top of page


CALIFORNIA - Whaley House

by: Kelli Patrick

The Whaley House is said to be the most haunted house in California. The U.S. Department of Commerce has listed the Whaley House as an authentic haunted house. The Whaley House is located in the historic Old Town area of San Diego.

Built on the site of public gallows and the scene of several deaths, the Whaley House is home to several ghosts, one of which before the house was even built. In 1852, a man known as "Yankee Jim" Robinson was caught trying to steal a boat. He was beaten and taken to jail.

Jim had a trial and was to hang for his crime. Two of his possible accomplices were sentenced to prison. September 18, 1852 was his execution day. On the day of Jim's execution, he was barely conscious due to the beating and the lack of medical care he received. The sheriff gave the order for the executioner to pull the mule cart from underneath Jim. The executioners did not factor in Jim's height when constructing the gallows. Jim's toes scraped the ground and took approximately 45 minutes for Jim to slowly strangle to death.

Yankee Jim has stayed on at the house. People have heard him trudging around in his heavy boots upstairs. The gallows once stood where an archway between the music room and parlor now stands. Visitors have felt like they were being strangled while passing through the archway.

In 1869, the city leased a first floor room as a courthouse. A heavy iron chain in the room has been seen swinging by itself and several people have felt uneasy there.

In 1871, an angry mob held Anna Whaley at gunpoint on the 9th step of the stairs, while public records were removed. Thomas Whaley was out of town at the time. A chill in the air is reported there. The ghost of Thomas Whaley has been seen on the second floor landing dressed in a black coat and wide-brimmed hat.

In the music room, turn of the century songs, laughter are heard and the smell of cigar and the smell of perfume, which quickly disappear. A lamp in the music room has a couple of crystals that hang off the lamp. These have been seen moving, while the others are motionless.

Electric lights in the house go on and off by themselves. Inspections find nothing to explain this. The ground floor windows have been sealed to keep them from opening by themselves, setting off the alarm.

There is a little girl ghost that we believe is the granddaughter of Anna Whaley. She died in the dining room after accidentally ingesting some poison. When the Whaley's lived in the house the "kitchen" was actually outside just off the dining room.

Thomas Whaley, Jr. died at the age of 17 months in his upstairs bedroom. Cries of a baby have been reported coming from this room. The ghost of a small dog has been seen coming and going from this room. The dog has also been seen out in the yard.

At night, a figure has been seen peering out of the upstairs windows when everyone has gone home for the day.

Things that have been reported upstairs are: curtains in many rooms moving by themselves when the windows are closed, beds and pillows have shown the impressions of someone having laid there, even though visitors cannot gain access to the rooms. A rocking chair has been seen rocking on its own.

The kitchen has been restored back to a dining room. Visitors can now enter that room. I have run into the little girl ghost there. She also hangs out in the back yard.

The electric lights have been restored back to kerosene lanterns and chandeliers.

The master bedroom upstairs is now a theatre and visitors can enter this area.

The family dog is Dolly.

bottom of page