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Rush County, Kansas

Rush County, Kansas, experienced a decade long dispute over the location of the county seat. Rush Center and La Crosse, fought out this argument with not only threats, but with a legal battle involving the District and Kansas Supreme Courts.

Rush County, Kansas, organized in 1874, was named after Captain Alexander Rush, who fought and died in the Civil War. Rush County was once part of the land that was the old Washington County, Peketon County, and later an enlarged Marion County. The Fort Hays-Fort Dodge and Fort Hays-Fort Larned Trails went through the county.

During the 1870s and 1880s the county experienced an intense dispute over the county seat that lasted around ten years. Boundaries changes in the county changed the center of the county and argument began between rivals Walnut City, now called Rush Center, and La Crosse. The county seat was shuffled back and forth as part of an intense battle involving the district and Supreme courts, threats, and armed men taking the records, although no lives were ever lost. Legal battles and many elections occurred during the years of dispute. Eventually the Kansas legislature had to step in and enact a law in 1889 that “legitimized” the 1887 election, and the issue was settled with La Crosse as the victor.    

During the 1870s Ellis and Rush Counties experienced an immigration of Volga-Germans from Russia. One of the communities they founded, Liebenthal, is in Rush County.

Throughout the years of Rush County’s history, there have been several important events in the county. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad arrived in Rush Center in 1887. In 1912, A.K. Longren held an expedition in La Crosse. The discovery of a vessel of the Pratt Complex of the Middle Ceramic Period was found at the Seuser Archeology Site.

During World War II, the federal government constructed a helium plant in the county. Although no longer in operation it was one of the largest producers of helium in the United States. While the government plant was shut down after World War II, and then reopened in 1951, only to be closed again in the late 1960s, the helium industry is still important to the county. BOC Industrial Gases is running one of the largest helium extraction plants in the world.

Rush County has several properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Rush County Courthouse was built in the late 1880s.

There are interesting individuals with connections to Rush County. Thomas McGras, a Civil War Medal of Honor winner, homesteaded in Rush County in 1875. Levi Burlingame was featured by Ripley’s “Believe it or Not,” as the oldest jockey. Howard R. Barnard, a nationally known educational figure, won fame by establishing what was probably the first consolidated school in history, and for his establishment of a progressive elementary school, “Entre Nous College” located in Rush County.

Quick Facts

Date Established: February 26, 1867
Date Organized: December 5, 1874
County Seat: La Crosse
Kansas Region: Southwest
Physiographic Region: Smoky Hills and Arkansas River Lowlands
Courthouse: May 1, 1889


1867 - Rush County is established on February 26.
1874 - Rush County is organized.
1870 - 1880s-A county seat dispute between Rush Center and La Crosse continues
1943 - Helium plant is established by the government. 

More on Rush County


Entry: Rush County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: August 2023

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.