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Rush County, Indiana
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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


Doubtless the people of to day would like to know something of the founding of the present flourishing City of Rushville, sixty –five years ago. Located in the mist of an unbroken forest, it required brave hearts and industrious hands to undertake to build up a town. But the men were found able and willing to undertake it and succeed in spite of all difficulties in their way. Amaziah Morgan, Jehu Perkins, and John Julian, the first Commissioners of Rush County, met at the house of Jehu Perkins on the 1st of April, 1822, organized as a Board, and at once entered on their multiform duties. At a called meeting held on the 17th of June 1822, they received and approved the report of the Commissioners, Train Caldwell, Robert Luce, Samuel Jack, and James Delany, who had been appointed to locate the county seat. The next day, the 18th, they appointed Conrad Sailors 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 twenty-five acres, and Zachariah Hodges forty-five, to the county, to secure the location. Dr. W. B. Laughlin was a member of the Legislature when the county was set off, and had given it the name in honor of his preceptor, the illustrious Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia. Actuated by the same tender remembrance, he named the town. The 29th day of July was appointed for the public sale of lots. A number of lots were sold on that day, and 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. Next the public square and the principle streets were cleared through ungraded and full of stumps. In 1822 a jail was built, and in 1823 a courthouse was contracted for. This was the old fashion, square two story, brick building, and though there was little architectural beauty to recommend it, it was a substantial structure, and answered every purpose until in 1848, when the present more convenient and commodious building was erected.

At the October Term of court, 1822, the price of tavern license was fixed at $10, and the number of beds that must be kept for the accommodations of travelers, and the number of stalls in the stable were definitely set forth. The proof of these things was a pre-requisite for the obtaining of the license. Richard Thornberry and Jehu Perkins were the first to avail them selves of this privilege of keeping a tavern. Modern fashion would call these hotels. It may be noticed that both of these were in the country. The very first house erected upon the ground now occupied by Rushville, was a large double cabin built by Dr. W.B. Laughlin, in December of 1820, near the river, back of where John Fouts now resides. This location was selected on account of its nearness to a fine spring that gushes from the riverbank. This was an unusually large double cabin, with a hall running through the middle. It was necessarily large to accommodate the doctor's family of three sons and ten daughters.

Among the first to build after the sale of the lots, may be mentioned Stephen Simms, who built near where Dr. John Moffett lives, Clum, a shoemaker, had his cabin where the Orphans' Home now is. Miner's cabin was just south of Caldwell's livery stable, John Alley's, where Hufford's is, William Hart's, immediately west of this, Robert Thompson's, where J.R. Carmichael's store stands, A. Lauman, in the same block, a little north of it, Dr. H.G. Sexton's where the Mauzy double store is, Job Pugh's double two story house, stood where the National Bank now stands, Joseph Nichol's, where James Pattison now lives, Charles Veeder's in the park, where three or four locust trees now grow, Charles Test, where Dr. W.H. Smith's house stands, this he occupied as an office and dwelling until he married, when he bought William Hart's property on the mill race east of John Carmichael's mill; here he built a two story log house, which still remains, though changes from its original appearance by weather boarding, etc. The first stock of goods was brought by a Mr. Patterson, from Pittsburgh, who sold them in a house where Dr. M. Sexton's block is, east of the Windsor Hotel. Reu Pugh opened a dry goods store on the National Bank lot, Deming brought a stock and sold them in a building where Rush County Bank now stands, he afterward built the brick, south of the court house, where he carried on the business for several years, Major Newell built a two story log house, and sold goods, where Dr. W.A. Pugh lives, then came W. McCleary & Co. west of court house. Thomas Wooster opened a dry goods store in 1828. He had previously kept a grocery. The very first tavern was one kept by William Hart, west of Hufford's house. He kept this house for perhaps two years, then sold out to Charles Test, and moved away. Lauman, in 1823, opened one west of the courthouse, and Job Pugh, one north of the courthouse. This he sold to his brother Reu Pugh, after he was elected Recorder, the latter enlarged and improved the house, and carried on the business most successfully for many years. Reu Pugh was a most energetic businessman. He kept a first rate tavern, a dry goods and grocery store, had an extensive tanyard and a shoemaker's shop, thus largely increasing the business of the town. Joseph Hamilton came to Rushville in 1830, and opened a dry goods and grocery store, in a room where Toolen's block now stands. He afterward moved it to the McPike corner and finally built a brick building, which is now a part of the Grand Hotel. Here, at the old white corner, as it was usually called, he was for many years, carried on successfully, a general mercantile business and also kept a hotel, which made glad the heart of the weary traveler. In later years George Hibben, Laren & Flinn, Hibben & Flinn, Maddux & Havens, Hibben & Mauzy, and William Mauzey & Co. were among the leading merchants of Rushville. Joseph Thrasher was one of the early blacksmiths. His shop stood where Reeve & Burt's store is. Jack Irvin had a tailor's shop where Mrs. Mason's millinery store stands. Henry Beckwith had a wagon maker's shop on the south side of the courthouse. Alexander Glon was a well-known shoemaker in early times. Thomas Pugh carried on the business of hatter, in a shop that stood where Gwin's livery stable now stands. Hiram Bell had a blacksmith's shop south of the courthouse.

