LEGENDS OF KANSAS

 

History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs

 

 

Rush County, Kansas

 

 

rush County, Kansas

 

Towns & Places

Extinct Towns

Museums & Historic Sites

Rush County Pioneers

Rush County Slideshow (See Below)

 

 

Rush County, Kansas Map, 1889

Rush 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 their livings.

 

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 Larned, Fort Hays, 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 on default. 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, Kansas Courthouse

Rush County Courthouse is listed on the National Register

 of Historic Places, courtesy Rush County, Kansas

 

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 Rush Center.

 

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:

 

City

Population (estimated 2006-2010)

Alexander

68 - Semi-Ghost Town

Bison

255

La Crosse - County Seat

1,274

Liebenthal

105 - Semi-Ghost Town

McCracken

197 - Semi-Ghost Town

Nekoma (unincorporated)

?? - Ghost Town

Otis

319

Rush Center

169 - Semi-Ghost Town

Timken

79 - Semi-Ghost Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Information:

 

Rush County, Kansas

Rush County Economic Development
P.O. Box 326
La Crosse, Kansas 67548-0326

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.

 

About the Article: Much of the historic text in this articles comes from Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, edited by Frank W. Blackmar,  published  in 1912 as well as Kansas: History of the State of Kansas, by William G. Cutler; published in 1883. However, other sources have also been used, the content combined, and heavily edited.

 

Rush County Slideshow:

 

 

All images available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

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Kansas Historic Book Collection - 35 Historic Books on CDKansas Historic Book Collection - 35 Historic Books on CD - The Historical Kansas Book Collection is a collection of 35 volumes relating to the history of Kansas and its people primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries. Several of the volumes have great period illustrations and portraits of relevant historical figures. Includes such titles as the History of Kansas (1899), History of Kansas Newspapers (1916), All five volumes of A Standard History of Kansas (1918), Pioneer Days in Kansas (1903), and dozens of others.

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