Monday, November 28, 2011

Lavina's True Story...Dr. Grimes' Office Part 2

Several weeks ago, Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State brought you the story of Lavina G. Wall, the girl believed to be at the center of the Dr. Grimes' dental office haunting.  Lavina G. Wall was said to have died around the age of 11 from appendicitis, not long after the death of her baby sister in a fire while living in Ohio.  This information regarding the little ghost girl named Lavina was related to Dr. Grimes by a family member of Lavina's named Mrs. Andre.  Apparitions, EVPs, and even psychic impressions over the years by staff, patients, and paranormal investigation teams have all seemingly backed up this story.  The presence of a little girl thought to be Lavina, and another little girl, believed to be her sister, and named Sarah, according to a psychic impression, have become so well-loved and prevalent at the site, that a shrine to them has been set up in the upstairs bedroom where she was believed to have died.  Visitors leave toys and other trinkets in the closet for the girls, because it is believed that is the area where they feel the safest.

Since that original story, there have been a few more breakthroughs in the quest to find out the truth of Lavina's identity.

On November 7, 2011, I conducted a title search on the property, which yielded very few new pieces of information.  There is no record of a house being on the property prior to 1909, but we do believe it could have been there as early as 1901, and its first sale was recorded in 1909.  The former duplex was ALWAYS a duplex, until it was purchased by Dr. Grimes in the 1970s...but it was also always a rental property owned by one owner who rented it out to two different families.  In 1929, the year Lavina died, the owner of the home was listed as a Thomas Mannon.  Thomas Mannon, who lived on 6th Avenue, passed away on March 27, 1929.  He willed the property to his offspring, which was "managed" by son, Homer Mannon.  Homer Mannon was the owner of the property at the time of Lavina's death in October of 1929, and interestingly enough, was also a dentist!  The 1930 census, which lists Lavina's mother as head of the household, has the Wall family (minus the father and older siblings) and a boarder living at 1125 20th St.  An elderly widow, Mrs. Elvira Reffitt, lived in the adjoining apartment, 1125 1/2 20th. St.

On November 12, 2011, even more information was uncovered as HPIR president, Melissa Stanley, and Dustin Stanley, located Lavina's tombstone.  Lavina is buried in Locust Grove Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Along with Lavina, several other tombstones were found.  The first one belongs to her father, Cyrus Kemp(er) Wall, aka C.K. Wall.  He died in 1952.  Another tombstone was for Lavina's little brother, Irvin F. Wall.  Irvin Franklin Wall was born on September 28, 1912, and died on December 29, 1913.

The next grave that was found is the most interesting.  The grave of Shirley V. Wall who died in 1917 at the age of 7 months lies right along with the rest of the Wall family.  At the time of this infant's death, Lavina would have been around nine years old.  The two younger siblings found here were born and died in between census years, and records for them have been hard to find.  At this point, it is unknown if Shirley V. Wall died in a fire as stated by the Mrs. Andre discussed in an earlier post or not...research is still being conducted. Initially it was thought that this piece of information regarding Shirley could lend credibility to the Mrs. Andre story.  The baby would have died when Lavina was approximately the right age listed in the story, and she did have an older sister.  The information regarding the father not living with the family in 1930 also lends verification to the part of the story concerning the idea that he was an alcoholic that the family was trying to get away from.

HPIR conducted its third investigation of the property on November 26, 2011.  While setting up our equipment, the information we had gathered thus far was presented to Dr. Grimes.  Dr. Grimes believed that the Lavina we found was a DIFFERENT Lavina than the one that is haunting the property and who was discussed by Mrs. Andre.  However, he did provide us with a copy of Mrs. Andre's obituary, which provided some excellent genealogical clues.

The Mrs. Andre who originally told the story of Lavina to Dr. Grimes was born Harriet Lay Foreman.  If we could find a link to Mrs. Andre and the Lavina G. Wall that WE found, then we could possibly debunk the original story...and yup---we did find the connection.  Mrs. Harriet Lay Foreman Andre was related to Lavina, but only by marriage.  The information we were given by Dr. Grimes stated that Mrs. Andre had an aunt who's daughter died on the property.  The truth is...

