Monday, May 30, 2011


William Rust House
1001 N. I St
Tacoma WA (USA)

by Tami Jackson

This notable landmark, the Colonial style William Ross Rust House is a private estate built in 1905 (tax records claim it was built in 1907) in North Tacoma, Washington, USA, and it has quite a bit of fascinating mystery and gossip surrounding itThe photo, right, is widely available on the Internet as a public document. And here's a high resolution photo of the William Ross Rust house (worth the peak).

I first heard of this house a week or two ago and have continued to feel haunted by the stories surrounding it. Deciding I should investigate to learn more, I quickly realized that what's available through typical research means (e.g., common Google search) only created more questions for me when documentation about this house, and the family that lived here, didn't match either the stories I'd heard or messages I had gleaned, intuitively.

That's why I resorted to recruiting Doug Grimes, with all his skills and experience at researching family genealogy. Thanks to him, I am now fully engaged by the terrible stories affiliated with the William Ross Rust 
(1850-1928) family home and I now regard the rumors as being at least partly true. In the very least, the evidence suggests there has been an attempt by William Ross Rust to hide some of his family information.

The bigger question that remains is whether or not there was a larger attempt to cover up a horrid crime committed on the front porch of this home by the man who the locals treated as a respectable magnate. You'll have to read this posting to the end before you know all the fascinating questions, be fully entertained by how this story winds and twists, and then peruse my initial conclusion.

I first became fascinated with this house when another psychic told me just recently that she'd been inside this house with the mission of launching a house clearing effort. Without any visible remorse or embarrassment, she admitted the home became so filled with spooky paranormal events that she had to abandon the mission. Knowing that I often clear houses, professionally, she asked if I'd be willing to accompany her back inside this home, but when I admitted that I charge a reasonable fee, and guarantee my work or provide a full refund if the customer's not completely satisfied, she all but rescinded the offer (and I'm firm about NOT doing house clearings without being compensated - thanks to the personal risk involved and thanks to my ethical beliefs of always participating in fair trade practices). 

All the same, I felt the following story that psychic told me was at least partly true and very fascinating. Not only did I suddenly feel as though I instantly knew the victim in this story, but the young male involved was actually a fun-loving person who was simply trying to live authentically and his life-style conflicted with the conservative times and with his father's need to uphold a certain public image. 

Not having gone to the house myself, I reasoned that this house could legitimately be haunted and there might be an element of resentment that's still there in regards to disowning family members and abhorring controlling or severely dominant male-figures. Yet I cannot say who or what would be causing the current paranormal activity being reported there, not without actually being inside the home/experiencing it for myself. *Note: sometimes I can read a house without physically going there but this particular home is very complex/confusing when viewed from afar. 

Beyond this home being rumored to be very haunted, a recent accidental death is now being blamed on the resident spirit(s) but I don't feel at liberty to go into much detail about that - not in a public way. 

A highly respected business man, William Ross Rust (hereafter referred to as W.R.) traveled quite often. During one trip to Europe, his grown son (as the story was told to me, the son's name was not given) was tired of conforming to social-standards-of-the-day and he hooked his horses up to a buggy and drove around Tacoma with his male-lover on the seat beside him. The two men kissed in public, which was something W.R. would never have endorsed or tolerated. The moment that W.R. arrived home early from his trip, having heard of his adult son's escapades while abroad, he reportedly shot his son point-blank and killed him. The "murder" is rumored to have happened on the front porch of the above mentioned home. According to rumor, death records listed the son's death as due to "natural causes" thanks to cultural homophobia and the fact that W.R. Rust was highly respected as an important citizen in Tacoma and able to launch a successful cover-up effort. *Again, this is current day rumor and no printed or published information clearly substantiates this story.*  (Read on.)

Initially upon doing an Internet search, I learned that W.R. had one son, Henry Arthur Rust (Aug. 21, 1900 - May 13, 1936). Immediately this information seemed to completely dispel everything that I'd picked up intuitively and everything I'd been told via rumor because public record shows that H. Arthur out-lived his father by 8 years. (W.R. died in 1928 at age 78). 

Given this evidence ("proof") that W.R. had NOT murdered his son -- something just kept nagging at me about this house's story. I felt I could NOT just let it go. I felt as though a young homosexual male had visited me in spirit and wanted me to know the full story but all records documenting Henry Arthur's life not only suggested that he outlived his father but he had gotten married and had children ... So I dug a little deeper into the research to discover why I was feeling so inspired to tell this gay man's story - or "the rumor." 

