Q: When it was laid out in 1871, this western Kansas town was called Walnut City. By 1878, the town had a population of 1,500. But this community was on the losing end of the longest county seat war in Kansas history and these days, fewer than 200 people call this place home. What's the name of this western Kansas town once called Walnut City?
A: Rush Center
Located in west-central Kansas, Rush Center began its life as Walnut City and was once the county seat of Rush County. The county was named in honor of Captain Alexander Rush, Company H of the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry.
At one point, the county lines were redrawn. This led to conflict over the location of the county seat. A bloodless "county seat war" began between the towns of Rush Center and LaCrosse. The county seat moved back and forth between these two towns more than five times in 14 years. The county records were moved back and forth by wagon, under threats and gunfire, for years. However, no one was killed. According to the Kansas Historical Society, the longest county seat war in Kansas finally ended in 1888, when the Rush County Courthouse was built in LaCrosse.
In the 1880 census, the 5,490 citizens of Rush County were well-educated, well-bred, young people who came from throughout the United States and several other countries (including Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Bohemia, Canada and Russia). There were 35 types of occupations listed, including 1,145 farmers and one shipbuilder. The census reported that Rush County was settled primarily by "persons of quality" who enriched this new frontier with their cultures.
The Walnut City Daily News, July 1, 1887, reports: "Rush County does not number one pauper among her 8,000 inhabitants; the prisons of the state or county do not contain a single one of our citizens, and her court dockets are as small as those of any county in the state. We challenge any county in the state to make a better showing."
Fun factoid: Rush Center may no longer be the county seat but it has a pretty good St. Patrick's Day parade every year!