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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Rushville -- Sheridan County

Rushville school, 1913. Students campaigning for a new school.
View of Rushville at 1st and Main from top of the roller mill looking southeast. City water supply in foreground. ca. 1904
Main Street Rushville in early 1900s looking south.
Sam Cornell's Saloon, early 1900s.

A community called Rush Valley was established two miles north of the present site of Rushville in 1884. Buffalo grass pastures west of the Sandhills provided good pasture, but this grass was too short for hay. Natural meadows along Rush Creek induced many to settle in the area.

Two stores were soon established in the valley. Henry Crow had the first store and post office; his competitor was Cal Weeter, whose store was a mile north.

True to form, when the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley Railway churned westward across the county in 1885, it missed the established community. However, merchants from Rush Valley were among the first to purchase lots from the railroad-controlled Pioneer Townsite Company. They built structures and moved their goods to the new town of "Rushville" on the iron highway.

The first merchants in the new town were Morse and Tully. Their original store was in a tent just west of the new town but they soon erected a frame building. Most early businesses were housed in structures that were framed up part way and topped with a tent.

Rushville's claim to "a healthy climate" is supported by the fact that the cemetery was started when a man was shot to death. (George Ginger shot his partner, William Shafer, when the railroad was being built.) Ginger was taken to the seat of government at that time, Sidney, 120 miles away, where he stood trial, was convicted, and sent to the penitentiary.

At a meeting of the county board on October 9, 1885, a petition was presented asking for the incorporation of the Village of Rushville. The first trustees were: Peter Bruhn, Chris Mosler, Ed McEachron, L.F.Enderly, and O.Meservy. A tax levy of seven mills was passed in June of 1886.

Rushville utilized the advantages of the courthouse, the railroad, and the nearby Oglala Sioux reservation to become a supply point for a large trade territory. Through population gain and loss, Rushville has become a solid community that continues to provide for the area.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs maintained a large warehouse in Rushville north of the railroad for freight shipped to the Oglalas until the 1960s. "Buffalo Bill" Cody headquartered in Rushville when he was hiring Native Americans for his Wild West Shows. Cody paid them in script that was redeemable only at the Asay Store while the performers were in Rushville. (While Mr.Asay tended the store, it is said that Cody entertained Mrs. Asay at picnics on the Niobrara River.) In later years, Cody returned to Rushville to film a re-enactment of the "Battle of Wounded Knee." The Oglala Sioux reservation still continues to be a major part of the Rushville economy.

As townsmen and rural residents prospered, many gave generous gifts to the community. The Modisett brothers, a banker and a rancher, gave the town a ball park, a city park, a card club, a golf course, half of the Masonic Lodge and an airport. They also left enough money in trust to care for these facilities. Their sister, Rosa Corder, built a ladies comfort station. The gift included trust money to hire an attendant and maintain the building. H.O.Morse, farmer and merchant, donated money to build the Methodist Church. Ida and Bill Holzberger, farmers, built and donated the Lutheran Church. Mr. and Mrs. Cravath, ranchers, built the elementary school, the library, and the other half of the Masonic Lodge. The Sheridan County Historical Society received money from the estate of Carl Lockmon. Mr. and Mrs. Albert Dale, bankers, gave money to the local hospital. Recently an investment fund to generate interest to be used for worthy causes was set up by the Gottschalk-Barnes family, long time publishers of the local newspaper.

By Robert W.Buchan, Box 86, Sheridan County Historical Society,

Rushville, NE 69360