Holy Rollers Button

Holy Rollers is now available as an eBook with lots of extras for a measly $4



Search edmundcreffield.com

Home    Chapters    Articles    Asylum Records    Brainwashing    Hymns    Contact

Creffield and the Holy Rollers made page one headlines from 1903 to 1907. When I was researching Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon’s Love Cult I spent months transcribing hundreds of articles. I’m not sure why I was so obsessive. Maybe it was my way of immersing my self into a cult without joining one. Anyway, I’m posting them all for those who are really interested in the story, or are interested the history of journalism, or are interested in how a scandalous story played out in the "media" in a by gone era. Since I no doubt made typos and unconsciously corrected papers' typos, these web pages should not be cited in anything serious (e.g. your dissertation). For such projects they should only be used as starting points and you should refer to the original sources. If you want a shorter version of the story, buy my book. Enjoy.

May 9, 1906: Oregon Prosecutor Would Aid Mitchell




Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/9/1906 p1

Creffield is to be Buried Today


Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/9/1906 p1

Widow Claims Holy Roller Will Arise From Grave

Wife of Dear Leader of the “Holy Rollers” says He Will Arise. Woman/s Father Here. Tells of Power Man Held over Little Band of Followers.

Disciples Confident That Murdered Holy Roller Leader Will be Restored to Life Within Four Days and Vindicate Himself--Body is Buried at Lakeview.


Firmly believing that he will arise within the next four days, Mrs. Maude Hurt Creffield will today consign the body of her husband, the self-styled apostle, to his grave in Lake View cemetery. Her belief is sincere, and she is confident that he will not stay long in the ground.


Mrs. Creffield says she will defray the cost of a grave, but the coffin in which will be interred the body of the man who was the leader of the “Holy Rollers” will be furnished by the county.


There were several followers of the alleged “Joshua” who called at the Bonney-Watson morgue yesterday to view the remains of their leader. All remarked when they viewed the corpse that they believed he would arise from the dead within four days and vindicate himself.


FATHER MAKES STATEMENT (Seattle Post Intelligencer)


Although V. O. Hurt, who arrived in the city yesterday morning from Corvallis, is the father of Mrs. Creffield and father-in-law of the man who was shot on the streets of the city on Monday morning he states that he intends to do everything in his power to help George Mitchell, who is responsible for the deed, for he considers that he did what he should have.


Mr. Hurt called upon his daughter at the city jail upon his arrival and made her as comfortable as possible by the addition of some needed garments and other necessities, and then paid a visit to Mitchell in the county jail. He also left money with the jailers there to be given to young man as it is needed.


SHOT FROM BACK [Oregon Daily Journal (Portland)]


To a reported for the Post-Intelligencer Mr. Hurt said:

“There is only one thing I regret about the affair, and that is that George did not meet the man face to face when he took his life instead of shooting him in the back. However, there are hundreds of people who know the career of Creffield who will be glad to do all in their power to help the boy secure his freedom, for there was much feeling against the dead man and threats were made long ago that he would be shot.


“The wrong that the man did to my family was great and even after all the experience I have had with Creffield it is impossible for me to understand how he could get the followers he did.


“He is responsible for my wife’s condition and also my daughters. Both of them have only lately been released from the Oregon asylum for the insane.




“When Creffield first made his appearance in this country he was a drunken tramp and in that condition was picked up by the Salvation Army in Seattle.

“From here he went to Oregon and established his church. For a time it was as clean and respectable as any other, but gradually he seemed to be gaining the power he sought and soon had the conditions which existed at the time of his death.


“It is almost impossible to believe the power he exerted over some of his followers. They considered him the Son of God and I have heard them state that he walked in a cloud and that it was impossible to kill him. Despite this fact, however, my daughter, his wife, carried a revolver with which to protect him after so many threats had been made to kill him, and she told me today that it was only by chance that she did not have it with her on the day of the murder. She said that if she had, she would have shot Mitchell in his tracks.


Not only my daughters and wife have been followers of Creffield, but also my son and his wife. They formerly lived at Lake Washington, but left there to join the colony.


DESERTED HER HUSBAND (Seattle Post Intelligencer)


“Only a week ago Mrs. Bert Starr, a sister of Mitchell, deserted he husband and three children and walked ninety miles to join the colony, and she is there at this time. I have a letter that was given me by Starr which she wrote on the night she left in which she says that she must go.


“The people in Oregon who are acquainted with the affair are deeply in sympathy with Mitchell, and can be relied on to do everything possible to aid in securing his acquittal.


“One of my objects in coming to the city was to attend to the wants of my daughter, but the principal one is to see what can be done to help Mitchell out of this affair. I shall not ask my daughter to return with me, but she is still my daughter and has a hearty welcome at my home if she cares to return.


MRS. STARR’S LETTER [Oregon Daily Journal (Portland)]


Hurt brought to Seattle a letter that had been written by Mrs. B. E. Starr of Portland to her husband. Mrs. Starr is the elder sister of Mitchell, Creffield’s slayer. It was through her that Creffield was sent to prison. When he was released Creffield won her over again, and right now Hurt says she and her younger sister are at Waldport, Oregon, where Creffield attempted to reorganize his band. Mrs. Starr deserted her husband and three children, one of whom was but seven months old. She walked 90 miles to Waldport to join Creffield, and then found that Creffield had abandoned his camp, fearing the vengeance of the people. The note to Mrs. Starr’s husband reads as follows:

“I don’t want to leave in the daytime because the children will see me and cry to go with me. I must leave when they’re asleep. I have taken $3.50 of your money. This will not pay all my fare, as I will have to walk 90 miles to Waldport, the place I want to go. Affectionately, DONNER.” (sic).


