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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.

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland)Oregon Daily Journal Front Page

July 13, 1906: Cold-Blooded Murder of George Mitchell

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906

Story of Crime

Cold-Blooded Murder of George Mitchell by His Young Sister

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)

 

Seattle, July 13.--Happy at the though that at last his deluded sister had regained her senses, that he was free once more to breath the breath of liberty, that the man who had accomplished the ruin of his family was out of the way and that his troubles were at an end, George Mitchell, slayer of Franz Edmund Creffield, the Holy Roller apostle, was shot down like a dog in Seattle yesterday afternoon by his own sister, the girl for whose salvation he had risked hanging. Unrelenting in her hatred of her brother for his killing of the man who had ruined her life, determined that the slaying should be avenged in kind, with all the cunning of an insane person, Esther Mitchell accomplished the foul deed, the performance of which was a contest between herself and Maud Hurt Creffield, widow of the Holy roller leader killed by Mitchell and the woman who kept aglow the insane fire which her husband had ignited with the mind of the young murderess, after the killing of the modern “Joshua” for his misdeeds by the youth who was killed last evening.

 

Delighted at the successful culmination of her foul plot, Esther Mitchell is content to remain in the custody of the police, to whom she gave herself up immediately after the murder, saying that she had accomplished the mission God had entrusted to her through the agency of the ghost of Creffield which appeared to Mrs. Creffield and her commanding them that George Mitchell must die.

 

George Mitchell, after his acquittal on the charge of murder for killing Creffield, planned to return to Portland and accept employment in the lath mill of Peter View, where he had worked previously to his man hunt which ended in the Holy roller’s death. Wednesday evening George and his brother Perry prepared to start for Oregon, but at the last moment postponed their departure from this city, accepting an urgent invitation to spend the night with L. T. Sandell. Sandell was formerly a member of Creffield’s band and was a witness for the defense at the trial of Mitchell. George and Perry spent the night at Sandell’s home in Southeast Seattle, intending to make their start for Portland last night.

 

ACCOMPANIED BY BROTHER

 

Accompanied by their brother, Fred the Mitchell’s, George and Perry, entered the depot shortly after 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon. While Perry was checking his grips he observed his sister Esther seated in the depot. He motioned to George to join him and Esther Approached her brothers.

 

As the murdered man and the murderess met they clasped hands in silence. From her attitude George reached the conclusion that Esther had forgiven him the prejudice she had held against him throughout the trial.

 

When the time arrived for the brothers to board the train Esther suggested that she accompany them as far as the gate. George and Perry walked side by side in front with Fred and Esther close behind them. Esther was carrying a coat over her left arm. Noticing the wrap, Fred offered to carry it for her, and reaching over took hold of it.

 

DROPS DEAD FROM BULLET

 

The instant Fred touched the coat Esther Mitchell dropped it, and quickly changing a revolver, which had been concealed beneath the coat, from her left hand to her right, she took an instant’s aim and fired at her brother George, shooting him from behind the left ear and killing him instantly. The act was done in a flash, before the bystanders and her other two brothers realized what had happened the girl had committed one of the most cold-blooded murders in criminal history.

 

As George Mitchell sank to the floor of the station dead the murderess collapsed. She allowed Fred to wrest the gun from her, then sank back into his arms, placing hers about his throat.

 

 

HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906 p2

Esther Mitchell Should Pay Penalty, He Says

District Attorney Manning, Declares Girl is Utterly Depraved, but Not Insane.

 

Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/14/1906 p1

Attorney Manning Discusses Murder

Believes Esther Mitchell Is Sane and Should Be Punished

 

“No one who heard those Mitchell girl’s testify as they did before me at the time Creffield was convicted here could possible think they were insane.” said District Attorney Manning this morning. “If Esther Mitchell is tried, the jury would undoubtedly find her guilty of murder, and I think such a verdict would be a just one.”

 

“George Mitchell went up to Seattle and killed Creffield, who should have been killed, as any other decent man anywhere would have killed him. He did it for his sisters. Now this girl Esther shoots him down as he is ready to start home. My opinion is that no girl who is not utterly depraved could do such a thing, especially in view of what her brother did for her.

