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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.

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

 

O.V. HurtSeattle Star 7/3/1906 p1

Hurt Tells the Horrible Story of Holy Rollerism

With Tears in His Eyes Corvallis Man Recounts the Wrongs Committed by Creffield--Dramatic Testimony of Ruined Home, Debauched Wife and Debased Sisters.

 

In the light of the story told the Mitchell jury by O. V. Hurt, of Corvallis, during this morning’s session it is not hard to understand why George Mitchell has so many friends in Oregon.

 

If Creffield was guilty of one half of that which Hurt charges against him, it would be hard to find a jury anywhere on earth that would convict his slayer of murder in the first degree.

 

Leaning far out of the witness chair and looking straight into the jury box, Hurt grew almost hysterical as he counted the wrongs that had been done him and his by the dead leader of the Holy Rollers.

 

OWED HIM HIS LIFE

 

“I told George Mitchell,” he said to the jury, “that if there was anyone on earth to whom Creffield owed his life, it was to me. He took from me my wife and my daughters and ruined them.

 

“’I hate you, but I love Creffield,’ my wife told me when I expostulated with her because of her conduct. I begged and I pleaded, but it was of no use. She would listen to no argument.

 

“She wouldn't even take care of the adopted child. I cared for it in the morning, dressed it and looked after it until I left the house. Then I took it to a neighbor’s and left it there until I returned home.

 

One of Creffield's FollowersOBEY CREFFIELD

 

“My wife and my daughters refused to wash the child’s clothing, or to wash its body. They refused to feed it, or to wash the dishes in which the baby’s food was prepared. They declared that God would be displeased with them if they had anything to do with the child. Creffield had told them so.

 

“I was driven to distraction and know not what to do. I finally determined to have them all taken in charge on the ground that they were insane. When the sheriff came for my wife, she refused to leave. She fought with all her strength, and declined to cloth herself sufficiently to permit of her removal. By brute strength we put a suit of union underwear on her and other garments. She tore them off and when she was carried from the house, still fighting, the lower portion of the union suit had been torn loose and was wrapped about her neck.

 

WEEPS AS HE TALKS

 

Tears came to Hurt’s eyes as he told of his wife, and once or twice he stopped in an effort to hide his feelings.

 

He was on the witness stand all morning, and he told the complete story of Holy Rollerism in Corvallis. He made a good witness for the defense. His story was told in a straightforward, convincing manner.

 

It was the story of a law-abiding, honest citizen who had been terribly wronged by the man of whom he spoke. Another man places as Hurt had been placed might have saved George Mitchell imprisonment and trial of a murder charge. Another man with less respect for the law and his Maker would have gone with a gun and rested only when Creffield’s body lay at his feet lifeless.

 

OV Hurt
David Poland as O.V. Hurt

STANDS BY MITCHELL

 

There is little wonder that Hurt is doing all within his power to free Mitchell of the charge against him. He tried to dissuade Mitchell from the killing of Creffield, but when the deed was committed, and the message came to him “I have got my man; am in jail,” he hurried to Seattle and to the cell of the man who had killed his enemy and promised him all the aid, moral and financial that he could lend him.

 

A dramatic part of the story told by Hurt this morning was of the period during which Creffield, a fugitive from justice, hid beneath the Hurt home at Corvallis. It was during this period that Creffield committed adultery with all the women of the Hurt household.

 

LIVED BENEATH HOUSE

 

Hurt was still on the stand at the noon recess and was recalled this afternoon for cross-examination by Mr. Miller.

 

Charles Shires, a shingle mill owner near Corvallis, was called this morning to testify as to the good character of Mitchell and to his general reputation. To Mr. Miller the witness admitted that he had seen nothing of Mitchell during the past five years.

 

SISTERS ON STAND

 

Yesterday afternoon Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Starr, sisters of the defendant, were called to the stand. They were asked only as to their relationship to the defendant.

