Thursday, November 3, 2011
Breaking News! Dr. Grimes' Dental Office
In 2007, Huntington Paranormal was still a fairly new group, and was eagerly exploring some of Huntington's most famous haunted locations. One of these locations was the dental office of Dr. William Grimes, located along 20th Street. The story reported by Dr. Grimes to WV Ghosts consisted of tales about a little ghost girl named Lavina who haunted the turn of the century duplex he had bought in 1973. Lavina lived in the former duplex with her mother and older sister. However, before moving to Huntington from Ohio, Lavina took care of the youngest child in the family, an infant, while her mother and older sister worked as waitresses to support themselves, and save up enough money to leave an abusive father. A house fire killed the young baby that Lavina took such loving care of, and the mother moved to the former duplex turned dental office with her two remaining daughters.
Shortly after, Lavina, who was about 11-13 years old, died in the home of appendicitis. It is said that she never got over the death of her baby sister. This information came from an informant known as Mrs. Andre. Sightings of a ghostly girl matching Mrs. Andre's description have been spotted, and even been picked up on by sensitives. Data collected by various groups seemed to support the story. Dr. Grimes even has a portrait of the sad looking little girl who appeared to him on the staircase. After painting her portrait, apparitions tended to fade away, but she is still said to be felt in the home, and loves to interact with children who come to visit.
HPIR did two investigations in 2007 of the office; the first in May and the second in October, when we were called back because activity had seemingly increased. From my understanding, at the time of our May investigation, we were the only group that had been in to investigate since a group from Marshall in the 1980s. Both investigations did yield a plethora of personal experiences, as well as EVPs and strange EMF readings that could not be explained...even by a fuse box that was later changed due to the high amount of EMF it was putting out! (Click the links above to see investigation results and listen to the EVPs.) The level of activity and the interesting history landed this location on the number one spot of our Top 10 Most Haunted in the Tri-State list!
Fast-forward to October 2011. Clint and Judy of WTCR 103.3 FM decided to do an overnight investigation, and live broadcast from a haunted location in Huntington to celebrate Halloween. Dr. Grimes' office was chosen, and HPIR was contacted to appear live on the broadcast. I was the lucky one who was off work that day, and able to make a guest appearance...but also managed to set up an additional investigation for the following month. Since HPIR has several new members and lots of new equipment that we didn't have in 2007, I thought this would be the perfect time to contact "Livvie" again, as she was dubbed by a visiting sensitive.
In order to prepare for the big event, I started doing some heavy research into the lives of the former occupants, and found something sort of shocking: Lavina Wall's TRUE identity!
According to an official death certificate, with supporting information from various federal census reports and other sources, Lavina G. Wall was born on September 7, 1908 in Lawrence County, Ohio to parents Cyrus Kemp Wall and Bernice Rodger Wall. She died at the age of 21, on October 28, 1929 at the Kessler-Hatfield Hospital, which later became Huntington Memorial. Her occupation is listed as "dressmaker." The primary cause of death is listed as "gastro-enteritis acute" caused by "poison liquor?" This is interesting because during this time, Prohibition was in full swing, and it was known that the government "poisoned" industrial liquors to make them unsafe for consumption...but they were stolen and sold as drinkable liquor anyway. I'm assuming that the addition of the question mark to the cause means that it was not verified that this was a contributory cause or not. Another interesting side note: on an HPIR investigation, the overwhelming smell of peaches was observed in Lavina's former bedroom. After searching in vain and finding nothing to account for the smell, it died away as quickly as it had come. During this time of Prohibition, cyanide was one of the poisons added to make liquor un-drinkable. Peach pits contain cyanide.
In any event, Lavina was buried in Locust Grove Cemetery in Lawrence County Ohio. Her death certificate states that she was buried on October 30, 1929. However, her death notice in the Huntington Advertiser, dated October 31, said she was buried on THAT date, after a funeral at Pilgrim's Holiness Church, on the corner of 20th Street and 9th Avenue. A death notice from the same paper the day before (October 30) states that Miss Wall died following a brief illness, but another notice, from the morning edition of the paper on October 30 stated that Miss Wall died from complications following a fall two weeks earlier. Strange, huh?
Various death notices also listed Miss Wall as being survived by both parents, two brothers, and two sisters. There is no mention of the death of a baby sister. However, there's no record proving that a baby DIDN'T exist, either. The 1910 census shows the family living in Windsor Township, in Lawrence County, Ohio. By the 1920 census, the family is living in a rental property in Wethersfield, Illinois. By this point, 11 year old Lavina has two younger siblings...a sister named Irma who is six, and a brother Carter, who is 9. Older siblings include Alice and Virgil, both present on both the 1910 and the 1920 census.
By the 1930 census, the father seems to have disappeared, and the mother is living in Huntington with Carter, Irma, and a boarder named Alice Holley. She is working as a seamstress to provide for her two teenage children. The Social Security Death Index indicates that Bernice Wall died on October 6, 1972 in Los Angeles, CA, after presumably moving there to be near her son, Virgil. (At the time of Lavina's death, Virgil was listed in the death notice as living in LA).
Further research is still being conducted on the home itself, on the Wall family, and of course, on the death of an infant in later years. As additional information is found, cross-referenced and verified, it will be added. We are still exploring the possibility that there was another Lavina who lived in the house, but at that time, there is no death record for her listed at the state archives. Thanks for reading, and please visit HPIR's site to find out more about our investigations into this case!
UPDATE: November12, 2011: Information HAS been found that may lend some integrity to the original story! Full details will be disclosed at a later date!
UPDATE November 28, 2011: Additional information has been compiled and it seems as if we were in fact able to debunk the story related by Mrs. Andre. For part 2 of Lavina's True Story, please see the link below.
Lavina's TRUE Story: Dr. Grimes' Dental Office Part 2
Carla's Story: Part 3 of the Dr. Grimes Investigation
Photo above property of the Cabell County Assessor's Office
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