 

“Mitchell was a nice steady young fellow and I am very sorry to learn of his death. I believe that Maud Hurt Creffield ought to be punished just as severely as Esther Mitchell, for Mrs. Creffield put the girl up to shooting her brother.

 

When Mr. Manning was seen this morning a rumor was being circulated on the street that Esther Mitchell had committed suicide.

 

“It’s a good thing,” said he when he heard it. “Mrs. Creffield ought also to commit suicide.”

 

“I am very sorry that King County, Washington, has been put to so much expense over this affair when all the parties concerned are transients and properly belonged down here,” continued the district attorney.

 

“I regret very much that young Mitchell died and I was to see his sister justly punished for her crime.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906 p2

Will Plead Guilty

Esther Mitchell Faces Her Fate Calmly and Is Willing to Pay Extreme Penalty for Her Crime.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)

 

Seattle, July 13.--A perfect resignation to her fate, realizing that the divine law of an eye for an eye is applied by man, possesses Esther Mitchell, the slayer of her brother, as it does the widow of the Holy Roller leader, Maud Creffield, who instigated the crime.

 

Although the women have not seen one another since the killing of George Mitchell, both being confined in separate cells, they both beg to be considered sane, and the sister says that she will go before the court and plead guilty to murder in the first degree, realizing that the gallows is for her. Maud Creffield expected to be punished when she told Esther to do the killing, and she says that she expects it now.

 

“I am not insane and before the shooting of my brother gave all the possible results the fullest consideration.” was the calmly expressed opinion of her act by Esther Mitchell in the county jail this morning. She said:

I knew that I would be arrested and that the excuse for doing what I did would not be considered by the court. Creffield was a holy man and my brother was defiled. I am ready to go before the court and acknowledge my guilt of murder in the first degree. I am prepared to take the consequences.”

 

The murderess said that she had no money, and did not know of any friend with money who would take an interest in her case, but the utter hopelessness of making a fight for her life she indicated with a shrug of her shoulders.

 

Maud Creffield, the widow of George Mitchell’s victim, said: “I would have killed him myself if it had been possible, but I knew it was not, and after we had talked about it Esther volunteered to do it for me and after some hesitation I let her do it.

 

“I expected to be punished at the time and expect to be now. I have no money and will not admit that I am crazy, for I am not. I am just as happy here now as I have been at any time since my husband was killed. I don’t care what comes now.”

 

 

HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906 p1

Fear Esther Mitchell Will Commit Suicide

Prisoners Guarded To Prevent Violence

Gun Brought For Crime By Widow

Mrs. Creffield Paid $6 To Dealer For Pistol Used By Esther To

Murder Her Brother.

 

Seattle Daily Times 7/13/1906

Spangenberg Sold Woman Revolver

 

__

(In a box)

(Special dispatch to The Journal.)

 

Seattle, July 13.--Further murders in connection with the killing of George Mitchell by his sister are looked for by the police, who look for the Holy rollers to carry out their threats of vengeance against Mitchell witnesses.

 

__

 

(Special Dispatch to the Journal.)

 

Seattle, July 13.--Confined in the cells of the city jail, cheerful with no sign of melancholy, are Esther Mitchell, who yesterday afternoon shot and killed her brother George, slayer of Holy Roller leader Creffield, and Maud Hurt Creffield, widow of the dead “Joshua,” the chief instigator of the crime. The police are scouring the country for Frank Hurt, brother of the widow, who has strangely disappeared, and who is believed to have been connected with the plot to kill young Mitchell.

 

Firm in the belief that Creffield will arise from the dead in poser and glory and open the doors of their prison, neither one of the prisoners is showing the least worry or care. To the officers who saw him this morning both expressed an abiding faith in their ultimate freedom. Neither shows the least sign of repentance or remorse and both affect to believe that a righteous act has been done by the murder.

 

Close watch is being kept upon both prisoners to prevent their committing suicide. Rumors that an attempt had been made by Esther Mitchell to kill herself are current this morning, but were officially denied. The girl has made no effort to end her life and it is apparently the last thing in her mind.

 

PURCHASED A REVOLVER

 

(Seattle Daily Times) MRS. Creffield Told Clerk She Wanted The Weapon To Keep In Her House--She Was Not Excited.