Hurt says on another occasion Mrs. Starr told her husband there was but one man she loved more than he and that was Creffield. When her husband asked, she said Creffield was Christ and she must do his bidding.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/9/1906 p8 Maud Hurt

Edmund Creffield


Religious outbursts like the one which developed under the influence of Edmund Creffield are cases of atavism. When the swine runs wild he loses that marked and useful tendency to put on fat which he displays in the sumptuous environment of the sty. He becomes lank and lean, his bristles elongate; his tusks grow keen and powerful and his legs sinewy. This is atavism, or reversion to the ancestral type from which the domestic swine has gradually produced by human selection. No species of animals is exempt from the atavistic tendency. It shows most strongly when they escape from human care, but no pains in breeding and nurture will always prevent it. The dog which ran wild in Jack London’s powerful tale exhibited mental atavism in losing one by one the traits which education and kindness had implanted in him and resuming the ancient feelings and habits of his race, and one of the excellencies of this story is that the author makes the vigor of his canine hero increase in the same ration with his wildness. Jack London does not confuse reversion with degeneracy. Degenerate animals are on the road to death, while atavism often involves a revival of virility. It is one of Nature’s methods of saving an over cultivated stock from dissolution.


Elizabeth Stuart Phelps remarks in one of those heartrending tales which she produced in her earlier and more genial periods that God makes new Adams every day. The new Adams, human creatures who are markedly unlike either of their parents, are generally produced by crossing widely different stocks, and they are cases of atavism in which the individual harks back in his mental or physical traits to the pristine vigor of the race, with more or less of its pristine savagery. Professor James, of Harvard, writing upon mob violence, has pointed out how strong the tendency is in most of us to revert to ancestral savagery in our feelings. Like Jack London’s dog, we need only some decided impulse in that direction and away goes the veneer of civilization in an instant we stand revealed as a band of howling savages. A magazine story published not long ago had for its central idea the atavistic tendency of a pair of civilized Negroes, man and wife, in San Domingo. They were people of wealth and culture and as religious as most of us, but on certain nights of the year when they heard the tom-tom beaten in a valley not far from their home by some degraded blacks of the neighborhood they sloughed off education, culture and religion like a garment and stripped away in the darkness to join in the licentious orgies of their race.


The atavistic tendency is stronger in religion probably than in any other human institution because it deals with the deepest qualities of the soul, with those faculties of our nature which change least from age to age. It is a shallow observation to say that human nature never changes; then men of one century are very different in their feelings, interests, and ambitions from those of another, but there are some passions in us which are substantially the same now as they were when our ancestors were naked savages, and there is no reason to expect that they will ever alter a great deal. These passions pertain to the mysteries of death and the generation of life, and with them it is that religion has its chief concern.


The earliest religious rites and ceremonies related directly to these two prime interests of savage man. The symbols which we now revere as memorials of vicarious sacrifice originated in the obscene orgies of phallic worship. Our great ecclesiastical festivals, Christmas, Easter and the like were celebrated when the world was young to mark the rhythmic recurrence of the triumph of life over death, and the gods were best pleased when the devotees abandoned themselves most completely to their passions. From such ignoble beginnings the lofty institution of religion has developed. To these same beginnings it tends to revert in minds which have broken away from established customs. Nearly every great religious revival shows some more or less pronounced symptoms of atavism. There are hysterical cries and groans, weird contortions of the muscles, trances, maniacal excitement, in fact a great many of the phenomena which we know the worshipers manifested in the primitive religious orgies of Asia Minor. In the early camp meetings of the Middle West these atavistic tendencies actually went to the point of positive immorality, or at least they occasioned scandal; but in these later times such excesses are observed only in the exceptionally gross atavisms of such men as Brigham Young, Dowie and Creffield.


We account for Edmund Creffield’s baleful influence over his associated by the well-known power of suggestion. Poe in one of his extraordinary tales explains by suggestion the fact that one suicide induces others. It is suggestion that assembles mobs and raises their excitement to the point of frenzy. The same subtle and mysterious influence creates the enthusiasm of political campaigns. If anyone should ask why Creffield’s power or suggestion could be exercised only upon certain men and women, it might be answered that some persons are sensitive to hypnotic influence while others are wholly immune to the influence of the evangelist; some individuals can call spirits from the vast deep, while most of us have no such power. The realm of suggestion is vast, mysterious and dangerous. Of those who venture into it the greater number are wrecked morally if not physically. The whole purpose and effect of civilization is to carry us farther and farther away from its boundaries. The tendency of enlightened religion is to escape from its dire, its demonic influences and take refuge in the calm and safe domain of reason. But occasionally an individual or a number of individuals free themselves from the restraints of civilization and enlightened religion, revert to those savage practices which were invented as our ancestors emerged from their simian state, and we then behold the shameful atavism of the Holy Rollers. Such exhibitions exciting the rational mind pride and fear in equal degree; pride when we estimate the distance the race has traveled from its primitive savagery; fear when we contemplate the possible degradation to which it may descend.



