Barrett, son of Thomas Glasscock and Grace Arrington (Ware) Barrett, spent his early years in Augusta and was educated at the Richmond Academy. He later took a three-year course in civil engineering at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. In 1885, August Chronicle editor Patrick Walsh persuaded him to learn the newspaper business. He worked his way up at the paper from type setter to city editor.
In January 1889, Barrett became the Washington correspondent for the Atlanta Constitution. He remained in Washington until 1897, four years of which he spent as political secretary for Speaker of the House, Charles P. Crisp. In 1892, he was elected as a Georgia delegate to the Democratic National Convention. In 1895, he spent four months in Asia covering the Chinese-Japanese War for the Constitution and the New York World before marrying the former Janie Southerlin Smith on December 18 of that same year.
Barrett moved to Alabama in 1896 and was elected as an Alabama delegate to that year's Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. In 1898 he bought a controlling interest in the Daily State Herald from John Rountree, and resumed publishing it under the older Birmingham Age-Herald name.
Barrett died in July 1922 and management of the paper passed to his widow, Lewis, who had been involved in helping with the business before. She managed the paper only briefly before selling it to a group of partners and accepting the proposal of hotel executive Robert Meyer to marry in November.
- Cruikshank, George H. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of Their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests 2 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Owen, Thomas McAdory and Marie Bankhead Owen (1921) History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. 4 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.