Henry Exall was born on August 30, 1848 in Richmond, Virginia to Rev. George G. and Angy E. Pierce Exall. He was educated in the school run by his father, Rev. Exall who was a Baptist minister. Henry was thirteen when the Civil War broke out and enlisted two years later, serving in the 10th Virginia Cavalry from the spring of 1863 until the end of the hostilities. He briefly practiced law but was more attracted by business.
Exall moved to Kentyck in 1867 where he was engaged in merchandising and the manufacture of woolen clothing. He married the former Emma Warner of Owensboro, Kentucky in 1969. The couple had three children, all of whom died when they were young. Emma also died in 1875. Exall traveled to Texas on business in 1877 and decided to relocate to the young state. He briefly lived in Fort Worth where he started a cattle business before moving to Lamasas in 1881 where he traded in real estate. He finally moved to Dallas where he remained the rest of his life. Exall became active in business affairs and served in a number of organizations that supported the cattle business, commercial banking and business. In business, Exall was active in the Cotton Centennial in New Orleans, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the National Corn Exposition and the Texas Industrial Congress. He was also active in politics. He was an effective campaign organizer, though it is believed that he never ran for public office himself.
He was active in the Dallas real estate and banking businesses. Exall was one of the organizers of North Texas National Bank and held the office of vice president in that company. As the city grew north, Exall was influential in the development of Highland Park. He built a dam on Turtle Creek that created Exall Lake, now a narrow water feature of Highland Park.
After a number of years of being single, he married the former May Dickson with whom he had one son. In the late 1880s, he served as President of the Texas State Fair and Dallas Exposition, a predecessor to the State Fair of Texas. Exall was favorably regarded and though he became quite wealthy, it was said of him in the “History of Dallas County” that “every dollar of all that fortune he has made for himself is represented by ten dollars made for the people among whom he lives.” Exall died in 1913 and the City of Dallas named Exall Park in his honor.