a New Family Researcher

1. Do not trust unsourced family trees
This was a lesson learned the hardest way possible. I was at least 6 months in to my family history journey when I was thankfully called out by another, more experienced researcher. When I began my research on Ancestry I didn't take anything with a grain of salt. I was so excited by the hints that I took all of them as fact. Unfortunately for you and me, there are A LOT of errors in the personal trees on Ancestry and rootsweb alike. If the hints you are using do not have documented sources, take them as a starting point, not[...]