411 East Main Street
Plainfield, Indiana

On March 31, 1899 a Hendricks County farmer and Civil War veteran named John Johnson, who went by his middle name William, made a land purchase. William and his wife Addie, the daughter of Plainfield founder Elias Hadley, bought lots 2 and 7 from Alva W. Hornaday in his new addition on East Main Street. The lots, leading south one behind the other from Main Street, cost the Johnsons $375. The 47-year-old Johnson was renting a house on a farm in the 1900 census, so it is uncertain whether the family ever lived in the house Johnson is known for building at 411 East Main Street.

In August 1902 the Johnsons sold the property to Eliza C. Armstrong. Eliza was a Quaker minister who was soon to be a widow. Two years before, at age 50, she was living on a farm in Liberty Township with her husband Joshua, her elderly parents, and her slightly younger unmarried sister. In March of 1902, however, 68-year-old Joshua developed bulbar palsy, a fatal degenerative disease. Perhaps the family moved into Plainfield to be closer to medical care or simply because maintaining a farm was impossible in the circumstances. Joshua died in September 1903 and Eliza’s mother Anna died the next month. Less than a year later in June 1904 Alexander Clark, Eliza’s father, passed away as well. After selling the house in 1908 to W.A. Rushton, Eliza went on to remarry, to Joseph R. Cox in January of 1912. They eventually settled in California.

Walter Asbury Rushton (known as Ab) and his wife Cophine took possession on May 1, 1908. After its somber history, now the house was filled with a young family. Ab was in his mid-thirties, Cophine was twenty-six, and they had two young daughters under three. They would go on to spend the rest of their married lives there. Ab was an undertaker who had started working with Will Hiss in his funeral business around 1898 while boarding with Will’s family before his marriage to Cophine. In 1916 he set up his own undertaking business in the Masonic building at the corner of Main and Center Streets, at which time he became the first in Hendricks County (and third in the state) to use an automobile rather than horse-drawn hearse. Later he went into business with Mark Hampton to form the Rushton and Hampton Funeral Home; the business continues today as Hampton-Gentry.

The garden at the Rushton house was well known to townspeople in the 1930s, especially for its irises. At one time Ab had over one hundred and fifty varieties of irises in bloom, as well as dahlias, roses, and various perennials. Each year he would host an open house for the town to view the flowers, and although he would not sell them, he was known to be generous in giving them away. He retired from the funeral business in 1948 and died in November 1967.

After Ab’s death, Cophine moved to Florida where her two grown daughters lived. The house was used briefly as a store owned by Warner and Mary Muir, The Yesterday House, specializing in collectible glassware. In 1974 Robert Schaaf moved in and stayed until around 1980 when Damar Services purchased the property. They opened their first group home, the Elizabeth R. Frink Residence, there in 1983. Damar retained ownership until 2017, when the home once again passed into private hands.

Portraits of home owners
Eliza Armstrong Cox, no date.
Cophine Mills Rushton, no date.
Ab Rushton, no date
Pictures of house
Documents
Record of land purchase by John William Johnson from Hendricks County Land Transfer Book, 1899-1913.
Eliza Armstrong and Joseph Cox’s marriage recorded in the Plainfield Monthly Meeting notes.
Listing for Yesterday House in 1971 Plainfield directory.
Maps
1920 Plainfield Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
Location in the 1904 Hendricks County Atlas, Plainfield town map
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