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.

Plats Of Rushville:
The original plat of Rushville contained 151 lots. As time rolled on and the population increased, it became necessary to enlarge the limits. The Laughlin addition was laid out and platted, November 17, 1836. It was immediately west of the original plat. This sufficed until September 17, 1847, when Bridges and Tingley recorded their addition situated west of the Laughlin addition along Buena Vista Avenue. In 1850, Smith and Carr platted their addition, lying west of Bridges and Tingley's, between the Indianapolis road and Ruth Street and north of the J. M. & I depot. This area was found to be insufficient for the increased and increasing population, and in April 1867, G. C. Clark, in response to the demand for more room, made his first addition, extending east of Main Street, between Elm and Lilac. Our High School is on Perkins between Lilac and Magnolia. These lots were taken up so rapidly that in May, 1868, he made his second addition, east of the first, and extending to Maple Street, and in May, 1869, he made his third from Maple to the point on which the second or colored Methodist Church stands. In February 1870, H.G. Sextons's first addition was made to the northwest part of town. In 1879, Lon Sexton made his addition between Main and Morgan streets. Theodore Jennings made an addition to the West and South part of town. H .G. Sexton's heirs made their second addition lying west of Jackson and north of West Fifth Street.

Besides the above important additions, there have been quite a number of smaller ones not necessary to be enumerated. These later additions have been rapidly taken up and improved by laboring men, through the benefit aid of the building associations. These associations are emphatically the friends of the poor man. Many a man now enjoys the blessings of a home that is in verity his own by their aid; without this organization he would be now a renter at the mercy of a landlord. The growth and development of Rushville has been steady and real, but scarcely keeping pace with the advance of the county in wealth and financial prosperity. 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. About 1856, Col. Alfred Posey built, and for several years run a large distillery, in what is now Circleville. This afforded a good market for all surplus grain. But the farmers found that it was more profitable to feed their corn to their hogs than to sell it, so that the distillery could not get enough to make the manufacture of whisky very remunerative to the owner.

In 1840, Harvey W. Carr, Joseph Nichols, Joseph McPike, and Dr. William Frame formed a company and built the steam mill to which was attached a saw mill. In the spring of 1845, John and Jesse Carmichael bought it. After running it some time, Jesse went out, and Lewis Maddux, James Hibben and John Carmichael became the owners. In a short time Hibben and Maddux sold their interest, and it has been ever since the property of John Carmichael. This mill was for many years the most popular mill in the county, and did an immense amount of work. In July of 1887, Mr. Carmichael put in the roller process works, so that he is now prepared to successfully compete with any mill in the county. In June 1857, T. & E. Moffett and John Winship built a large and very complete and well-equipped woolen mill, whose foundations stand on the riverbank south of the Presbyterian Church, it having been consumed by fire in 1887. This factory turned out first-class goods and gave employment to about twenty-five hands. In 1870, John Carmichael bought out the interests of Winship and Estell Moffett, it being the one-half interest of the concern; he paid for this $20,000. It was run a few years longer to the pecuniary loss of the proprietors. The City Mills were built by J. B. Fouch, in 1881, and are now doing a fine custom business under the present proprietor, T. W. Hilligoss. The latest devices in mill machinery are used in this mill.

It is not easy to fix definitely the date of incorporation of Rushville, as a town. Prior to the building of the present city hall, council meetings were held wherever convenient for the members, and the town records were not safely kept. For a time they were left in the office of a Justice of the Peace, on whose dockets were recorded fines and penalties against certain law-breakers. These individuals, thinking to destroy the judgments against them, broke into the Justice's office at night and carrying forth what books they could find, which unfortunately were the town records, built a fire in the streets and destroyed them. However, old citizens agree that the incorporation was effected prior to 1845, and it is generally believed that it was about 1842. The town Board held its last meeting September 6, 1883 (the records are signed by J. H. Bebout, president, and H. P. McGuire, Clerk), and on the same day the first meeting of the City Council was held, when Mayor 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 were duly installed. These gentlemen had been elected to the respective offices named, at a special election held on September 4, 1883. The Mayors of the city have been: George H. Puntenney from September 6, 1883, Wilson T. Jackson from May 9, 1884, H. G. L. S. Hilligoss from May7, 1886.

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