W.R. Rust was born in Pennsylvania on August 1, 1850. Later, he moved westward and purchased the Tacoma Smelting & Refining Company, a business that occupied 67 acres, some of it was said to occupy ancient Indian burial grounds. W.R. purchased the company somewhere around 1890 from a cash-strapped business man. Today that smelting property is undergoing massive clean-up and environmental restoration work, thanks to all the toxic waste created by the smelter's smoke stack emissions and the release of heavy metals such as lead and arsenic into the local air, soil and water. It's cleanup is financed by an EPA superfund but experience suggests - since the company was shut down many years ago - most of the toxic waste has already been widely distributed (most of the damage has been done, irretrievably).

Yet I digress. Getting back to the story of W.R. long before he died, he did something very public that suggests he was either very unhappy or very controlling in regards to his marriage. In the 1910 Pierce County Census - 13th Census of the United States (see more details below) W.R. felt obligated to document that he was married and living with his wife, whom he's listed as 12 years his junior, but W.R. left her name completely OFF the record (did not acknowledge his spouse by name, not even when all other contributors to that same census did mention their spouses by name). Interestingly, W.R. did manage to list the full name of his servant woman (*who was closer in age to him than his wife was*) and he listed both of his sons by their names as well. 

Did you catch that? While most documents only mention W.R. as having one son, from the census we can see he actually had two. (The eldest son, Howard, is most often omitted from public records.) What's more, other legal documents reveal that W.R.'s wife was named Helen M. Smith, born in 1863. Yet, again, the Rust Family Papers and many other Internet sources list only W.R. with one son, and quite often no wife is mentioned.  

When such a wealthy business man with strong political interests, finances much of the town's progress and he is so admired, politically, that the town Ruston was named after him, is it possible that he networked with the powers that be to hide a heinous crime he committed? Realizing that most readily accessible public documents have eliminated Rust's wife and son Howard from the record, is it not rather easy to jump to the conclusion that W.R. may have also committed murder (when his son was violating local laws and committing religious offense)? It's not too difficult to imagine how W.R. might have maneuvered his way through the police/local media mess by getting help to cover up his crime story.

Suggesting that the part of the rumor where W.R.'s son died at a very young age is true, on Aprill 11th, 1911, The Tacoma Times (local daily newspaper in operation since 1903) published the following article about young Howard L. Rust, who would have just reached 25-years-of-age had he lived two more days. 

     HOWARD L. RUST DIES SUDDENLY - The Tacoma Times (link to article)
  • Howard L. Rust, son of W. R. Rust of this city ruptured an artery in the heart while conversing with friends Saturday evening at Ranford, Wash., and died almost instantly. He would have been 25 years old yesterday.
         His parents are on a return voyage from Europe now.
         Young Rust went to Hanford on a ranch to build up his shattered health. He seemed to be gaining until the collapse came Saturday night.
         He came to Tacoma with his father when four years of age. (End of article.) 
My question to you, dear reader, is if Howard's death was truly due to a heart problem, as listed, then why did his father omit his name from all future public records? Would a loving father NOT want to keep his son's memory alive - forever? 

#1 - William Ross Rust's Household according to the 1910 Pierce County Census - 13th Census of the United States

  • William R. Rust, head of household, male, white, 57, married 25 years, born Pennsylvania, education able to read yes, education able to write yes, 
  • wife's name completely omitted, wife, female, white, 45, married 25 years, born Colorado, education able to read yes, education able to write yes
  • Howard Rust, son, male, white, 23, single, born Colorado. education able to read yes, education able to write yes, 
  • Henry A. Rust, son, male, white, 9, single, born Washington, education able to read yes, education able to write yes, 
  • Pauline Fredericks, servant, female, white, 51, born Canada-French, education able to read (answer erased/blank), education able to write (answer erased/blank). 
#2 - William Ross Rust's Household according to the 1920 Pierce County Census - 14th Census of the United States
  • William R. Rust, Head, age 66, married, born in Pennsylvania
  • Helen W. Rust, wife, age 52, married, born in Colorado *Note: Other references list her middle initial as M.
  • H. Arthur Rust, son, age 19, single, born in Washington
  • Marie R. Edenhuler (at least I think that's her last name/penmanship is difficult to read), servant, age 17 , single, born in Kansas, parents were born in Sweden
#3 - Son Henry Arthur's Household according to the 1930 Pierce County Census - 15th Census of the United States

  • Henry Arthur Rust, house number 1020, head of home, male, white, age 29, married, vice-president/investments, NOT a military veteran
  • Margaret Rust (wife), white, age 24
  • Billie J Rust (daughter) white, age 3
  • Margaret Rust (daughter) white, age 1-1/2
  • Bertha Wyss (female, servant from Switzerland) white, age 43
  • Dorothy Stubbs (female, servant from Washington state) white, age 22

I feel rather strongly that W. R. Ross was a controlling jerk at times. He definitely did not approve of his son Howard's homosexuality (religiously or politically). That alone would be reason enough for a dogmatic individual like him to disown Howard (we've all run into that type of obnoxious control freak who insists everyone in the family should dress, behave and move about just like him). 