Seattle Star 5/9/1906 p1 George Mitchell


“He Is Not Dead But Will Arise.”--Mrs. Edmund Creffield.


Firmly believing that he is divine and will arise again immediately, Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield today consigned the body of her slain husband to the grave.

“I do not wish any service,” she said. “Why should I have services for him. He is the Joshua of God, and needs no services. He is not dead and will be here again within a few days to confound his enemies and obtain vengeance upon those who have wronged him. He is not dead, but will arise.




With the same immobile countenance that she has maintained since the shooting of her husband on Monday morning by George Mitchell, the wife accompanied the coffin containing the body of her husband to Lake View cemetery, where it was interred at 10 o’clock this morning.


The only ones present were the wife of the self-styled “apostle’ in charge of the police matron and an employee from the Bonney-Watson company.


It was Mrs. Creffield’s wish that the services be quiet. She will not concede that Creffield is dead and that his spirit has fled. Even when gazing upon his features on the slab at the morgue she insisted that the prostrate form was still imbued with life.




The casket which contained the remains of the former leader of the famous “Holy Rollers was plain. A silver plate was engraved with the words “At Rest.”

Mrs. Creffield had enough money to pay for interment in Lake View Cemetery, and the county will pay the remaining of the funeral expenses.


Yesterday several avowed followers of Creffield called at the morgue to gaze upon his face, and they too stated their belief that he would arise within a few days.


O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield, returned last evening to his home in Corvallis, but is expected to return to Seattle again in time for Mitchell’s trial. Before leaving he called upon his daughter at the police matron’s and told her that she always had a home waiting for her at Corvallis whenever she decided to return.



“My daughter seemed to be afraid that I would scold her,” Mr. Hurt said “so I tried to console her as much as possible. she can always come to my home and live if it is her desire. She is my daughter and as such will always find a place there.”

It is the death of Creffield and the method adopted by young Mitchell in bringing about the man’s end Mr. Hurt said:

“There is a general feeling of sympathy with young Mitchell at Corvallis, but I regret that life was taken (text illegible) I feel that a less violent way if (text illegible) treating with the man would have been a blessing. However, Mitchell, I consider, has been an instrument in accomplishing a good deed. I feel that Creffield was a reprobate (text illegible) and I know personally many families which he broke up.




“Corvallis people, I am convinced will raise a fund for Mitchell when they learn that he is practically without means.”


Mr. Hurt left an amount of money with the police matron to provide necessary luxuries for his daughter’s comfort, and at the county jail he gave the officers enough money to purchase anything that Mitchell may require.


After the burial of her husband this morning Mrs. Creffield returned with the police matron and refused to say a word. She sat with hardly a change visible in her countenance, her thoughts evidently far away.


The prosecuting attorney’s office has issued instructions not to allow anyone to talk to the woman except the people guarding her.




The results of the autopsy performed at the morgue preceding internment of the dead “Holy Roller” shows the bullet entered at the base of the skull, snapped the spinal cord at the base of the brain, its most vulnerable point, and after breaking the jawbone, lodged near the right side of the neck.


“Death could not have been quicker,” said Deputy Coroner Wiltsie, who assisted at the autopsy. “The bullet hit the most vital part in the human frame and Creffield never realized what had occurred. He probably heard the sound of the explosion and dropped before he knew what the trouble was.”



An investigation has developed the fact that Mrs. Creffield had been expecting someone to try and kill her husband. she had carried a pistol constantly until the very morning that the shooting occurred, when she left the house and forgot the gun. The cartridges for the revolver were found in the woman’s pocket when she was searched by the police and the gun was picked up afterwards in searching the premises the couple occupied at 1116 Fifth Av.




“If I had a gun at the time,” said Mrs. Creffield before she was isolated by the prosecuting attorneys orders, “Mitchell would never have escaped death.” To further questioning along this line she refused absolutely to utter a word.


Corvallis people will send attorneys to Seattle to assist, if possible, in freeing Mitchell. These attorneys were to have left for this city today.


Mitchell himself is taking imprisonment at the county jail calmly. He seems to have no fear of future results and asserts as he has from the first that he is ready to accept the penalty, whatever that may be.




Mrs. Creffield has not slept since the night of the shooting. Or at least she has been found awake at different hours during the night when the watchers glanced in to see how she was getting along. She also appears to be more nervous than formerly. She takes whatever is given her without any comment.



Seattle Star 5/9/1906 p1

Why? The Case of George Beede


One night last November George Beede shot Ray McDonald through the back because of the latter’s attentions to the former’s wife.


For several weeks McDonald lingered between life and death.

Finally he recovered.


Beede was place under arrest and, after being confined in the county jail for some time, was admitted to bail.


Through the influence of the friends of McDonald, who were anxious to avoid notoriety, and the further influence of friends of Beede, the case against the latter was dismissed, the prosecuting attorney’s office showing now desire to prosecute.


The judge of the superior court who formally dismissed the case made the astounding statement that McDonald, instead of Beede, should be on trial and should be sent to the penitentiary, and that Beede had done no more than any man would be justified in doing under similar conditions.



Two days ago George Mitchell shot and killed Frank Edmund Creffield, a notorious religious maniac who had ruined the two sisters of Mitchell and who had broken up homes without number.


