Built on the Gallows! The Whaley House, One of America's Most Haunted Locations

         

Thomas Whaley came to California during the Gold Rush. He opened his first general store in the San Fransisco area, selling hardware, tools, and firearms. After arson destroyed his buildings in 1851, Thomas Whaley relocated to Old Town, San Diego.

He purchased a lot on the corner of San Diego Ave and Harney Street in September of 1855 and built a single- story grainery the following year. In 1856, Whaley began construction of an adjacent two-story Greek Revival style brick home of his own design. Thomas Whaley proclaimed, "My new house, when completed, will be the handsomest, most comfortable, and the most convenient place in town or within 150 miles of here," Upon completion in 1857, the home was acclaimed as the "finest new brick block in Southern California" by the San Diego Herald, and cost the impressive sum of 10,000.

Whaley partnered with the Deputy County Clerk and the Chief of Police to expand the building into one of San Diego's earliest courthouses. Along with a general store, the building even boasted a commercial theater.

But why has this grand home and center of commerce become such a ripe source for hauntings? 

Did I menton that the land was a bit of a bargain because it was used as the site of the public gallows? Yes, Thomas Whaley himself witnessed James. (aka "Yankee Jim" ) Santiago hanged off the back of a wagon off the very site. Legend says Yankee Jim's rope was just a lttle too long and Jim slowly strangled with his boots scraping the ground. Many a man swung where the Whaley House now sits.

Childhood deaths, a broken hearted daughter's suicide, and years of public hanging are entwined with the story of the Whaley house. 

If you come to San Diego to visit the Whaley house, make sure you visit the graveyard just down the street. Yes, Yankee Jim is buried there. And take a look down while you're walking. You'll notice brass markers on the sidewalk. They say, "grave marker." Old Town San Diego has a lot of secrets...

Join me as I talk to Whaley historian Jokie Tolentino as we "dig up" the secrets of San Diego's haunted Whaley House Museum!

Visit the Whaley House Museum website at www.whaleyhouse.org.

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