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Whaley House

Whaley House paranormal

Photo by: Marianne Donley
Location submitted by: sdonley on 02/19/2015
DBA Approved: Y

PANICd#: 1822

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Upon the couple's return to San Diego, Whaley entered various business general store partnerships, most of which lasted less than a year. He purchased this property in September 1855, which had been the site of the hanging of the infamous Yankee Jim Robin

2476 San Diego Ave
San Diego , CA 92110
Phone: (619) 297-7511
Open to the public: Yes

http://whaleyhouse.org/

Lat: 32.752210
Lon: -117.193990

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 6
History: 1
Stories: 1
Claims: 7
Evidence: 0
Resources: 8
Retrievals: 197
Vistor Rating: 0.0
Votes: 0

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History

History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.


Thomas Whaley came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He left New York City, the place of his birth, on January 1, 1849, on the Sutton and arrived 204 days later in San Francisco. He set up a store with George Wardle on Montgomery Street where he sold hardware and woodwork from his family's New York business, Whaley & Pye, and offered mining equipment and utensils on consignment. This young entrepreneur, born on October 5, 1823, came from a Scots-Irish family, which immigrated to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1722. His great-grandfather, Alexander Whaley, a gunsmith, participated in the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War where he provided flintlock muskets for soldiers and the use of his house on Long Island by General George Washington. Thomas' father, Thomas Whaley, carried on the family gunsmith business, and served in the New York Militia during the War of 1812. He married Rachel Pye, whose father, William, manufactured locks in Brooklyn.

Whaley's business acumen, acquired in part from his education at the Washington Institute, proved beneficial in San Francisco. He was so successful that he was able to establish his own store on Montgomery Street, erect a two-story residence near the bay, and rent out Wardle's edifice. After an arson-set fire destroyed his buildings on Montgomery Street in May 1851, he relocated to Old Town San Diego upon the advice of Lewis Franklin, a merchant who operated stores in San Francisco and Old Town. Whaley set up various businesses with Franklin, Ephraim Morse, Francis Hinton, and even his brother, Henry, and amassed enough money to return to New York to marry his sweetheart, Anna Eloise DeLaunay, the daughter of French-born parents, on May 14, 1853.

Upon the couple's return to San Diego, Whaley entered various business general store partnerships, most of which lasted less than a year. He purchased this property in September 1855, which had been the site of the hanging of the infamous Yankee Jim Robinson in August of 1852. He first built a single-story granary for 300,000 to 400,000 pounds of grain in May 1856, with bricks manufactured in his brickyard on Conde Street. The adjacent two-story $10,000 Greek Revival style brick residence, designed by Whaley, commenced construction in September 1856 and was finished in 1857. The home, acclaimed as the "finest new brick block in Southern California" by the San Diego Herald, contained mahogany and rosewood furniture, damask drapes, and Brussels carpets.

In August 1857, Whaley established his general store in this residence, and solicited cash customers only. As this location proved too far from the center of the small community, he relocated his business in a frame building on the Plaza, which he rented.

By 1858, Thomas and Anna Whaley had produced three children: Francis Hinton (named for a business partner), Thomas (who died at just 18 months), and Anna Amelia. In August 1858, another arson-set fire destroyed Whaley's business on the Plaza. Despondent over this loss and the death of Thomas earlier that year, the family moved to San Francisco.

In San Francisco, Whaley worked as an U.S. Army Commissary Storekeeper. Three more children, George Hays Ringgold (named for a business partner), Violet Eloise, and Corinne Lillian, were born. In 1867, Thomas Whaley assisted in the American takeover of Alaska, where he established stores at Sitka, helped set up an American base, and served as councilman. Anna and the family, during this time, remained in San Francisco.

After a major earthquake in May 1868, the Whaley couple and their five children returned to the brick house in San Diego, out of which Whaley & Crosthwaite ran a general store. From October 1868 to January 1869, the Tanner Troupe Theatre operated out of the front upstairs bedroom. The San Diego County Courthouse utilized the former granary in August 1869 and rented three upstairs rooms for records storage. After the establishment of New Town San Diego by Alonzo Horton in 1868, the town focus changed to present day downtown San Diego. During a March 1871 raid, courthouse documents were removed from the Whaley House and taken to Horton's Hall on 6th and F in San Diego. After the County's exit, Whaley connected the former granary and courtroom to the residence, changed windows and doors, and altered the front portico.