...Cyrus Kemper (C.K.) Wall, Lavina's dad, had a sister named Ruth.  In 1900, Cyrus was living with his older sister in Lawrence County, Ohio.  Two years later, Ruth married a man named Loren Wilson Andre in Huntington, WV.  In 1910, Ruth and Loren had a son, whom they named Loyd W. Andre.  Loyd W. Andre would go on to marry Harriet Lay Foreman.  It is unknown exactly where Harriet received her information, presumably from her husband or her mother-in-law, Ruth.  It is also unknown as to how and why exactly the information got so mixed up along the way.

At this point, we cannot say there couldn't be another Lavina.  However, there is no other Lavina in Harriet Andre's genealogy that I can find, and since the property was a rental where records of tenants were scarce, we cannot verify that there was never another Lavina who lived on the property, despite the unliklihood.  We do, however, believe that there is potentially a little girl ghost or two, as well as several other entities, as there are plenty of personal experiences, EVPs, and other circumstantial evidences pointing in that direction.  As serious investigators, though, we must look first and foremost at what evidence can be gathered through use of the scientific method and backed up by historical documentation.  Unfortunately, the historical research, nor hard science have been able to prove that the girl in question IS Lavina...she could simply be some other lost soul, completely unconnected with the original story, trying to make her story be heard.

HPIR is continuing its research into this case, and will announce when updates are added.  We are still looking into further information on the Wall family, but also into several other deaths that are said to have ocurred in the house.  Also, as soon as the footage and data analysis from our investigation is complete, we'll be adding any potential evidence to the HPIR page.  Melissa Stanley, group president and founder, has created a hauntingly beautiful video compilation for Lavina and possibly the unknown little ghost girl seen and felt by so many.  The video can be found on our investigation page, linked to below, or on our YouTube page, also linked below.

This case is another example of how Huntington Paranormal just doesn't tell Huntington's history one ghost story at a time...we also give a voice to those who can no longer speak for themselves.

Links of Interest:
Theresa's First Article into Lavina's Story
HPIR's Investigation of Dr. Grimes' Office November 2011
1st Investigation of Dr. Grimes' May 2007
October 2007 Dr. Grimes' Investigation
HPIR's YouTube Channel

Information above has been backed up and cross-referenced wherever applicable.  Supporting documents, including, but not limited to, birth certificates, death certificates, census records, and newspaper clippings can be made available upon request.

The painting in the photo above was painted by Dr. Grimes.  It depicts the image of the little girl he saw, who is believed to be Lavina.  Photo property of Melissa Stanley.

UPDATE: April 2012
The little girl who was said to have drowned in the upstairs bathroom has now officially been found!  Read Carla's story HERE! 

Follow Theresa on FaceBook!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Experiences of a...Personal...Nature

I just received a wonderful email from a viewer bringing  up the question of haunted locations in my own county:  Putnam.  I agree that this area of the state is woefully short on paranormal tales and lore.  I'm not sure if it is because Putnam County is one of the few counties that has not embraced its own history to the extent of others, because there is so much "new blood" moving in...or if  the subject of our ghosts is simply just something that isn't discussed with outsiders!

In any event, many of my readers know that over the years, I've had my fair share of personal experiences, both in my own home and out in the field, so to speak.  This morning, I'll be sharing two additional personal experiences, that although completely unrelated, happened in the same area of the county at different locations, within a year of each other.

These tales both happened at locations found off of what is known locally as Red House Hill...or Route 34 North.  Back in my early research days, I did find several online references to this area has being haunted.  According to the stories, a phantom military band was seen and heard marching in the area.  The area did see some scant Civil War action, and I did find a few references to WWI and WWII connections, but nothing that backed up the claims on an historical level.  Despite anything to back up those claims, I'd later find out that the area may still be haunted...just not necessarily by a phantom band or even soldiers. 

