A Brief History of Rush County, Kansas
Courthouse 1930s
  • Established 1867
  • County Proclamation Signed December 1, 1874
  • Organized December 5, 1874
  • Named for Captain Alexander Rush

Most of the following historical accounts of Rush County and its cities were taken from "The 100 Year Rush", published by the Rush County News in 1974, and, "Rush County, Kansas.A Century in Story & Pictures", published by the Rush County Historical Society, 1976.

In 1869 the first settlers in Rush County lived along the Walnut Creek near a trading post and stockade on the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Trail, (now) the present town of Alexander. The prairie was active with coyotes, buffalo, deer, pheasants, and prairie chickens. By 1874, the area from Walnut City west to Alexander, was a bustling community of young settlers who were under the protection of the cavalry units of Fort Larned, Fort Hays, Fort Dodge, and Fort Scott.

Rush County was surveyed in 1867 and organized on December 5, 1874 by Kansas Governor Thomas Osborn. The county was named in honor of Captain Alexander Rush, Company H of the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry. P.C. Dixon filed the first claim in Rush County and settled on the banks of the Walnut Creek near present day Rush Center in 1870 receiving his grant from the land office in Salina in 1871. The first deed in Rush County was recorded in March 1875.

Walnut City was designated as the county seat and the city's name was changed to Rush Center. Within two years the county was re-surveyed and the southern tier of townships was given to neighboring Pawnee County in 1876. This changed the center of the county from Rush Center to LaCrosse. A conflict arose between the two towns when the county records were moved to LaCrosse as the intended county seat. The records were moved back and forth by wagon, amidst threats and gunfire, for years. However, no one was killed. LaCrosse was finally declared the permanent county seat and the present courthouse was erected in 1888.

In the 1880 census the 5,490 citizens of Rush County were well-educated, well-bred, young people who came from throughout the United States(4,275), Great Britain(133), Germany(178), Austria(72), Sweden(22), Bohemia(25), Canada(22), and Russia (763). There were 35 types of occupations listed, including 1,145 farmers, and one shipbuilder. Rush County was settled primarily by "persons of quality" who enriched this new frontier with their cultures. Women dressed in the latest fashions.

The Walnut City Daily News, July 1, 1887, reports: "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."