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Whaley House

Updated on June 17, 2013

The Whaley House is another of those fascinating places I know I would like to visit one day with its many tales of ghostly haunting. Some television shows have even touted it as one of America’s most haunted places. The area surrounding the Whaley home was used as a hanging ground before Thomas Whaley purchased the land, it has also been used as not only Thomas’s general store, but a County Court House, San Diego’s first commercial theatre and even a billiard hall and a school.

One of the first documented ghostly accounts that come from the Whaley house are soon after Thomas and Anna Whaley and their children moved into their new home. It was reported that heavy footfalls could be heard throughout the home and Thomas himself described them as sounding as if a large man in heavy boots was walking about the house. Thomas later decided that it had to be Yankee Jim Robinson who was the man he witnessed hanged on the property, Yankee Jim was a large man who was convicted of attempted grand larceny back in 1852. It is said that Yankee Jim tried to stay in the wagon they had him standing in when the noose was drawn around his neck, reports also state that his death was not an easy one as once he slipped off the wagon his body was left swaying as he slowly choked to death.

Several members of the Whaley clan are said to haunt the home in San Diego, Violet Whaley, the second youngest of the five living children, was to end her life in August of 1885 at the tender age of 22. Violet had married a man named George Bertolacci in January of 1882 just two weeks later while traveling on her honeymoon Violet would find herself abandoned and alone. Apparently George Bertolacci married Violet for the large dowry he was expecting her to have and when it was not immediately forthcoming he decided to cut his losses and move on leaving Violet alone and heartbroken. During that time it was unheard of for a female to travel alone yet Violet arrived back home unescorted and without her husband, polite society was neither polite nor kind, they shunned Violet adding to her shame and depression. It took a year to finalize a divorce and soon after Violet would shoot herself in the chest with her father’s 32 caliber.

Violets suicide note read:

Mad from life's history,
Swift to death's mystery;
Glad to be hurled,
Anywhere, anywhere, out of this world.

—Violet Whaley

Many have also reported running into Mr. Whaley himself, as he is reported to haunt the homes upper landing area and has been spotted there numerous times. It is said he often appears wearing a frocked coat and knee breaches. It is also believed that Anna Whaley is still in residence in the home and is often seen throughout the downstairs and occasionally in the garden area. The most famous person to have seen the apparition of Anna was television personality Regis Philbin who claimed to have seen a white apparition moving across the wall and when he turned on his flashlight and shined it into that area all his beam came across was a portrait of Anna Whaley.

There have also been numerous sightings of a small woman who wears a cap and a gingham dress with dark hair and eyes that also appears to have pierced ears as golden colored hoops have been seen on the apparition. No one knows who this woman may be but there were numerous tenants that passed through the house over the years. It has also been reported that a young girl is seen and she too has long hair and a long dress, it was rumored that this girl was a playmate of one of the Whaley children and died in an unfortunate mishap on the property but no evidence of this has ever been confirmed. It has also been documented that a dog is also seen running the halls of the home on occasion and is reported to be something similar to a terrier, the Whaley’s had a terrier named Dolly.

This is another one of the places I have on my list of places I would love to go, I would be interested to hear from anyone who has had any encounters or has been to the home. Thanks!


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    • JesadaB profile image

      JesadaB 4 years ago from Home!

      Thanks so much for the kind words Peter! I am glad you enjoyed the hub! It sounds as if you have had many "good" interactions with spirits, I also have had mostly all good experiences with them, but I do know that some can harm you if they wish to. The only time I was ever frightened and it was not for myself, but my family, as we were house hunting and one particular home just gave off weird vibes. Instead of leaving immediately we decided to have a look, well we made the mistake of opening the basement door and even though we shut it immediately 3 of the 4 of us left with some very nasty scratches, all in different places, hand, back and stomach. So I know they can harm you if they wish to, so it sounds as if you were very lucky your "bad" ones were not into doing that.

      Thanks again for visiting!

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 4 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear jesadab,

      Thank you for a very well written and researched article.

      Mostly the dead mean us no harm but are often just lonely, some like those that were hanged, assuming they were guilty, were unpleasant in life and equally unpleasant in death.

      I lived for many years in my Grandmothers house which was heavily haunted, some days it was like Piccadilly Circus in there. I assume the big advantage I had was that most of them were my relatives, although the odd one was just passing through.

      The lesson I learned from Grandmother was never be unkind to them, chat by all means but never let them latch onto you otherwise they will follow you always. Just treat them like a normal person, say hello and goodbye and never show fear to the more unpleasant ones, they can't hurt you.

      Voted up, awesome and interesting

      Kind regards Peter