 

The extreme heat in the court room this morning led to the announcement by Judge Frater that hereafter only those who could find seats in the court room would be allowed in the room. As long as the heat continues the crowd that has occupied the rear aisle and the window sills, will not be admitted.

 

STARR ON THE STAND

 

Burgess E. Starr was called to the stand this afternoon and told of a conversation with Mrs. Hurt. The prosecution fought the introduction of this testimony bitterly, but the defense gained the point.

 

The testimony was to the effect that Creffield had importuned Mrs. Hurt to procure Esther Mitchell for him from the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid society of Portland for the purpose of bringing forth a second Christ.

 

 

Seattle Daily Times 7/3/1906 p1 Seattle Daily Times Front Page

O. V. Hurt, Star Witness for Mitchell Defense, Gives His Testimony

Tells How Ruin Came To His Family

O. V. Hurt, Principal Witness in Mitchell Trial, Weeps as He Goes Into Details of Joshua’s Reign.

Is Not Permitted to spare His Feelings, Attorney Forcing Each Minute Particular From Unwilling Lips.

Intent is to Show That Knowledge of These Things Led Defendant to Kill Creffield to Protect His Sister.

 

by E. O. Kelsey

 

O. V. Hurt, father of Maud Creffield, the 16-year-old girl, May, and husband of the woman the false prophet called “Mother” Hurt, has furnished the first tragedy of the Mitchell trial. It was not high tragedy, only the halting story of a man who has seen his loved ones fall victims to the spell cast by a lustful human who accomplished his desires only after he had convinced those he ruined that he was God.

 

Neither did any forensic display accompany this story of ruined lives, but it was tragedy nevertheless for a strong man nerved himself to place before the public remnants of a broken heart; to tell to all the world the details of that which had caused him grief and shame greater than which no man can know. It was hard for the man to do this, but he felt that in so doing he was helping save from the unsympathetic hand of the law the man who in avenging his own wrongs had revenged the wrongs of others, and he choked back the emotion which at times threatened to strangle him and talked on to the jury men whom he could not see for the tears which welled up in his sad old eyes.

 

SISTERS DISAPPOINT CROWD O.V. HurtSeattle Star

 

It was well for the curious who had crowded into the courtroom to listen to the shocking story that O. V. Hurt was placed upon the stand, for otherwise two days of the trial would have gone down in their history as ones of disappointment. It is true that Attorney Shipley, in his statement to the jury, afforded the morbidly curious food, but both of the Mitchell sisters proved to be a disappointment for neither went further than to acknowledge her relationship to the defendant and to tell of the fact that another brother, Fred, has attempted to shoot himself in Portland.

 

They are peculiar looking women, Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Starr. Both have a resemblance to George Mitchell. Both are sallow and have a strange look in their eyes. Neither gave so much as a glance at the brother sitting in front of them, and both answered the few questions put to them by Attorney Will Morris and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Miller sullenly and in a voice scarcely louder than a whisper. It was easy to see why it became necessary to bring Mrs. Starr into court by a bench warrant. She was there under protest and would do nothing she was not compelled to do by the law to lend aid to her brother.

 

She must have known that the crowd had learned of the disgrace which her worship of Creffield had brought upon her, but if so she gave no evidence of it and held her head high as she followed the court officer through the packed aisle, both to and from the witness stand.

 

BECOMES ANIMATED

 

Only once did she give any intimation that she was more than an automaton. That was when, after she had said that Fred Mitchell had shot himself, she was asked by Mr. Miller if she knew it to be a fact.

 

“I wasn’t there,” she snapped, “And someone else might have done it for all I know, but I have always supposed he did it himself.

 

Mrs. Starr was also called upon to identify three letters, the contents of which were not made public, although it became known that one of them was the note she had left for her husband when she crept out of her home early one morning and started on the long tramp to join Creffield.

 

This was all, and so it was that O. V. Hurt saved the day for the morbid.

