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Henry Worrall

Henry Worrall

Artist, musician. 1825 - 1902

Born in 1825 in Liverpool, England, Henry Worrall's family moved to New York when he was about 10. He lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a young man serving as an apprentice to a glass cutter. While in Ohio, Worrall developed a reputation as a musician and composer and published several works for solo guitar. It was there that he met his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Harvey. In 1868 the Worralls moved to Kansas, probably because of concerns about his health.

In Kansas Worrall became known as an artist, illustrator, and decorator. His work would be used to promote the state. A self-taught artist, Worrall's depictions of life in Kansas, described as "journalism in pictures," became regular features in eastern journals including Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. His illustrations appeared in two Western history books, McCoy's Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade and W.E. Webb's Buffalo Land. Worrall continued his interest in his guitar, both playing and instructing music students. He enjoyed cultivating grapes and raised a large vineyard at his Topeka home.

Worrall was also a prolific musician; having composed guitar and banjo music that would lay down the the foundations for country and blues music in the early 20th century. Such music includes "Sebastopol", "Capretio", "Chimes of E", and "Carmencita". Additional examples can be found on Kansas Memory.

Numerous state, county and local historical and promotional publications featured Worrall's illustrations. His large lithographic posters were sold as advertising for state and county fairs. From 1875 to 1878 Worrall illustrated the Reports of the State Board of Agriculture. These featured Kansas towns and cities, and in 1876 included exhibits and displays in the Kansas-Colorado building at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. Worrall's most famous work in wood, the Kansas state seal, was also exhibited at the Centennial Exposition. The seal is now part of the collections of the Kansas Historical Society.


In 1878 his painting, Drouthy Kansas, countered the popular image of the state as a dry wasteland. It proved to be a powerful advertisement in luring people to Kansas. The painting is currently on exhibit in the Kansas Museum of History.

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway hired Worrall to write articles to encourage immigration to Kansas. Worrall created crayon portraits of members of the state supreme court and an oil portrait of Governor Thomas Andrew Osborn. The artist died June 20, 1902, in Topeka.

Entry: Worrall, Henry

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2010

Date Modified: June 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.