Rutledge was the first county seat of Crenshaw County and held that position from March 1867 to May 1893. Originally called Barber's Cross Roads, it was briefly named Crenshaw; but June 10, 1867, it was changed to Rutledge in honor of Captain Henry Rutledge, Company H. 59th Alabama Infantry, C.S.A.
The first elected county officials were: George W. Thagard, Probate Judge; James M. Lawrence, Tax Collector; W.T. Massey, Tax Assessor; John R. Snow, Sheriff; F.M. Cody, Circuit Clerk; and John P. Cook, D.A. Rutledge, Hugh Cameron, and John Jones, County Commissioners. Elizabeth Pittman donated the land on which the two-story courthouse was built.
Rutledge for many years was a thriving community, but the construction of the Alabama Midland Railroad from Montgomery to Luverne in 1888 by-passed the town. A spur track built from Julian to Rutledge in 1891 failed to stop the loss of population and business to Luverne and in 1893 a special election led to the county seat being moved there.