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Rush Center, Kansas

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Rush Center Railroad Section Section HouseThe 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.

 

With 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 Larned, Fort Hays, 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' Ferry, 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 1877.

 

This created a county seat “war” that would rage in the courts for the next decade. In the end, La Crosse won.

By 1878, Rush Center boasted a population for more than 1,500 people and City Bus Line carried passengers around town in elegant coaches.

 

When the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad arrived in 1886, more prosperity was brought to the town. The Pennsylvania House expanded its hotel, adding an additional ten rooms.

 

The Atchison, Topeka & 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.

 

 

 

However, when the tug-of-war between La Crosse and Rush Center finally ended, the town began to dramatically decline. At the turn of the century, it boasted a bank, a weekly newspaper called the Breeze, a mill and grain elevator, and a number of retail establishments, but its population in 1910 had fallen to only about 250 people.

 

Over the years, the population continued to fall and today, Rush Center supports only about 170 people. The old “county seat war” is celebrated every year in a two mile long St. Patrick's Day Parade, where the “courthouse" is carried by wagon back to Rush Center every March 17th.

 

Rush Center is Located about four miles south of La Crosse on U.S. Highway 183.

 

Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated February, 2014.

 

Rush Center, Kansas

Township Hall in Rush Center, Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

Rush Center, Kansas

This appears to be one of the only open businesses in this

 small town, Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

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