Flatonia is a town in southwestern Fayette County, Texas, United States. Located on Interstate 10 and the Union Pacific Railroad, 12 miles (19 km) west of Schulenburg, the population was 1,308 at the 2020 census.
According to Wikipedia, Flatonia, Texas was established on April 8, 1874 on land that the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway acquired from William Alexander Faries (the family name is also spelled “Ferris” and “Farris”), the community was named after F. W. Flato, a local merchant and one of the first settlers, of whom most were Anglo American. Residents placed their homes in the former Flatonia settlement, one mile southeast of the current Flatonia, and in the community of Oso, 3 miles northeast, on wagons and moved to the new location. The post office, established in the former Flatonia in 1870, moved to the new Flatonia with the same name. Flatonia was incorporated on November 10, 1875, and held its first election on December 6 of that year. In 1878, the town had 800 residents and an economy dependent on cattle and cotton.
The location of the railway and inexpensive real estate led to the arrival of Arab, Bohemian, German, Greek, and Italian immigrants in several waves. The north-south line of the Waco branch of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway opened in the mid-1880s, leading to new settlements of Muldoon and Moulton. Competition from the settlements, respectively north and south of Flatonia, and an agricultural depression damaged Flatonia’s economy. By 1900, Flatonia had a significant population decrease.
During the first half of the 20th century Flatonia’s prospects increased and decreased according to the national economy and cattle and cotton markets. In 1950 Flatonia had 1,024 residents, 50 businesses, and a wide farm and ranch service area. In the 1960s, cotton no longer was a substantial aspect of the area economy; therefore many area farms began to ranch cattle. During that time the population was between 1,000 and 1,500. Interstate 10 (I-10) opened in the 1970s, leading many tourist businesses to move from U.S. Highway 90 to I-10, one mile north of Highway 90. In 1985, Flatonia had 69 businesses. In 1990, Flatonia had 1,295 residents.
Flatonia is located in southwestern Fayette County. U.S. Route 90 passes through the center of town as Main Street, leading east 12 miles to Schulenburg and west 12 miles to Waelder. Texas State Highway 95 intersects US 90 in the center of Flatonia, entering from the south as Faires Street and from the north as Penn Street. Highway 95 leads south 19 miles to Shiner and north 26 miles to Smithville. Interstate 10 passes through the northern side of Flatonia, with access from Exit 661 (Highway 95). I-10 leads east 108 miles to Houston and west 90 miles to San Antonio.
Flatonia has hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Summers range in the 90s with a few days in July and August reaching 100. Winters can be chilly but rarely reach below freezing; low winter temperatures are mostly in the fifties or forties. Snow is rare.
Annual cultural events
Many residents of Flatonia are of Czech, Slovak, German, or other Central European heritage. The local “Czhilispiel” festival is named for Czech people and their popular chili.
Museums and other points of interest
The abandoned Flatonia Railroad Tower, in use from 1902 to 1996, was one of Texas’ longest standing, manually-operated railroad switching towers with north-south and east-west cross rails. The tower was damaged in an automobile accident on January 9, 2014.
The E. A. Arnim Archives and Museum has a collection of antique furniture, household items, clothing and historical documents used by the early settlers of Flatonia. There is a livery stable behind the museum with wagons, buggies, and vintage tack and farm implements.