Several years ago, I met a totally awesome guy who lived in the area, "M."  M and I became pretty good friends, and every once in awhile, with not much to do around here, we'd climb into the car and head further up the "mountain" to a farm house owned by his family.  No one lived full time in this farm was used more as a weekend getaway, and a place for M's band to practice.  And was fairly creepy up there, lol.  The very first night I ever went up there, we heard what sounded like a woman's screams coming from the nearest neighboring farm house, and then the low, horrifying moo of what sounded like a cow in distress.  However, the creepiest thing that probably occured was the night of the footsteps. 

We hadn't been up at the house for very long that evening, but we were settled in watching TV.  The house, while right off the main road, was fairly secluded, so we were pretty surprised when we heard what sounded like heavy boots clomping around the wraparound porch.  We looked out the windows, but didn't see anything.  Nervous that someone was trying to rob the house, we grabbed the nearest "weapons," which amounted to a wooden club type thing and a hammer...hehe....and walked outside.  M was in the lead, with me clinging terrified behind him.  We walked the entire length of the porch several times, but even though we didn't see anything, we could still hear the footsteps, just out of range.  Gaining some courage, we decided to split up and track it down, but the sounds were always just out of reach.

Going back inside, we laughed the incident off as possibly a large racoon, or other animal.  It wasn't until we reached the safety of civilization that we looked at each other and both said "that wasn't a racoon, was it?"  For reasons left to circumstance, I never visited the house again, and shortly thereafter, lost touch with M.

It was, however, shortly before this time that I met another guy from the same general area, and after several dates, began seeing him on a regular basis.  He also just happened to live in a haunted trailer.  Our very first time meeting we actually went out to the old Lakin Industrial School for Colored Boys, so our relationship started off with spooky beginnings.  Perhaps since he knew I had an interest in all things paranormal, he confided that there had been some weird things going on in his home.  I would shortly start to experience these things for myself.

One night after going to bed, we were awakened by his stereo coming on by itself, FULL volume.  Other times, we'd be sitting in the living room on one end of the trailer, only to hear a horrific thud on the other end, like a car had run into the home.  I got sort of used to hearing all these weird things, but up until that point, I had never actually SEEN anything.  That changed this particular evening.

Whenever we'd settle down to go to bed, we ALWAYS shut the bedroom door tight.  However, after an evening out, we were more than a little anxious to make it to the bedroom, if you catch my drift.  In the heat of the moment, shutting the door was apparently the last thing on our minds.  The door to the bedroom opened out into the trailer's hallway, and was located toward the foot of the bed.  For some reason or another, I happened to raise up slightly and look over my partner's shoulder, right out the door into the hall.  Walking past the door at that exact moment was a very solid, very real looking gentleman.  This was an older man, with silver-white hair, a little on the longish side, wearing a white wife-beater shirt. 

Since the back door to the trailer was in this hall, I was SURE that someone very alive had walked into the home.  Of course, that and the confusion associated with the sighting was a complete mood killer.  I'm yelling about someone being in the house, and my boyfriend is trying to assure me there's nothing to worry about.  After things calmed down a bit, he was able to explain that before he moved in, apparently an older woman lived in the trailer.  She had a gentleman friend who would sneak in the back door for late night visits, and apparently, THAT is who I saw walking down the hall.

I hope you enjoyed these two additional personal experiences from my personal archives!  Please check back often as more stories are added.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ouija Boards ARE Dangerous!

As long as I've been part of the paranormal community in one way or another, I've always been privvy to one of the field's greatest debates:  the Ouija Board.  It seems as if there are two factions split evenly to this controversy...those who believe that the board is simply a piece of cardboard with no power to do, well...anything, and then those who believe that the board is actually a portal.  Those in this latter category tend to believe that playing with the Ouija Board is akin to dialing a random telephone number--only this one is connected to the other side, where demons, or other subversive spirits, are just waiting for some unsuspecting fool to mess with.

At the risk of sounding like I'm "playing Switzerland," I actually do not fall into either of these categories exclusively--I take on a different approach altogether.  It is my personal belief that YES, Ouija Boards ARE dangerous...but not because I believe their use will unleash a legion of demons bent upon destroying the user and/or world. 

