Friday, October 9, 2015

The Postmaster

For this post I am continuing with the story of Robert Foster Flatt, older half-brother of my 3rd-great-grandmother Nancy Jane Flatt. After his marriage with Henrietta Pearce in 1869, the young family settled in Marrs Hill Township, Washington County, Arkansas, where they appear in the 1870 US Census. By the 1880 US Census, the family had grown by 4 children. The family settled in tiny Wedington, a train stop on the border with neighboring Benton County. Robert was appointed as the Postmaster of Wedington on 29 August 1882. A map showing the post routes for Arkansas and Oklahoma shows the territory he might have covered while serving as postmaster in Washington and later, Benton County.
Source: Boston Public Library. Map dated 1 Dec 1897.

Robert was appointed as the Postmaster in Gallatin, Benton County, Arkansas in September 1894. He served in that role through September 1901, if not longer.

Robert and Henrietta had at least the following children:
1. Lula Alice Flatt (1870-1950)
2. Joseph P. Flatt (1872-1926)
3. William Thomas Flatt (1874-1930)
4. Robert Hancock Flatt (1880-1881)
5. Clyde Foster Flatt (1883-1956)
6. Fred Cleveland Flatt (1885-1929)
7. Sidney Lester Flatt (1887-1976)
8. Orlena Flatt (1889-1962)
9. Nola Flatt (1891-?)

In the 1880 US Census, Robert was a merchant of dry goods in Illinois Township, Washington County, Arkansas. The family had three boarders in their household: George Karr, who worked as a clerk in the store, and two artists: William Bailey and William Reynolds.

By the 1900 US Census, Robert and family appear in Logan Township (Gallatin) in neighboring Benton County. His occupation is not listed as postmaster, but as distiller and farmer.

Robert must have had a side-occupation, as he shows up in the Pre-Prohibition Distillers Database in Benton County between 1898-1904. According to the database, Flatt stored his spirits in a warehouse and paid taxes with the IRS when they were withdrawn from the warehouse. It isn't clear from these limited records how large or small the distillery was. But he definitely operated the distillery while serving as the postmaster in Gallatin. Flatt likely made whisky, and given his appearance on government records, it probably was not a small operation.
IRS, 1895. Source: Google Books.
It has been interesting to follow Flatt's life as he survived the difficult childhood in Jackson County, Tennessee, joined the Confederate Army at the age of 15, and fell into the company of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody in Kansas and Missouri after the Civil War. He lived an adventurous life, even after settling down in Northwestern Arkansas. I have one more post tomorrow on Robert Foster Flatt, focusing on the Confederate pension filed by Henrietta.

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