One of Missouri's more well-known families, the Marmadukes, made contributions to the military training and political history of the state of Missouri. The Marmadukes produced two governors of Missouri, father Meredith M. Marmaduke who was elected as lieutenant governor, had to step in as governor in 1844. His son, John S. Marmaduke, then served as Governor from 1885-1887 when he died of pneumonia while in office.
John S. Marmaduke was previously an officer in both the US Army and later the Confederate Army during the US Civil War. After attending schools in Saline County, Missouri, he was appointed and graduated in 1857 from the United States Military Academy and saw action in multiple battles and ultimately, while serving as a Confederate Brigadier General, Union forces captured him during the Battle of Mine Creek in 1864. A year later, he was promoted to Major General while in captivity.
Named for the former governor, the Marmaduke Military Academy was formed in 1891 on the grounds of the Sweet Springs Health Resort. Interest in the health resort slowed, mainly due to a shift in the social interest in resort spa experiences, and both resort administration and external investors were looking to leverage the resort grounds for another successful economic venture. Two investors, Charles T. Farrar and Frank R. Tate, and the Governor's brother, Colonel Vincent Marmaduke, acquired the inactive Sweet Springs Health Resort Hotel and established the Maramaduke Military Academy, with the intention to "develop soldier-like qualities and to make capable men." The academy intended to have a student body of approximately 200 cadets and they were housed in the former hotel once it was updated and renovated. Farrar and Tate brought in Leslie Marmaduke to run business operations. The first principal at the academy was T. E. Spencer, who was also previously the superintendent of Marshall Public Schools, and the commandant of cadets was C. A. Curtis. Marmaduke Military Academy was a Missouri chartered military school and secured state funding for its operations and it was quickly became one of the important military schools in the state of Missouri.
In August of 1891, the Saline County Weekly Progress promoted the school, highlighting its purpose to prepare young men for college, business, and the US Military Academy or the Naval Academy. The Progress also promoted the resort springs as beneficial to the cadets noting: "The academy would offer the best moral, mental and physical training and have health features which were unrivaled. Students would have free access to mineral baths." It was also recognized that the previous resort hotel would be heated with steam and residents would even have electricity. Cadets could expect to and be prepared to focus on standard military readiness such as calvary drills to focus on discipline and unit cohesion, and training in both infantry and artillery.
The Marmaduke Military Academy came to an unexpected end in March of 1896 when a devastating fire broke out that destroyed the hotel barracks and the armory. The hotel did have fire insurance coverage and the cost to rebuild was estimated to be approximately $25,000, which was close to one million in today's dollars. Ultimately, Ferrar and Tate opted to not rebuild the barracks and decided to sell all the remaining assets to the Wentworth Military Academy, another Missouri institution based in Lexington. Wentworth continued in active operation until its closure in 2017. Today, the location where the Marmaduke Military Academy once stood is in the area of the public pool and the Sweet Springs Ball fields near Union Street and Columbia Avenue.