The Ouija Board operates on the ideomotor principle, meaning that whether you consciously know it or not, you're actually moving it yourself.  Based on your belief system, the info that results could be a form of psychic ability, or it could simply be a way to retrieve subconscious information from deep within the psyche.  And THAT is what can be dangerous to some people.  Some people just aren't ready to deal with what their subconscious has put away.  The subconscious hides things from us for a reason, and while it can be beneficial and even healing to tap into that area, doing so before one is emotionally able to handle it, and in such a manner, can result in no less than the figurative train wreck.

And then there are those with addictive personalities who become truly obsessed with using a Ouija Board, even basing huge life decisions on ONLY what the board tells them.  I've heard horror stories about people who literally cannot stop using the board, and start using it as an emotional crutch.   It is also quite common for someone to start using a Ouija board in an effort to contact loved ones who have passed.  As a paranormal investigator myself, I strongly recommend that the Ouija Board NEVER be used to try to contact loved ones, and that grief counseling should be explored before any other type of communication is attempted.   Scary stuff, huh?

The board is a tool first and foremost, and like any tool, can be good or bad, safe or dangerous based on the person using it and that person's intent.  If there is any doubt, stay away.  However, if you DO choose to use the board as a tool, here's a short list of tips and tricks, based on a combination of folklore and common sense...just in case, lol.

* Never play the Ouija Board alone

* If the board starts saying not-so-nice things, or anything that makes you uncomfortable, stop play immediately

*Don't ask questions that you don't want the answers to...and never ask the board to describe when and how you're going to'll obsess over the answer you get.

* Don't play the board if you're not emotionally and mentally stable...and don't play under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

* There are a few ways to "close" the board at the end of a session.  Some believe that moving the planchette over the words Good Bye, and then flipping the planchette upside down on the board is the best way to go.  Others believe that storing the board with a silver coin placed over it will keep anything unwanted that may try to come through at bay.

* If using candles during play, practice general fire safety!

* There are a variety of "protection" rituals available to suit a number of belief systems.  Many like to envision themselves shrouded in a protective, white light, before playing the Ouija Board. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review for True West Virginia Ghost Stories

True West Virginia Ghost Stories is a compilation of over 400 tales of ghosts, UFOs, cryptids, and all manner of creepy things from every corner of the Mountain State.  These tales, which have been submitted to the WV Ghosts website over a period of 12+ years, and archived by founder, Jonathan Moore, are now available in print format, or in eBook format for your Kindle. 

This book makes a perfect addition to any library of paranormal literature, especially those concentrating on West Virginia based phenomena.  It is also a great read for anyone with only an armchair interest in the spooky side of things...the stories are told from the point of view of the witnesses, who come from a wide array of religious and cultural backgrounds.  Their tellings make the stories come alive and accessible to those who don't necessarily want to be burdened with a scientific analysis or dissection of the story on a critical level.  In short, the stories represent a good ol' fashioned tradition of story-telling that once flourished in the Appalachians, and is now being diligently recorded for future generations.

Some of the stories are told in-depth, while others only offer a fleeting glimpse, condensed into the size of a paragraph, making this book the perfect format to read a little at a time...and at a length of over 300 pages, that's the best way to enjoy this book.  I personally love the print format because it allows for the stories to be enjoyed on the readers' own terms.  There's nothing I love more when the electricity goes out than to curl up under candlelight with a good ghost story!

For more information on this book, its author, and how/where to purchase it, please see the link below:

WV Ghosts-True West Virginia Ghost Stories

Friday, November 11, 2011

Funny Group Names

As sort of a companion piece to a blog I'm writing on choosing a name for your paranormal investigation group, I decided that this week's Friday Night Funny should focus on hilarious, and sometimes facetious, acronyms for various paranormal investigation groups.  Please note that this piece is neither meant to condemn, nor to condone any group mentioned--I know very little about them aside from the fact that when I typed in dirty words plus "paranormal' into a search engine, they popped up.  This is just for fun, and not an attempt to discredit anyone.  And yes, one or two of these actually are spoofs, lol.  Please enjoy!

