As the county seat of Tillman County, Frederick is located at the junction of U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 5. Two platted townsites, Hazel and Gosnell, preceded Frederick's existence. When the land lottery was held on August 6, 1901, to open the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation to homesteaders, a man named Stout drew a quarter section, which was a government-platted townsite. He named it for his daughter Hazel. Rev. Sanford N. Gosnell also drew a quarter section, one-half mile north of Stout's, and named it Gosnell. He sold lots, and soon businesses were established. A post office at Gosnell was established on November 5, 1901. Knowing that the Blackwell, Enid and Southwestern (BES) Railroad (later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) was planning to build their line through the area, every town wanted a depot. Charles E. Hunter, agent for the BES Townsite Company, made an agreement with the Gosnell townspeople to place the depot there if they would change the town's name to Frederick, after the son of railroad director Jacob C. Van Blarcom. The town offered several lots to the railroad, which immediately built a depot. The post office name was officially changed from Gosnell to Frederick on September 30, 1902.
Disappointed Hazelites decided to work with Frederick citizens to make the area prosperous. Hazel businesses relocated, including a newspaper, the Hazel Enterprise. Other early newspapers included the Frederick Free Press, the Frederick Enterprise, and the Frederick Leader. Hazel's school building was moved to East Grand and Twelfth Street in Frederick, and five rooms were added. This building was used until circa1906, when a new brick building for the high school was built at this site, and the frame building was moved to the west side of town. Soon two other brick school buildings were built. The first kindergarten opened in 1906 and was sponsored by the Mothers' Culture Club. Students furthered their education at an early-day business college and a junior college. The Frederick Public Library, funded by the Carnegie Corporation and built in 1915, continued in operation at the turn of the twenty-first century.
In April 1905 Pres. Theodore Roosevelt selected this area for a vacation that included a wolf hunt conducted by "Catch em Alive" Jack Abernathy. Roosevelt promised then to make Oklahoma and Indian territories into a state, and Tillman County (named for a South Carolina senator) was organized at 1907 statehood. The Tillman County courthouse, erected in 1920, is listed in the National Register of Historical Places (NR 84003455).
Three daily passenger trains brought groceries, lumber, and supplies to the bustling agricultural area. Numerous cotton gins, grain elevators, factories, and hotels were in full operation by 1918. In 1901 a telephone exchange was established, in 1905 electricity was furnished by a dynamo at the gin, and in 1919 natural gas was available. Fires in 1904 and 1905 destroyed most of the businesses, which were replaced by two-story, brick buildings. A brick city hall was built in 1910, and a fire department was organized in 1907. Two doctors opened the first hospital, over a bank, in 1914. The water wells dug in 1913 have been replaced by water supplied from Lake Frederick, which also furnishes camping, boating, and recreation. The Frederick Army Air Field was opened in 1941 for final training of cadets on UC-78s (trainer/light transport aircrafts) and B25s (medium bombers). The field was developed into Frederick Industrial Park, and the runways continued in use at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Frederick's population was 2,036 at 1907 statehood and peaked at 6,153 in 1980. At the turn of the twenty-first century Frederick, with 4,637 citizens, had a city manager/council mayor form of government. The town had twenty-four active churches. Local attractions included a restored 1930 hotel, the Ramona Theater (NR 84000377), and an antique mall. The Tillman County Historical Museum (Pioneer Heritage Townsite Center) featured a railroad depot, a one-room school, a 1920s AME church, and other buildings and items used by early pioneers. An annual Oklahoma Cotton Festival was held in September. Local farmers continued to raise wheat, cotton, and cattle, and more than four thousand cows were milked at three dairies.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Frederick," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. A Diamond Jubilee History of Tillman County, Vol. 2 (Frederick, Okla.: Tillman County Historical Society, 1978).
Wanda Jo Evaige
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