Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Haunting We Will Go

"There are some human beings who are dimly aware of their own deaths, yet have chosen to stay on in what used to be their homes, to be close to surroundings they once held dear." - Hans Holzer, legendary paranormal researcher who passed away in 2009.

What does a rational logical person do when they are visiting a city where there is supposed to be one of the most haunted houses in America?

Explore it of course.

That's exactly what J and L did recently while in San Diego for another matter which dealt with being Hunted and not Haunted. Okay that was a cheap shot at self-promoting the novel Hunted and I hope our readers will forgive that dalliance.

We had heard about the number one rated haunted house in America according to Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted and knew we had to walk those spooky grounds. We wanted to tread along the wooden floor boards and hear the creaks and moans of folks who hadn't decided to go 'to the other side' and perhaps convince them perhaps they should or at least to get them to be quieter and not scare the tourists.

After purchasing the entrance tickets for the Whaley House located in Old Town San Diego in lieu of  New Town which is actually downtown San Diego where another haunted location exists called the William Heath Davis House. We had visited that haunt (if you'll permit the pun) earlier in the day without a whisper in our ear or even a tug on our clothes by invisible forces - wouldn't you think there should be a refund policy for not even having one single hair on your arm rise after spending forty minutes going up and down stairs in a ghostly inhabited place?

No such luck.

Determined, we sauntered into the Whaley house which was a rather large and comfortable considering it was built in 1857 on a slight hill looking south west out toward the bay of San Diego. The docents where wonderfully attentive and one fine gentleman grabbed onto us in the main hallway and explained all the paranormal happenings that had occurred within the walls of the house since it had been built.

It seemed Thomas Whaley had purchased a vacant lot which once what the location for the hangings of some of the lower elements of early San Diego but not being a believer in visitors from the afterlife he pooh-poohed the ideas and constructed the two story brick house for his family. One of the most notorious men to have been hung on or nearby the property was one Yankee Jim (James Robinson) who had been convicted of numerous crimes and received a death by hanging decree in 1852. The only problem was that Yankee Jim was a rather tall fellow and when the wagon was forced away from him with rope around his neck the tips of his boots touched the ground. Instead of the usual snap crackle pop of the neck the poor man swung around and chocked to death. Records stated it took nearly 30 minutes for poor Yankee Jim to give up the ghost.

Or perhaps he didn't.

Soon after Whaley built the house and moved his family in the spooking started with the nightly creaking of the ninth step on the inside stairwell. The 'cold' spots where the Whaley's were certain someone from the other side was standing. In fact, it got to the point that Thomas Whaley became a believer in the supernatural (it should be noted he was there when Yankee Jim was executed and believed not in spirits revisiting) especially after hearing the footsteps moving about the entire house at odd hours of the night and not just on the ninth step any longer. He was spooked but it would get worse.

In 1871 being despondent over a failed or troubled marriage the Whaley's twenty-two year old daughter, Violet shot herself in the outhouse and her father carried his dying daughter into the salon where she soon died. It has been reported over the decades one can hear someone crying in that room when there isn't anyone there. As typical with any such a haunted place there are stories of the caretakers, visitors, and other such folk who heard and felt strange occurrences within the Whaley House. There have been children reporting a man waving at them wearing a strange looking outfit - it has been thought that young children are more in tune with ghosts than older folks and clothing from the 1850's would surely look strange to a little one now wouldn't it?

After a rather lengthy description of the house we thanked the Docent and wandered about the interior and exterior of the place for an hour, even haunting (probably wrong term) around a bit on the ninth step bouncing up and down.

Nothing! Or was there?

Not a tingle, not an itch, not a tug, and no cold spots except walking by an upstairs open window and feeling the wonderful cool breeze from the San Diego Bay.

But when we returned home and checked our photos, in the room where the young lady breathed her last, there was a strange lighting effect. (See the comparisons photos). Was there something, someone, after all?

Again, it was a bit of a bust for ghost hunting but worthwhile all the same with the marvelous and tantalizing history that Old Town San Diego has to offer.

But don't expect a refund if you don't get spooked - that should be changed according to this writer.

Whaley House Museum

Old Town San Diego Guide

William Heath Davis house San Diego, California - GoThere

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