Citizens of Oregon, usually law-abiding, knew that Mitchell had left home with the firm intention of taking the life of this man Creffield, and these citizens rejoiced when the brief message came to them: “I have got my man; am in jail here.”

Mitchell is still in the county jail in this city. He says he killed Creffield. He says he came to this city for that purpose and he is willing to suffer whatever penalty the law may exact.


He has avenged the honor of his sisters, and if a jury of his peers says he must hang, he will, without a murmur, submit to the inevitable.




And the prosecuting attorney of King County, the man who permitted George Beede to go forth without punishment for a crime equal in intent to that of Mitchell’s says that Mitchell must hang.


“The slaying of Creffield is the most cold-blooded first degree murder since I have been in office,” says the prosecuting attorney. “I will prosecute Mitchell to the best of my ability, and I believe he will be convicted.


But why this sudden desire to enforce the law?


Why let George Beede go free?


He tried to kill McDonald by sneaking up behind him and putting a bullet in his back.

The gods of luck brought McDonald back to life.


Mitchell was surer of his aim and killed his man.


Beede had friends and was given freedom.


A judge applauded his act.


Mitchell has no influential friends in Seattle, and he may hang for his crime.

And the judge who applauded Beede may have to pronounce the death sentence.



Seattle Star 5/9/1906 p1

Will Try His Best To Hang. Geo. Mitchell

Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh Says Slaying of Creffield Was the Most Cold Blooded Murder Since He Has Been in Office---Declares Popular Opinion Will Not Be Considered in the Enforcement of the Law---Charge is Filed.


“The killing of Creffield by George Mitchell was the most cold blooded case of murder in the first degree that has occurred since I have occupied this office. I will prosecute him, and believe he will be convicted. The popular opinion which opposes the enforcement of the law will not be considered.”


This is the statement of Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh, and is echoed by John F. Miller, his chief deputy, who prepared the information which was filed today charging Mitchell with the crime of murder in the first degree.


“The law will certainly be enforced,” continued Mr. Mackintosh, “and I see no reason why Mitchell should not be hanged. The law is intended to punish and prevent murder. Mitchell’s deed was committed after weeks of preparation. The law takes no cognizance of the excuse which Mitchell offers. I fail to see why the people of this county should not support their officers in the enforcement of the law.”


Regarding the sympathy that has been aroused in Mitchell’s behalf, Mr. Mackintosh said that this is often accorded to desperate men, and cited the heroism with which Harry Tracy and Tom blank, the worst desperadoes in the history of the northwest were regarded. The newspapers that have commended Mitchell for his misdeeds Mr. Mackintosh classed with the muckrakes attacked by President Roosevelt.


“Mitchell will be arraigned this week and tried early next month” concluded the prosecuting attorney, “and the law will not be turned aside by any prejudices.”





Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/9/1906 p10

Buried Without Ceremony

Mrs. Creffield Believes Holy Roller Will Rise From Grave. No Tears at Burying. Avenger Mitchell Is Permitted by His Attorney to Talk Freely on the Events That Led Up to the Killing.

So Says Mrs. Creffield, and Her Husband Will Arise From Grave in Four Days. No Tears at Burying--Widow shows No Emotion--Very Few Present at Funeral--Mitchell Talks Freely and is Not Afraid of Results.”

Holy Roller Chief Laid in Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle, Today.


Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/10/1906

Not Dead, She Cries


Corvallis Times 5/11/1906

Is Not Dead


SEATTLE, Wash, May 9.--(Special)-- Without prayers or hymns, without flowers or mourners, and without services always accorded to the civilized dead, the body of Franz Edmund Creffield, leader of the Holy Rollers, was laid to rest in a grave in Lake View Cemetery this morning. Mrs. Creffield, the widow, requested that there be no minister and no prayers.


“My husband, though dead in body now, will arise again as Christ did,” pleaded the misguided woman. “In four days “Joshua” will again be in our midst, and Satan will again be rebuked. My husband cannot be killed. He is not dead now. He is only sleeping. Next Sunday he will arise and become the reincarnation of ‘Elijah the Restorer.’”


The people at the morgue did not argue with Mrs. Creffield. They allowed her to have her way. At 10 o’clock this morning Mrs. Creffield, leaning on the arm of Mrs. Kelly, police matron, in whose charge the woman is held awaiting the trial of George Mitchell, the slayer, arrived at the Bonney Watson morgue. She was not dressed in mourning. Her clothes were neat but not fine. They had been brought to her by her father, who arrived from Corvallis yesterday.




Mrs. Creffield showed no emotion. She walked into the morgue room and for two minutes gazed steadfastly on the body of her husband as it lay dressed only in a white night robe, in a cheap coffin, upon which were the words, “At Rest.”


The widow of the man who has broken many hearts, and who was accused of some of the worst crimes ever committed in the name of religion, said nothing as she looked from the inanimate form. She turned away in a moment and was led to a carriage. She climbed in with the assistance of Mrs. Kelly and followed the hearse containing the body of Creffield to Lake View Cemetery, where it was quickly laid away under the ground.




Other than Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Creffield and the undertakers, no one was at the cemetery. A wooden tablet was placed at the head of the grave. This inscription was painted upon a white background:


Died May 7,/1906, Aged 35 Years.