From 1874 to 1879, Thomas Whaley returned to New York, supposedly to settle his father's estate (his father died in 1832), and then journeyed to San Francisco seeking employment, which eluded him. During this time the Whaley family in San Diego lived in dire straits and was dependent upon Francis Whaley for support.

On January 5, 1882, Violet Whaley and Anna Amelia Whaley married in Old San Diego, probably in this house. Anna married her first cousin, John T. Whaley, and Violet wed George T. Bertolacci, which proved unbearable. After a divorce, which caused Violet tremendous humiliation in 1884 and a period of great depression monitored by the local physician, she committed suicide at the home by shooting herself through the heart on August 18, 1885.

After this tragic event, Thomas Whaley built a single-story frame home for his family at 933 State Street in downtown San Diego. Attempting to capitalize on the boom in that area, he maintained a real estate office at 5th and G in the First National Bank Building, with various partners. After retirement from business in 1888 due to ill health, he died at the State Street address on December 14, 1890.

The Whaley House on San Diego Avenue remained vacant and fell into disrepair until late 1909 when Francis Whaley returned to the old brick and undertook the restoration of the building which greatly improved its appearance. Rehabilitated at the same time as the Estudillo House on the Plaza (which became publicized as Ramona's Marriage Place), and the establishment of the San Diego Electric Railway down San Diego Avenue, Francis utilized the family home as a residence and a tourist attraction where he posted signs outside promoting its historicity and entertained visitors with his guitar.

Anna, Thomas' widow, Lillian (Corinne), then assistant at the Public Library, Francis, and George, a musician, all lived in the old dwelling in 1912. On February 24, 1913, Anna died in the house. Francis passed away in the home on November 19, 1914. Lillian continued residency in the structure until her death in 1953. Because she had spent the better part of the first half of the twentieth century in the house alone, it had fallen once again into a terrible state of disrepair.

Added by: sdonley on 06/24/2019 DB#:405
Source(s):
http://whaleyhouse.org/familyhistory.htm


Stories

Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.


Few houses in San Diego are as historically important as the Whaley House. In addition to being the Whaley Family home, it housed a granary, the County Court House, San Diego's first commercial theater, various businesses including Thomas Whaley's own general store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, school, and polling place. Significant events, such as the seizure of the court documents and records in 1871, and the suicide of Violet Whaley in 1885 profoundly affected Thomas and Anna Whaley. These events, as well as the hangings which occurred on the property before the house was constructed, have suffused the Whaley House with an air of mystery and added to its reputation as something more than just California State Historic Landmark #65.

According to the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The alleged hauntings of the Whaley House have been reported on numerous other television programs and been written up in countless publications and books since the house first opened as a museum in 1960. Although we cannot state positively that the Whaley House is really haunted, the voluminous documentation of paranormal occurances at the site makes a compelling case. But, if there are ghosts at the Whaley House, who are they and why are they here?

The earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House is "Yankee Jim." James (aka Santiago) Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852, and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the house now stands. The local newspaper reported that he "kept his feet in the wagon as long as possible, but was finally pulled off. He swung back and forth like a pendulum until he strangled to death." Although Thomas Whaley had been a spectator at the execution, he did not let it dissuade him from buying the property a few years later and building a home for his family there. According to the San Diego Union, "soon after the couple and their children moved in, heavy footsteps were heard moving about the house. Whaley described them as sounding as though they were made by the boots of a large man. Finally he came to the conclusion that these unexplained footfalls were made by Yankee Jim Robinson." Another source states that Lillian Whaley, the Whaleys' youngest daughter who lived in the house until 1953, "had been convinced the ghost of "Yankee Jim" haunted the Old House." A visitor to the museum in 1962 mentioned that "the ghost had driven her family from their visit there more than 60 years [earlier], her mother was unnerved by the phantom walking noise and the strange way the windows unlatched and flew up."

Many visitors to the house have reported encountering Thomas Whaley himself. The late June Reading, former curator of the museum, said, "We had a little girl perhaps 5 or 6 years old who waved to a man she said was standing in the parlor. We couldn't see him. But often children's sensitivity is greater than an adult's." However, many adults have reported seeing the apparition of Mr. Whaley, usually on the upper landing. One said he was "clad in frock coat and pantaloons, the face turned away from her, so she could not make it out. Suddenly it faded away."

