Ghost Adventures: Visit to Whaley House and meeting Yankee Jim Robinson

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22: Aaron Goodwin, Zak Bagans, and Nick Groff attend Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures" Autograph Signing at San Diego Convetion Center on July 22, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22: Aaron Goodwin, Zak Bagans, and Nick Groff attend Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures" Autograph Signing at San Diego Convetion Center on July 22, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images) /

The Ghost Adventures crew have visited just about every haunted site in America—Whaley House being one of them. While interesting, there’s a lack of realness to it. Luckily, we had our own experience at the site which gave us a more accurate picture of what’s happening at San Diego’s Whaley House.

In Old Town San Diego, the Ghost Adventures crew took on Whaley House—a mansion reportedly haunted by the notorious Yankee Jim Robinson. They attempt to confirm that the spirit of Yankee Jim Robinson is haunting Whaley House but he’s not impressed, failing to make an appearance.

For a little background, Yankee Jim Robinson was a thief hung from the gallows in 1852. Thomas Whaley—a resident of Old Town San Diego—watched on from the crowd as it happened. Apparently, the incident didn’t make him superstitious because three years after the hanging, Whaley bought the land where the gallows once stood. He then built his house on the very spot Yankee Jim was hung, adding insult to injury.

Soon after his home had been built, Thomas Whaley began hearing disembodied footsteps. He was the first member of the Whaley family to experience strange happenings in their home. Though, other members of his family reported hearing and seeing things shortly after Whaley’s encounter. His wife, Anna reported being uneasy as she felt the presence of “something” around her at all times.

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Today, there are reports of Thomas Whaley leaning over the banister from upstairs where the family bedrooms are located. Men visiting the theater have also reported scratches and red welts appear on their throats—seems Yankee Jim doesn’t like men—especially policemen—as they are the ones he singles out to attack. In fact, it was largely due to these claims of Whaley House being haunted that it earned the title of being one of the most haunted locations in America.

For professional ghost hunters and tourists alike, Whaley House is a treasure trove of activity. The site has been a literal “hotspot” for gathering evidence of hauntings by both amateurs and seasoned investigators. Whaley has even posted pictures donated by visitors on their websites. Pictures that have captured orbs, ghostly figures, and other strange anomalies.

On the first floor of the home is the San Diego Court House and the Whaley Family’s General Store. It was there that the Whaley’s daughter claimed to be watched. Lilly felt such an overwhelming presence that she kept a journal of all her experiences in the house. The journal pages were copied but those are difficult to read, and the original transcript is missing.

How many of the Whaleys haunt the house?

In another instance of activity at the site, Regis Philbin, a TV personality claims to have seen the spirit of Anna Whaley at the house. His sighting happened one night while he and his crew were participating in a séance. The group was trying to summon spirits in the house to determine exactly who was haunting Whaley.

It is reported that there are at least seven spirits roaming Whaley House, according to Philbin and his crew. Philbin states that at one point he just looked and there she was: Anna Whaley. He testifies he didn’t believe in spirits before this incident and it caught him off guard—that event changed his beliefs in the afterlife.

As for the Ghost Adventures’ crew, they received help from Maritza Skadunas, the founder and lead investigator of the San Diego Ghost Hunters (SDGH). She’s investigated Whaley House numerous times, making her a worthwhile expert to bring along for the ride.

In Season 9 Episode 11 “Haunted Savannah” of Ghost Adventures, Zak Bagans and Nick Groff joined Skadunas for an investigation of their own. When they did, it didn’t take long for the voices of Whaley House to speak up. The team then heard the words “I am George Whaley”. Later on into the exploration, George teased Maritza just like an old friend would.

Sadly, our guys got nada in the end on their own. They captured one disembodied voice and some interference of the laser system Bill Chappell invented but not much else—that is until they heard footsteps up on the second floor. Zak also felt fingernails running down his back and presumably caught a picture of a transparent hand with long fingers.

The picture appears to show a hand with long fingers, but the hand and fingers appear longer than a normal hand which suggests that an apparition was responsible.

All in all, the lack of evidence that the Ghost Adventures captured during this investigation was a little disappointing. It makes you wonder if the house’s haunted reputation is exaggerated or if the spirits just don’t like our favorite ghost hunters? The good news is that my own personal experience proved the house is truly haunted.

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When I lived in San Diego with my sister, Tracy and I went to check out Whaley House for ourselves—this was five years before Ghost Adventures’  own episode at the location.  We toured the house during the day and had our own personal experiences while inside the locale.

There, I snapped pictures of large orbs—one on the back of a chair in the courtroom—one on the stage of the theater—and another at the top of the stairs. I know most investigators don’t like orbs because they can easily be mistaken for dust particles. The thing is, these orbs are larger than dirt particles and were captured in locations that matched the reports of past hauntings.

The most intriguing thing that happened during our visit was while I was at the bottom of the stairs scanning through my photos to see if I even captured anything. Tracy approached me with this weird look on her face. She told me that I was humming a lullaby that other visitors had heard during their tour. What’s strange is I don’t remember humming during the tour.

Going outside to take pictures later, Tracy saw a woman dressed in white standing at the window peering down at us. Other visitors have also reported seeing a woman in white standing at the upstairs window. Could this be factual evidence of ghosts at the Whaley House?

The best thing about our experience is that all of the activity happened in broad daylight. Apparitions and spirits tend to manifest more recurringly at night so this made our trip well worth it. Of course, we were just happy that we managed to record more than the Ghost Adventures’ crew were able to.

Speculation aside, personal experiences reported from this site are what gives Whaley House its haunted reputation. Yet, considering how much evidence the Ghost Adventures crew got from this location, we have our doubts. They’ve acquired much more from less active sites so perhaps there’s a supernatural explanation—or maybe Yankee Jim Robinson simply doesn’t like them.

What are your thoughts on the Whaley House experience? Let us know in the comments section below.

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