From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Gudgell, Henry

(born: 1826  -  died: 1895) 

Henry Gudgell, born a slave in Kentucky, became a blacksmith, coppersmith, silversmith, and a wheelwright. He and his mother went with his father/master, Spence Gudgell, to Livingston County, Missouri, where he carved a walking stick that has also been described as a conjure remedy. The stick, the only surviving work of Gudgell, is at Yale University. Henry Gudgell was the husband of Chloe Gudgell, and the couple had 9 children according to the 1870 U.S. Census. Henry served during the U.S. Civil War. Henry and his wife are buried in the Utica Cemetery in Utica, MO. [source: Find A Grave]. For more about the carvings on the cane see B. J. Crouther, "Iconography of a Henry Gudgell Walking Stick," Southeastern College Art Conference Review, vol. 12, issue 3 (1993), pp. 187-191; and see "Missouri Wood Carving," The Afro-American Tradition in Decorative Arts, by J. M. Vlach, Cleveland Museum of Art.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Southeastern College Art Conference review (periodical)
NKAA Source: The Afro-American tradition in decorative arts

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Gudgell, Henry,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 1, 2020,

Last modified: 2018-12-20 18:42:59