 

Mrs. Creffield purchase the revolver with which Esther Mitchell killed her brother George, at Spangenberg’s cutlery store, corner Second Avenue and Union Street, at 7:30 o’clock Wednesday morning, a few minutes after the store was opened.

 

Herman Spangenberg, a brother of G. F. Spangenberg, the owner of the store, was in charge. He did not recognize his customer as Mrs. Creffield.

 

Mr. Spangenberg said today: “The woman said she wanted a revolver to keep around the house. She said she wanted to pay about $10 for the weapon. I told her that there was none at that price. The cheapest we had was $6 and the next lowest was $14.

 

“She examined the $6 weapon I showed her for a few minutes and bought it. She also bought a box of cartridges for 60 cents. She appeared to be perfectly collected and I thought nothing of the occurrence. She made no remark of her purpose in buying it further than saying that she wanted it to keep around the house.

 

All the money that Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield had during their stay in Seattle was the fees paid them as witnesses at the trial of George Mitchell. They each received $14. When Mrs. Creffield was arrested after the killing of Mitchell she had $21.07 in her possession. For the revolver and cartridges she spent $6.60.

 

[Oregon Daily Journal (Portland)] This accounts for the expenditure of the entire witness fees, with the exception of a few cents.

 

Esther turned over her money to Mrs. Creffield. When she was arrested she had no money. It was the intention of Mrs. Creffield to use part of the money to defray the expenses to Portland if Esther Mitchell did not succeed in killing her brother in Seattle.

 

 

HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906 p2

Had Three Guns

 

Seattle Daily Times 7/13/1906 p2

Creffield’s Widow Had Three Revolvers

 

Gross Carelessness

Police Matron Admits That She Took Two Weapons From Her--Third Purchased Wednesday.

 

Since Mrs. Creffield has been in Seattle she has had three revolvers in her possession. One, a 38-caliber, double action revolver, she had in her room at the time her husband was killed. This was later turned over to the police matron. In some way not yet explained while in the custody of the police matron and while under the closest surveillance Mrs. Creffield obtained another 38-caliber revolver. This she gave to the matron on Tuesday night, when she was released. The third revolver, the one with which Esther Mitchell killed her brother, George, was purchased Wednesday morning.

 

Had Mrs. Kelly, the police matron, taken the pains to make a report to Chief Wappenstein of the fact that Mrs. Creffield had, upon leaving her custody, asked for the return of the two revolvers, the chief declares he would have had his men watch the woman: “The police matron was guilty of gross carelessness. It was her plain duty to make a report to me of the fact that Mrs. Creffield had turned over two revolvers to her and of the woman’s statement that ‘she had money enough to buy another weapon.’”

 

Mrs. Kelly, in an interview this morning, said: “When Mrs. Creffield was turned over to me by the police she had a revolver. This was the one that she took from her room immediately after the killing of her husband by George Mitchell. When she came to my house, I asked her for the revolver and she gave it to me. From May 7, the day of the killing, until Monday night she was in my care. Not once was she out of my sight. Monday night I released her upon orders from the prosecuting attorney’s office. Before she left me she asked for her revolver. I refused to give it to her, telling her that she was better without it. Then she said: ‘Why, Mrs. Kelly, I have another revolver, and you might as well give me that one. She pulled the revolver out of her grip. I asked her for the second revolver and she gave it to me.

 

“Tuesday night she returned to my house to get some clothes she had left here. She asked me to give her the two revolvers I had. I again refused, and she said: ‘Why, you might as well give them to me. I have money enough to buy another one.’ I thought nothing of the remark at the time.

 

“Tuesday I went up to the courthouse with Esther and Mrs. Creffield to help get the witness fees. They were given $14 each. This is all the money they had when they left my house.”

 

Chief Wappenstein had a conference with Mrs. Kelly as soon as he reached his office this morning. Mrs. Kelly repeated to him the facts as related above. She declared that she did not think enough of the matter to make a report to her superior officer.

 

She admitted that while Mrs. Creffield was in her house she, while angry, said: “I wish I had that revolver now, and I would use it on you.”

