While in trance, Sybil Leek also connected with an unexpected spirit: a Russian who had died in the San Diego area while hunting sea otters, once plentiful here. Very few people knew that Russians did visit San Diego during a period when the Spanish were not actively occupying the area. As a native San Diegan, I was unaware of any Russian activity here until I read Hans Holzers account of the Whaley House seance in his book "Ghosts of the Golden West."
Despite his bad experiences with the previous tenant of the courtroom annex, Whaley persisted in renting out the area, most notably to the Tanner theatrical troupe. The former courtroom was used as a theater, with actors replacing the dour civic fathers in the rooms up above. Tanner himself died in San Diego and is buried down the street at the Campo Santo cemetary.
While most visitors find the ghostly experiences relatively benign, the last surviving daughter of the house, Corinne Lillian Whaley, did not. The poor woman stated that she never felt comfortable in the upstairs bedrooms and slept fitfully throughout her many years living alone in the house. But perhaps she slept fitfully for another reason. Her sister Violet died mysteriously in the privy of Whaley House, allegedly shooting herself. After her death, though, the weapon was not recovered. Many years later, the weapon was discovered hidden in the cement foundations of one of the back buildings during reconstruction. Inexplicably, Corinne Whaley insisted that the hidden gun was hers, not the weapon used by Violet. Had she been involved in her sister's death- or a family cover-up?
Some of those who have experienced the Whaley House believe that this location is not just populated by spirits that can be traced to one or another part of its busy history, but instead is a psychic crossroads which constantly attracts disembodied traffic. In addition, the house is furnished with a collection of objects and furniture, many of which are donations from the families of long-deceased San Diegans. Other items belonged to presidents and prominent citizens. It is not impossible that these items may provide a link to their previous owners? Among other objects, there is also a selection of small Aztec or Mayan-style statues, found in San Diego County, though not in the vicinity of the Whaley House. These votive objects received worship and may also help amplify the "vibrations" at the house.
The Whaley House collection sports two pianos, both of which have been involved with haunted events. One of them belonged to the famous singer Jenny Lind, who was much beloved in the last century. The other was featured in the movie "Gone with the Wind." Mrs. Whaley, who loved music, is said to have stood by psychic Michael J. Kouri and whisper her "request" into his ears. When he finished playing on one piano, he went to the other and was greeted by her again, and asked to play the same song: "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." It is interesting that Mrs. Whaley is associated with the haunting of an object that was not in the house during her lifetime. Can spirits slowly adapt to new conditions? Apparently Anna Whaley is more flexible than her husband.
Whaley House is located on San Diego Avenue in the heart of Old Town, San Diego, California. To find the Campo Santo cemetary, go south on San Diego Avenue. It is located behind an adobe mud wall, and is always open.
Author, deTraci Regula has written hundreds of articles on mystical and magical subjects. She is also the author of "The Mysteries of Isis" (Llewellyn 1996) and leads tours to sacred (and sometimes haunted) sites worldwide.
Links of Interest:
At Eeeek.net, the Whaley Story gives some rarely recounted details about the suicide of the Whaley's daughter Violet -or was it murder?
Here's another look at the Whaley House, from Eden Salisbury.
And from the Associated Press via Seattle P-I, Home's haunted past is government certified, Matthew Fordahl's brief account of the hauntings, with a couple of photos and comments by curator Peter Cook.
Ghostly forms abound in these supposedly goof-proof photos of the interior of the Whaley House,
at the GhostNet.
Ghost-free photos of the historical plaque and sign are provided from Donald Laird.
Strange times that we live in. The Whaley House is now the subject of an interactive game. Happy haunting - but don't rely on historical accuracy here.
Hans Holzer- Ghosts of the Golden West
Robert & Anne Wlodarski- The Haunted Whaley House
Michael J. Khouri- Haunted Los Angeles
If you enoyed this adventure - you'll love to see this other haunted house!