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History of Rush County, Indiana


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.  Rush County, as we know it today, was organized 31 December 1821 from a portion of that unorganized territory.  It was named for Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philidelphia.


Driven from its homes in the East, the Delaware Indian tribe resettled in western Pennsylvania, then in eastern and central Indiana.  As a consequence of treaties, the final one written in 1819, their lands in Indiana were ceded to the federal government, and they moved beyond the Mississippi River.  In October 1820 the newly surveyed land was offered to purchasers.  In 1821 278 persons made land entries.


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 settlers were hunters and trappers, some of whom became permanent settlers.  Timber was cleared and cabins built, usually about 16 X 20 feet, constructed of logs, with fireplaces and chimneys, furnished with rough, home made items.  Wild game was plentiful.  Wool and flax were spun and textiles woven. Stumps were pulled and land was cleared and planted.  Domestic animals foraged in the abundant wild foliage.  Large families were typical.  Hospitality was generous.  Much feared were panthers and wolves, which threatened livestock.


Early industries included grist mills, saw mills, and a distillery.  Public schools were established in 1837.


Early churches, in order of membership numbers, were: Church of Christ,  Methodist Episcopal,  Baptist,  Presbyterian, Quaker,  Catholic,  Christian Union,  Wesleyan, and Adventist.


Rushville, the county seat, was founded in 1823, and the first courthouse was contracted for that year.  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 Cemetary was established.  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.  However, it has remained a small city in productive rural surroundings.


Rush County vigorously engaged in the political campaign of 1860, and Abraham Lincoln carried the county.  As the South seceded, Indiana supported the President.  The President's call for volunteers received solid support.  Ultimately, 2,483 men made up the Rush County military force, some of whom were reenlistments.



 

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