Thomas Whaley (1823-1890)

thomaswhaleyMr. Whaley was born in New York City, October 5, 1823. He received a good education at Washington Institution, and then traveled two years in Europe with his tutor, M. Emile Mallet. At the breaking out of the gold fever, he sailed for California in the Sutton, — the first ship to leave that port for the diggings,– reached San Francisco July 22, 1849.

In the summer of 1851, Lewis A. Franklin and George H. Davis chartered a vessel and with a cargo of goods started down the coast on a trading voyage. Mr. Whaley had an interest in this venture, but remained in San Francisco as agent. Reaching San Diego, they liked the place so well that they determined to remain. Mr. Whaley followed in October, and, in partnership with Franklin, opened the Tienda-California (California Store). In the following April the firm was dissolved and in partnership with Jack Hinton, Mr. Whaley bought the interest of R. E. Raymond in the Tienda General (general store). This partnership continued a year and in that time the firm cleared $18,600 — quite a sum for those days. In April, 1853, Hinton retired and E. W. Morse entered the firm.

Mr. Whaley went to New York and married Miss Anna E. Lannay, August 14, 1853. Mrs. Whaley is of pure French extraction, being a descendant of the De Lannay and Godefrois families. On the return of the party to San Diego a number of others, including Mrs. Morse and Mrs. Poole, came with them.

In 1856 Mr. Morse retired from the firm and Mr. Whaley continued alone, also engaging in brickmaking in Mission Valley–the first burnt bricks made in San Diego County. In that year, also, he erected his residence and store building, which is still standing at Old Town–the first burnt brick building on the coast south of San Francisco. In 1858 he was engaged in mercantile business with Walter Ringgold, but the store and goods were destroyed by an incendiary fire.

Upon the breaking out of the Garra insurrection, Mr. Whaley joined the Fitzgerald Volunteers and served in the campaign. In 1859 he quitted San Diego and was in different employments, at San Francisco and in Alaska. Soon after Horton came, he returned from New York, bringing a stock of goods with him. He bought out Mr. Morse, who removed to new San Diego, and took into partnership Philip Crosthwaite. By February, 1870 it had become quite evident that the new town would prevail as the city of the future, and the firm removed to Horton’s Addition. The enterprise did not prosper, however, and the connection was a disastrous one for Mr. Whaley. In 1873 he again went to New York and remained five years. In 1879 he once more settled in San Diego, and in the following fall engaged in the real estate business with E. W. Morse. Charles P. Noell was soon after admitted to the firm. In February, 1886, Mr. Noell sold out to R.H. Dalton. Mr. Whaley retired from active business in 1888. He was a large property owner at Old Town, new San Diego and La Playa. He was a public spirited citizen, but took little part in politics, only holding the office of city trustee in 1886, city clerk in 1881-2, etc. He died December 14, 1890.

[from Smythe, William Ellsworth. History of San Diego, 1542-1908. San Diego: History Co., 1907. (pages 290-292)]

Return to Biography.