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Hon. Charles Franklin Barrett, senator from the Thirteenth Senatorial District, comprising Pottawatomie and Lincoln Counties, has attained to many distinctions in the domain of the law, politics and journalism. From the time he learned the printer’s trade in Kansas thirty-five years ago, he has had a career which for versatility and varied incident few newspaper men in the United States have surpassed, and as a class they are noted for the variety of their associations with men and affairs. Mr. Barrett has been identified with Oklahoma since the early territorial days, and is a recognized authority on questions of its politics and civil government.
A native of Southern Ohio, he was born at Gabon January 1, 1861, a son of John E. and Charlotte (Reynolds) Barrett, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Ohio. In 1869 the family moved out to Kansas, and thus Senator Barrett grew up practically on the frontier of the Middle West and as a boy imbibed the atmosphere of a new and progressive country. His early education was acquired in the country schools of Washington County, Kansas, and in 1880-81 he took a special course in the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan, and while there learned the printer’s trade. After leaving the State school he taught one year in Washington County, and then entered upon his real life work as a journalist.
In 1882 he became editor of the Journal at Green leaf, Kansas, remained in charge about two years, then for a year turned his attention to farming and the raising of blooded stock in Washington County, but in the fall of 1884 acquired a half interest in the Post at Washington and subsequently was sole editor and publisher of that newspaper four years. His newspaper work has always been characterized by an aggressive forcefulness, a command of ideas and language in which to express them, and his editorial pen has always been respected and sometimes feared. He has always been on the democratic side whether in politics or in newspaper work.
While running a newspaper at Washington he also read law, and in 1888 retired temporarily from newspaper work and engaged in the National Building Loan business as state agent for an investment company of Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1889 he visited a number of the cities in the South, but on returning to Kansas City took up metropolitan newspaper work. During the same year he went out to Denver, Colorado, and combined newspaper correspondence and political activities, and in 1891 participated in the great rush and early events at Creede and other mining camps in Colorado. In 1892 he became editor of the Star at Leadville, and during the same year the State of Colorado went over to the populist party, and he then sold his newspaper interests and for a time was employed on the daily papers of Salt Lake City, Utah. From there he went to Helena, Montana, but on account of hard times resulting from the panic remained only a short time; was also located at Evanston, Wyoming, but in 1893 returned to Denver, where he resumed newspaper work.
On July 4, 1893, Mr. Barrett arrived in Oklahoma City and at once formed a connection with the Daily Press-Gazette, at that time the leading democratic paper of the territory. He was editor until its consolidation with the Daily Oklahoman, which occurred after a bitter newspaper war between those two journals. He then became managing editor of the consolidated paper and remained in charge until just prior to the election of 1894.
In the spring of 1895 Mr. Barrett was admitted to the Oklahoma bar and at the opening of the Kickapoo country and the establishment of Shawnee he moved to Pottawatomie County, locating first at Earlboro, where he practiced law until 1896 and then established his home at Shawnee.
In the long fight for statehood for the twin territories Senator Barrett was an active factor and frequently represented his city and territory on committees chosen to appear before Congress to present the cause of Single Statehood.
At the outbreak of the Spanish-American war Mr. Barrett was captain in a Shawnee company of the National Guard, but owing to the fact that only volunteers were accepted resigned his commission and enlisted as a private in Company K of the First Territorial Regiment. He became first sergeant, and while the regiment was encamped at Albany, Georgia, he had his right leg broken while in line of duty at the rifle range. He was mustered out with his regiment February 13, 1899, and on returning to Oklahoma, after a long period of convalescence he located at Perry. There for one year he was associated in the practice of law with Hon. Thomas H. Doyle, later presiding judge of the Criminal Court of Appeals of Oklahoma.
While at Perry on September 26, 1900, he married Miss Capitola E. Millard, daughter of Captain Reece J. and Jane (Fowler) Millard, both natives of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Barrett was born May 15, 1881, at Dunlap, Kansas. To their marriage have been born three children: Charles F. Jr., born January 19, 1903; and Helen Jane and Wanda Charlotte, twins, born July 1, 1905.
In 1901 Senator Barrett established the Shawnee Herald, first as a weekly and later as a daily, and continued its editor and manager until 1906. During the Constitutional Convention he served as a clerk, and in the campaign of 1907 for the adoption of the constitution he was manager of the Democratic State Press Bureau. In March, 1908, he was chosen secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, and in organizing and perfecting the service of that state department he deserves the greatest credit. On June 1, 1910, he resigned from his office as secretary of the Board of Agriculture to become publicity agent for a Shawnee development company. It was in 1900 that he made his first campaign and was elected a member of the State Legislature from Pottawatomie County, and in 1912 he was elected to the State Senate from the Thirteenth District. In both houses he was easily recognized as a leader, not only on the floor but in committee work. His long and varied acquaintance with men and affairs in this state gave him more than an individual influence, and his impress is on many departments of the state’s life. At the present time Senator Barrett is manager of the Democratic State Press Bureau, with headquarters at Oklahoma City.
After recovering from the injury sustained in the Spanish-American war, he re-enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard, and was advanced through the various grades until in 1907 he was commissioned major, but in 1914 was relieved from active duty in the field and has since been judge advocate of the department. For twenty years or more he has shown a commendable zeal and activity in behalf of Oklahoma, is loyal to every enterprise for the public good, and his activities deserve permanent record in the annals of the new state.