In 1831 Rushville had sufficient population to permit of its organization as an incorporated town, and on May 10 of that year an election was held to gain the coveted distinction. In the poll of those who voted to incorporate are found many names familiar to the present generation, for children and grandchildren of those early pioneers still continue to make Rushville their home. The twenty voters who were unanimous in favor of incorporation were: John Scripps, Hart Fellows, William C. Ralls, I. J. C. Smith, Richard Redfield, Andrew Boss, William Layton, A. E. Quimby, Samuel Brazleton, Samuel Beattie, William Putman, Proctor P. Newcomb, Thomas W. Scott, E. Grist, Joel De Camp, John M. Jones, John Mitcheltree, B. V. Teel, James A. Chadsey, and Luke Seeley.
At this election the first board of trustees was elected, and we find that the following gentlemen were selected to administer affairs: John Mitcheltree, I. J. C. Smith, William McCreery, John Scripps, and Benj. V. Teel. An organization was effected by electing B. V. Teel, chairman; John B. Watson, clerk; I. J. C. Smith, treasurer, and Thomas Hayden, constable. A most interesting account of the incorporation of Rushville from the pen of Rev. John Scripps is found in The Prairie Telegraph. It reads:
Tells of Incorporation
“Early in the year 1831, we of Rushville, beginning to look up and wanting to be something somewhat consequential, in appearance at least among ourselves, if no further, conceived the idea of becoming a borough under the general law of the state recently passed granting the boon to any town, hamlet or village numbering a population of 150 souls.
“Resolving to avail ourselves of the privilege, we set about like men, but had close work of it and such managing to make up the requisite legal number, but persevering and persistent, we enlisted in our enumeration every transient straggler, every human formed biped we could lay any kind of claim to, and babies; why every pigmy straddler, as it counted one, was an acquisition as important as any adult who might shoulder his rifle, swing an axe or twirl her spinning wheel; and had any lady presented her lord with a pair or more of them on census day, she would have been lauded to the skies, her name heralded as a true patriot to the best interests of Rushville, and the acquisition hailed as quite a God-send. But we had nearly failed, for with the most gumelastic stretching of our calculations, we could only contrive 149 into our list. But ‘fortune favors the grave,’ so it does the persevering, and so it did us. For just at this critical juncture, while our every anxiety was on the stretch to call up some forgotten identity to fill that hated vacuum, down from Peoria, on their way to Alton, came two pedestrian knapsacked tramps, bolting into the tavern and calling for a dram (which we believe the very patriotic landlord bribed them with) to say they intended to become denizens of the place if they could get ‘shopped’– which they couldn’t, for they were tailors and there was no shop in town. The ladies, God bless ’em, made our clothes in those days, and every married man had a tailor of his own; so our prospective citizens couldn’t get ‘shopped.’ But that was their business and not ours; we took their word for it, and their professed willingness to be two of us for the deed, and as none of us inquired about their subsequent denizenship, or non-denizenship, we didn’t know and never said, and we shut our eyes and closed our ears to any diminutions of our 150 that might be going on between census and election, at which later time, probably, we will not hazard a say that it was so, but probably it might have been a tighter squeeze to have recognized 130 than 150 at the former, as the population, as has been observed, was quite footloose and very unsartin.
“On the 25th day of May, 1831, we held our first municipal election and 20 voters attended to cast 100 votes for five trustees. No candidates offered; no nominations were made; no party lines drawn; but the voting was given on the true old republican principal of every man voting for the identities he most approved of. The polling resulted in the election of Dr. Teel, 11 votes; Dr. Smith, 13; William McCreery, 13; John Mitcheltree, 14; John Scripps, 14; scattering 35.
“The first year of our incorporate existence was singularly distinguished for the frequent meetings, parliamentary etiquette, violent debate and crowded audiences, for it was the only source of amusement then afforded to those who didn’t read to break the monotony of long nights, and relieve them from the ennui of want of thought and vacant mind, for we had tall speechifying and long controversial discussions on hog and dog laws, street paving and sidewalks, public wells and private awnings, nuisances, and what were or were not such; levying taxes, erecting a town hall, and above all what the majority considered of highest importance, and a minority of no importance at all, or next to a nuisance as a place to breed fleas in a market house. But we exterted all our utmost energies of thought, displayed all our highest oratorical powers, occupied more time and legislated on money matters and concerns, and devised means for laying out more dollars in improving our town, than would at this day finish the Washington monument in the District of Columbia.”
In 1834 Rushville was credited with a population of 750 in “Peck’s Gazetteer of Illinois,” and the following facts were given of the town’s industries: “Rushville has six stores, two groceries, two taverns, four cabinet makers, four brick masons, and plasterers, three carpenters, two blacksmiths, four tanneries, one steam saw and grist mill, one carding factory, four lawyers and two physicians.”