Allen Booker Barret
Biographical Sketch On The Life Of Allen Booker Barret
ALLEN BOOKER BARRET was born of Christian parents. His mother especially had a pronounced Christian background. In The Gospel Advocate of 1866, there is an Obituary of her father, Alexander Smith, "bishop" of the Church at Covington, Tennessee, written by Dr. Richardson. Her mother was also a Smith, though of no blood relation to her husband. The two families of Smiths seem to have originated in different states, before coming to Tennessee, the one came from North Carolina and the other from South Carolina. Her mother gave birth to twenty-two children. Though she had her hands full with home duties, yet she never failed to be present for Lord's Day worship, unless Providentially prevented. Likewise also did her daughter, Bella Fletcher, the mother of the subject of this sketch. She was the mother of fourteen children, four of whom are yet living. She never failed to attend worship if she could avoid it, she was known to have arisen from her bed of sickness, at different times, so as to be present. When the hour arrived to prepare for "church," she would cease from whatever she might be doing and go to the services. Such a Grandmother and such Mother profoundly impressed "Allen." They were as "Lois and Eunice" to him.
A. B. Barret had a great uncle, Ephriam Smith, a brother to his grandmother Smith, who was a faithful gospel preacher. He died in Texas. His great-great-grandfather, Payton Smith, a Baptist preacher, came over to the Restoration at an early date, but returned to the Baptists later. Allen says that he does not claim kin with him, as he went back to the Baptists. He also says that he is the only "Barret" that he ever heard of, in his family, that became a gospel preacher. His father was a member of the Church, as stated above. His people were mainly Presbyterians and Methodists, who had migrated from Virginia to Tennessee.
It should be noted that our subject spells his name with only one "t", a family distinction for which he contends, as he says: "It does not take as much "t" for me as it does for other Barretts." He is English and Irish by his father and English-Scotch by his mother. He says that makes him a League of Nations.
A. B. Barret was born near Covington, Tipton County, Tennessee, on a farm, July 15, 1879, making him now nearly sixty-four years of age. He was the seventh child of his parents. It is said that they first named him "Alfred Booker," but the "Alfred" was soon changed to "ALLEN." Why this change was made is not known, unless it was desired to name him for a favorite cousin to his mother, Professor Joe Cotton, now deceased. "Booker" is for Dr. Booker Paine, the attending physician at his birth. He attended such schools as he had access to in his rural community; but he made little progress in such schools, as they were irregular and short-termed. Upon his parents' removal to Covington, he entered the public schools there. Later he attended the Robinson High School, at Salem, Tennessee. This school was connected with The Seceder Presbyterian Church. From this school he began studies in the famous Byar's Academy, at Covington. When only thirteen years of age, he obeyed the gospel under the preaching of a Christian evangelist known as Paine. At sixteen, he entered what was then known as The West Tennessee Christian College, at Henderson, Tennessee, "to prepare for the ministry." The late Professor Inman, of the Christian Church, founded this college many years prior thereto. A. B. Barret preached his first sermon in a school house, known as the Mackintire School, near Henderson, on "Obedience," in March, forty-six years ago. He held his first meeting the summer following, on his mother's farm, at Locust Bluff, near Covington, assisted by his favorite boyhood chum, David Parrish, of near Friendship, in Crockett County, Tennessee. There were sixty-eight souls baptized in the Big Hatchie River, nearby, during this meeting. His work as a gospel preacher, evangelizing, and laboring with congregations in regular work, has carried him from his native state to Arkansas, Texas, Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, where he has since preached also, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Washington, D. C., and Kentucky. Many souls have been led to Christ and numerous congregations have been either established or strengthened by his labors. He has gone to all points where called, both rural and urban, trusting the Lord for his support, which has always been liberal and adequate, so he says.
Upon his return to his home, at Covington, the first summer of his ministry, A. B. Barret met his former Academy teacher, Judge Byars, who addressed him as follows: "Well, Mr. Barret, I hear that you are a preacher." Upon being assured that he had heard correctly, the Judge said: "That College at Henderson was founded by Professor Inman, who had prepared under me for entrance to the Presbyterian Seminary at Clarksville, Tennessee, to train for the Ministry. In his study of Greek he learned from it that 'bapto' means to 'dip.' He later became a member of the Christian Church and started the College. "And," he added, "If I am ever dipped, I want you to dip me." He was not "dipped," so far as is known.