 

ATTORNEYS ARGUE MUCH

 

Constant bickerings between the attorneys for the state and the defense gave the comedy sketches to the tragedy which was being unfolded, and once the jury was sent to its room while the attorneys for the defense gave vent to certain expressions of opinion which they wanted to go on record. The cause was a ruling of the court with regard to the introduction of certain testimony coming from Hurt. Judge Frater had sustained the objection made by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller.

 

Mr. Morris said he wanted the records to show that he not only objected to what he termed the arbitrary ruling of the court, but further to the expression of feeling in the manner in which the court addressed the counsel.

 

Mr. Miller said: “I would like the record to show that the counsel had persisted in addressing the court when there was nothing before it.”

 

Mr. Morris: “Yes, and I would further ask that the record show that this was because it was an arbitrary ruling and we were given no chance to support our side of the case.”

 

After Mr. Shipley had also interposed an objection to the court’s ruling, Judge Frater asked if that was all, and there being no answer, ordered the bailiff to bring in the jury.

 

WILL LIMIT CROWD

 

As usual, the court room was jammed and that fact and the outside temperature made the atmosphere almost unbearable. (The article under this one on p2 has the headline “Hot In Olympia, Thermometer Registers 96 Degrees In Mid-Afternoon). Before court adjourned for the noon recess Judge Frater made a ruling that hereafter no more spectators were to be allowed in the room than could find seats.

 

Through it all George Mitchell sat toying alternately with a strap used by his counsel to bind up their law books and a picture which Mr. Morris had brought into court showing Mitchell’s sisters and the other Holy Roller dupes as they looked while in camp up the river from Corvallis.

 

Mitchell has become a hero to a number of the women who are in constant attendance at the trial and as he is led back to his cell in the county jail hands are thrust at him, flowers presented and many words of commendation and good wishes are spoken to him.

 

For a brief moment yesterday afternoon he was permitted to hold one of the little Starr children on his lap. Mrs. Starr had been brought into court by a deputy sheriff and with her were the two children. One of them spying her uncle ran to him and threw her tiny arms about his neck and snuggled her golden head against his shoulder. It was only for a moment, however, and then the deputy sheriff led the little one back to its mother who was in the judge’s chambers.

 

HOW A HOME WAS RUINED

 

O. V. Hurt had met George Mitchell in Portland the month before the latter killed Creffield, and told him the whole story of the doings of the Holy Rollers. It was because of this fact that his testimony was admitted, its purpose being to establish the fact that Mitchell was insane. There were times during the recital when Hurt halted and begged to be relieved from going into further details, but Attorney Morris was obdurate, and so, bit by bit, the ruins of this man’s life were laid bare.

 

He told, even as he had told Mitchell, of the coming of the man who brought devastation with his coming; told how a happy family of which love was the keystone had become divided and had gone mad over religion and plunged into degradation. So fond of children that when her own had grown into manhood and womanhood, she had taken a little waif into her heart and had cherished it. “Mother” Hurt had, under the influence of Creffield, cast this child away from her and had scorned the man with whom she had lived for so many years.

 

“My wife and daughters came to believe that I was defiled, and that this little one was defiled,” said Hurt. “They would not cook for us, nor speak to us, and one time, at the suggestion of that viper, talked of making sacrifice of the child; they would have burned him along with their clothing, their furniture and the cats and dogs which they declared to be of this world and unfit to live. They were all crazy--yes, all crazy.”

 

RECEIVE DIVINE MESSAGES

 

He told how his own women folk and Esther Mitchell, who was at his home at the time, would spend hours tumbling about the floor of rooms which had been stripped of every article of comfort, and almost nude because of having burned all their clothing with the exception of light wrappers, would suddenly rise and claim to have received divine messages.

 

“They would spend anywhere from one to twenty-four house in this manner, and once Esther Mitchell came to me and said she had received a message and that if I went to town that day God would blight me because I was unclean.

