Pierce County was created by an act of the legislature of the Territory of Dakota in 1887. By 1891, the present shape of the county was finalized, with a total of 30 townships. Rugby Junction, a railroad station, was chosen as the county seat, over rival Barton. Even then, it was known mainly as just Rugby.
In 1897, Rugby was incorporated as a village. It became a city in 1905, and was dubbed the geographical center of North America in 1931. The city has had a rich history, and fifty years after it was first platted, much of the early history of Rugby and Pierce County was published in a special Jubilee edition of the Pierce County Press on this date in 1936.
History is enriched by the individuals, and for Rugby, political and business boss Andy Jones was one of those important figures. In fact, it was said for some time that Rugby was "the town that Andy Jones made." He was responsible for determining the site of the early school building. He was also responsible for one of the best race tracks in the state being erected there, which was supposed to have come about from his penchant for gambling.
Stories made him out as ruthless and domineering in business and political transactions, but generous in other spheres of life. But he was perhaps less of a Robin Hood than this might seem, as illustrated in this story.
Andy Jones ran into the sheriff of the town and asked him for a ride, which the sheriff gave willingly. But Jones had one stop to make on the way. He had the sheriff pull in at a farm and he ran in.
Out of earshot of the sheriff, he told the master of the farmhouse, "Your note is past due. Make out another one right away. Do you see the sheriff waiting out in front? If you don't write that note, he's coming in here after you." The man hesitated, as the note was out of date, but intimidated by the sheriff, he signed a new one.
Years later, Jones left town after a stint in jail, the result of a shortage in bank funds where he was cashier. But in the meantime, he had touched the history of Rugby.
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker
Pierce County Press Golden Jubilee Edition, Thursday, June 18, 1936, p1, 8