History

“Rushville has never been cursed by that unfounded and fictitious inflation of values, usually known as a boom, and which unscrupulous speculators, and tricksters for their own gain work up.” –Dr. John Arnold

In 1800, the Indiana Territory was organized. At that time, today’s Rush County, Indiana was part of the Indian Lands that made up most of the current state of Indiana. Statehood was granted in 1816. The Federal Census of 1820 found today’s Rush County a part of the huge, unorganized and sparsely populated area called Delaware County. According to Dr. John Arnold, one of the first settlers and historians of the community, Rush County was, “Located in the mist of an unbroken forest, it required brave hearts and industrious hands to undertake to build up a town.”

Within five years of the organization of the state of Indiana, many prosperous settlements had sprung up in what is now Rush County. With the organization of the county, it was divided into six townships: Union, Ripley, Noble, Washington, Richland, and Orange. Further division established Green, Rushville, Walker, Center, Jackson, Anderson, and Posey Townships.

The first Commissioners of Rush County met April 1, 1822 at the home of Jehu Perkins. In June, they appointed a group to locate the county seat, and the next day Conrad Sailors was appointed the agent to lay out the town, which was to consist of not less than 150, nor more than 200 lots, with a central square of a size sufficient for the public buildings that would be required. Dr. W.B. Laughlin had donated 25 acres and Zachariah Hodges 45, to the county, to secure the location. Dr. W.B. Laughlin was member of the Legislature when the county was set off, and had given it the name in honor of his mentor, the illustrious Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Laughlin is considered the “Founding Father” of Rushville. July 29 of that year was a day appointed for the public sale of lots, and according to Dr. Arnold, “soon the crash of fallen trees was heard, and the smoke and flame of burning log heaps was seen, as the clearing went on. Then the building of cabins speedily followed and Rushville was begun.”

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In 1822, a jail was built and in 1823, a courthouse was contracted. The current courthouse, an architectural masterpiece, was constructed in 1848. The growth of the community was steady. Railroads helped develop business and trade flourished, especially in grain. The first Rush County newspaper, Dog Fennel Gazette, was published in 1823, followed by the Herald. The East Hill Cemetery was established in 1859. In 1857, the first bank opened. Mills and elevators followed as well as carriage builders, machine works, a cigar factory, a furniture factory, a pump factory, and other enterprises. Railroads came to the community in 1850; however, it has remained a small city in productive rural surroundings.

The first postmaster in Rushville was Charles Veeder, in 1822. The first school taught in the township and county was by Dr. W. B. Laughlin, in 1821. The town was incorporated around 1842, and in September of 1883, the first meeting of the city council took place. The first mayor was George H. Puntenney, Clerk Joseph A. Armstrong, Marshal Samuel G. Vance, Treasurer William E. Harmes and Councilmen L. Link, A. Pavy, J.J. Fouts, J. Readle, Martin Bohannon, and J.B. Reeve.

Information from:
 The History of Rush County, Indiana
Chicago: Brant & Fuller. 1888.
Volume II, Chapter VIII. by John Arnold M.D.

For more information you can visit the Rush County Historical Society.