Thus began the West Tennessee Christian College. The late A. G. Freed was President of the College, when A. B. Barret entered it. The College was later known as The Georgia Roberson Christian College, as a brother Roberson, of Crockett Mills, Crockett County, Tennessee, a member of the Christian Church, gave $5,000 to erect a new building as a memorial to a deceased daughter. A. B. Barret attended these two Colleges three years and a half, graduating from the Teacher's Department with many other more advanced courses to his credit. He then attended The Nashville Bible School, Nashville, Tennessee, under the Presidency of James A. Harding. He says that Brother Harding influenced him more than any other man that has touched his life, as he was such a man of faith.
On July 10, 1901, A. B. Barret married Miss Exie Carroll, of Henderson, Tennessee, whom he had met while in College there. She was a daughter of Dr. J. R. Carroll, a (Universalist) physician. She was a member of the Christian Church, but soon became identified with her husband in the Church of Christ. She has been a faithful helpmeet, and she has attained to an extended knowledge of the Bible. It is said of her that "she is one of the best teachers of the Word of God in the Church." Sister Barret is ever active in all of the work of the congregation, and her friends are Legion.
Brother and Sister Barret moved to Texas in 1902, where they labored till 1920, laboring with different congregations, and doing evangelistic work. From the Pearl and Bryan, Dallas, ministry, they joined A. G. Freed, President of Southwestern Christian College, Denton. He served as an instructor in history. While teaching at Denton, he visited San Angelo, Ballinger, and Abilene, with a view of locating a Bible School. Abilene was selected as the proper location for such an undertaking; hence he founded what is now known as Abilene Christian College, of which he was its first President for two years. Having got that school underway, Brother Barret returned to Denton as President of that College, taking his Faculty with him. Thence he and Charles H. Roberson, his associate, founded what was known as Clebarro (Cleburne, Barret, Roberson) College, Cleburne, of which he was President for five years. He was then called by the elders of the University Church, Austin, to teach Bible in the University of Texas, under the direction of the congregation. When he took up that work, he arranged for The University to officially credit two courses in Bible under Bachelor's degrees. Tiring of such strenuous College work, he accepted regular church work with the East Main Street Congregation, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, removing there in 1920. Since which time he has continued his efforts preaching, writing, and debating, at various places.
All these years, Brother Barret has diligently pursued his studies, mainly in the Bible and related subjects. He has had courses in Hebrew, under two Rabbis, much work in Greek under able professors, and other special work in English, history, psychology, economics, geology, sociology, and various other subjects, specializing in preparation against Evolutionists, and other opponents of the Bible. He has lectured hundreds of times on such subjects as are contrary to the truth, as well as in his teaching and positive, constructive preaching. He has met more than fifteen debaters among the sects in oral debate, running from three nights to eight days and nights, and he has conducted a number of written discussions. He says that he prefers the Negative in debate, as he is a "natural-born" critic. He also adds, in fact, he has to curb his "criticizing tendencies," as he fears that he might become too harsh, and thereby create sympathy for his opponents. He has been careful never to leave an opening for an antagonist to expose his position on any controverted question. He despises a "fallacy" as a skilled musician would a discord. It is his pride that not one of "his own brethren" has ever reprimanded him for preaching or teaching, either orally or in writing, anything subversive of the truth; although enemies among them have sought to find something contrary thereto, at times. He says that "the most unkindest cut of all" is that he is now being accused of being a Premillennialist. Nothing that he has ever spoken or written even hints at such a thing; and all of his preparation for debate shows his opposition to Premillennialism. This Book, to which I am writing this Introduction, shows, throughout, his opposition to this speculative teaching; however, he does deplore the bitter spirit so often shown by many against brethren who do so teach. He feels that all should be "As harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice," as a famous English statesman expressed it; but that we should be courteous, patient, and compassionate with even an enemy, if possible.
Brother and Sister Barret were not blessed with children; however, they adopted a little girl out of the Luling Texas Orphanage, whom they educated. She is married and has three daughters. Her husband is a Smith-Hughes man, now teaching Agriculture in the County High School, at Evening Shade, Arkansas. They also reared two nieces of hers who are now employed. The older is a graduate of The West Tennessee Teacher's College, at Memphis, Tennessee, and is now teaching English and Spanish in the Covington, Tennessee, High School; and the younger took a Secretarial course in Memphis Business College and is a Teller in the Commerce National Bank there. They feel that with the work done in baptizing and training these three "daughters," together with that done in teaching and training many others for Christian living, among them a large number who are now able preachers of the Gospel, their efforts have not been in vain. Though they have both been "hospitalized" a number of times; yet they now enjoy a reasonable portion of good health, and wish and expect to spend their declining years in active efforts for the work of the Lord.
