Thursday, October 8, 2015

Settling in the West

When Reamus Foster Flatt, later known as Robert Foster Flatt, was discharged from the 2nd U.S. Volunteers in November 1865, he would have found himself in Kansas during a time of great expansion and transition from the "Wild West". According to a news clipping that appeared after his death in Northwestern Arkansas in 1905, Flatt "had the charge of a wagon train across the plains" in 1866. The same article mentions that he was a companion of Buffalo Bill (William F.) Cody and was a guest at his wedding.

Cody was a year older than Flatt, and was discharged from the Union Army in Kansas about a month before Flatt in 1865. Perhaps they met while in the Army, or shortly afterward working on wagon trains. They must have gone to St. Louis, as Cody met and married Louisa Frederici in St. Louis, Missouri on 6 March 1866. Below are photos of William and Louisa, likely taken around the wedding in 1866 (via the Buffalo Bill Center of the West).
William F. Cody, 1866, (Buffalo Bill Center of the West)
Louisa Frederici, 1866
It is interesting to think about what kinds of experiences Flatt may have had with Cody on the wagon roads in Kansas, Missouri and other parts of the west. He may have shot at buffalo and encountered Indian tribes. Certainly he helped deliver goods and passengers traveling from the east to the west or places in between. A news clipping from the 16 September 1865 New York Times shows one such line operating from Leavenworth, Kansas. Perhaps Flatt worked for this line in 1866.
New York Times, via Newspapers.com

In 1867, Flatt came to Fort Smith, Arkansas with one of the wagon trains. On 15 September 1869, he married Henrietta Bernice Pearce in Washington County, Arkansas. The marriage record shows Flatt was going by the name of Robert, so perhaps he dropped the name Reamus in order to have a fresh start in the west. Henrietta was 16 years old, the daughter of Thomas and Celia Pearce.

Robert and Henrietta settled in Washington County, Arkansas and raised a large family of at least nine children. They later moved a few miles north to Benton County and settled in the Siloam Springs area, on the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. Robert had a fascinating life, working as a farmer, distiller and later Postmaster in Washington and Benton Counties. I was also able to find a digital copy of Henrietta's request for a widow's Confederate pension for Robert's service during the Civil War (via FamilySearch).

I have a few more posts on Flatt, before shifting attention back to his half-siblings in Tennessee and Kentucky.

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