1. Our first group is a lovely group of women who investigate paranormal claims.  In fact, they aren't just women; they're all mothers!  So what do a group of mothers who investigate call themselves?  Well, the Paranormal Moms Society seems like a good choice!  P.M.S., as they are better known, however, has the GREATEST slogan ever recorded for a paranormal group:  "Ghosts don't mess with P.M.S.!"

2. Our second group may sound like they are all women, but alas, they are not.  The Northeastern Indiana Paranormal Society must deal with a lot of chilly weather up north where they conduct most of their investigation.  Hopefully, NIPS are able to stay nice and warm.

3. This next group really knows how to dominate their field and show a ghost who's boss.  The Winter Haven Investigators of the Paranormal Society, or WHIPS, is always ready for some chain-rattling  fun!

4. However, an associate of that last group, Paranormal Investigations Made Possible...or as we like to call them, P.I.M.P., knows that ghosting' ain't easy!

5. And then we come to this next group...oh, what can we say about Southern Appalachian Paranormal Society?  Those poor, poor S.A.P.S.

6. Phoenix Paranormal Investigation Team out of Arizona is our next group.  Known as P.P.I.T. for short, the first thing that my brain tries to do when I see their acronym is sound out the word (damn phonics education).  Therefore, I'm reduced to a difficult decision; either sound like I have a stutter, or revert back to a more sophomoric time when I would have no trouble calling someone a "pee pit" and then giggling maniacly at myself.  On a side note, my own group is Huntington Paranormal Investigations and Research, or HPIR.  I cannot stop myself from saying "Hipper" when the opportunity arises, lol.  There IS a very good reason why we generally just shorten in to Huntington Paranormal.

7. Last, but not least, we have a group from across the pond!  The Suffolk Paranormal Investigation Team, or S.P.I.T.  I honestly have nothing else to say.  You can fill in the rest yourself.

Hopefully, you got a chuckle out of that, and if you're in the process of naming or renaming a group, gleamed plenty of inspiration!

Addendum for November 17, 2011:

Several days ago I was informed of another great acronym, from right here in the mountain state!  The Spirit Haunting Investigation Team out of Morgantown even has its own following of loyal S.H.I.T. Heads!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blennerhassett Hotel

The Blennerhassett Hotel was built in 1889 by William Chancellor, a wealthy businessman of Parkersburg.  The Queen Anne style hotel, which was built to be a showplace of Parkersburg's "Gaslight" era, orginally held 50 guestrooms over four floors, with a 5th floor containing the kitchen, and the 1st National Bank of Parkersburg occupying part of the lower level.  It was named for Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett, who 100 years previously, had owned a mansion on a nearby Ohio River island and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

After a complete renovation in 1986, and work done in 2003, the historic hotel is once again a showplace...not only for its fine cuisine and guest services...but for a plethora of different ghosts and paranormal manifestations!

William Chancellor is believed to still be haunting his hotel, and makes his presence known with the smell of cigar smoke, or with a glowing anomaly showing up in photos of his anomaly that is said to be the ethereal burning ember of his cigar.

Other apparitions include a man in gray on the second floor, a man in a white tuxedo who frequents mirrors, a sobbing woman, and a little boy from the 1920s/1930s era.  It is also said that the elevators have a nasty habit of always stopping on the 2nd floor, even without anyone on them all!  There is also a phantom "knocker."  Dubbed the 4 'o clock Knocker, he bangs on guests' doors around 4am, but when they open the door, he's nowhere to be found!

The Blennerhassett Hotel is the starting point for the Parkersburg Ghost Tours.  Please see their website for more information.

Blennerhassett Hotel Home Page

Photo above property of the Blennerhassett Hotel FaceBook.  Give 'em a LIKE!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Case that Shook (literally) Real Estate Law

In the late 1960s, George and Helen Ackley purchased a fixer-upper...a Victorian "mansion" located along the Hudson River in Nyack, New York.  The home, which sat at 1 LaVeta Place, was about 20 miles north of New York City, and already had a reputation.  As the Ackleys moved in, neighborhood children were sure to let the family know that the deteriorating Victorian was "haunted."

