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Rush County, Kansas

Rush County was organized on December 5, 1874, by William Basham; P. C. Dixon; Adolph Ashcoft; and I. T. Templeton. The county is named for Alexander Rush, Captain of Company H, Second Colored Cavalry, killed at Jenkins Ferry, Arkansas, in April, 1864. It contains the cities of McCracken, Timken, Alexander, Liebenthal, Rush Center, La Crosse, Bison and Otis.

There was a county seat struggle between LaCrosse and Rush Center lasting 10 years until LaCrosse finally became the county seat. In 1943 the federal government constructed a helium plant near Otis. Although no longer in operation, it was one of the largest producers of helium in the United States. The location of many trails, including the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Trail, the Fort Hays-Fort Larned Trail and others played important roles in the county's history.

The first church was the Rush Center Methodist organized in June, 1874. The first county fair was held in 1910 south of Rush Center. The first school district was organized in Rush Center in 1875.

Many interesting figures come from 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.

For more information see the Rush County website. The Rush County Historical Society has several publications including a centennial history and unpublished materials on the county. The Barnard Library in LaCrosse also has resource materials.

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: October 2015

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