Mrs. Creffield declines to be seen by newspaper men. She is in a highly nervous condition and both at her own request and that of the Prosecuting Attorney, all interviewers are denied.


George Mitchell, the Portland man who killed Creffield, has retained W. H. Morris to defend him, and his attorney has not permitted Mitchell to continue his story, but today added in procuring a new interview. This might easily be regarded as a decision that public sentiment should be worked up in Mitchell’s behalf. Today, Mitchell took up his story again, beginning with Creffield’s discharge from the penitentiary.




(excerpts from the interview in the Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/10/1906)


(At the end of the Corvallis Times article … )

A number of Albany men say they would gladly contribute toward a fund to defend Mitchell, the young avenger, if help is needed for the work of destruction accomplished by Creffield is well known in Albany.


Much regret is expressed that the lad did not find his quarry when he was following Mrs. Creffield in Albany a week ago. At that time there were several outraged Corvallis men in Albany, keeping in touch with the deluded wife of the Holy Roller chief in the hope that she would join her husband here. The passenger train in Albany was thoroughly searched that evening, the lad who did the final act in Creffield’s career passing through the coaches looking carefully at every passenger.


Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/9/1906 p1

District Attorney John Manning Would Defend Apostle’s Slayer

In a Letter to Seattle Prosecutor He Says He Is Ready to Appear Before Grand Jury or at Trial in Mitchell’s Behalf. Justifies Killing of Creffield by Brother of His Victim.


District Attorney John Manning has addressed a letter to Kenneth Macintosh, Prosecuting Attorney for King County, Wash., in which he virtually says that the killing of Edmund Creffield, the Holy Roller “prophet,” at the hands of George Mitchell is justifiable. The letter informs the Washington prosecutor of the record of shame made by Creffield in Oregon, and makes the proposition that the District Attorney of Multnomah County be permitted to go before the grand jury or on the witness stand in the trial court on behalf of Mitchell.


No more valuable witness for the defense could be asked by Mitchell than Manning. In his capacity of District Attorney, Manning investigated the character and practices of Creffield and the disclosures which were laid before the officer were revolting. Many of the details which District Attorney Manning learned were not used in the prosecution of Creffield, as there was sufficient other evidence to send the Holy Roller to the Penitentiary.




If Manning’s offer is accepted by the authorities at Seattle, however, he can unfold a tale of outrage to the grand jury which should convince that body that Mitchell was justified by unwritten law, at least, in his extermination of Creffield. Manning’s information is extensive and of such character that it cannot be described in public prints, but it should have great weight with the grand jury of King County. furthermore, the belief is prevalent that should Manning testify, the officers at Seattle will not only release Mitchell, but will recommend him for a Carnegie medal as a hero. Mr. Manning’s letter follows:

(Manning’s letter)



Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/9/1906 p10

Hurt Anxious to Clear Mitchell

Father-in-Law of Dead Man Ready to Give Last Dollar in Slayer’s Defense. Declares Proper Course Was Pursued in Taking Off of the Apostle. Still Loves His Daughter, and Says That He Will Provide for Her.


“I will spend the last dollar I have in the world to defend George Mitchell if necessary.”


O. V. Hurt, father-in-law of Creffield, the “Holy Roller” leader killed by Mitchell, has taken his stand.


Mrs. Hurt and Maude Creffield, Hurt’s wife and daughter, were among Creffield’s most enthusiastic followers, but the husband and father does not hesitate to champion the cause of the man who made his daughter a widow. He is convinced that the proper course was pursued by Mitchell. Personally he had not sought the fanatical leader, for he had given his word to his brother and sister in the East that Creffield should not fall by his hand unless fate ordained otherwise.


“The followers of Creffield are more to be sympathized with than censured,” declared Mr. Hurt. “It is my belief that each one whom he attracted and compelled to obey his commands complied in the sincere and honest belief that they were doing right, and it never entered their heads that their actions were wrong.


“When a man is dead we are supposed to overlook his wickedness and speak in softer tones. Therefore, I dislike saying things of Creffield now which I would not have hesitated to say were he alive. This much of criticism against him I will make--he was a dangerous man to the community. He was dangerous because of his power and because of the ill-use to which he employed it.




“My daughter Maude is still my daughter and I love her as much as ever. It was a terrible experience for her, since she loved Creffield devotedly and thought his actions were right and proper. worshiping him as she did, her anguish can be imagined when she saw him shot down at her feet. The girl buried Creffield in Seattle alone today. She would permit no one else. I admire her grit. Maud naturally has the sympathy of the people in Seattle, because her plight is sad, but this does not conflict with the denunciation of her late husband. what Maud’s future plans are I do not know. I did not discuss them with her. She may return to our home at Corvallis, or she may not. She wrote to her mother to have me sell out at Corvallis and leave there for she declared that she could never live in that town again, disliking the citizens of Corvallis as she does.


“After Creffield was released from the penitentiary at Salem he wrote me several threatening letters, which I promptly burned, to show my contempt for him. In one of these communications he asserted that he had his foot on my neck and would triumph. this one I answered, stating that he would probably find a rope around his own neck in the end.


“The newspapers have handled this affair justly and correctly, with one exception. this was when I was saying that a gold medal was to be given George Mitchell for slaying Creffield. I never made such a statement, and the very idea is ridiculous.




