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Marmaduke Military Academy

Sweet Springs, Missouri



The State Historical Society of Missouri provided the first and last catalogs from Marmaduke Military Academy.  state-wide newspapers, including the Sedalia Democrat, carried ads and news from the school.  The ad (right) is from the Democrat.


In 1891 when the first boom of Sweet Springs tourism had ended, St. Louis investors Charles T. Farrar and Frank R. Tate invested $150,000 to convert the Sweet Springs Hotel to a first class military school.  That school opened on September 15, 1891 for 70 students with a faculty of 10.  

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1893 Photograph of an unnamed M.M.A. cadet.  Image from the Jack Behrens Photograph Collection (P0227), State Historical Society of Missouri

According to catalogs, its purpose was to “unite careful scholastic training with physical vigor and moral tone.”  The military component was to assist boys to become men.  The 1895-96 catalog asserts, “A BOY CANNOT MAKE THE MOST OF HIMSELF AT HOME. While love rules in the household, justice rules in the larger household of the boarding school.” Boys were accepted as young as eight and were separately housed.  But M.M.A. was primarily a preparatory high school with three programs of study.  The Classical program, requiring Latin and Greek, was designed for  those students who planned to continue at a top university; the Scientific program, focusing on science, math and modern languages, was for those boys who planned to enter a technical college; the Advanced Business program was for those who did not plan to attend college.

The 1895-96 catalog shows an enrollment of just over 100 students.  Around one third of the students were from Missouri, another third were from the Kansas-Indian Territory-Texas corridor; A final third were from 14 other states and Mexico.

The government provided a resident officer of the United States Army along with military weapons and equipment.  Students wore similar grey uniforms to those worn at West Point. 


Cadets had a Hawthorne Literary Society, which provided training for oratorical contests.  M.M.A was a founding member of the State Declamatory League.  The music faculty member organized the school musicale.  One of the first newspaper items from the school concerned a pre-Christmas “hop” organized by the cadets.

The school closed after the barracks burned on March 1, 1896.  The good will and equipment were later sold to Wentworth Military Academy at Lexington.

Bricks and Mortar

In 1877 Darwin and Leslie Marmaduke, brothers of General (and later Governor) John S. Marmaduke, purchased thirty acres of land in the middle of Sweet Springs for the purpose of establishing a resort to take advantage of the healing waters there.  They had a large hotel built there, costing $60,000, with a capacity for 400 guests.  Images show a three- story structure with double-deck porches and four–story towers at the corners. 


In 1891 Farrar and Tate converted the hotel to a military barracks with recitation rooms.  They added a 60 x 40 foot gymnasium with four bowling lanes and also built an armory/drill hall/assembly hall measuring 110 by 74 feet. 

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The Sweet Springs Hotel in 1879.  Image from Hawley's Sedalia City Directory.


            Team name: The Sedalia Democrat referred to teams as “Marmadukes”

            School colors: Orange and Black


In 1892 M.M.A. issued a challange to football teams weighing 160 pounds or less.   But within a year Marmaduke was fielding larger teams.  The 1893 team, coached by fitness guru Bernarr Macfadden, had added professional players—including himself—and had upgraded the schedule. 


From like preparatory schools such as Missouri Military Academy and Wentworth Military Academy, Macfadden added college-level teams to the schedule including Drury, Missouri Valley, Christian Brothers, Warrensburg Normal and the University of Missouri reserves. He also scheduled powerful independent teams such as the Pastime Athletic Club of St. Louis.  The 1894 team was scheduled for a Christmas trip to Texas to play the University of Texas. 


A major school event for all cadets was the spring Field Day.  Most events appeared to be standard track and field fare.  But to include as many cadets as possible, more esoteric events such as a one-mile walk, a three-leg race, a potato race and standing high jump and long jump events were included. The first Field Day in 1892 included a number of wrestling events—including those for younger students.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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