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Colonel S. M. Barrett, commandant of the Oklahoma Military Academy at Claremore and an author of note, is one of the most prominent men in northeastern Oklahoma. He is a native of Nebraska, his birth having occurred in Nebraska City on the 3rd day of March, 1865, a son of Robert W. Barrett, his father being an old plainsman.
S. M. Barrett spent his early life in Nebraska but in youth he removed with his parents to Jackson County, Missouri, (near Kansas City) and at the age of twenty-one years went to Tulare County, California, where he became a freighter and bronco buster. He became an excellent shot and has perhaps never been so proud as on the occasion of shooting his first mountain lion, that kill being made in the Yosemite grant. His prowess as an expert gunman stood him in need at various times.
Upon the entrance of the United States into the World war, Colonel Barrett was most anxious to get into active service, but because of his age and physical condition he was not admitted as a combatant. However, he was made special agent of the army for training drafted men. That was a sore disappointment to him, but like a true soldier he was determined to do the best he could for his country and he set about his work with a nerve and energy that won the respect of all under his command. Since 1919 he has been commandant of the Oklahoma Military Academy in Claremore and this institution is, indeed, fortunate in securing him for its head.
The Oklahoma Military Academy is the only institution of its kind in the United States which is supported by the state and in which there is no tuition paid. The idea embodied by this institution was first formulated under the necessities of the World war, when the demand for trained leaders was much greater than the available supply. As a result valuable time was lost in the prosecution of the war. R. O. T. C. units were placed at representative schools and colleges because education was, and ever will be, considered one of the main requisites of a trained leader, and after the close of the war the idea was continued and greatly expanded in order to provide the necessary personnel for any future contingency. The R. O. T. C. idea is, in brief, the training of school boys and college men as officers and non-commissioned officers for any American army the future may call into existence. When the student enters into the R. O. T. C. it is purely voluntary, along with the obligations assumed, and that this is the right idea is proved by the steady growth in enrollment in the various units. This growth in desire for military training does not necessarily presage another war in the near future but it does indicate the rational demand for the protection of experienced and expert knowledge in the event of a future war. To quote in exact words the R. O. T. C. idea as stated by Lieutenant G. S. Pierce, U. S. A., professor of military science and tactics at the Oklahoma Military Academy: “The citizen soldier will ever constitute the bulk of our national defense and history proves that the reliability of these citizen soldiers vary directly as the training received. We have never trusted our athletic honor to an untrained team in any international event and reasoning along the same lines it is axiomatic that we should never trust our national honor to untrained troops. To provide a nucleus of trained men who can intelligently answer their country’s call-that is the idea of the R. O. T. C. Under the present military policy of the United States our defense rests upon a small Regular Army, highly trained and efficient, a larger National Guard, well trained and equipped, and upon the Organized Reserves which consist of skeletonized divisions and smaller units capable of instant expansion to war strength. The necessary personnel for these Organized Reserves is at present largely recruited from veterans of the late war. With the passing of the years the number of these trained veterans will rapidly decrease, and their places must be filled with competent young men who have the necessary training carry on to the work so ably begun. The R. O. T. C., by being able to supply the source of these younger men, finds its definite place in our military scheme.” Every one knows that there is nothing like military training to enable one to arrive at correct decisions with ease and promptness and it teaches clean living, clean thinking and inculcates a high standard of honor, patriotism, fairness, firmness and self control. When a young man completes the course of military science and tactics and starts out into civil life he is in good health, has a strong body, and a correct physical bearing, all of which are assets in any walk of life. The Oklahoma Military Academy not only offers efficient military training but training along vocational lines and the enrollment in this institution is constantly increasing. Colonel Barrett is rightly proud of the large number of students under his control, for they are fine specimens of young manhood, both intellectually and physically.
The Academy buildings are modern and homelike and are constructed of the best grade brick and stone, buildings that will stand for years and that many of the students now attending school will point out with pride to their children, as their Alma Mater. The institution is located on a hill, about a mile from the center of Claremore, overlooking the country for miles around. From the upper story of the Academy building can be seen the famous battle ground of the Osage and the Cherokees, in which battle Chief Claremore lost his life. This battle was fought on a promontory, surrounded by a rocky palisade and in a crevice of these rocks a student unearthed the skeleton of an Indian, who was supposed to have fallen in this or some previous battle.
On the 24th of December, 1889, occurred the marriage of Colonel Barrett to Miss Dolly Cassell of Jackson County, Missouri. Her parents were natives of Kentucky. To the union of Colonel and Mrs. Barrett nine children have been born : Edith, the eldest child, is the wife of H. H. McKnight, a successful oil man of Healdton, this state; Bertha is the wife of Carl Britt, a mine Superintendent of Miami ; Mabel is residing at home; Stephen M., Jr., twenty-two years of age, served as an armed guard in the Navy during the World war; George William, known by his many friends as “Bill”, is eighteen years of age, and took the “all around” last year in athletics; Jessie D. is a freshman in the Claremore high school ; Dorothy is twelve years of age; Samuel Cassell is ten years of age; and Jack is five years of age.
Colonel Barrett is tireless in his devotion to the Academy. He is convivial and liberal, not caring for money in the sense of accumulating riches. He loves his dogs and his guns and is essentially an outdoor man.
Temperamentally he is very much like the late Theodore Roosevelt, of whom he was a great personal friend. Colonel Barrett is interested in literature and he is the author of Geronimo’s Story of His Life; Mocco, the Apache; Hoistah, the Cheyenne Girl; Shinkah, the Osage; Beaver, the Pawnee; and Barrett’s Practical Pedagogy. All of these works but Geronimo’s Story of His Life and Barrett’s Practical Pedagogy are sociological fiction based on historical facts. The Colonel writes from personal observation and association with the characters in his stories. He numbers among his friends many prominent men, among them ex-President Taft, and he knew Jack London, the noted author, very well, having been in his company a great deal when, as a young man, he was living in California. Not only is Colonel Barrett commandant of the Oklahoma Military Academy, but he is President of the institution, and has achieved gratifying success in this connection, for he is a man of natural business ability, keen discrimination and has the genius for devising the right thing at the right time. In fact, in purpose and in activity he has reached out over constantly broadening fields, meeting with such experiences as have caused him to place a correct valuation upon life and its contacts. He has preserved a splendid balance between the physical, mental and moral development and his friendships are largely with those whom experience and ability have raised above the ordinary level of life.