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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 13, 1906: Creffield is Due To Rise Today


Creffield's GraveSeattle Daily Times 5/13/1906 p1

Creffield is Due To Rise Today

Holy Roller ‘Prophet’ Expected by His Wife to Emerge From Grave at 10:45 O’clock, Hour He Was Buried


“JOSHUA” Creffield is scheduled to arise from his grave at 10:45 o’clock this morning. According to his wife and some of his followers, George Mitchell did not kill the Holy Roller “prophet” because he is a divine being, and after four days from the hour when his body was placed in a grave in Lake View Cemetery he will return to life and again take command of his followers.


It was for this reason that Mrs. Creffield refused to allow any religious services either at the Bonney-Watson chapel or at the grave. She said it was useless, as the man was not dead, and confidently predicted that he would return to his flock at the expiration of the allotted time. Her faith is still absolute, but she is not exactly sure as to the details of the resurrection.


No guard has been places at Creffield’s grave, and the authorities have taken no steps to provide for the unusual event which they seem to believe has been announced for a somewhat premature date. Creffield’s body was buried, clad only in a white shroud, at the request of his wife, who believed that to be fitting garment for his return to the world from which Mitchell’s bullet had temporarily removed him, but those not so intimately connected with the belief of the Holy Rollers, and who have not fallen so directly under the spell are inclined to believe that the shroud will be somewhat soiled by the passing of the years before it can be put to the use for which it was intended.


Young Mitchell, in the county jail, is not much concerned over the proposed return of the man he found it necessary for him to kill. He only smiles quietly when the subject is mentioned. He is not inclined to joke about it because he realized that this is a human life which he took and he realizes that the prosecuting attorney is determined that he shall be punished for it, if it is possible for him to so persuade a jury.


He thoroughly appreciates the seriousness of his position, but has not shown the slightest sign of fear. He has not even inquired of his attorneys or others what they thought of his chances.




In the courtroom yesterday morning, when he was arraigned and Judge Frater felt bound to oppose his application for bail upon technical grounds, he would have been almost the last man in the throng to be picked out as the one who sat there facing a charge of murder in the first degree. His attitude was manly, quiet and unperturbed.


The only sign of weakness he has shown in the whole transaction was at the moment he unexpectedly met Creffield face to face on First Avenue. It was so sudden, this meeting, that he drew back, and it was not until he realized that the man was getting away from him that he recovered himself and fired. Since then he has been cooler than the men about him.


Will H. Morris, his attorney, is disappointed at the action for bail, but is far from discouraged. He says it is only an indication that a hard fight will probably be required to free his client from the clutch of laws which make no provision for sentiment or the drastic necessities caused by the very existence of such men as this “Joshua.”


Mitchell will be arraigned to plead next Saturday morning, and that will be the next step in the case. Just what will be done at that time has not been fully determined. As long as bail cannot be secured, every effort will be made to expedite the trial of the case in order that the young man may regain the freedom which but few believe any jury will deny him.





Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/13/1906 p1

Widow of Holy Roller Is Insane From Waiting to See the Dead Arise


Corvallis Times 5/15/1906

Widow of Holy Roller Is Insane From Waiting to See the Dead Arise

Mrs. Creffield Grovels on Floor Begging to Go to Cemetery--Becomes a Maniac.


(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

Seattle, Wash., May 12.--Groveling on the floor of the police matron’s home and begging hysterically that she be allowed to spend the night in the Lakeview cemetery to witness the resurrection of her husband, Franz Edmund Creffield, the late Apostle Joshua of holy Roller notoriety, Mrs. Creffield, widow of the murdered man, has become insane. Today she pleaded with Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh to allow her to be taken to the cemetery under guard, so she could see her husband rise from the dead tomorrow morning, as she believes he will. The request was denied.


Then the woman begged the police matron to take her there. When this was refused she became hysterical and up to a late hour tonight had refused to be quieted or take any rest or food. Her cries are like those of a wild animal. She declares that if she is not in the cemetery to greet her husband when he arises her soul is lost. The woman is firm in her declaration that “Joshua” will arise from the dead tomorrow morning.



When he was buried she did no shed a tear or show the slightest sign of sorrow. She maintained her composure, firm in the belief that although her husband was buried Wednesday, Sunday would see him alive again. It is feared the woman’s mind will be permanently lost. It may be necessary in the morning in an effort to quiet her to take her to the cemetery to show her that the grave has not been disturbed. She declares that if she is not present at the resurrection she will be punished for her infidelity.


The mental breakdown of the woman today is in strange contrast with her demeanor since her husband’s death. Except for the first few minutes as her husband’s prostrate form lay in the drug store outside of which he was shot she has showed no grief. Even then she cried: “He cannot die. He must not die. He never did George Mitchell any harm.” The doctor’s declaration that he was dead did not shake her belief that her husband was immortal.


At the morgue and at the cemetery she shoed no sign of sorrow, telling the police matron that her husband would arise Sunday.




The police matron, who is used to insanity in all its forms, declares that Mrs. Creffield’s condition is the saddest sight she has ever seen. The woman has not become violent, but it is feared she might. She is simply hysterical. If she becomes at all violent she will be taken to the county jail, where her husband’s slayer is confined awaiting trial. The fact that Mrs. Creffield has been in the insane asylum in Oregon in the midst of the frantic demonstrations of the Holy Rollers makes the officers believe that her condition may become permanent.