The family shortly found out that there may actually be something to the children's tales.  Over the years, the family, most notably Helen, went through plenty of strange, poltergeist activities.  In one tale that is often told, the daughter, Cynthia, was awakened every morning for school by someone shaking her bed.  When Spring Break rolled around, she told the ghost that she would like to sleep in...and the bed did not shake.  Other family members constantly received small gifts that materialized out of nowhere.  Babies were given baby rings that disappeared as quickly as they appeared, and other gifts included silver tongs and plenty of coins.   Fortunately, the family was able to peacefully coincide with their resident ghost(s) and lived rather happily. 

In fact, Helen was so proud of her ghosts that she made no attempt to hide them.  The haunted house was mentioned several times in the local newspaper, and Reader's Digest also did a story on the home's ethereal residents.  The house was so well known that it even became a stop on a local ghost tour.

When property values declined and taxes increased in the late 1980s, Helen decided to sell the home, and move to a warmer climate.  Luckily, even though the market was "soft" she did eventually find a buyer:  Mr. Jeffrey Stambovsky and his wife, Patrice of New York City.  They agreed to an asking price of $650,000 and put up a $32,000 down payment.  And then...they heard the rumors about the house being haunted.

Although a skeptic, Stambovsky said the rumors made his wife nervous, and that the thought of ghost hunters and curiosity seekers traipsing through the property did not interest them.  They backed out on the deal, but Helen refused to return the down payment.  In retaliation, a civil suit was filed against her, and her real estate company, Ellis Realty, and a lower court actually ruled in her favor.  It was deemed "caveat emptor," or buyer beware.  The house was sold "as is" and therefore, the Stambovsky's were not entitled to anything for breaking the contract. 

However, they appealed, and it was ruled in their favor on July 18, 1991.  Since Helen did publicize the hauntings, the house, for the purposes of this case, was deemed "legally haunted," and it was ruled that this fact should have been disclosed to potential buyers.  Luckily, the same caveat that dissuades some, actually works in others' favor.  The house was sold in 1991 and Helen moved to Florida.  She passed away in 2003.

The photo above was found on several different websites without photo credits.  If this is your photo, please let me know so I can give you proper credit! 

More information on the ruling:
Stambovsky vs. Ackley

Madie Carroll House

The Madie Carroll House is notably the oldest house in Guyandotte...but it wasn't actually built IN Guyandotte!  The wooden, saltbox home was built in 1810 in Gallipolis, Ohio, and floated down the river by flatboat by Mr. James Gallaher.  In its early years, ownership passed hands several times, but the home's most noted residents are the Carrolls. 

Thomas Carroll and his first wife Anne, lived in the home, running a tavern and ordinary out of it.  The Carrolls, who had immigrated from Ireland, were also the first Catholic family in the area, and thus, the first Catholic church services in Cabell County were held in the home.  After Anne died of pneumonia in the home in her early 40s, Thomas remarried...this time to a fiery Irish red-head named Mary Fee.  Mary Fee Carroll is the one who is credited with saving the home during the burning of Guyandotte.

On the night of November 11, 1861, Federal troops stormed the town under the direction of Col. Ziegler.  After finding the Union recruitment camp had been attacked by the Confederates the night before, and many of their comrades killed, wounded, or taken prison, the orders were given to burn the entire town in retaliation for its strong Confederate sympathies.  Mary Carroll locked herself and her small children into the home, and refused to let the Federals burn her house down.  She succeeded in saving the home, but the barn was set ablaze.

It is Mary's step-granddaughter, Mary "Madie" Carroll for whom the house is named.  Madie came to live with Mary at an early age, when her mother passed away.  She was raised by Mary, and continued to live into the home up until about 2 years before her death.  Madie Carroll was a local piano teacher, having graduated from Marshall College and attending Juliard.  She never married, as her fiance was killed in WWI.  After Madie's death, the home went briefly to her nephews, but is now home to the Madie Carroll House museum.

