Dr. Grimes Dental Office (3rd Visit)
Huntington, West Virginia.
The story of Lavina, the little girl ghost that haunts the office of Dr. William Grimes has become something that legends are made of here in our town. A sweet innocent child, stricken with appendicitis, her life was cut too short. This child's spirit, perhaps scared and confused is left to linger in between this world and the next for eternity...
This story alone sounds haunting enough, but recently we have discovered some new and shocking information on the infamous "little ghost girl" of Dr. Grimes office, Lavina.
Thanks to a little detective work by HPIR Research Manager, Theresa, and a visit to Lavina's grave by HPIR Founders Melissa & Dustin, we have found out much more about Lavina's life and death.
Below is the information Theresa has provided in order for us to share:
Lavina's True Story
Published November 3, 2011 - Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State
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 below.
Published November 27, 2011 - Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State
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 bya 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. Lloyd 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 unlikelihood. 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 occurred 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.
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.
Published April 22, 2012 - Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State
We have another update in the Dr. Grimes' saga:
Up until just recently, I had only really concentrated on Lavina, as she was the main suspected entity and there was so much controversy surrounding her death. However, I've recently also started exploring some other aspects of the original history we were told. One such example is the story of a baby girl drowning in the bathtub at the house. We were originally told that Dr. Grimes had spoken to a woman who lived nearby who told him the story of a mother who had left her baby in the bathtub, and returned to find the infant dead. She took the infant across the street to a doctor's office, but it was too late.
We weren't sure of an exact year, but thought it happened in the 60s. Luckily, a neighbor who witnessed the event was found, and said this event happened in 1955. Going on just that alone, I searched individual death certificates through the WV State Archives website until I found one that matched the description.
Ten month old Carla Dianna Taylor drowned at 1121 20th Street in May of 1955. A newspaper article confirmed the story, and provided additional details that matched the original story. However, the main concern was the address...1121 is next door to Dr. Grimes' office, but its too big of a coincidence not to take note!
I have transcribed the newspaper article for future researchers through GenDisasters, and will post a link to it below. Now, comes the daunting task of trying to find out if there is any substance to the alleged newspaper article about a man named John hanging himself at the location! Article on Drowning
November 26, 2011
After HPIR's third investigation here, is safe to say that Dr. Grimes Office never disappoints us. This building by far has been the most consistently active place we have ever investigated. Our team has some of the best de-bunkers (if we do say so ourselves), and when our hard-core skeptics start scratching their heads, then something really must be up.
On our third investigation, thumps and bangs coming from empty rooms was fairly frequent throughout the night. At one point it sounded like one of our fellow team members was walking toward us from down the hallway. We heard several distinct footsteps coming our way, when they stopped, we called out to ask who was in the hall and our question was met with complete silence. While sitting in the "Music room" as we dubbed it due to a collection of musical instruments, two investigators heard a clear male voice speak in a loud whisper in two separate instances.
Other team members reported feeling uneasy in Lavina's room, and several reported getting cold chills. The team members who were investigating in Lavina's room also reported hearing footsteps and hearing an unidentifiable voice. The normal EMF levels in Lavina's room would light up the first two green lights on the KII, in certain spots of the room. While the meter was sitting in front of the closet with a steady single light on, we had several full KII meter spikes that appeared very random. This closet has basically become a shrine, of sorts, to the children that are believed to haunt the house. A medium once told Dr. Grimes that the little girls would hide inside, so toys and such have been left inside the closet for the children.
We also used the "Singapore Theory" quite heavily on this investigation, we brought a number of items we felt were relevant to this investigation and the period of time in which Lavina and her family lived in the home. HPIR has incorporated this theory into a number of investigations. If you are unfamiliar with this theory, Theresa has an excellent write up of the Singapore Theory on her website.
We also were able to successfully re-create an alleged paranormal occurrence that was captured by another team who previously investigated this location. Our exact replication of this occurrence really proves the importance for paranormal investigators to always double check, analyze and when possible attempt to debunk your own findings. You should always be your own biggest critic.
Theresa is the owner of Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State, she also has been the research manager for HPIR since 2006.