Rush County, Kansas
Towns & Places
Museums & Historic Sites
County map, 1899.
Located in the central part of the state, the first settlers in
what would become Rush County, originally lived along Walnut Creek near a trading
post and stockade on the Fort Hays - Fort Dodge Trail, in the present-day town of Alexander. The gently rolling prairie was filled with wildlife including deer,
pheasant, prairie chickens, coyotes and buffalo, from which many of the men made
The area was officially surveyed in 1867 and the first claim was
filed by P.C. Dixon who settled on the banks of the Walnut Creek near Walnut City
(later Rush Center ) in 1870. Other
early settlers were
William Basham, Adolph Ashoft, and the family of J.S. Templeton who came in
September, 1871. His son was the first white child born in the county. More
followed including A. A. Stilson, F. E. Garner,
Alexander Harvey, James Corrall and
Joseph Shaw Brown.
The first post office in what would become Rush County was
opened in Economy on October 3, 1871, but would be short lived, as it closed
just a few months later on January 18, 1872. In 1873, Reverend A. Hartman, a
Methodist minister held the first church services.
By 1874, the area between Walnut City and Alexander
was bustling with young settlers under the protection of the cavalry units of
Fort Dodge, and
Fort Scott. The county was officially organized on December 5, 1874 and named in honor of Captain Alexander Rush, of the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry,
who was killed at Jenkins' Ferry,
Arkansas. Walnut City was designated as the temporary county seat and the
city's name was changed to Rush Center.
Just a few weeks
later, the first newspaper was published, called the Walnut Valley Standard
at Rush Center, by W. P. Tomlinson on December 24th. It would continue to be
published until it moved to La Crosse in the spring of 1877. The first store in the county was a grocery, established in
Center township in 1874 by John Hubbard.
Though the area was beginning to grow, just two years after the
county was formed, it was re-surveyed and the southern tier of townships were
transferred to neighboring Pawnee County in 1876. This changed the center of the
county from Rush Center to La Crosse and an election was held to permanently move
the records to La Crosse in 1877.
A conflict arose between the two towns when the county records
were moved to La Crosse and the following year, another election was held that
once again made Rush Center the county seat and the records were taken back.
When the City of La Crosse took the matter to the District Court on charges of
fraud, Rush Center failed to respond and a judgment was
rendered in favor of La Crosse
In the meantime, the records were being moved back and forth between the two
towns wagon, amidst threats and gunfire, but thankfully, no one was killed. Rush
Center; however, wasn't done with the dispute and took the case to the Supreme
Court who rendered the decision once again in favor of Rush City in 1886. This gave rise to a new county seat election. Under the law a
petition of two-thirds of the legal voters was necessary to secure a special
election in this case. The petition was secured and the election was held on
August 23, 1887, resulting in favor of La Crosse.
Rush County Courthouse
is listed on the National Register
of Historic Places, courtesy
The haggling continued over
paperwork technicalities until finally in March, 1888, the courts found that La
Crosse had won the war and the records were to be returned. When Rush Center did
not voluntarily provide the records, a large body of La Crosse citizens,
fortified by about 50 farmers went to Rush Center and forcibly took possession
of the county property. A courthouse was erected the same year and continues to
stand today, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the meantime, the county continued to grow and numerous small settlements
dotted the landscape. On July 1, 1887, the Walnut City Daily News
reported: "Rush County does not number one pauper among her 8000
inhabitants; the prisons of the state or county do not contain a single one of
our citizens, and her court dockets are as small as those of any county in the
state. We challenge any county in the state to make a better showing."
The county was crossed by two railroads, both of which entered on
the east line from Barton County -- the Missouri Pacific running through La
Crosse, and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe from Great Bend went through
By 1900, the county population, living on 718 miles in the
county, was 6,134. Over the years, it has fallen, as small farms have given way
to larger ones and many of the youth have moved to cities. The population of the
county today is about 3,300.
Also making an exit were many of the small settlements that
once survived in Rush County. At one time, some two dozen towns dotted the Rush
County plains, some with post offices, some not. Just a couple of these have
some remains, but most do not. See Rush
County Extinct Towns.
The current towns of
Rush County include:
Rush County Economic
P.O. Box 326