first claim to be filed in the area was made by P.C. Dixon who settled on the
the banks of the Walnut Creek near what would become Walnut City (later Rush
Center) in 1870. He was soon followed by the family of J. S. Templeton in
August, 1871. He and his wife soon had a son that they named Samuel Alpha, who
was the first child born in Rush County.
the promise of bountiful crops on the rich bottom lands of Walnut Valley, more
and more settlers came to the area and the settlement that formed was first
called Walnut City. The first post office was established on February 13, 1874.
At that time, 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. Rush 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'
Arkansas. Walnut City was designated as the temporary county seat and the
city's name was changed to Rush Centre (the spelling would be changed in 1895.)
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.
Within no time, a number of homes and
businesses were established and the first school district was organized in 1875.
That same year, the impressive two-story Pennsylvania House, a hotel and
restaurant, was built. The hotel initially contained 36 rooms, a large windmill
for fresh water, two fireplaces, and a wide "covered entry porch."
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
This created a county seat “war” that would
rage in the courts for the next decade. In the end, La Crosse won.
1878, Rush Center boasted a population for more than 1,500 people and City Bus
Line carried passengers around town in elegant coaches.
& Santa Fe Railroad arrived in 1886, more prosperity was brought to the town. The
Pennsylvania House expanded its hotel, adding an additional ten rooms.
& Santa Fe Railroad also built a Harvey
House Hotel which contained 50 rooms, a restaurant, three fireplaces, a
wrap-around porch, and a passenger depot for the City Bus Line.