Haunted Whaley House

The Haunted Whaley House

The Whaley House in San Diego, California, is often referred to as one of the most haunted houses in America. The Haunted Whaley House has a rich history, with several tragic events associated with it, which have led to numerous claims of paranormal activity. This house is Not for sale but for informational/entertainment value only.



The Whaley House was originally built in 1857 by Thomas Whaley, a prominent San Diego resident. The house served as both a residence for the Whaley family and a general store. However, even before the house was built, the land had a dark history. It was the site of public gallows where several criminals were executed, including “Yankee Jim” Robinson, who was hanged on the property in 1852.

Yankee Jim Robinson

Yankee Jim was actually a French Canadian. Per the Los Angeles Herald, he murdered and robbed men at mining camps to steal their gold. It was the theft of a boat, however, that led him to be hung at the gallows.  He is buried one block from the Whaley House.


Thomas Whaley had attended the execution, and soon after purchased that very same land. It was here he built the Whaley House.

Thomas Whaley

Soon after the Whaleys moved into the house, footsteps sounding like the boots of a man began to be heard by the inhabitants. Thomas Whaley began to believe the footfalls were made by the spirit of Yankee Jim Robinson. Whaley told family members that Yankee Jim had been hung right where the arch in the home stood.




Family Tragedies



Baby Thomas

Over the years, the Whaley family experienced several tragedies within the house.  The first person to die in the home was young Thomas Whaley, Jr.  In 1858, at just 18-months old, the baby  passed away in an upstairs bedroom from scarlet fever.   It has been said that the cries of a baby can be heard in the house to this day.


Baby Thomas and his grandmother


Not long after the death of Baby Thomas, a fire destroyed much of Mr. Whaley’s general store.  The family had had enough, so they relocated to San Francisco where Thomas ansd his wife had three more children.  The Whaley Huse called them back to their old home in San Diego, however, after the 1868 San Francisco Earthquake.


Violet Elosie Whaley


One of the most notable incidents In the Whaley household involved the suicide of Violet Whaley, Thomas Whaley’s granddaughter. She had married George Bertolacci in a double wedding ceremony with her sister Anna Amelia in 1882. It seems that George, however,  was a con artist who married Violet for her money. He left her after only one year of marriage. Violet lost her will to live and attempted to take her own life by jumping off the house into the cistern. That attempt failed, but later that year she took her father’s pistol and shot herself in the chest in the outhouse. Her father heard the gunshot and rushed his daughter inside the house where she died 10 minutes later without saying a word. She was only 22 years of age.


Violet Whaley


It was too much for the family to bear, so in 1885, the family moved to another house at 933 State Street in San Diego.



These tragic events, combined with the house’s connection to the gallows, have contributed to the reputation of the Whaley House as being haunted. Visitors and residents alike have reported various paranormal occurrences within the house. These reported experiences include hearing disembodied footsteps, seeing apparitions, and witnessing objects moving on their own. The ghost of Violet, in particular, has been seen crying in both the outhouse and the second level of the Whaley House.






Such claims of paranormal activity have attracted the attention of paranormal investigators and enthusiasts, leading to the Whaley House being featured in numerous television shows and documentaries focusing on hauntings. The house is now a popular tourist attraction, operated as a museum by the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), which preserves its historical significance and offers guided tours to visitors.

While the Whaley House’s haunted reputation has been subject to skepticism and debate, it remains an intriguing part of San Diego’s history and continues to captivate the curiosity of those interested in the supernatural.


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