 

Hurt then told how his women folk had been sent to the asylum for the insane, or as was the case with his youngest daughter, May, to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society.

 

HEARS DAUGHTER’S CONFESSION

 

Hurt told how he had visited May at the aid Society and how she had refused to talk to him. “I took her on my lap and held her there for a little time, but she would not talk to me, and I was at last obliged to leave her. She believed that I, her own father, would defile her by my touch.

 

Later Hurt received a letter from this daughter in which she said she would come home. She was sent for, and to this brokenhearted man told all that had happened--spare him not one detail of the horror period when a human vampire had soothed the moral nerves of wives and daughters with his fanaticism.

 

Hurt is the star witness for the defense and back and forth over the thread of the recital he was forced to go by Attorney Morris. Time and again he halted with a look of appeal in his eyes but the attorney held no mercy, for upon this man’s testimony depends to a great extent the fate of George Mitchell and the witness was forced to go on.

 

Deeper and deeper he went into the description of conditions which would appall a Zola. Everything he told in court he had previously told Mitchell, and the latter fired by the fear that unless Creffield was removed his youngest sister, who had so far escaped the worst which was a part of the Holy Roller doctrine, would be again drawn into the immoral maelstrom from which she had once escaped, committed the act that made of him a criminal in the eyes of the law.

 

HELD VICTIMS IN THRALDOM

 

“I told him,” said the witness, “how after Creffield had become a fugitive from justice with a reward of $150 on his head, he unknown to me, secreted himself under my house and remained there for months, fed by my women folk and through them sending out instructions to his followers. all this time I was pleading, threatening and trying all in my power to bring my wife and daughters back to sanity, but without avail.

 

“All this I told George Mitchell, and further that his sister Esther was the one great object of that fiend’s lustful desires. I told him how after Creffield had been captured and sent to the penitentiary and the released, he had written to my daughters and wife and had induced them to again join him and that he was after Esther.

 

“I myself had warned Creffield not to come back to Oregon, but he did. George Mitchell at that time told me of his conversations with the spirits and of his conviction that he was selected by God to remove Creffield to a place where he could do no such thing.”

 

Hurt then told of receiving the telegram sent by Mitchell after the killing of Creffield, and was excused from the witness stand a few minutes before the noon recess in order to permit Charles Schrier, a witness who lives near Yakama, to testify in behalf of Mitchell. The testimony of this witness was that he had known Mitchell for six or seven years and that the boy had worked for him at times. Mitchell had always borne a good reputation so far as the witness knew.

 

On cross-examination the witness admitted that he had seen or heard little of Mitchell for the past five years.

 

Hurt is being cross-examined this afternoon and will be followed on the witness stand by Fred Mitchell, brother of the defendant, and by Burgess Starr, the defendant’s brother-in-law.

 

 

HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

Roy & OV Hurt
Jacob Reehl & David Poland as Roy Robinett & O.V. Hurt

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/3/1906 p8

Creffield Ruined Entire Family

O. V. Hurt Tells Jury Of Breaking Up Of His Once Happy Home.

Refuses To Shield Any Member Of Household

Recounts Tale Which Defense Claims Made George Mitchell Raving Maniac Bent Only Upon Revenge For Sister’s Wrong By Holy Roller.

 

Corvallis Times 7/6/1906 p1

O. V. Hurt Testifies

Tells Jury how Creffield Ruined and Broke Up His Once Happy Family.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

 

Seattle, July 3.--O. V. Hurt, father of Maud Creffield, wife of the dead prophet, Joshua, is the main feature of the drama being enacted in the superior court before 12 men sworn to decide whether George Mitchell was justified in taking the life of the Holy Roller leader.

 

The courtroom was crowded and every spectator hung on the words of the father telling the story of how his daughter was ruined, family ruined and disrupted by the lust of the fanatical religious leader. Hurt told everything he knew. He did not save those he loved from public disgrace that that he knew must necessarily follow the exposure. He was a friend of George Mitchell, and shifting his glance from one juror to another, he told the tale of misery brought to his family by Creffield.

