William O. Worswick

WILLIAM O. WORSWICK, though he began his career as a teacher and commercial man, has been in active practice as a member of the Oskaloosa bar for the past thirty years, and is an ex-county attorney of Jefferson County.

Mr. Worswick is of English ancestry. The name was originally Warwick, and as such it is famous in English history. Mr. Worswick's paternal grandfather was Henry Ward Worswick, who served as captain of a Man of War in the English Navy. He was born in Lancastershire, England, and in 1826 he brought his family to America and settled at Brooklyn, New York.

John Worswick, father of the Oskaloosa lawyer, was a well known citizen of Jefferson County, Kansas, where he spent his last years. He was born in Lancastershire, England, January 14, 1814, and died at Oskaloosa in 1908, at the venerable age of ninety-four. When he was twelve years of age he accompanied his parents to the United States and lived with them at Brooklyn, New York. Subsequently he returned to England and spent about four years at Manchester, serving an apprenticeship in the trade of engraving, according to the rules and practices of the art of that time. After getting his card as a master workman he returned and was employed in New York City, Providence, Rhode Island, Fall River, Massachusetts, Tiverton, Massachusetts, and North Adams, Massachusetts. The art of engraving at that day had few followers and he had to make his own tools and when new inventions revolutionized engraving processes he was practically thrown out of employment. After that crisis in his affairs he moved West in 1846 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, bought a farm near that small city, and subsequently sold and moved to Waushara County, Wisconsin, where he continued farming for many years. In 1876 he removed to Oskaloosa, Kansas, and was successfully engaged in farming there for a number of years. The closing period of his life was spent in retirement at Oskaloosa. While well advanced in years at the time, he enlisted in 1861 for service in the Union army in Company H of the Eighteenth Wisconsin Infantry. He served two years and followed his great leader, General Grant, through the siege of Fort Henry and Donelson, the battles of Shiloh and Corinth, and the campaign around Vicksburg. Politically he was a democrat. John Worswick married Jane Woodruff, who was born in Staten Island, New York, in 1817. She died at Oskaloosa, Kansas, in 1896, when nearly eighty years of age. Of their family of seven children, William O. is the youngest. John A. is a veterinary by profession and is now living retired at Aberdeen, South Dakota. Edward L. died at Oskaloosa in 1888, while filling the office of county clerk of Jefferson County. Mary A. lives in Oskaloosa, widow of C. E. Chase, who was a farmer and mechanic. Laura J. married A. H. Hildebrand, both now deceased, her husband being a carpenter, and her death occurred in Sauk Center, Minnesota in 1905. F. H. Worswick was formerly county superintendent of schools of Jefferson County and is now a farmer near Perry, Kansas. H. W. Worswick was a merchant and died at Oskaloosa in 1907.

William O. Worswick was born on his father's farm in Waushara County, Wisconsin, May 13, 1864, and was about twelve years of age when he came to Kansas. His schooling begun in the country districts of Wisconsin, was continued at Oskaloosa, Kansas, in the public schools, and also in Marvin College. For several years he was a teacher in this county, and was in the mercantile business in Nebraska for six years, up to 1896. His mind in the meantime had been turned to the law and largely through private reading he was qualified and admitted to the bar in February, 1897. Since that year he has enjoyed a growing practice as a lawyer, skilled both in civil and criminal practice, with offices at Oskaloosa and in his own business building on Jefferson Street. His home is a modern residence, which he bought and remodeled in 1905, on Liberty Street.

Mr. Worswick made his capable record as county attorney of Jefferson County from 1909 to 1913. He is now serving as city attorney of Oskaloosa, and another office that takes much of his time and attention is his membership on the executive board of the Kansas Fraternal Citizens.

He is a republican, has been vestryman for many years of the Episcopal Church, is past master of Oskaloosa Lodge No. 14, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, is present high priest of Oskaloosa Chapter No. 9, Royal Arch Masons, and also belongs to Topeka Commandery No. 5, Knights Templar, Abdallah Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Leavenworth, to the Order of the Toltecs, the ladies branch of the Knights Templar, and for two terms served as patron of Oskaloosa Chapter No. 62, Order of the Eastern Star. Another fraternity is Oskaloosa Camp, Modern Wood men of America. Mr. Worswick is now secretary of the Oskaloosa Commercial Club.

In 1890, at Winchester, Kansas, he married Miss Alice Howland, daughter of J. K. and Harriet A. (Tague) Howland. Her mother now resides with Mr. and Mrs. Worswick in Oskaloosa. Her father, deceased, was for many years a merchant at Winchester. Mrs. Worswick is a highly educated woman, being a graduate of the Winchester public schools and the Winchester Academy, and subsequently taking a course abroad and graduating from the Harr Fehrs Art School of Munich, Germany, and from the Colorassa Academy of Arts and Letters at Paris, France. She is now principal of the College of the Sisters of Bethany at Topeka.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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