The woman is under orders of the prosecuting attorney and will be held by the police matron as a witness at the trial of George Mitchell unless she becomes insane. A close guard will be kept over her all night for fear she may harm herself or others.




For a time the police matron attempted to convince her that her belief in her husband’s resurrection was ridiculous and that there was no use of her going to the cemetery to witness his resurrection from death. Mrs. Creffield, however, would not pay any heed to the matron’s arguments. She declared she knew as did all Creffield’s followers, that he could not die; that he was Christ and that it was foreordained that the Sunday after his burial he would rise again and show himself to the world that he was really Christ.


Since the murder Mrs. Creffield has received letters from some of the faithful in Oregon assuring her that her husband would again rise from the dead. The names of the correspondents were withheld from all the newspapers at the request of the police matron.




Tomorrow in several churches sermons will be preached on the Creffield slaying. Rev. Myron W. Haynes, who gained much notoriety in Chicago before he came to Seattle by his fight with relatives when his name was dropped from the list entitling him with other ministers to reduced rates, has announced that he will denounce Mitchell from the pulpit of his fashionable church as a cold-blooded murderer. Haynes has already congratulated Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh on his determination to vigorously prosecute Mitchell. Haynes will beg his congregation to drop its sympathy for Mitchell and take sides with the prosecution. He is the only clergyman who will probably denounce Mitchell. The others will take sides with the young slayer, or at least pass over it hurriedly and point out the iniquity of Creffield’s life. Haynes has brought upon himself much unpopularity by denouncing Mitchell. Public opinion here is strong in the slayer’s favor.




The letter from District Attorney Manning did much to make unanimous the public sentiment that Mitchell should be liberated even without a trial. The declaration of Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh that he would prosecute Mitchell as he would any other murderer is looked upon as an unfortunate incident. If Mitchell had been allowed bail today a number of prominent citizens were willing to furnish security upwards of $30,000.


In light of the fact that other judges have allowed murderers bail, it has led the public to look with disfavor on Judge Frater’s refusal to allow Mitchell bail. It is certain that Mitchell if tried will be acquitted by the jury. No man, although many have tried, has ever been convicted here for murdering a seducer of his wife or daughter. Mitchell’s case is much stronger than that of the men already liberated for shooting down libertines.


The press of Seattle has taken his side and created a public sentiment in his favor that none of these other men had. Money will be supplied for Mitchell’s defense by many Seattle men if it cannot be raised in any other way.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/13/1906 p5

Court Denies Bail To Geo. Mitchell

Letter Announces That Sisters of Prisoner Confessed Creffield’s Guilt.


After listening to the pleas of the attorneys for George Mitchell for an hour yesterday give a recital of the history of the affairs leading up to the killing of Franz Edmund Creffield in their endeavor to induce the court to admit the prisoner to bail, Judge Frater denied the motion on the grounds that the law will not admit of the action.


Preceding the arguments of the attorney for the prisoner and the short statement of facts by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh the young man was arraigned and the information read to him. His attorneys then asked for a continuation and Mitchell will plead on May 19.


In making his statement to the court in support of the motion for bail, Attorney Will H. Morris dwelt not on the law bearing on the matter, but rather asked the court to consider the motion from a humane standpoint. Mr. Mackintosh merely recited the law governing the admission to bail of prisoners charged with a capital offense and the court gave he ruling.


During the course of his arguments Attorney Morris stated that Mitchell is in receipt of a letter from F. T. Gardener, superintendent of the Boys’ and Girls Aid society of Oregon, in which that official of the institution declares that the sister of the young man confessed the criminal relations which Creffield had with them and further that he has received the information from fathers that they hesitated to prosecute the man because of the notoriety that would result.

Superintendent Gardner offers to give testimony in the case for the defense and in closing expressed a hope that the young man will be exonerated. The letter was received by Mitchell yesterday morning thru the sheriff’s office.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/13/1906 p9

Mitchell Is Denied Release on Bail

(Special Dispatch to the Journal)

(The usual)


Lincoln County Times (Waldport) 5/18/1906 p1

More About Creffield


Waldport, Or., May 13,1906

The Toledo Reporter says: “In the killing of Creffield society has been rid of a dangerous character;” “the world abhors a villain” (such was Creffield); “it despises a coward.” It then goes on to say George Mitchell is a murderer and should be hanged for the killing of Creffield. The Reporter drops back to the days of dueling when the civilized world abhors such means of revenge today, and the laws of our country forbid such. The Reporter is just about one hundred years behind civilization. It says “men are blood hungry and blood crazy.” Such was Creffield; but was it men’s blood he wanted? No, it was the blood of young, innocent girls that this devil in human form craved; and his record shows that his devilish purpose was accomplished. How would the editor of the Reporter feel in this matter if his wife or daughter were placed under the hypnotic influence of such as Creffield? The laws of our land cannot reach such fanatics, only for a short term. Then is for the father, brother or husband to avenge the wrong done.


Creffield met his just deserts and should have had that meted out to him long ago. George Mitchell did what any good American citizen should have done--not risk his own life to such a depraved brute as Creffield. Instead of suffering any penalty, he should be acquitted and given a gold medal by the people of Oregon. JUSTICE

Holy Rollers

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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

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

(541) 563-3112


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Theresa (T-) McCracken