 

Mrs. Kelly said she did not attach any importance to the threat.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906 p6

Hurt Prostrated

Father of Mrs. Creffield Takes Murder to Heart.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)

 

CORVALLIS, Or., July 13.--There are no developments here, but it is the general opinion that this will not end the Holy Roller trouble. Some fear the craze will reach the Corvallis fanatics. O. V. Hurt is almost prostrated.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906 p2

Women Went Armed

Father of Mrs. Creffield Deeply Grieved Over Mitchell’s Murder.

 

(Special Dispatch to the Journal)

 

Corvallis, Or., July 13.--”Esther shot and killed George in depot this afternoon.--L. T. Sandell.”

 

This dispatch received by O. v. Hurt at 5:40 o’clock last night, sent a chill over this city, the news spreading apparently like wildfire. Mr. Hurt was nearly overcome by the news, and walked the streets like one demented, telling the terrible story to every friend he met.

 

Mr. Hurt said vehemently to a group of friends: “I told those boys to get out of Seattle as soon as possible and to let those women (Maud Hurt Creffield and Esther Mitchell) alone, or trouble would result. He (George) had done his part in the matter and the thing for he and his brother to have done was to get out of Seattle and not be molested by the girls.

 

“I knew the girls were carrying loaded guns when I was there, and they said then that Mitchell must let them alone. Why didn’t the boys leave and not bother them, as I told them to do?”

 

To another party Mr. Hurt said: “The next thing I expect to hear is that Maud has committed suicide.”

 

Far from being ended, the Holy Roller craze seems but fairly begun. A number of followers of Creffield still remain in the city and a general renewal of the movement and a fervent outburst of half-smothered faith on the part of these people would cause very little surprise here should it come at any hour.

 

Such devilish and deep-seated influence over other beings has seldom been exercised as that of Creffield over his followers, and to those familiar with the case no surprise will be occasioned by the new developments no matter how sensational they may be.

 

“The girls told me when I was in Seattle that they would walk to Walla Walla to see George Mitchell hung,” said O. V. hurt last night, and upon his return from Seattle, he stated that Esther was as cold-blooded over the trial of her brother as though she were a stranger.

 

The general opinion here is that the girl is insane and the Mrs. Creffield is likely to become so at any time.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906

Mrs. Starr Not Sorry for Crime

Portland Woman Says Esther Mitchell Did Right when She Murdered Her Brother.

 

“I am not sorry that she did it. I am glad. Esther did the right thing. It was only a just retribution.”--Mrs. Burgess E. Starr, sister of Esther Mitchell.

 

__

 

Mrs. Burgess E. Starr of this city rejoices over the tragedy in which her own sister and her own brother were the principals, the former playing the role of the avenger and the latter of victim.

 

To a Journal reporter this morning Mrs. Starr intimated that Esther Mitchell has performed a holy duty and that she would have done the same thing had she been in her sister’s place.

 

Mrs. Burgess E. Starr resides with her husband, a warehouse man, and two small children at 429 East Main Street. she is an older sister of Esther and George Mitchell. Mrs. Starr is as deeply enamored of the Holy Roller faith as is the vengeance-crazed Esther. She is the woman who left her babies to follow the Messiah Creffield when he established his barren camp in Lincoln county. It was on account of his intimacy with Mrs. Starr that Creffield afterwards served a term of two years in the Salem penitentiary.

 

SAYS SHE IS NOT SORRY

 

“I am not sorry she did it. I am glad. Esther did the right thing. It was only a just retribution,” said Mrs. Starr.

 

The woman is tall, fair-faced and of pleasing countenance. She is of the emotional type, the kind that will follow the lead of a strong fanaticism to its end, but her face does not lack intelligence. She talked reluctantly, washing her morning dishes the while, and now and then breaking into smile of satisfaction as the realization of a deed of murder well done seemed to return again to her mind.

 

“I can’t say whether I think Esther will go free or not,” said Mrs. Starr, evasively, in answer to a question, “but she did the right thing, anyhow. I can’t say whether or not I would go into another colony if it were founded by the members of my sect. we can keep faith wherever we are an worship wherever we happen to be.”