“Creffield once made an effort to have me join his band. This was months before he developed into the practices he pursued with his followers. I studied his proposition for an entire week, looking at it from every point of view, and then decided that I would have nothing to do with it as his religion was nothing more than hysterical sentiment.  Later, when conditions became serious, my relatives in the East wrote letters week after week, pleading with me not to do anything which would involve me in trouble with the man. I gave assurance that I would not seek Creffield deliberately, but had I ever returned home for dinner and found him in my home, after the exposure of his orgies, I do not know what I would have done. He would have had to take his chances.


“Maud is not in jail in Seattle. She is held as a witness, and is in charge of the matron, living at a private house. She suffers no discomfort. I told her distinctly that I was ready to take care of her and do everything possible for her, but at the same time, I would do all in my power to aid and assist George Mitchell.




“The killing of Creffield was on the spur of the moment. Mitchell passed Maud on the street, but did not see Creffield with her. they had been separated momentarily by the crowd, and Maud did not recognize Mitchell.


“George, after proceeding a few steps, turned and saw that Creffield was walking with my daughter, and then immediately fired. Mitchell is an unemotional young man. He is cool and calm under all circumstances, and this is why his aim was so good when he shot. When he gave himself up and made his statement, the officers say there was not even a tremor in his voice.


“I believe George will not be dealt severely with. We have engaged lawyers to defend him, and I am ready to aid him to the extent of all my possessions.”



Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/9/1906 p10

Creffield Was Doomed Man

Half-Dozen Men Declared to Have Been Ready to Slay False Prophet.


CORVALLIS, Or., May 9.--Evening Telegrams have sold at a premium in Corvallis for two days. Everybody wanted to learn the particulars of the death of Creffield, the Holy Roller chief.


It is difficult for the general public outside of Benton County to realize the strong sentiment against the self-styled “Joshua” among all classes here. Since his incarceration in the state penitentiary, many things have come to light through confessions of former followers never even imagined by those who placed the worst construction on his motives and acts. Believed of his influence, the former infatuated followers of Creffield had regained their reason were discharged from the asylum and had resumed their places in their homes and expressed themselves as done forever with Holy Rollerism.


As proof of their entire change of heart they confessed to their husbands and fathers a revolting account of Creffield’s practices. Upon the release of the apostle he went to Los Angeles and began once more to assume control of those who had declared that they were convinced of his hypocrisy.


With these confessions fresh in mind, and seeing Creffield again getting his former victims under his control, it is declared that he was doomed to meet death at the hands of any one of half dozen men. Prominent citizens of Corvallis associated by blood ties with his deluded followers, men who have concealed their knowledge as to the bestial practices of the Holy Roller leader, have voluntarily made statements concerning him that would justify his effacement by any lover of purity and virtue.



Evening Telegram (Portland) Wed 5/9/1906 p10

Fund For Slayer’s Defense


CORVALLIS, Or., May 9.-- The report from Seattle that a subscription is to be raised in Corvallis to present George Mitchell with a gold medal for killing Edmund Creffield is denied here. It is, however, probable that a subscription will be raised to secure the services of attorneys to defend him when his case comes to trial. While it is realized that a jury might impose some sentence upon young Mitchell, the circumstances are such that the stigma of murder will never attach itself to him.

Holy Rollers

Buy Holy Rollers: Murder & Madness in Oregon's Love Cult as an eBook for a measly $3.99 or get an autographed paperback for $15.

Holy Rollers is a story that has everything a good read should have: sex, religious fervor, mass insanity, the downfall of prominent families, murder and sensational court trials.

And it's all true.

John Terry, the Oregonian's 'Oregon's Trails' columnist says of the book: "A dandy piece of research and a good read. Lots more stuff than I was aware of. It deserves an audience"













Holy Rollers Paper Back

Get an autographed paperback for $16.95 (that includes postage and handling for U.S. addresses)

Want to write a check instead of using a credit card? I'm trusting. e-mail that you want the book and I'll send you a copy. You don't send a check until you get the book with an invoice.

Theresa (T-) McCracken, 890 North Bayview, Loop Waldport, Oregon 97394 (541) 563-3112


Home    Chapters    Articles    Asylum Records    Brainwashing    Hymns    Contact

Top of Page

FBI Anti Piracy SealThe unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment.


Newspaper Articles about Creffield & the Holy Rollers

1897-1899:Local Lore, News Of Corvallis and Vicinity Told in Brief B. C. (Before Creffield)

1900:Holy Rollers' Lives Before Creffield

1901:Holy Rollers' Lives Before Creffield

1902:Holy Rollers' Lives Creffield

January 18, 1903: Fred Mitchell Attempts Suicide

June 10, 1903: Salvation Army Major Deserts and Joins the Holy Rollers

October 31, 1903: Zealot Worshipers Burn Furniture, Dogs & Other Things

November 2, 1903: Fanatics In Court

November 3, 1903: Had Promise of Tar and Feathers

November 4, 1903: Flight of The Apostles

November 5, 1903: Once-Esteemed Family No Longer Has the Sympathy of the Community

November 6, 1903: Rollers Take On New Life

November 7, 1903: Is Creffield Back?

