In response to advertisements made by Henry Philips-- a representative of the English company, John Leigh Philips and Brothers-- Rush Township was settled in 1797. This company specialized in international trade; and in 1795 and 1796, it had acquired approximately 70,000 acres of land, much of it in what is present-day Rush Township.
By 1798, a settlement that featured gristmills and sawmills was founded; and the area has had a decided industrial character ever since. The first settler outside of the town of Philipsburg, or Moshannon Town, was Richard Catlow, who began a farming operation at what is now known as Twigg Settlement.
Officially created in 1814, Rush Township was named for Dr. Benjamin Rush, who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Prior to 1800, the area that was to become Rush Township was part of Huntingdon and Mifflin Counties; and originally, Rush Township included the area toward the Bald Eagle Creek that would later become Taylor and Worth Townships. When Centre County was formed in 1800, all of this area was placed in its jurisdiction.
Early industry in the township focused on the making and processing of iron products. A forge was built along Cold Stream; and the location of Plumbe Forge can still be found along Six-Mile Run, off State Route 504 near Black Moshannon State Park. Following the Iron Era, the extraction of coal and clay became the primary industries. With the availability of employment, the population of Rush Township increased from 371 in 1850, to over 3000 in 1870, and to 6200 in 1900.
In the early 20th century, both Philipsburg and South Philipsburg Boroughs were carved out of Rush Township, thus reducing the population. Over the years, and as a result of the annexations by neighboring boroughs, the population of the Township has stabilized at about 3500 people.
In recent years, the exploitation of natural resources has been slowed as the timbering and coal and clay industries have diminished. Moreover, approximately 53,500 acres of the Township have been purchased by the state for forest and game lands, thereby removing over half of the area of the township from commercial or private ownership.
At the beginning of the 21st century, Rush Township is quickly becoming a bedroom community for citizens who are finding employment in larger towns nearby.