Missouri Military Academy
Mexico is the home of the Missouri Military Academy which was established Nov. 22, 1889. An all-male boarding school for grades 7-12, it’s a U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corp which can nominate cadets to the U.S. Military, Naval, Air Force and Coast Guard academies.
Col. Alexander F. Fleet was the force behind the fundraising which made the school possible and served as its first President. Classes began in 1890 and William H. Dulaney of St. Joseph was the first student to enroll. There were students from every congressional district and twenty states.
By 1892, the first athletics programs were in place, which included football, baseball, and track.
A fire destroyed the school in 1896, but there were no deaths and few injuries. Thanks to the quick thinking of Col. Fleet, the cadets were relocated temporarily to Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. Col. A. K. Yancy and the Businessmen’s Association of Mexico had the school re-established by 1900 on its original site.
Ruth Fonville, in 1902, became the only female to graduate from the academy. She was the daughter of President Col. W. D. Fonville.
In 1930, the U.S. War Department, now the Department of Defense, selected the academy as an honor military school.
U.S. Postmaster General James Farley was the Guest of Honor when the academy celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1939. The school provided Honor Guards and marched in Governor Forrest Donnell’s inaugural parade in 1941. Missouri appointed the academy to march in the Washington, D.C., parade for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration in 1957. They also marched in the inaugural parades for Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Carter.
Notable alumni include Howard R. Hughes, Sr. and Albert C. Hunt.
Hughes was a businessman and inventor. After founding the Hughes Tool Company, he invented the Sharp-Hughes rotary tri-cone rock drill bit during the Texas Oil Boom. But he is best remembered as the father of Howard Hughes, Jr., an American business tycoon.
Hunt served twice as an Associate Justice on the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He is the only Oklahoma Associate Justice to serve from two different Supreme Court Districts.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008. She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she syndicated her column statewide in September 2018 and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.firstname.lastname@example.org