November 11, 1903: “Apostle” Creffield Still Under Cover

November 24, 1903: Girl of Sixteen Almost Insane

November 25, 1903: In Pursuit of Creffield

November 27, 1903: The Lord May Starve Them

November 28, 1903: Holy Rollers Receive Unwilling Baptism

December 7, 1903: Demented Woman Suffers

December 8, 1903: Hurt Seen In Portland

December 11, 1903:Holy Rollers Roll Into Eugene Church

December 21, 1903:Holy Roller Victim Worse

December 22, 1903: Linn County Holy Rollers

December 23, 1903: Is Crazy Now

December 29, 1903: Holy Rollers’ Not Liked at the Dalles

December 30, 1903: Owner of Property Refuses to Permit Séances

January 6, 1904: Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered

January 9, 1904: Their Welcome Departure

January 12, 1904: Editorial Comment: “Put yourselves in our place!”

January 13, 1904: Where Brooks Went

January 19, 1904: Our Brainy Contemporaries

January 25: Holy Rollers’ in Hobo Camp Life

February 1, 1904: Camp In Linn County Is Broken Up By Officers

February 6, 1904: How They Tell The Holy Roller Story In Far Off Scotland

February 11, 1904: Medium Mystify Corvallis People

March 1, 1904: The “Holy Rollers” Offend Humanity

March 16, 1904: Holy Rollers to Be Arrested on Serious Charge

March 17, 1904: Where is the Apostle?

March 21, 1904: Reward For Creffield's Capture

March 23, 1904: Fugitive Creffield

March 28, 1904: Reward is Offered

April 1, 1904: “Holy Roller” Chief Very Badly Wanted

April 18, 1904: Holy Roller High Priest Is Seen

April 29, 1904: Urania Seeley is Arrested

May 2, 1904: Frank & Mollie Hurt are Committed to the Asylum

May 4, 1904: Maud Hurt-Creffield & Sophia Hartley are Committed

May 7, 1904: Attie Bray &Rose Seeley are Committed

June 11, 1904: Attie Bray Escapes

June 17, 1904: Mae Hurt is Committed

June 29, 1904: Sarah Hurt is Committed

July 22, 1904: Holy Roller on Death Row

July 29, 1904: Creffield Found Half Dead Under Hurt’s House

July, 30 1904: Armed Guards Protect Creffield

July, 31 1904: Corvallis Could Not Raise a Mob

August 1, 1904: Creffield says, "I am Elijah"

August 2, 1904: Creffield Does Not Dislike Prison

August 4, 1904: Creffield Says He Is Entirely Purified

August 5, 1904: He Does Nothing Unless Directed by God

August 6, 1904: Creffield Believes in Satan and Eternal Punishment

August 9, 1904: No Flowers For Creffield

August 13, 1904; The Holy Rollers And The Man Who Made Them

August 16, 1904; Creffield Reward Will Be Returned

August 19, 1904: Followers in Asylum Stick To Faith

August 23, 1904: Creffield Will Fight His Own Case

August 28, 1904: Creffield Destroys His Revelations

September 16, 1904: Creffield is Guilty

September 21, 1904: Holy Rollers go in and Out of the Asylum

March 22, 1905: Prison Life Of Joshua Creffield>

April 8, 1905: Life In Corvallis Returns to Normal

December 12, 1905: Frank & Mollie Hurt Have a Baby Girl

April 24, 1906: Creffield Establishes a Camp Near Waldport

April 30, 1906: Donna Starr Leaves Children to go to Her Spiritual Love, Joshua Creffield

May 1, 1906: Creffield Takes Credit for The San Francisco Earthquake

May 3, 1906: Creffield In Fear Of His Life

May 7, 1906: Holy Roller Shot Down Like A Dog

May 8, 1906: Medal to Be Given Mitchell in Recognition of His Killing

May 9, 1906: Oregon Prosecutor Would Aid Mitchell

May 10, 1906: Shows No Emotion At Husband’s Grave

May 11, 1906: Bail Is All Ready

May 12, 1906: Mitchell Denied Bail

May 13, 1906: Creffield is Due To Rise Today

May 14, 1906: Creffield’s Widow Watches At Grave

May 15, 1906: Corvallis Starts Fund for Defense of Mitchell

May 16, 1906: Holy Rollers Starving Near Heceta Head

May 17, 1906: Public Sentiment Favors Mitchell

May 18, 1906: Creffield Railed in Vermont

May 19, 1906: Mitchell to Enter Plea of Not Guilty

May 27, 1906: Joshua Says Not to Worry

June 1, 1906: Morris Claims Mitchell Rid World of a Fiend

June 16, 1906: Prosecution and Defense are Making Last Preparations

June 19, 1906: Many Witnesses For Mitchell

June 24, 1906: Trial Will Cost Taxpayers Ten Thousand Dollars

June 25, 1906: George Mitchell on Trial For His Life

June 26, 1906: Mitchell Jury is Selected With Care

June 27, 1906: Mitchell Trial Held Up By Squabble

June 28, 1906:  Jury is Secured to Try Mitchell

June 29, 1906: Trial is Now on in Earnest

June 30, 1906: Mrs. Creffield's Testimony

July 1, 1906: Creffield’s Ghost Controls His Flock

July 2, 1906:  Esther Mitchell on Stand Refuses To Aid Brother

July 3, 1906: Hurt Tells of Debauched Wife and Debased Sisters

July 4, 1906: Creffield’s Unsavory Record Presented to the Jury

July 5, 1906: Expected Admissibility of Evidence Will Arouse Controversy

July 6, 1906: Others Testify They Wished to Kill Creffield

July 7, 1906: Insanity Expert on the Witness Stand

July 8, 1906: Plan To Revive Holy Rollerism

July 9, 1906: Killing of Judge Emory May Effect Mitchell

July 10, 1906: Mitchell Case Goes To Jury

July 11, 1906: Not Guilty

July 12, 1906: General Rejoicing at Mitchell’s Acquittal

July 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Kills Her Brother!