 

WAS AT MITCHELL’S TRIAL

 

Mrs. Starr was with her sister and Mrs. Creffield in Seattle during the trial of Mitchell. She saw her fellow fanatics privately a number of times, but declares that she had no intimation of a plot to murder the slayer of Creffield.

 

Mrs. Starr evidently shares with Mrs. Creffield the belief that the Holy roller Messiah will rise again, though the third day has long since passed. When asked as to the second coming of Creffield she was careful not to say that she does not expect him to return, though she would not flatly admit that such was her faith. She seemed to hold no fear for the future of her sister and Holy Rollerism, and from her equivocal remarks dropped from time to time one might with reason gather the inference that she looks for the prophet to return soon clad with superhuman powers to open the prison doors, to free the slayer of George Mitchell and to set up a glorious kingdom of Holy Rollerism on earth.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906 p6

Are They Insane?

 

Whether a person who commits a crime is insane or not, or to what extent insane, are frequently really difficult questions. It is certain that a grown-up woman who would take up with the late “Joshua” Creffield and engage in “Holy Rollerism” is in some degree insane. That is, she does what no woman or ordinary intelligence and normal mental powers and functions would do. Fanaticism has many forms and degrees, and is difficult to say at what point religious zeal that may be called sane passes into insane frenzy. The Mitchell woman and the Hurt girl who married Creffield were no doubt mentally unbalanced or in a measure insane, or they would not have become “Holy Rollers,” yet they appear to be fairly sensible women otherwise, and to be accountable for their acts. The plea of insanity will doubtless be made in behalf of Esther Mitchell and Maud Hurt Creffield, and very likely with success, yet if it avails to save them from the law’s extreme penalty for murder they should at least be securely confined for a long time if not during their natural lives. If insane, they belong in an asylum; if not, they should be punished as a court and jury may decide. Though mentally weak, they are dangerous creatures to be at large. A girl who can coolly and premeditatedly shoot down and kill her brother is either crazy enough to be confined the rest of her life in an asylum or sane enough to suffer the penalty for murder. And the Hurt-Creffield woman, under the law, is equally guilty.

 

JUSTICE FOR DREYFUS

 

At last Dreyfus is officially and judicially vindicated, a court having formally found, declared and decreed what had long been established as a matter of fact and what everybody knew. The plot against Dreyfus and his punishment on charges only known by the officials to have been false constitute about as dark a page of history as any country has furnished in modern times. And except for the efforts of one man, Emile Zola, Dreyfus might yet be a prisoner on that horrible rock, Devil’s Island. With sublime courage and unfaltering energy, Zola took up the persecuted and banished man’s case; he wrote and spoke with such urgency, insistency and audacity that the whole world was aroused and the official conspirators of France were compelled to act. They brought Dreyfus back and went through the form of a trial, and to save their own reputation as much as possible again found Dreyfus guilty, but he was at once pardoned and set at liberty. But this was not all he wanted; he wanted the record changed and his innocence officially declared, and this has now been done. The tool of the marplots, Estherhazy, escaped punishment, but not only he, but men far above him, some of them since dead, will ever be held in contempt and abhorrence by all lovers of truth and justice. Dreyfus appears not to be brilliant or admirable person, but he was entirely guiltless of the act of treason with which he was charged and this the record now shows.

 

-- Whenever you feel that it is getting too warm for you in Portland, take a look at the story of the California thermometers, and keep cool. what we are enjoying is really overcoat weather compared to what they are having in the golden state, where joy is unconfined when the mercury falls below 106 degrees.

 

-- Mrs. Hartje, or some other woman who was in love with Coachman Tom Madine, gave him considerable good advice, such as to bather often, keep his hair clear of horse-dust, and change his socks every day. She loved the coachman all right, but she wanted him clean.

 

-- Even the warmest advocates of Holy Rollerism do not appear to regard its post mortem pleasures as among the inestimable joys of death. Their idea of adequate punishment for heinous offenses is a swift removal from this vale of tears.

 

-- We haven’t been wishing Seattle or King county any bad luck, yet are quite willing that the Creffield-Mitchell tragedies happened over there instead of Portland. we have enough troubles of our own.

 

--The late “Joshua” Creffield certainly succeeded during his brief career in starting a train or much mischief and misery, and the end is not yet.

