by Madge Dombrowski
The town of Frederick was named in 1902 after a 16-year old youth who was never to see the town. Until this month (May, 1976) the town's citizens never knew what became of its namesake.
FREDERICK VAN BLARCOM, son of a former St. Louis, Missouri bank president and the largest stockholder in Blackwell, Enid and Southwest Townsite Company, left $270,000 to Washington University at his death in 1931, for he died without an heir.
Mrs. Bob Maxwell, chairman of the Heritage Committee, wrote to six St. Louis newspapers and offices while researching the history of Frederick for the Bicentennial celebration before she got a response from Jim McGuire of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. He sent her copies of news stories published in 1931 concerning the life and death of Van Blarcom.
The St. Louis newspaper stories gave a brief history of the life of the man Frederick residents had wondered about for decades. The citizens of Frederick wondered why the flag and flagpole promised to them for naming the town after the major stockholder's son was never delivered. The promise made by the elder Van Blarcom was carried out by the Frisco line 60 years later. The B E & S Line existed from 1900 to 1907 and deeded to Frisco Line in 1907. What the Frederick citizens didn't know was that the elder Van Blarcom died in 1908, heavily encumbered. Most of the family money belonged to his wife, Mary G. Van Blarcom. Before his death the old man had reminded the younger Van Blarcom often that a town in Oklahoma was named for him, but he did not visit Frederick. At his father's death, he left Washington University to enter a business college and later worked in an automobile factory and then an aircraft factory.
He was confined to a sanitarium in Glenwood, St. Louis County for erratic behavior following an illness. He had loved sport car racing and at one time was at the Indy race in Indianapolis in a Stutz Bearcat car, Mrs. E. E. Eckhardt of St. Louis reported. She also reported that while he was at a city sanitarium he build an airplane in the basement of the sanitarium that would have to be dismantled to get it out. Van Blarcom had to be very intelligent to accomplish this, she remarked.
He escaped from the sanitarium and began traveling all over the country. He joined the navy and was sent to the Philippines. Later he was placed in a naval hospital in Washington. From here he also escaped to join the British army. Wounded in France, he returned to St. Louis again, only to be recommitted to an institution. In April, 1920, a jury declared him of unsound mind and placed him in the St. Louis sanitorium, but he paid $50 a month for board and lodging and was permitted to direct his own actions during the day and live in a hotel at night.
After appealing his case he was declared of sound mind in 1922 and was given control of his mother's estate, which drew about $1,000 a month in income for the next 10 years.
A month after his release from the S. Louis Sanitorium he married Maxine Copas, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G.F. Copas, a farming family who lived near Sedalia. Two years later he had his wife arrested fro bigamy, declaring she was the wife of another man when he married her. When the case came before the court Van Blarcom failed to appear. The charges were dismissed against his wife in Clayton Circuit Court in 1925.
Frederick Van Blarcom died at age 45 on a Sunday night in July, 1931, in his apartment at the Gaylord Hotel in Kansas City, from a cerebral embolism. He left his mother's home at No. 1 Westmoreland Place in St. Louis and an estate amounting to $270,000. His in-laws attempted to claim the money but his wife had left no forwarding address and moved to New York after the bigamy decision and Mrs. Van Blarcom's will provided that the money be left for a Van Blarcom Scholarship and Fellowship Fund if no child was born to her son.
Frederick's namesake was cremated in the Chapel of Missouri Crematory on Subleter Avenue near Arsenal Street on July 31, 1931.
It is still a mystery of soap opera complexity. Did the father bribe the citizens of Gosnell and Hazel, Oklahoma by offering them a flagpole and flag so they would name that townsite where the depot was to be located for his son? Or did a local depot employee suggest the town be named for Mr. Van Blarcom's son since he was the largest stockholder in the railroad company?
Anyway, today a flagpole finally given by the Frisco Company is now in the Pioneer Park in Frederick and it was dedicated on August 11, 1962. Frisco archives show that Van Blarcom was one of the many early railroad investors whose financial interest in these infant lines resulted in many stops along the tracks being name after them. Today, Frederick is a community of 6,500, and has rich farms, ranches and five industrial businesses. Back in those early days even President Theodore Roosevelt visited the town for a wolf Hunt.
Send mail to
questions or comments about this web site.