Henry Francios Farny was born Franzois Henri Farny in July 15, 1847, in Ribeauville, Alsace, France, to Charles (b. 2/20/1811, France; d. 12/19/1863, Cin'ti ?) and Jeanette Weygand (Weigand?) Farny. The family moved to the United States in 1853 and settled in Pennsylvania for a few years. In 1859, they moved to Cincinnati.
After the death of his older brother and father in 1861 and 1863, respectively, he dropped out of Woodward High School to work at various jobs. One of the jobs he was said to have had was apprentice lithographer of Civil War battle scenes for Gibson & Company. In 1865, he sold his first illustration to Harper's Weekly. On his illustrations, they mistakenly reversed his first two initials (F. H. to H. F.) and ever after that he went by the name Henry F. Farny.
This started his travels to improve his artistic abilities. In 1866, he went to New York to work for Harper Brothers, but left the following year to study in Europe. He returned to Cincinnati around 1870, where he worked as a commercial artist. At this time and for several years, he lived with his mother at 259 Hamilton Road, later renamed McMicken Avenue. He returned to Europe in 1873. After returning to Cincinnati in 1874-1875, he traveled back to Europe from 1875-76.
After doing illustrations for McGuffey's Readers in 1879 and being hired as the first artist at Maria Longsworth Nichols' Rookwood Pottery Company (he designed a logo for the business), he began a series of trips to the West from 1881 to 1894. From these trips, he collected the material and sketches for the many Indian paintings he would create for the remainder of his life.
H. F. Farny's illustration for John Greenleaf Whittier's "The Fish I Didn't Catch" in McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader, Revised Edition, 1879.
Farny moved to Norwood in 1885 to live with his younger sister Marguerete, or as he called her, Maggie, and her husband, A. C. Strobel, in East Norwood. The Strobels had moved to their new home at 2352 Harper Avenue in 1884. It is difficult to determine exactly when Farny lived in Norwood. He lived here until 1889 or 1890 (at which time he moved to Covington, Kentucky, where he resided until 1907). Since this was the time he was traveling out west, his boarding at the Strobel home was broken into several time periods. During this time he had a studio at Room T, Pike's Building in downtown Cincinnati. Also, living here was his mother, Jeannette Farny. She died at this house November 5, 1899, at the age of 89. The funeral services were held at the Strobel residence on November 8, at 10 a.m.
He probably took the narrow-gauge passenger train of the Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern Railroad between his home in East Norwood and his studio in Cincinnati. The East Norwood passenger station would have been a short walk of about three blocks from the Strobel/Farny residence down Pine Street. Many Norwood men, including Farny's brother-in-law Strobel, who worked at the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, and George Puchta, co-owner of Puchta & Pund – later renamed Queen City Supply Company, took the same train. Two of the Lloyd brothers (Ashley and John Uri) may have rode this train, also, since they worked downtown and lived on Harris Avenue, within one and three blocks, respectively, of the station.
According to the 1900 Census, Farny lived at 1031 Banklick Street, Covington, Kentucky, with his wife Lilly (b. 1866) and his adopted son Thomas Ray (b. 1885). They had been married 13 years — since around 1887, when she was around 21 and he was 40 — a 19-year difference. Since Henry was living in Norwood at that time, this indicates that his wife Lilly was living at the Strobel's home in Norwood after the wedding and probably for at least a couple of years afterwards.
Farny later moved to Clifton in Cincinnati (424 Straight St.), his residence when he died on July 15, 1916, at Deaconess Hospital. His wife at this time was Ann Ray Farny (1887-1941), who was much younger than he — by 40 years! Their son was Daniel Farny (1908-1980). Daniel's wife was Marie A. Farny (1912-1995).