Rushville’s History

1822 – The Beginning

Rushville, which is the county seat of Rush County, was first organized as an unincorporated town in 1822 by Dr. William B. Laughlin.


According to a historical marker to honor Dr. Laughlin, Laughlin was “The first and most prominent citizen of Rushville, Rush County, Indiana.  Laughlin helped create the county in the legislature, he located, surveyed and named the town, he built the first house, he built and taught at the first school, he built the academy and the first mill and gave $2,000 for the first church (Presbyterian).”  Dr. Laughlin named the county Rush and the city Rushville in honor of his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence.  


1838 – Rushville Becomes an Incorporated Town

Rushville officially became a town in 1838.  It was this year that the records of the county commissioners’ court reveal that on September 4, 1838, Jeptha Woods, John Lewis, John Kelso, John Dixon, Samuel Davis and forty-seven others had petitioned the court to grant an order of incorporation for the Town of Rushville.  An election was ordered for September 17 for the purpose of electing a board of five trustees for the town.  The record of this election as well as the early minutes of the town are missing.

The reason for this, as the story goes, was on the night of September 11, 1875, burglars broke into the office of Robert Hinchman, justice of the peace at Rushville, in which the board of the town held its meetings and kept its records.  The burglars stole the corporation records, two ordinance books and certain other books and carried them away.  It later being discovered that the books had been destroyed by fire on a vacant lot on the outskirts of town.  The object of the vandalism was thought to be the destruction of records implicating certain persons at the time under judgment of Squire Hinchman’s court, for violations of the local liquor laws.  It is believed that the vandals believed they were destroying the records of the justice’s court when they took the town records, and in ignorance they destroyed the only records of the early proceedings of the town board.

The minute book of the town corporation opened following the act of vandalism with the following notation “Up to the time of the destruction of the corporation records, the board of trustees had held eleven meetings and all the member of the board with the exception of Mr. Rounds had missed being present at one.  The above statement I know to be correct.”  The opening minute of the proceedings of the board at the meeting following, which was held in the office of the Rushville Republican, September 20, 1875, shows that the clerk was ordered to buy a new set of record books for the corporation.  The minutes were signed by Dr. John Moffett, president of the board.  From that time on, until the adoption of the city charter in 1883, succeeding Dr. Moffett as president of the board were John B Schrichte, John P Guffin, Edward D Beher, James D Glore and John H Bebout.

1883 – Rushville Becomes a City

On August 21 1883 there was an election to decide the question of incorporation of Rushville as a city.  The vote was largely in favor of incorporation.  The vote stood Yes 389, No 131.  The council was to divide the town into not less than three wards, each having not less than 200 inhabitants.  The officers shall be mayor, two councilman from each ward, city clerk, assessor, treasurer, civil engineer, street commissioner and Marshal.  One Councilman from each ward shall hold his office one year to be determined by draw, and the other councilman of the ward for two.  Annually thereafter one councilman shall be elected in each ward.

Today – Rushville operates as a third-class city

Rushville operates as a third-class city, a designation given to Indiana cities with a population less than 35,000 people.  Rushville is managed by a Mayor, Clerk-Treasurer, City Council (5 Members) and a Board of Works (5 Members).