 

O. V. Hurt testified that he met George Mitchell in Portland a month before the shooting and then related the story he poured into George Mitchell’s ears, which the defense claims made a maniac of the farmer boy and sent him on his search for Creffield bent upon murder.

 

He told the whole story of the Holy Rollers as he knew it from bitter experience. At times Hurt wept and begged Attorney Will H. Morris, one of Mitchell’s attorneys, not to force him to go further into the vile story. But the attorney begged him to tell all and Hurt, after a glance at Mitchell, would comply.

 

STORY OF O. V. HURT

 

With shame at the horrible story he was forced to tell, but the firm determination to do all in his power toward liberating George Mitchell, O. V. Hurt of Corvallis, while on the witness stand yesterday afternoon told the whole story of the orgies held by “Apostle” Edmund Creffield and his deluded followers. In order to get the testimony of Mr. Hurt before the jury it was introduced as a statement made by him to the defendant before the killing of Creffield. Mr. Hurt said: (See Morning Oregonian (Portland) Tue 7/3/1906 p1)

 

 

Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/3/1906 p1

Insane Delusion Mitchell’s Plea

Fixed Purpose in Mind to Kill Crefeld Said to Have Religious Basis

Tells Of Holy Rollers

Father of Mrs. Crefeld Describes Actions of Sect Which Broke Up His Home

 

The first day of the defense in the trial of George Mitchell, accused of murder in the first degree in the killing of Franz Edmund Crefeld included:

 

An opening statement by Attorney Silas M. Shipley, occupying about three hours in which the lawyer stated that the evidence points to the conclusion that Mitchell was suffering from an “insane delusion,” which, he claimed, is a different kind of insanity altogether from that force which occasionally comes over a man in the form of an irresistible impulse.

 

The hearing of the testimony of Esther Ann Mitchell, the 18-year-old sister of the accused, and one of the followers of Crefeld; of A. R. Mills, a Newberg, Or., fruit grower who knew Mitchell’s father since the latter was 16 years old, and who was called to testify as to the mental peculiarities of the family; of Mrs. Burgess E. Starr, another sister of the accused man, who identified some of the exhibits of the defense which are later to be introduced as evidence and who, along with her sister, stated that another brother, Fred, had attempted suicide at Portland three and one-half years ago; and of O. V. Hurt, father-in-law of Crefeld and a man who is declared to have been for a time partially under the influence of Holy Rollerism, at whose Corvallis home some of the meetings of the sect were held.

 

ACTS OF HOLY ROLLERS

 

Finally, the day afforded an opportunity for many little incidents of psychological interest in determining the state of mind of the Mitchell family, of the accused man and of the public towards him.

 

It was not until the closing half-hour of court that the long-looked for evidence concerning the doings of the Holy Rollers, as told by those whom the belief injured most, began to appear. O. V. Hurt was allowed to tell the substance of a conversation he had had with Mitchell regarding the doings of this sect, and the crowded court room became suddenly still.

 

At first the witness hesitated to produce before a court room where the audience contained a fair percentage of women the details of the wrecking of his domestic life. Once fairly launched on the subject, however, his animus against the doctrines of the sect overcame other considerations, and aroused in him an unexpected expression of feeling which amounted almost to eloquence. Occasionally he was interrupted by counsel for one side or the other, but put in connected form his story was, in substance:

“I told Mitchell of Crefeld and of his practices and prayers and their effect. I told him of the wonderful power Crefeld had over his followers, such that whatever he said they should do, they did.

 

“I told George that the Crefeld followers, including Esther, Donna (Mrs. B. E. Starr, another sister of the accused man) and my wife would lie on the floor for hours. A few of them had the further power of going into trances at these times, and one of these latter was Esther Mitchell. During the trances they received messages from God. At times, while lying on the floor, they would pray continually. At other times they would shout so that they could be heard a half-mile away. I told him that Crefeld would stand over them while they were lying there in a circle, and tell them to do this, or God would smite them.