 

-- The people of Linn and Lane counties have a warm personal interest in the statement of a noted physician to the effect that beer is very heating (sic).

 

--The remarkable thing about the Dreyfus case is that even while the unfortunate man was most severely punished, no one believed him guilty.

 

-- In trying and acquitting her murderers Seattle is paying an uncommonly high price for a reputation that no city will seek to take from her

 

-- Handwriting experts can easily find that Mrs. Hartje wrote the letters, and then other experts can be hired to find that she didn’t.

 

-- Great men begin enterprises because they think them great, and fools because they think them easy-- Vanvenargues

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906

Worked at Oregon City

Esther Mitchell Was Employed at Woolen Mills, Where Check Awaits Her.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

 

Oregon City, July 13.-- Esther Mitchell, who shot and killed her brother, George Mitchell, the slayer of Joshua Creffield, in Seattle yesterday afternoon, worked in the woolen mills here for a short time and left just about the time the apostle of Holy Rollerism was killed. The girl did not secure her pay, and David Adelstein, superintendent of the tailoring department, now has a check payable to the demented girl.

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906 p2

Wires Congratulations

William H. Upton of Walla Wall Praises Girl for Murder.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

 

Seattle, Wash, July 13.--Late last night the following telegram was received at the county jail from William H. Upton, dated at Walla Walla.

 

“Accept thanks and congratulations and assistance if needed. Talk to your lawyer only.”

 

The telegram was given to the jailers to Miss Mitchell. She read it in silence and handed back the message without comment. Who Upton may be is unknown to local authorities and the two women will not tell.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1905 p2

Upton Drunk

Judge Was Intoxicated When He Sent Message.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

 

Walla Walla, Wash., July 13.--William H. Upton, ex-judge of the Walla Walla superior court was intoxicated when he sent the telegram to the Mitchell girl.

 

 

An amusing article not related to Mitchell’s Murder

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/13/1906

Gertie Antheron And Her Duster

Authoress Creates Merriment By Wearing Unusual Garb In Shopping District

Spends Forty-Six Cents And Prices Five Gowns

Buys One Fifteen-Cent Handkerchief, Piece Of Seattle Post Intelligencer And Toothbrush--Looks At High-Priced Dresses But Does Not Purchase.

 

Miss Gertrude Atherton, novelist, authoress and wearer of linen dusters, arrived in Portland this morning. She was attired in her favorite kind of cloak and when she mounted the steps of the Portland hotel nearly stumbled because of her feet becoming entangled in its ample folds. She recovered herself to arrange her locks, which were jostled askew by the violent convolutions of the writer’s body.

 

Later the eminent “lady writer” went on a shopping tour to procure several necessary articles to wear. When she sailed into various stores the clerks “laughed and giggled fit to die,” for she still wore the duster.

 

That duster if it is worth anything is worth a paragraph. No Indiana farmer ever drove his pigs to market or husked his golden corn with a more iridescent, radiating, dust consuming duster than “the Californian” wore as she went a-shopping. Yards and yards of a sickly yellow cloth were used in the manufacture of the ill-formed cloak that wrapped the wearer in a halo that matched her hair. No dust could touch any part of her body, above, around and for several feet beneath, for the flimsy garment trailed feet in the wake of the swift-sailing shopper. Had it not been used for a duster it would have done excellent service as a hop canvas.

 

For two hours the little Californian graced the department stores of the city and purchased one 15-cent handkerchief, a piece of Seattle Post Intelligencer and a toothbrush/ But while she was spending twice “23” cents for today was bargain day, she priced more than $500 worth of summer gowns.

 

“Dreams they were and dreams they always will be,” said Sadie, the cash girl, “so far as she is concerned. I knows her kind all right, all right. She can’t bluff me. I seen when she come in that was de real goods, when it comes to making big talk and 2-cent purchases. Back to the redwoods with her.

 

“Wot? She an authoress? Get out! I’ve read everything in de book department an’ ain’t never run across her nom de plumy on de backs of any of ‘em. wot’s she written?

 

“Hully gee, yer doan say! Well mebbe she’ll come back, but I has me doubts, I has me doubts.”

 

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

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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

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Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers

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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

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Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults

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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

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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