Brother Barret has often said that he wanted to leave a book to preach for him, after he shall have crossed "The Great Divide." He has published a number of "tracts," and now "The Shattered Chain," his most ambitious work. He has specialized in Baptist Church Succession, which is evidenced by his book.
For a number of years, Mr. Bogard has devoted much time and energy in an effort to prove that the Baptist Church was founded under the preaching of John the Baptist; and that there is an unbroken line of evidence that it continues until the present day, just as it was organized by its founder.
This he affirms in books, tracts, and in debates with various men, who question the correctness of his contention, and has gained a small following in some of the Southern States. Mr. Barret challenges his contention; and in this book appeals to the testimony of history. He takes up quotations from men who are on the side against the author, and are quoted as such, as to whether Mr. Bogard's contention, of an unbroken chain of history of the Baptist Church, is sustained, and every one who has had occasion to make a special study of the subject, and especially every one who has had occasion to discuss the subject with an opponent, will at once recognize the great value of such a collection. By J. W. Shepherd, Central Church of Christ, Nashville, Tennessee.
--This Biographical Sketch is from the Introduction of A.B. Barret's book, The Shattered Chain, Henderson, Tennessee, 1942-1943 - Barret is buried at Henderson City Cemetery, Henderson, Tennessee.
Out Of My
While I was enrolled at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, TN during 1946-1949 I became acquainted with A.B. and Exie Barret. Brother Barret was a well-known and evangelist and educator. In 1906 he founded Childer's Classical Institute in Abilene, Texas which soon became Abilene Christian College which is now a university.
While I was a student at F-HC, Margie and I lived in Henderson where the Barrets lived. Exie was Dr. Carrol's daughter who before his death was a popular Henderson physician.
When we lived in Henderson, brother Barret was in his declining years. I helped to take care of him. I remember assembling a new wheelchair which he bought. I cut his hair and did other things for him, including selling copies of his book entitled The Shattered Chain. The Barrets were by no means wealthy, and every bit of income for them was important.
Brother Barret wrote The Shattered Chain to refute some of the teaching of Ben M. Bogard a distinguished Landmark Baptist minister and debater. Some of the best known evangelists of the church of Christ met Dr. Bogard in public discussions, including N. B. Hardeman, C. R. Nichol, G. C. Brewer, and Curtis Porter. These were honorable and educational debates and added much to the religious fervor and interest of the times.
I recall being told that Dr. Bogard refused to meet A. B. Barret in a public discussion because brother Barret was so strong on the negative side in a debate. So, brother Barret wrote Shattered Chain which contains overwhelming historical documentation that refutes the doctrine that the church of which Dr. Bogard was a member can be traced in an unbroken chain of succession all the way back to the apostles of Jesus Christ.
Brother Barret tried to re-start Burritt College in Spencer, TN. That college was closed in the late 1930's after an illustrious history of about 90 years. Many outstanding citizens, including a number of well known gospel preachers were educated there. Brother Barret renamed the college Burritt-Barret Bible School. In the front of The Shattered Chain he put himself as author in these words: "By A. B. Barret, Gospel Evangelist, Principal of Burritt-Barret Bible School, Spencer, Tennessee." Brother Barret announced the opening of his new school, and on the morning it was due to open he rang the old bell at the old school, but no one came. He was crushed! He named himself principal of a school that never actually existed. He meant well and had great hopes for the school, but it was too late.
I purchased my copy of brother Barret's book from him March 6, 1948. He gave me his copies of the three volume set of sermon books edited by Z. T. Sweeney entitled New Testament Christianity and gave away a new set that had been given to me, because I preferred to have the set given to me by brother Barret. He also gave me his debate notes and some correspondence he had with Dr. Charles B. Williams distinguished Baptist Greek scholar who translated the Greek New Testament into English and taught at Union University in Jackson, TN for many years.
I have known and loved many faithful servants of the Lord. A. B. and Exie Barret were two of them. After brother Barret died in the early 1950's, Exie married Virgil Larimore, one of the sons of T. B. Larimore.
-The World Evangelist, April, 1997, page 3
Directions To The Grave Of A.B. Barret
Allen Booker Barret Is Buried In The City Cemetery at Henderson, Tennessee. From I-40 in West Tennessee, take the Hwy 45 exit south. Go through the city of Jackson, and continue south about 15 miles to Henderson. You will be on the bypass in Henderson. Go to you come to Hwy. 100. Turn left and go to the next stop. Turn left on North Church St.. Go about 100 yards and turn into the cemetery on the right. The cemetery will fork close to the entrance. Take the left fork and head up the rise to the peak of the hill. You will see a small plot off to your left surrounded by an old iron fence. The Barret plot is just east of the iron fence. See picture below.