 

“I said to him they were all in a religious frenzy, and were all crazy. I said my wife, son and daughter had all been sent to the insane asylum, and that George’s sister had been taken from my home and sent to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society in Portland.

 

SACRIFICES OFFERED UP

 

“I told him that at one time the Holy Rollers had had a burnt sacrifice, slaying two dogs and a cat. I told him there was talk of their offering up a little child.”

 

Here Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller interposed and objection, and the part of the evidence referring to sacrifices was stricken.

 

“I told him,” continued the witness, “how my family and his sisters had removed their clothing except light wrappers, and would not sit in a chair. I told him how my family would not eat in my presence, and how my wife would not have anything to do with her own child. She said it was not regenerated. I told him that man had ruined my family, my wife and his sisters. My own daughter would have nothing to do with me, and I sent her to the Boys’ and Girls Aid Society. In a few days she wrote that she was ready to come back, and she told me of Crefeld’s teachings.

 

Then followed a recital of some practices said to have been carried out at the instigation of Crefeld. Hurt’s testimony will be continued this morning.

 

The first act of the defense after Mr. Shipley had made the opening statement, was to call for Mrs. Burgess E. Starr as a witness. Mrs. Starr was not present at the time, and it developed that she refused to come. Will H. Morris, for the defense also made the statement that she had refused to come in the morning as well, until compelled to do so by a deputy sheriff. A deputy was sent for her in the afternoon.

 

Esther Mitchell was called. She answered the questions put her without great hesitation.

 

She gave her residence as Seattle. She said she was livings with Mrs. Kelly, the police matron. She had met Crefeld in Portland first six years ago. she was then asked to testify regarding her second oldest brother, Fred Mitchell, and to tell whether anything had happened to him at Portland three and one half years ago.

 

After a time the girl answered: “Nothing accidental.”

 

Further questioning elicited the statement that Fred Mitchell had shot himself at the Merchants hotel, Portland, in January three years ago.

 

ODDITIES OF FAMILY

 

A. R. Mills, a fruit grower of Newberg, was questioned concerning any oddities or eccentricities he might have noticed during George Mitchell’s father during the long time he had known him.

 

This precipitated a long argument. The jury was dismissed and counsel for the defense fortified itself with a long list of authorities from the law books they had brought. Mr. Miller combated the preposition on the ground that while it might be competent to show insanity in the accused man’s ancestry or family, it was not so to show merely eccentricities.

 

In this discussion George Mitchell took little interest. Seated at the table of counsel, he was approached by his pretty little flaxen-haired niece, who greeted her uncle with all a child’s simplicity and unconscious disregard of the crowd which was watching her. The young man took her up on his knee, and there the little girl was quite contented until summoned away by friends outside then she trotted happily down the aisle, followed by an affectionate gaze from her uncle.

 

Other evidence there were during the day that told of friendship for George Mitchell, even though he is accused of taking the life of his fellow man. Throughout the day the man carried a bouquet of sweet pees, sweet Williams and other old fashioned flowers. They had been presented to him by some women in the crowd. The prisoner was greeted effusively by some of his Oregon acquaintances as he left the court room at the noon session. One motherly-looking old lady was almost overcome by excitement as she wrung his hand in vigorous fashion.

 

“God bless you, George,” she said, “you’re not gone yet.”

 

Even Esther Mitchell, pictured though she has been as stolid, cold and undemonstrative, showed that natural revulsion of feeling which might be expected from a young girl, particularly one who has been given over to the expression of religious fervor as she has. In the court room she was under a strain and was keyed up to bear it. When she reached the judges chambers, where she has been kept, there was no need to do this, and the girl gave away to a good cry, which brought back a natural appearance to her eyes and a bright, healthy color to her cheeks.

