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Rush County, Indiana
Genealogy and History

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

Transcribed for the Rush Co. INGenWeb Project by Mark S. Mount

RUSHVILLE continued

Until 1881, the town owned no public buildings. The need of a suitable city hall had long been felt, and in January, 1881, bids pursuant to advertisements were presented to the town board for the building of a council chamber and engine house. The bids were as follows: Robert W. Perry, $2,600; E.O. Dale, $2,800.00, Pearce & Woodward, $2,981.50; Mock & Walker, $2,900.00 That of Robert W. Perry was accepted and proper contracts were entered into. In February following an ordinance was passed authorizing the issue of bonds for $10,00.00 for the purchase of ground, building of council chamber and engine house, and construction of wells and cisterns. The amount provided was not sufficient for the purposes named, and subsequently additional bonds for $2,000.00 were issued. In early spring work was commenced on the building, and soon thereafter it was ready for occupancy. The building is well and substantially built of brick with stone trimmings, is two stories high and of sufficient size to answer all the requirements of the city. On the upper floor are the city offices and council chamber, and below is the engine house. It is situated near the center of the square on Elizabeth Street, between Main and Morgan streets. The present city officers, besides the Mayor above named, are H. P. McGuire, Clerk, and David Graham, Treasurer.

Fire Department
Prior to 1881 there was no organized fire department in Rushville. In that year and engine with the best Latta coil, a hose cart and hose, were purchased by the town, from Ahrens & Company, of Cincinnati, Ohio, for $4,350. The department is now well equipped and efficient. Twenty-one men are employed, with Samuel Finney, Chief, and Stewart Beal, Engineer. Three well trained horses belong to the department.

Gas Company
The gas works in this city were established as a private enterprise, in 1878, by J. G. Isham & Company, of Cincinnati, Ohio. About $25,000 are invested in the plant which is now under the management of Mr. Frank Brown. There are nine miles ofmains and one tank with a capacity of 10,000 feet. About 3,000,000 feet per annum are used. The gas is made of oil furnished by the Standard Oil Company, of which about 24,000 gallons are consumed annually - citizens pay $3.50 per thousand feet for gas. The city used seventy-eight posts and pays for each post $15 per year.

Natural Gas
Recently with a hope of finding natural gas in paying quantities several wells in and near Rushville have been bored. Three have been bored by private subscription. In some of these wells gas was found at a depth of 900 or 1,000 feet, but not in large quantities. A well is now being dug four miles from the city, on the farm of Frank Cross, as a city enterprise, to be paid for by taxation. Should this well prove worthless provision has been made by the city for boring another well farther away from the city, in the diection of Carthage. Mr. George C. Clark, at his own expense, is sinking a well on the south end of the Oliver Posey farm, near the city limits.

As the press is one of the educators of our country, and exerts a powerful influence in giving tone and character to society, mention of its history in this county is made. It is rather difficult to give the correct data, as the files of newspapers have not been preserved, and the historian must depend mainly on the personal recollections of old citizens.

The first paper ever published in Rush County was a unique sheet dubbed the Dog Fennel Gazette, about ten by twelve inches. Though small, it was spicy and rich, filled with the local news of the county, humor, drollery and keen sarcasm. Its sole editor and proprietor was William D. M. Wickman, an original genius of the first water. The press itself was decidedly pioneer; the bed of it was the top of a sycamore stump, and the lever a long pole inserted into a mortise in a tree standing by its side; on this he printed his Gazette and all the bills called for by the business of the county. This he used for some time, but finally made a great advance by constructing a press of heavy oak timbers. This he called "Wickman's Velocity Press", and did what was then considered good printing. The first number of the Dog Fennel Gazette was issued in the latter part of 1822 or early part of 1823. This paper for many years supplied the wants of the community, until Samuel Davis and Thomas Wallace, two young and practical printers from Cincinnati, started a more pretentious sheet, called the Rushville Herald. A son of Wallace is now the partner of Puntenney in the Jacksonian office. The Herald was a Whig in its political affinities, though it was mainly devoted to the dissemination of useful information and the current news of the day. It was published for many years by this firm, until somewhere about the year 1840, it was sold to Donovan & Tizzard, who transformed it into a Democratic journal called the Hoosier and Rushville Democratic Archive. About this time, in this ever memorable year of the greatest political enthusiasm ever known in this country, when the honored name of Harrison, so inseparably associated with the early history of the West, with all itsstirring events, its hardships, its bloddy battle-fields and its triumphs, fired the hearts of the people and caused them to arise as one man and shout for the Hero of Tippecanoe, P. A. & O. C. Hackleman started a paper kknown as the Rushville Whig. P.A. Hackleman was its editor and greatly distinguished himself by his ability during this exciting campaign. Several years later the paper became the property of Cowing & Cox, who changed its name to the True Republican and advocated the principles of that party; this was in 1855 or 1856. It is not definitely known when the True was dropped, but it has been for a great number of ears what is now is, the Republican. In a few years, this firm sold to another of the same name, but composed of different individuals, who sold to Andrew Hall, about 1860 or1861. In 1864, L. J. Cox had it for about one year, and then sold it to Conde & Shumm, who were succeeded in 1866 by William Shumm. In 1870, F. T. Drebert became its editor and proprietor, and some time in 1875, sold to the Stiver Brothers, who in turn sold out to the present able editor, John F. Moses. At a subsequent period George C. Clark occupied the editorial tripod, and by the power and clearness of his editorial matter and the good taste of his selections, gave the paper a deserved popularity. The Hoosier and Rushville Democratic Archive continued for some time, and was then sold to Samuel S. Bratton, and it was by him call the Jacksonian, and was edited by Finley Bigger, Esq. Afterward, a Kentucky gentleman of the name of Norris purchased it from Bratton, but Finley Bigger still continued to be its editor; afterward it passed by turn into the hands of George W. Hargett, John L. Robinson, R. S. Sproule, E. S. Hibben, Finley Bigger and many others, whose names cannot be recalled. It has been for many years the Property of Puntenney & Wallace, and represents fairly and defends strongly the doctrines of the Democratic party. At different times, several other papers have been started, but the ventures have always proved disastrous to their authors except in the case of the Graphic, which came into existence July 1, 1882. Dr. S. W. McMahan and G. W. Campbell were its founders, and for some time it was ably edited by the latter. The only change in its management was made in November,1886, when John K. Gowdy bought the interest of Mr. Campbell, and assumed the duties of editor in chief. It was started as a business enterprise and has already achieved much of the success hoped for by its orginators. It is a Republican journal and gives loyal and valuable service to the party whose principles it promulgates.