July 14, 1906: Mitchell Boys Are Done With Esther

July 15, 1906: Hurt Will Come to Aid of His Daughter

July 16: 1906: Will Mortgage His Home for Daughter

July 17, 1906: Let’s Think When We Talk

July 18, 1906: Mrs. Starr’s Life Threatened

July 19, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Weeps in Jail

July 20, 1906: George Mitchell’s Attorney Offers Aid to Murderesses

July 21, 1906: Mitchell Boys to Stand by Esther

July 22, 1906: Hurt Thinks Both Women Are Insane

July 23, 1906: Frater Favors a Commission of Alienists

July 24, 1906: Mackintosh Will Oppose Calling Commission

July 26, 1906: Is Reconciled to Holy Roller Wife

July 27, 1906: Holy Rollers Seek Home in Wyoming

July 28, 1906: Mitchell Juror is Insane

July 30, 1906: Esther Will Deny Committing Murder In The 1st Degree

July 31 1906: Esther Mitchell Says Not Guilty

August 1, 1906: Relatives to Help Esther Mitchell

August 4, 1906: Creffield Greatly Hurt True Religion

August 6, 1906: Mitchell Boys in Drunken Row

August 8, 1906: St. Louis Woman Coming to Convert “Rollers”

August 12, 1906: Esther Mitchell Close to Death from Typhoid

August 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Not Seriously Ill

September 1, 1906: Four Charged with First Degree Now in County Jail

September 10 1906: To Examine Minds of Slayers

September 12, 1906: Hurt Thinks His Daughter Insane

September 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Objects to Help

September 14, 1906: Women Not Agitated

September 15, 1906: Mrs. Creffield’s Trial Set for Next Month

September 17, 1906: Mrs. Creffield on Stand

September 18, 1906:  Maud Creffield Anxious to Hang

September 19, 1906: Are They Sane of Insane?

September 21, 1906: Both Women May Go Scott Free

September 22, 1906: Where is This Thing to End!

September 23, 1906: Murders Must Be Tried

September 24, 1906: Must Not Deport

September 25, 1906: Judge Frater is in Very Small Business

September 28, 1906: Insanity Board Not Paid

October 1, 1906: Holy Roller Woman Dies While in Trance

November 9, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Said to Be in Very Nervous State

November 17, 1906: Maud Creffield Dies in the County Jail

November 18, 1906: Death May End a Hypnotic Spell

November 19, 1906: Reviews Findings in Examination of Brain

November 20, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Killed Herself with Poison!

November 21, 1906: Poison Is Found In The Stomach Of Mrs. Creffield

November 22, 1906: Esther Says Maud Did Not Kill Herself

December 4, 1906: Washing Dirty Linen

December 17, 1906: Sad Christmas For Holy Roller

February 21, 1907: Esther Mitchell Goes to Asylum

April 30, 1907: Esther Mitchell Still Believe in Creffield & His Return

April 6, 1909: Esther Mitchell Leaves Asylum

April 9, 1914: Esther Mitchell Marries James Berry

August 3, 1914: Esther Mitchell is Dead By Own Hand

1953 Stewart Holbrook's Murder Without Tears

1951 Startling Detective Magazine: Nemesis of the Nudist High Priest

A List of All the Articles


Sample Chapters from Holy Rollers:
Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult


The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers


Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers


Info for Book Groups

Book Reviews


1903 to 1907 Newspaper Articles About the Holy Rollers

1906 Editorial Calling for Gun Control
After Multiple Murders Involving the Holy Rollers

Stewart Holbrook Holy Rollers Article

Advertisements from 1893 to 1913


Oregon Insane Asylum
Where the Holy Rollers Were Committed

Creffield, Brainwashing & Thought Reform

Early Cases of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

1906 Autopsies Of Holy Rollers
Forensics Before CSI

Holy Roller Bizarre Divorce Decree
Hartley describes trying to kill his wife's lover


Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers


Life in Corvallis in the early 1900s

Life in Waldport, OR in early 1900s

Heaven's Gate

Facts & Stats about 1906
And How The Holy Rollers Measured Up

Oregon State Penitentiary
Where Creffield Was Incarcerated


Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults


Creffield's Preachings

Creffield Vs. Crefeld

The Salvation Army Opening Fire in 1886

Holy Roller Theology

Reverend Knapp's Bible Songs of Salvation & Victory
Songs Sung by the Holy Rollers


About the Authors

Theresa (T-) McCracken

Robert B. Blodgett

In addition to writing, McCracken is a cartoonist.

To see some of her 'toons, go to the Home of McHumor Cartoons mchumor.com

McCracken's Blog

email logo

Snail Mail
Theresa (T-) McCracken
890 North Bayview Loop
Waldport, Oregon 97394

(541) 563-3112


copyright by
Theresa (T-) McCracken