Most Haunted Homes in America: The Whaley House

"You know a lot of people pooh-pooh it because they can't see it. But there was something going on in that house. "
Regis Philbin

One of the most haunted homes in the United States is rumored to be the structure identified as the Whaley House. The Travel Channel’s “America’s Most Haunted” reflects upon this house as the single most haunted home in all of the United States. In the year 1960, this structure opened as a museum that documented the history of the building. It was at that time that various books and a large assortment of publications began to document the historical hauntings associated with the building and property where the building stood. In addition to this, the paranormal activity that has been rumored to occur here has been noted on many television programs since the initiation of the museum.

Yankee Jim

One of the most notable spirits that have been noted for haunting the Whaley House has been referred to throughout history as “Yankee Jim”. James Santiago Robinson was a northerner that was convicted by a group of his peers of attempting to perform grand larceny. This occurred in the San Diego area in the year of 1852. As far as spirits is concerned at this most haunted structure in the U.S, the ghost of “Yankee Jim” is considered to be the earliest documented suspicion of the paranormal at this location. The year that this man was convicted, he was hanged on a specially designed gallows for criminal offenses. It was actually located on a wagon where he was eventually pulled from. Once the wagon was removed, it is said that he swung in a pendulum like fashion until he met his death.

Thomas Whaley, who would eventually come to purchase the same land that “Yankee Jim” died on, was present when the criminal was put to death for his crime. Whaley saw this as a fit punishment for the man’s crime, but was also able to identify a great deal when he saw one. As a result, within a few years, he purchased the property as it seemed like an ideal location for his family to settle down. Once the structure was finished, he and his family moved in. It did not take too long and strange sounds started to occur with no logical explanation. The sounds were similar to the sounds that would be made by a large man walking along the planks of the floor wearing boots.

Naturally, Thomas Whaley and his family heard this sound so often that the home and the surrounding perimeters were inspected at depth several different times. No culprit for the sound could ever be identified. It was not until Thomas Whaley’s daughter, Lillian, mentioned that there was a ghost in the home named “Yankee Jim” that Thomas remembered that man that had be hanged on the property several years prior to that. It was then that Thomas came to the conclusion that “Yankee Jim” continued to walk the grounds where he met his death due to his crime in life. In the year of 1962, a woman that visited the museum that was opened on the property contested to the fact that when she was younger her family had visited the home. Later that night, the family left suddenly as the sounds of the walking man with no visible appearance frightened them so much.

Thomas and Anna Whaley

There are many who have visited the Whaley House and have claimed that the spirit of Thomas Whaley resides in the structure. Many have experienced an encounter with his wife, Anna, as well. A lady who directed the museum in life stated before she died that a young girl was reported to have said that there was a man in the parlor area of the structure. She waved at the individual that she saw, but no one else observed the person that she said was there. In the upper area of the structure, many adults and children alike have observed who they believe to be Whaley and then the ghostly figure simply fades out.

Regis, the famous television personality, claimed that he observed the spirit of Anna Whaley in a room in the year of 1964. As he lay resting in the room, he noticed what appeared to be a ghostly figure on the wall. He claimed that he was shaken with excitement and turned on a flashlight to see the figure more closely. When he did this, what he noticed on the wall was completely gone but the picture of the Anna Whaley stood on the wall, looking back at him. It was then that he realized that he must have just had an encounter with Mrs. Whaley. There are notations throughout history where guests and employees of this most haunted house in the United States have apparently encountered the kindred spirits of Thomas Whaley and his wife, Anna.

Questionable Hauntings

As with any home that is considered to be haunted, there are questionable hauntings that are said to occur in and around the structure. The first involves the spirit of a young girl. It is believed that a past employee of the structure started a rumor that a little girl that used to play with the Whaley children accidentally broke her neck on a clothesline and died on the property. This apparent haunting is said to haunt the dining room area of the home. A psychic is said to have confirmed that there is a young, female spirit but no official records ever document any cases of a female child dying on the property. The next questionable haunting is that of a small terrier dog. It is said that the Whaley’s owned this type of dog when they lived at the home. There is at least one reported case of an individual seeing the apparition of this dog.


As you can see from the information contained here, there are several different stories of hauntings that are said to occur in the Whaley House. If you are interested in exploring the history and hauntings of this paranormally active structure and will be in the historic section of San Diego, you may do so. You will discover this beautiful home on San Diego Avenue, under the numeric address of 2476 in California. If you would like to call for reservations, the number is 619-297-7511. You may also email America’s most haunted house at: .

Check out this short video documentary to see inside the Whaley house.

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