Street Smarts

Street Smarts: Homesteader built more than 600 homes

2014-07-22T00:00:00Z 2014-07-22T11:34:58Z Street Smarts: Homesteader built more than 600 homesBy David Leighton For the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The namesake of a north-side road homesteaded vast swaths of Tucson land and built more than 600 houses here.

Wylie Emmett Rudasill was born on June 28, 1887 to John E. and Emma Lula (Kelly) Rudasill in Bryan, Texas. His father was born around 1855 in North Carolina and his mother around 1859 in Georgia. They married in 1879 and would have a total of eight or nine children, all born in Texas.

Rudasill came to Tucson in 1912 and worked as a carpenter. On November 8, 1912, Baptist minister Oliver E. Comstock married Rudasill and Stella R. (Smith) Clark. Stella was born Jan. 12, 1879 in Franklin, Texas. Her father was from England and mother from Mississippi. Her first marriage was to Henry F. Clark in 1896, with whom she had one child, Harris T. Clark, born in 1905. In 1910, the Clark family lived in Groesbeck, Texas where Henry was a jeweler who owned his own business. It’s believed they divorced soon after.

In 1917, with World War I raging, Rudasill registered for the draft. His registration card, dated June 5, 1917, listed him as tall and slender with brown hair and blue eyes. It also says his right eye was defective.

The next year saw the family living at 1306 E. 6th St., and Wylie working as a building contractor.

In the 1920s, Rudasill homesteaded 1,913 acres of land bounded by East 22nd Street to the north, East Irvington Road to the south, South Wilmot Road to the west, and South Kolb Road, to the east.

In 1928, he was president of El Pueblo Construction Co.

In the early 1930s he homesteaded more land, this time bounded by East Orange Grove Road to the north, North Oracle Road to the west and North First Avenue to the east. In 1935, when the homestead (divided in two parts) was approved, it showed 280 acres. The dirt path running through the middle of his property later became Rudasill Road.

Stella died at her home on Rudasill Road on Nov. 23, 1958. Wylie then wed Dorothy V. Steele but died not long after, on May 24, 1963.

By the time of his death, he had built more than 600 houses in Tucson, most of them prior to World War II. Included among his work were some of the sorority houses at the University of Arizona, including the Alpha Phi house at 1339 E. First St.

Note: Rudasill’s name appears in different documents and city directories as Wyley, Wiley, W.E., W.A. Wliey and Emmett W. Rudasill.

Sources:

John O’Hanlon (Stella Rudasill researcher)

Floyd R. Negley, “Pima County, Arizona, Marriages — Marriage Book 5-10, February 1912 to December 1926,” Arizona State Genealogical Society, 1997

Homestead Records — U.S. Bureau of Land Management

“Death Takes Mrs. Stella R. Rudasill,” Tucson Daily Citizen, Nov. 24, 1958

“W.E. Rudasill, 75, Claimed By Death,” Arizona Daily Star, May 25, 1963

“Rudasill Dies, Pioneer Tucsonian,” Tucson Citizen, May 25, 1963

Office of Vital Records — Death Certificate of Stella R. Rudasill

U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards 1917 for Wyley Emmett Rudasill (sic)

1918, 1928, 1931 Tucson City Directories

1920 U.S. Census (Pima County)

1930 U.S. Census (Pima County)

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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