The Whaley House in San Diego is one of the most famous haunted locations in all of America, and I was really excited to be invited to ghost hunt there, it has been high on my “I got to go there” list for a long time.
Kane and RA were out of town so I grabbed my buddy Louis Horowitz, he’s our location guy, and drove the two hours to get there. We were to meet two of the San Diego Ghost Hunters there, they had invited us, and we arrived about an hour early.
This section of San Diego was not what I expected. When you are going to a haunted location you expect it to be run down, scary looking, but it wasn’t that at all. There were clubs, restaurants everywhere; it was a very festive area, a really cool place to visit, so we grabbed something to eat next to the Whaley House.
It was time to meet the ladies from the San Diego Ghost Hunters, Maritza Skandunas and Colleen Rose, so Louis and I headed over to meet them, and they introduced us to another woman who was waiting at the front door, her name is Jokie Tolentino, and she is the Director of Museum Services, and she was kind enough to join us( actually, we wouldn’t have been there at all without her blessing), and she told us the history of the building, each room, absolutely a beautiful place, the rooms and history are so interesting I almost forgot about ghost hunting.. almost.
As we went through the building, they told us of a man named Yankee Jim, here is the back story..
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 Whaley’s’ 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.”
The story fresh in our minds we unpacked our gear and started investigating, I had my night vision camera and K2 meter so we could do an EVP session. Louis had brought a piece of equipment called the Spirit Touch, which has a tiny blue light that will come on if energy comes very close to the light, you have to be within inches to make it light up. Maritza, Colleen and Louis were setting it up on a display case, Louis showed them how it worked, and as I was walking down the stairs Maritza said “make it light up Yankee Jim”, and it went off immediately! Pretty interesting that it worked that soon, I was skeptical thinking it may work the way the flashlight trick works. I walked over to it, they asked Yankee Jim to light it up again, and it went off again! I feel the need to take this home and test it myself, and I did.
As part of testing it, I turned it on while I watched TV for several hours, not once did it go off, so I knew it didn’t have a timer, so I tried to see if I could make it light up by jostling the table. Again, no response. I walked around the house, stood near a power box, still nothing. I called the manufacturer who said they don’t make them anymore, but I told him how impressed I was with it, he agreed to make me three, and I should have them soon, and I want to take all of them to the Whaley House to check them out.
We all toured the building, the rooms are fantastic, it was like being taken back in time, a real piece of history you could experience firsthand. We saw a courtroom( I bet Yankee Jim didn’t like that room), we saw a stage, every room told a story, the detail to attention to the time period makes this a very unique place. Oh, and did I mention that it is haunted? We would hear things move in other rooms, you would get that feeling of energy surrounding you like someone is right next to you, but one of the best parts of the night was when Colleen and Louis were on the lower floor. Colleen and Maritza are there a lot and seem to have a good grasp on the spirits there; including a woman they call Dangerous. They were doing an EVP session when Colleen started asking Dangerous questions, and when she said “what’s your real name, Dangerous”? A very clear voice, definitely a Class A response said “sorry”.
We went into the famous courtroom area, I stood up where the Judge would be, but no responses, but when we took pictures, they had an orange tint around us in several, but not in others.
Maritza, Rick, Jokie and Colleen
As the investigation was winding down we headed upstairs for one last look, where a very funny thing happened. The Whaley House is a very well-known haunted location, and people come to look at it often, even late into the evening. I was standing near a window that looked to the back of the building; the window had a light drape covering it. I saw movement on the ground below through it, so I very slowly, now remember it is dark where we are, opened the curtain and moved into the window. There were two guys and a girl looking up with shocked faces, so I stood still, you could tell they saw me, but couldn’t see but a shadow. I waited about ten seconds so I could get their blood running, then I waved, and all three started laughing. I debunked myself, but they had a good scare, so it was worth it!
Louis and I had a long ride back to Los Angeles, so we packed our gear, thanked Jokie, Maritza and Colleen, and prepared to leave, but those three were such fun it took us awhile to finally head out.
I had been wanting to ghost hunt there for so long, and to be able to do it with such a tiny group was quite an honor, and the drive there and back was definitely worth it. We had a great time, good people, and a great location. We couldn’t have asked for more. Thanks for the invite and the hospitality!
The Whaley House is an 1857 Greek Revival style residence, a California Historical Landmark, and museum located in Old Town, San Diego, California. It is currently maintained by Save Our Heritage Organization. For information on the museum, tours, and ghost tours please go to: http://www.whaleyhouse.org/