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CJ Coombs

Kansas City's historic John B. Wornall House built in 1858 is a museum

John Wornall historic house and museum, Kansas City, Missouri.Photo byIknowthegoods, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The John B. Wornall House Museum is located at 6115 Wornall Road in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Wornall House is a two-story dwelling. It was built in 1858 by John B. Wornall. The architectural design is Greek Revival. Originally, the house was on a 1,100-acre plantation. It's one of four Civil War period homes in Kansas City that remains.

The Wornalls

After Richard Wornall sold his property to settle debts, he and his wife, Judith, and their sons, George Thomas and John Bristow, relocated to Westport, Missouri from Shelbyville, Kentucky. They arrived in the fall of 1843. Richard bought 500 acres of land which then was $5 per acre. Their property was eventually inherited by John B. Wornall, and where he built his house for his second wife, Eliza S. Johnson Wornall.

Their home was used as a field hospital during the Civil War for both forces, Union and Confederate, after the Battle of Westport.

On August 25, 1863, pursuant to General Order No. 11 stating southern sympathizers needed to evacuate. John B. Wornall neglected to show support to the Union, so they had to vacate their home. During the Battle of Westport, their home was used as a hospital and headquarters. There are still shot pockmarks on the exterior wall. There are six rooms on each floor. There's a cellar under the kitchen.

Wornall was a prosperous farmer. He was also respected in the Westport community. The following are some of his affiliations:

  • President of National Bank of Kansas City
  • Moderator of the (Baptist) Blue River Association
  • Chairman of the Board of Trustees of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri
John Wornall’s fortunes initially came from farming, but by the late nineteenth century he was largely renting his property to other farmers. He turned to banking, real estate, and politics as new sources of income. He also became involved in philanthropy, particularly for local schools and Baptist churches. (Source.)

John and his brother inherited the farm when their mother died. Their father went back to Kentucky so he could remarry. John's brother died in 1849 on the Oregon Trail from cholera.

In 1851, John married Matilda Polk from Kentucky. She died the same year they married. In 1854, he remarried Eliza Johnson. Her father, Rev. Thomas Johnson, founded the Shawnee Methodist Indian Mission. Together, they had seven children, but five of them didn't live past the age of three. Sadly, Eliza died at age 29, a week after her last child was born.

A year later, John married Eliza's first cousin, Roma Johnson, and they had three children (one was stillborn).

Roma lived in the Wornall House until her death in 1933. The house was inherited by her son, John Jr., who owned the home until his death in 1962. (Source.)

John B. Wornall died on March 24, 1892, at age 69. His wife, Roma, died on May 9, 1933, at age 86.

Wornall Road in Kansas City is named after John B. Wornall. The heirs of John B. Wornall stayed in the house until the early 1960s. At that time, it was acquired by the Jackson County Historical Society for restoration. It also became a historic house museum.

Click here for museum information.

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