• Donkey Junk

The Whaley House: The story of death, sadness and suicide in one of America's most haunted houses

The beautiful mansion that hides a long story of sadness and misery and is overrun with stories of paranormal activity and reports of ghostly sightings that appear to tie-together with the stories of the unfortunate souls that have perished within this building.


Whaley House Ghosts
The Whaley House still stands grand to this day

The Whaley House, named after its previous owners, the Whaley Family. Sitting in San Diego this grand home is known for its harrowing, troubled history over the years.


Considered in its time as a grand mansion, boasting luxury and wealth, the Whaley House has operated as various different outlets, from a general store through to a theatre.


During its time The Whaley House has seen no-end of heartache, misery and chaos which has led to its apparent crown of one of America's most haunted buildings.


Thomas Whaley designed the home himself and construction of the dwelling began in 1856 and was completed the following year, he quoted himself prior to the build, "my new house, when completed, will be the most handsome, most comfortable, and convenient place in town or within 150 miles of here". It was a first of its kind type of house within the city of San Diego, California.


Whaley House Ghost Story
From the beginning Whaley House was fraught with death and sadness

His quote certainly came to fruition, his house was grand, and extremely handsome, however, the horrors that occurred couldn't have been further from his dreams.


Thomas Whaley's son was born, Thomas Junior, tragically the youngster contracted scarlet fever and died at just 18 months old.


Not long after the devastating death of Thomas Junior a fire broke out in The Whaley House and destroyed a part of the home that Thomas had turned into a general store. The family, completely grief stricken, decided it was time for a change and a fresh start somewhere new and moved to San Francisco.


Things settled down for the Whaley family over the course of the next decade, Thomas made a substantial amount of money investing in a stock, this got his finances back on track and pushed him into the decision of moving back To San Diego with the aim of repairing the damage that the fire had caused years previous.


By the end of 1868 the repairs had been completed and everything seemed well within the Whaley Family, sadly the happiness that the family have managed to achieve came grinding to a halt in 1885 when Violet, one of their children committed suicide.


In 1882 three years prior to Violet's suicide she married George T. Bertolacci, just two weeks into her marriage she woke during their extended honeymoon to find that her husband had left. It was later found out that Bertolacci was a con-man and only married Violet with the ambition of securing a proportion of the Whaley's fortune. When it became apparent to him that this wasn't going to happen he quickly upped and left Violet, completely destroying her.


In these times society had a tendency to shun women if they ever returned home without their husband. The divorce took around a year to go through and Violet never appeared to recover from the shame that it brought upon her. At just 22-years-old she killed herself by shooting herself in the chest.


Whaley House Ghost Tour
Today Whaley House is a museum that is flocked to by paranormal fans from all over the world

Even before all the tragedy had hit the Whaley family, they had reported to a local newspaper stating that they were experiencing a poltergeist that they believed to be the ghost of James "Yankee Jim" Robinson, who was hanged on the property for stealing a boat years prior to the house being built.


To make the story even more eerie it turned out that in fact The Whaley House was built upon an old cemetery. The Whaley family told of how they would hear footsteps within the house, even the neighbours verified their claims by stating that they used to see apparitions in the windows of the home whilst passing by.


In its later years whilst the restoration was being completed works and visitors often claimed to hear strange, unexplainable sounds, sights and occasionally even smells whilst in the property, many of them saying they felt a powerful presence around them whilst there.


It is believed by many that a lot of these incidents came from the ghost of Jim Robinson who we mentioned earlier, he is said to have tormented the family by leaving footprints and stamping on the floor whilst making other frightening noises throughout.


Several reports have made claim that they have heard childlike crying in the halls as well as playful giggling in the distance and the patter of infant footsteps, this has laid the foundations for the belief that these are caused by the late tragic young baby Thomas Junior.


It is said that the ghost of Violet Whaley still inhabits the second floor of the house, it is thought that she sticks to the second floor as that is where she often locked herself away in her bedroom after her marriage broke down.


Cold spots are a commonly reported feeling within the house especially around the stairwells which have been said to be the roaming area for Thomas, Anna and other spirits.


Thomas is said to have been spotted several times wearing his top hat and long coat whilst looking down from the top of the stairs.


An interesting and common report from visitors to the Whaley House is the frequent smell of French perfume around the house, this was a known favourite of Anna's this often wore.


To add further validity to the house's hauntings there have many lots of claims of visitors seeing objects moving unassisted, the music room's chandelier, which will swing on its own, lights that will turn on and off without explanation and the presence of an odd mist that will randomly appear.


The events that surrounded the Whaley House are certainly tragic and extremely sad. It does make you wonder if the house being built on top of a cemetery and previous execution site set the house up for a dark story from the beginning.


So well-known are these tragic lives that ghost-hunters still flock to the house in a hope of catching a glimpse of one of the ghosts of Whaley House to this day.


Today the residence serves as a museum that is open to the public. There, people can get a first-hand look at the house that was meant to be the Whaley’s forever home.


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