Meanwhile, I feel like I've met the spirit of this younger guy, Howard, and he was rather fun to be around and his father simply did not appreciate him for all the sunshine and party spirit he brought into the home.

Yet I need to add a small detail to the above mentioned rumored story - where Howard was said to have been shot on the front porch. The psychic I spoke to said the home became so haunted after the young man's death that the surviving Rust family had to move into temporary shelter until a second house could be built over on Yakima street.

Indeed, I did find record of the family moving a year after Howard's death. Yet the reason given for the move, publicly, is that his mother, Helen, just felt the original home was much too large for her liking. She wanted a smaller home (one that W.R. rapidily built for her).


The Rust Mansion, 1001 N. I St., Tacoma, WA, USA, 98402, was patterned on the John A. McCall home in Long Island, "Shadow Lawn." The Rusts sold their home in 1912 after the death of their son, Howard. Since then it has had many owners and was divided into apartments in the 1920's.

While modern thinkers might look at Howard's reported "cause of death" statement in 1911, which suggested he died of a weak heart, and observe that his brother Henry Arthur also died of a heart condition, years later, when he was 35 - and while observers might assume it's not too much of a stretch to think that both boys could have inherited the same genetic heart problem that killed them at such young ages - I'd like to remind my readers that both their father and mother lived 78 and 90 years, respectively. Their young deaths seem curious, at least.  

* Father: William Ross Rust - Aug. 1, 1850 - Aug. 17, 1928 (78 years)
* Mother: Helen M. Smith - December 18, 1863 -October 19, 1954 (90 years)
* Son: Howard L. Rust - Aprill 11, 1886 - April 9, 1911 (24 years). Cause of death: reported heart ailment.
* Son: H. Arthur Rust, born August 21, 1900 - May 13, 1936 (35 years). Cause of death: reported heart ailment, leaving behind an estate of more than $600,000 (a ridiculously large some money in the day). 


1001 N. I Street, Tacoma, WA USA, 98402
Location of the second, smaller home, where they moved after Howard died, 

521 Yakima Ave. This landmark is in the vicinity (see map) of N Yakima Ave and N 9TH St., Tacoma, WA. The Tacoma Public Library holds claim to this photograph of the Rust's smaller Tacoma home (click above TPL link to see it). 

*I hope you enjoyed this very detailed *spooky* report and would love it if you take the time to leave a comment - share your thoughts.*

The author of this article, Tami Jackson, can be contacted through her website.


  1. I seriously believe the man could've murdered his son. As to whether or not that house is haunted...well, if I were his son, I would love the opportunity to haunt the man into falling down stairs and breaking his neck! I enjoyed reading it very much and hope to see more like it in the future! Great job! Any suggestions on how I would find out if there were any practicing withes in my family? ;)

  2. Beth ~ I just replied to your comment and made a typo so went back to fix it and suddenly your comment is gone. (So sorry.)

    So glad you liked this article ... it was a lot of work gathering the little details (as not much info was available through any one resource) but I felt like I HAD to do the research and post the story (allow people to decide for themselves what they want to believe or not). It was most difficult finding information about Howard and I feel as though he was the one motivating me to look all this stuff up ... maybe this posting will help Howard move on toward a happier existence now.

    Regarding your family genealogy, there is NO real "register the family witch" genealogical record system. Most ancestor witches would have wanted to keep their spiritual life a secret (thanks to religious persecution). Meanwhile, you could search the Salem Witch Trials for victims' names (see if your relatives are listed on that roster) or perhaps you will even look down the list of persecutors {{shudder the thought that we find relatives listed THERE but ya never know}}.

    The trouble with wanting to find witchcraft in one's ancestry is many-fold. Trust yourself. Since you feel the spirit fires burning in your soul - you pretty well know you've got a witch in your ancestry from somewhere. The proof is in you and how you choose to move about the world.

  3. Hey. There your post is again. (Isn't technology amazing?) LOL. Popped back onto the page just like a faerie might.

  4. Thanks for the advice! Love your blog by the way. It has turned into an at least twice a day read just to what else you come up with!

  5. THIS is cool. I love reading about stuff like this because its right up my History dork alley. Thanks for posting!

  6. Interesting stuff! I haven't been by for a while and it was a great coincidence to run into this post just after reading Shirley Jackson's creepy novel, The Haunting of Hill House. I hope you write more like this.

