Rush County, Indiana Genealogy

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County Courthouse


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 it is known today, was organized 31 December 1821 from a portion of that unorganized territory.  It was named for Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia.

Driven from their 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 sixteen by twenty feet, constructed of logs with fireplaces and chimneys, furnished with rough, home-made furniture.  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. Much feared were panthers and wolves, which threatened the livestock. Large families were typical.  Hospitality was generous.

Early industries included grist mills, saw mills, and a distillery.  Public schools were establishes 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 supported the election of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 election.  As the South seceded, Indiana responded to the call for volunteers. Ultimately 2,483 men served with the Union forces in the Civil War, some of them reenlistments.

County seat: Rushville [1]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

Before the city hall was built in 1881, records were not carefully protected.  At one point they were kept in the office of the Justice of the Peace.  Persons desiring to destroy criminal records broke in and stole the town records by mistake, and burned them.


Populated Places

  • Rushville, the county seat, was founded in 1823.  It was incorporated in 1845.  The town was laid out in 1822, with a central square and 151 lots.  The first house in Rushville was erected in December 1820.  The first railroad came to Rushville in 1850.
  • Carthage is located on the bank of Big Blue River, in Ripley Township.  It was laid out in 1834.  Quakers were instrumental in its establishment.
  • Milroy was founded in Anderson Township, in a particularly fertile farming district.  Lots were first offered for sale in 1830.
  • Manilla, was out in 1836 in Walker Township.  The town was originally named Wilmington.
  • Arlington, formerly Burlington, was laid out in 1832.
  • New Salem was platted by its first inhabitants in 1831.
  • Glenwood, laid out in 1882, was first named Vienna, and then briefly called Steels.
  • Falmouth was business location of considerable trade before it was platted in 1832.  The original town, laid out about 1824, was mostly in Fayette County.
  • Raleigh, located in the center of Washington Township, was called Newburn originally.  The name was changed when it was platted in 1847.  The postoffice, however, was called McCan's.
  • Other small villages: Hamilton Station, Mays, Moscow, Gings, Homer, Richland.
  • Abandoned: Williamsport, Marcellus, Mt. Etna, Carmel, Ashland, Savannah, Earl City, Smith.

Neighboring Counties


Cemeteries - See InGenWeb Project, USGenWeb,  Indiana State Library Cemetery List

Church - See list, INGenWeb Project, USGenWeb


The county clerk has probate and court records from 1820 to the present.



Land records are held by the county recorder.  Records from 1789-1837 are published and indexed.  Early records, prior to 1807, were handled in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Local Histories

  • History of Rush County, Indiana: from the earliest time to the present, with biographical sketches, notes, etc., together with a short history of the northwest, the Indiana territory, and the state of Indiana. (2003. Kokomo, IN: Selby Pub.)   FHL US/CAN Film 934918 Item 2  FHL Collection  other libraries   INTERNET ARCHIVE

History of Rush County, Indiana, Brant and Fuller, 1888, Chicago

Centennial History of Rush County, Indiana,  A.L. Gary and E.B. Thomas, 1921, Indianapolis



Civil War

Civil War service men from Rush County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Rush County.

Civil War Books

  • "Military History" Chapter 6 in History of Rush County, Indiana: from the earliest time to the present, with biographical sketches, notes, etc., together with a short history of the northwest, the Indiana territory, and the state of Indiana. (2003. Kokomo, IN: Selby Pub.), (page 447-523, Regiment, Companies), FHL US/CAN Film 934918 Item 2  FHL Collection  other libraries   INTERNET ARCHIVE



Found in the office of the county clerk beginning in 1822.


Vital Records

Birth records prior to 1907 are in the County Health Department. After that date they are found at the State Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Indianapolis.  Indiana  death records from 1920 are found In the State Deparment of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, and prior to that date in the County Health Department.

The County Clerk's office has marriage records

Societies and Libraries 

Web Sites


  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).