 

MRS. STARR ON STAND

 

When the long argument of counsel was over, Mr. Mills was excused, and Mrs. Donna Starr placed on the stand. She was first asked to identify two letters and an envelope. One letter had been written by her the night she left home to rejoin Crefeld at Waldport. Mr. Shipley had told of it in his opening statement, and quoted it as follows:

I cannot wait until daylight because the babied would cry to go with me. I have taken about $3.50 of your money, but I guess I have been worth that much to you. It is not enough to pay my fare, and I will have to walk to the place I am going.”

 

The second letter was somewhat of a surprise to the witness, and she held it fully five minutes before she answered the question as to whether it was in her handwriting. It was a letter which had been received by the attorneys for the defense only yesterday morning and was written by her from Portland to her brother-in-law, Clarence Starr, and wife, of Corvallis, in January 1905. Crefeld was at the time in the Oregon penitentiary, and the writer said she had come to a realization of the wrongs she had those to whom she was writing, and asked them to forgive her, as she had been under the power of another.

 

“Don’t tear that, Mrs. Starr. I want it,’ was the exclamation of Mr. Morris, as he saw the witness take the letter in both hands, and start to fold it. The envelope admitted for identification was the one in which the letter had been sent to Corvallis. Mr. Morris read the address: “Mrs. Hattie Starr, Corvallis, Or.”

 

“What, if any relationship exists between yourself and this defendant?” Mrs. Starr was asked. The question had to be repeated, and then, after a long pause, came the answer:

I don’t understand. He’s my brother.”

 

She also was asked to tell what she knew of her brother Fred’s alleged attempt at suicide, and said she had seen the wound in his forehead as he lay at the hospital.

 

DEFENSE IS INSANITY

 

The feature of Mr. Shipley’s statement to the jury yesterday morning, in addition to the doings of Crefeld and his followers, which he said he would prove by the evidence, was possibly the distinction which he drew as to the forms of insanity. The accused man, he claimed was the victim of an insane delusion. He had had hallucinations in the belief that he had heard his mother’s spirit and other beings of the unseen world talking to him. He had believed these were the “word of God,’ and he had the delusion that God commanded him to kill Crefeld.

 

It will be the attempts of the defense to show that this action of Mitchell was by no means simply one of revenge for wrongs he believed done him and the women of his family, but that it was a result of the same religious frenzy which, the defense says, has characterized his sisters and his father to a degree. Mr. Shipley made the statement that Mitchell had told Louis Hartley, after the latter had attempted in vain to kill Crefeld, his gun refusing to work, that God had prevented Hartley from doing the act, and that it was Mitchell’s task to put Crefeld out of the way by a painless death. Only such a delusion, Mr. Shipley contended, could account for Mitchell’s strange composure and fearlessness after he had killed Crefeld and been taken into custody.

 

(Next to this is an article “Woman, Disguised as Man, Cooks on a Tug.”)

 

 

Evening Telegram (Portland) 7/3/1906 p16

Converted at Revival, Woman. Pays Visit to Heaven in Trance.

 

A “holiness meeting” at 235 Second Street was broken up by the overzealousness of Mrs. Julia Smith, who had suddenly become “saved.” The place is conducted by John F. Glasco and wife, colored, but is frequented mostly by whites. At the close of a period of shouting on the part of the congregation Mrs. Smith threw up her hands.

 

“Glory, glory, I am saved,’ she shouted, and fell in a swoon.

 

She was taken upstairs over the storeroom in which the meeting was held. Her limbs became rigid as though death had ensued. After working with her for half an hour, the evangelists were gratified at her coming back to life, when she said she had been dead and had visited heaven and had seen the angels. She was finally rational enough to walk to her home a few blocks away, but the crowd thus assembled in the meantime nearly filled the street Salmon and Main.

Holy Rollers

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edmundcreffield.com

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

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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

email
email logo

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

(541) 563-3112

HOME of
www.edmundcreffield.com

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Theresa (T-) McCracken