The home is also said to be one of the most haunted in the sleepy little hamlet of Guyandotte.  Like many historic homes in the area dating from the Civil War era, activity is said to increase around the time of the anniversary of the raid and burning of Guyandotte (November 10-11).  In one incident, a reenactor getting dressed in the home heard the distinct rustle and bustle of petticoats and hoopskirts, and assumed another reenactor was also getting ready.  However, when she went to go see if the lady needed anything, no one was found.  A man in a black trench coat and wide brimmed had has recently been seen in the home, as well as another apparition of a man, possibly a Confederate soldier. 

However, Civil War era ghosts aren't the only ones said to make their lasting home here.  Madie Carroll has also been heard, and even seen.  Phantom piano music is often heard drifting from the empty home, while one couple got up close and personal with Madie's spirit.  While parked out back, doing what couples do in dark alleys at night, the gentleman looked up at the back porch and claimed to see an elderly lady in the rocking chair.  Being from out of town, he didn't know who Madie Carroll was, but his girlfriend, a local, was able to confirm her identity from the description...despite the fact that she could see NOTHING on the porch at the time.

Another bit of interesting lore about the home is an upstairs bedroom nicknamed the "birthing room."  It was the room where several Carroll family children were born...and where one member of the family, Ellen, died in childbirth.  Legend states that ladies who visit the room will be overcome by a physical sensation of cramps and the pains of labor.  Several years ago, I was 28 weeks pregnant and working a fundraiser at the home, when I decided to see for myself if these legends were true.  Being pregnant with my first child, I had NO idea what to expect, and wanted to find out.  I was disappointed when nothing happened in the room.  Well, they always say be careful what you wish for...

The fundraiser was on Saturday.  On Tuesday, I went in for my regular doctor's appointment and found out that I was in early labor.  They managed to hold it off for another month or so, and I gave birth to a healthy, yet slightly premature little boy named Luke...named after Lucian Wolcott, the owner of the home from whom the Carrolls rented before taking ownership on their own.  Interestingly enough, another member of HPIR in a separate incident, DID feel horrible cramps in the room, so much that she actually had to lie down to overcome the pain.

Fun Fact:  One story that is often told about the house most likely isn't true...but it makes for a darn fine story!  It is said that when Collis P. Huntington came to the Cabell County area to find a location for his railroad, the busy and prosperous town of Guyandotte was a prime location.  Huntington stayed overnight at the Carroll House, and hitched his horse to the post out front.  Sometime during the night, the horse ended up on the sidewalk, and the mayor slapped a fine on Mr. Huntington.  Mr. Huntington, outraged, basically said to hell with Guyandotte...he would just make his own town to the west...and he did.  Huntington, WV was incorporated around 1871, and Guyandotte was later incorporated into it.

Madie Carroll House website

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Breaking News! Dr. Grimes' Dental Office

I've always wanted to write that!  Well, I finally get a chance, as I do have some somewhat shocking news when it comes to a most well-beloved case of paranormal activity here in the tri-state.

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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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top 5 Links of the Day (3)

Happy November!  I hope everyone had an excellent Halloween holiday, filled with all sorts of spooky goodness.  I'm starting off the month with another installment of my favorite links for all things ghosty.  Enjoy!

1.  This is a must-have if you do any type of historical research.  I cannot count the times this useful, and handy service has saved me hours of research at the local archives or library.  Well worth the modest monthly fee!

2. Paranormal News  A great source of paranormal topics in the news.  This is a one-stop shop for keeping up with current events that relate to ghosts, UFOs, cryptids, etc.

3. Paranormal Phenomenon from  Lots of good links and pictures!  You can find just about any subject here, lol...and then some.

4. Phantoms and Monsters  GREAT blog full of great articles...and updated OFTEN!

5. MUFON  The Mutual UFO Network.  If you want to report a UFO sighting, or are just interesting in learning about them, this should be the first stop!