The specter of Anna Whaley has also been reported, usually in the downstairs rooms or in the garden. In 1964, Mrs. Whaley's floating, drifting spirit appeared to [television personality Regis] Philbin. "All of a sudden I noticed something on the wall," Philbin reported. "There was something filmy white, it looked like an apparition of some kind, I got so excited I couldn't restrain myself! I flipped on the [flash]light and nothing was there but a portrait of Anna Whaley, the long-dead mistress of the house."

Other visitors have described seeing or sensing the presence of a woman in the courtroom. "I see a small figure of a woman," one visitor said, "who has a swarthy complexion. She is wearing a long full skirt, reaching to the floor. The skirt appears to be a calico or gingham, small print. She has a kind of cap on her head, dark hair and eyes and she is wearing gold hoops in her pierced ears. She seems to stay in this room, lives here, I gather." None of the Whaleys fit this description, but the house was rented out to numerous tenants over the years. Perhaps the mysterious woman in the courtroom was one of these.

Another presence reported by visitors and docents is that of a young girl, who is usually found in the dining room. Psychic Sybil Leek encountered this spirit during a visit in the 1960s. "It was a long-haired girl," Sybil said. "She was very quick, you know, in a longish dress. She went to the table in this room and I went to the chair." Urban legend has it that this is the ghost of a playmate of the Whaley children who accidentally broke her neck on a low-hanging clothesline in the backyard, and whose name was either Annabel or Carrie Washburn. There are no historic records of any child dying this way at the Whaley House; nor is there record of any family named Washburn residing in San Diego at the time. It is believed that the legend was started by a one-time employee of the Whaley House, in an effort to add to the house's mystique.

Even animals aren't left out of the singular occurances. A parapsychologist reported he saw a spotted dog, like a fox terrier, that ran down the hall with his ears flapping and into the dining room. The dog, he said, was an apparition. When they lived in the house, the Whaley's owned a terrier named Dolly Varden.

The Whaley House stands silently watching over San Diego Avenue as it has done for a century and a half. Every day visitors come from around the world to tour the historic museum. It contains so much history within its walls, that even the non-believer will enjoy the tour. For believers and sceptics alike, the house draws them back time and again, in search of those elusive ghosts. As Regis Philbin once said, "You know a lot of people pooh-pooh it because they can't see it. But there was something going on in that house."

Added by: sdonley on 06/25/2019 DB#:1410
Source(s):
http://whaleyhouse.org/hauntedfolklore.htm


Paranormal Claims

Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact PANICd.com, and we will review and add your information.


Claim # Added Added By Claim
2811 06/25/2019 sdonley Heavy footsteps have been heard moving around the entire house.
2812 06/25/2019 sdonley A window has been known to mysteriously unlatch and fly open on its own.
2813 06/25/2019 sdonley The apparition of Mr. Whaley has been reported in various locations throughout the house.
2814 06/25/2019 sdonley The apparition of Anna Whaley has been reported usually in the downstairs rooms or in the garden.
2815 06/25/2019 sdonley The apparition of an unknown women has been reported in the courtroom.
2816 06/25/2019 sdonley The apparition of a young girl is often seen or felt in the dining room.
2817 06/25/2019 sdonley The apparition of a dog has been seen running down the hallway and into the dining room.

Paranormal Evidence

Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.

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Additional Resources

This is a collection of Internet resources for this location. This section will house links to other websites that contain information related to history, claims, investigations, or even the location's website.


HauntedHouses.com Records
Added: 02/19/2015 By: sdonley
Find the haunted Whaley House at HauntedHouses.com.
Ghost Hunting Tours
Added: 06/25/2019 By: sdonley
Information about ghost hunting tours.
Ghosts and Gravestones
Added: 06/25/2019 By: sdonley
Information about this location.
Tour Information
Added: 06/25/2019 By: sdonley
Information about ghost tours.
Wikipedia Entry
Added: 06/25/2019 By: sdonley
Wikipedia entry for this location.
Ghost Adventures Teaser
Added: 06/25/2019 By: sdonley
Zak and the guys use a laser microphone system to communicate.
Welcome to Old Town
Added: 06/25/2019 By: sdonley
Old Town San Diego Guide, learn about history, find entertainment, shopping and dining in San Diego's Historic Old Town, in the official Guide of the Old Town San Diego Chamber. See photos of Old Town San Diego Historic sites, Bazaar del Mundo, Plaza Del Pasado and a map of the Old Town San Diego area.
TripAdvisor
Added: 06/25/2019 By: sdonley
TripAdvisor page for this location.

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