  7. Enjoyed reading this. I lived in Tacoma from birth to age 8. For a time I stayed at a nanny's home not far from the WR Rust place. I walked past it going to and from school and once I went in with my nanny as she had some kind of business there with someone. I loved walking by this place. I was excited and scared both. I always felt something. Not sure what, but it was quiet and breezy feeling. I always thought someone was watching me not from inside the home, but from the hedges. One question though. Maybe I did not read correctly, but if the obit say mother and father were coming back from Europe than how could the father have murdered him? One other place you should check about that is really interesting is the Mattson Mansion in Tacoma. It was torn down a few years ago, but read about it. Charles Mattson, the son was kidnapped and murdered in the 20's.

    1. Men with money created their own history. When the facts don't line up, somebody else must have made a mistake. Not sure why we celebrate any history when half of it is B.S.

  8. Natasha ~ I'm sure I responded to your comment long ago and now that I'm not seeing it ... I'm wondering. WTHeck happened to what I wrote? At any rate ... you're not a history dork. All history buffs are oober cool. (You're in the cool-kid group.) LOL.

  9. Chris ~ Thank you for your comment and encouragement. Unfortunately, I'm not hearing rumors every day so ... this kind of story doesn't happen all the time. Glad you also ready Shirley Jackson's work. :-D

  10. Bunnyrounder ~ How fun to read about you feeling both excited and scared around this house. I know that feeling of being pretty sure someone ya can't see is watching. The newspaper obit does say mother and father were coming back from Europe but people affiliated with the house say that's part of the cover up (to hide the murder).

  11. I can't believe this. Every time I pass this house I tell whoever I'm with that I'll come back once I've made it big and buy it from the owners. I love this house-I've never seen a more beautiful house. The story of the Rust family makes it even more interesting. It's over a hundred years old now-it has that deliciously rich history that I love. Thanks for this.

  12. This is all very fascinating and crazy to me! I'm going to pass it on to my mother, the third and youngest daughter of Margaret and H.A. Rust and see what she has to say. In the near future, I hope to get back to the Northwest and take a gander through the Rust papers that are housed at UW. In the meantime, I'm happy to see the ancestral home being loved and taken care of.
    Carol Rust Paulick ... Lexington, KY

  13. NicAliceFuller ~ So sorry I am just seeing your comment NOW. I hope if you ever do manage to buy this house that you give me a personalized update on how things go there. *I'd be thrilled to learn more.*

  14. Carol ~

    I feel so honored to know you paid my blog a visit. Hope something I wrote is seems insightful to you and your family. The home sure has a lot of mystery surrounding it. It's a beautiful home, for sure. I had a lot of interesting experiences just hearing rumors about the place and doing a little investigating. I think it would be powerful for you to know more about your family history and what, exactly, happened in that home.

    Love and light,
    ~ Tami

  15. love love loved this article. I am an empath and now it makes sense as to why I have been drawn to this house for so many years but never got around to googling it until tonight!

  16. You should post your experiences and observations, Fiona. We'd love to hear about them.

  17. This in an amazing story & article. Thank you for sharing such insight into a property I've passed by for so many years.

  18. I am also an empath who has been drawn to this house my whole life. Thanks for sharing!

  19. I live right by this house and when i drove by it, before reading this, i got this really creepy feeling, I've always been really sensitive to spirits and i think one is reaching out to me. What should i do?

  20. This is very interesting. I live on J street and I walk/run by this beautiful house all the time. I wish this house had scheduled tours to see the beauty that is hidden behind its mysterious walls.

  21. I too am drawn to this house, always have been. However, I have some issues with your article: 1. a look at the passenger list of the voyage taken by Mr Rust would tell you if he was present in WA at the time of his son's death. 2. Benton County has the death record for Henry Rust. 3. the line in your article regarding the census is wrong. I know they can be hard to read, however if you inspect closer the erased portion of is for the younger Rust son and not the housekeeper. Also, I would venture that it was not the senior Rust who filled out the census at all, rather the servant who provided the information to a census taker. I doubt that Mr. Rust would have taken the time and mayn't have been at home when it was filled out. This explains why many census entrees are slightly off. 4. Henry is in the family vault, therefore he is not forgotten or denied. I would poke around this "Ranch" Henry was at when he died and get that history. There is a story here-the house does seem to have a presence-I simply think it has been misunderstood all along.

  22. We visited Seattle/Tacoma recently, and saw the house while sight seeing. I initially thought it was abandoned, but saw a fancy car in the driveway, and immediately got a creepy feeling about the house. I've been thinking about it since, and was glad to come upon your article. Thanks for the interesting read! I've got to pass it on my family members that were with us that day. I'm happy to see it from the pictures I've found online, as well as the aerial view! Thanks again!

    1. Very cool you saw it. I appreciate your perspective!

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  24. I have deleted messages from Lord Mark (above) REPEATEDLY. Click on his link and you can see he's a fraud. *Don't fall for that spammer*

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