The Ghost of Yankee Jim

The next time you find yourself in San Diego, you should know that you will find the location of what is considered to be the most haunted house in all of California. The Whaley House is one of only 30 places that have ever been declared an official haunted site by the government. Not only will you find this haunted house in the Old Town section of San Diego, but there are also plenty of things to do while visiting this area.


The Whaley House is a site where many ghosts tend to be spotted. Ghost-sightings on this property were also documented before this house ever existed. The story behind the most well known of the ghosts, starts with a man by the name of “Yankee Jim” Robinson, who was a thief accused of attempting to steal a large boat that was located in the harbor. It is unknown if he really stole the boat or if he “looked” as if he was going to steal the boat. Anyhow, Yankee Jim, who had a criminal record, was able to avoid the authorities for a couple of days. It wasn’t until he was spotted begging for food that he was recognized, captured and sent to jail.


When Yankee Jim was standing for trial, he was hardly able to understand or speak on what was going on. He was hardly conscious due to a blow to his head that he sustained during his capture, suffering from an infected wound. On that day, he was sentenced to death by hanging for the date of September 18th, 1852. When this day came, he was delirious from his wound; being treated unfairly in jail, barely receiving any medical help. He was even unable to say his last words; he was so “out of it.” When the sheriff gave orders to pull the cart from underneath Yankee Jim’s feet, his toes almost reached the ground. He was quite a tall man and this was not taken into consideration. He died quite painfully, taking 45 minutes to slowly strangle to death.


The same spot where Yankee Jim met his fate, is where the Whaley House now stands. Visitors to this location claim to have heard the sound of heavy boots traipsing about upstairs. They say that he walks to the edge of the stairs, and then stops. The exact location where Yankee Jim was hung is not an archway that can be found between the parlor and the music room. Upon walking throughout the archway, some claim to have encountered a feeling of strangulation. The house even had a psychic visit, claiming to have seen a vision of mules pulling a wagon out from under a scaffold. This account was given and she had no knowledge of what had happened at the site.


The next time you are in San Diego, stop by the Thomas Whaley House Museum on 2482 San Diego Avenue to experience the presence of Yankee Jim’s ghost.