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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.

Seattle Star

Seattle StarJuly 13, 1906: Her Good-Bye Was A Missile Of Death


Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p1

Her Good-Bye Was A Missile Of Death

Seeking Her Brother, Ostensibly To Say Farewell, Esther Mitchell Shoots Him To Death As He Is About To Depart For Portland.


Where is frank Hurt?


Ever since the killing of George Mitchell by his sister Esther, in the Union depot yesterday afternoon, the police have been searching for the brother of Mrs. Creffield.


Fred Mitchell charges Frank Hurt with being the instigator of the crime. The police have no further knowledge that the Holy Roller disciple had anything to do with the killing, but they strongly suspect that he had.


A half dozen detectives and patrolmen have been searching without coming across any trace of him, and they fear he may have left the city.


From the shadow of the gallows, George Mitchell walked to his death yesterday afternoon. Mitchell was shot and instantly killed at 4:20 o’clock by his sister, Esther, for whose honor he had taken human life. The crime occurred in the union depot. Several hundred people, hurrying to and from the trains, saw the tragic sequel to the bloody trail which has marked the efforts of the authorities to blot out “Holy Rollerism,” and its attendant mental and physical debaucheries.




With a single shot from a 38 caliber revolver which she carried concealed beneath a cape, the Mitchell girl ended the life of her brother.


Treacherous, she came to say “goodbye,” and with a smile on her lips and a spirit that shammed forgiveness, walked up behind the brother who had risked so much for her sake, and coolly sent a bullet crashing through his head. Her errand of miss-styled vengeance finished, the girl sank into a seat of the waiting room and threw the still smoking gun to the floor.




Palsied and awe-stricken, the crowd came to a halt. The full realization of the tragedy did not reach them until the stricken youth had gasped his last breath and lay silent and white in the embrace of death. His life blood came rushing out through the wound which the bullet had torn in the back of the head and stained the floor of the waiting room a deep crimson.




With murder in her heart and all the details arranged with Satanic cleverness, Miss Mitchell went to the station, at the last moment as it were, pretending that she had come to extend sisterly well-wishes and a last God-speed to the brother whom she might never see again. Not a hitch occurred to mar the success of her plan. Whit the body of her victim shrouded on the marble slab at the morgue, she expressed satisfaction with it all. No remorse, no regret, no emotion followed the consummation of the plot. It was as if everything human had been blotted from her being, and she had become a cold, heatless, calculating murderess.


“Yes, we had it all fixed up,” the girl replied in answer to questions. “I am glad,” she added as an afterthought, an unnecessary explanation to those who marveled that such things could be.




A jury of 12 had declared that George Mitchell should not suffer for having taken the life of a beast who, in the ruse of religion, wreaked ruin and destruction such as is undreamed of among decent people. Free to forget and outlive, George, with his two brothers, was to have taken the train to Portland, where they had obtained employment.


Earlier in the day Esther Mitchell had scorned such a thing as forgiving.


“I want no more of him,” she said. “He has caused me enough trouble.”




The brothers were astonished that their sister should have at the last gone to the depot for the farewell, as their lives, marked by tragedy, might never cross again. all four started to walk through the waiting room. Perry and George in front, and Fred and Esther in the rear. This was just the opportunity the girl had been waiting for. As Fred asked to carry her cape, she raised her hand in which she had held the concealed revolver and fired from a distance of not more than two feet.


George staggered and, as he fell, cried:

My God, My God; I’m shot!”


He breathed only a few times, gasped once or twice and, without uttering another word, passed from this life.




The heartrending grief of Fred and Perry Mitchell was terrible to see. Both boys fell on the body of their murdered brother and, when they saw that life was done, their sobs were heartrending. Fred Mitchell succeeded in collecting himself, but Perry wept as if his heart were breaking. At the police station he became so wrought up and hysterical that he bled from the nose.




As if she had been a graven image, the girl murderer sat in the seat watching the form of her brother stiffening and soaked in blood with hardly a quiver of an eyelash. She offered no protest when the officers came, stood up and smoothed the folds in her skirt, then walked quietly to the patrol wagon in which she was hurried to the police station.


Special Officer Huth was within a few feet of the party when the shot was fired. He heard the explosion and turned in time to see the Mitchell girl as she sank into a seat. Patrolman Odin (illegible) and Mason were on duty at the depot and, hearing the shot, ran to the spot where the tragedy had taken place.




When the patrolman reached the scene of the shooting one took the girl in charge and another quickly secured a blanket, with which he covered the body of the dead boy. In answer to their telephone call, the patrol wagon was hurried to the depot, and Perry and Fred Mitchell and their brother’s slayer were taken to headquarters. a few minutes later a conveyance removed the stiffening form of the murdered boy to the morgue.




Chief of Police Wappenstein was at the station when the girl arrived and he immediately had her taken into his private office where he questioned her closely, a stenographer taking down all the questions and answers. She showed no signs of emotion, answering freely to everything which was asked her by the chief. The girl insisted that she did not want to talk to any reporters, as she said they had not treated her right in the past.




In an ordinary criminal the attitude of Miss Mitchell immediately after the shooting would be classed as a remarkable exhibition of nerve. Frail girl as she is, it become fanaticism almost passing belief. That she could have persuaded herself to kill in cold blood one who above all others, would have been near and dear, makes the crime the most remarkable that has been of record in the history of the city. She did not seem to realize that she had done anything out of the ordinary. It was as if she had fulfilled a simple duty.




The police officers, inured to crime and scenes of violence, could hardly realize that such a condition of the human mind could exist. Reporters familiar with unusual conditions and classes, stood in silent wonder. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller, who reached the station within a few minutes after the shooting relieved his feelings with the exclamation:

My God, has everyone gone crazy.”




In Secretary (illegible) Jack Barck’s room sat Fred and Perry Mitchell. Fred had managed to collect himself by the time they arrived at headquarters, but Perry did not appear to be able to overcome his grief. He held his head in his hands and wept bitterly. His shirt bosom (illegible) was stained with the blood which came from his nose and the tears coursing down his cheeks had left grimy makes.




On the outside of the station a crowd of several hundred had gathered. The front entrance was almost impassable with the congestion, and scores of the curious people filled the alley opposite the chief’s office. The news of the shooting had appeared so rapidly that the authorities feared physical violence and patrolmen were stationed at various points on the outside of the building to hold the crowd in check.


During the course of his examination the chief was joined by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller. As the latter entered the room where the girl was seated he said:

Don’t you know me, Esther?”


“Yes,” was the reply made instantly and without hesitation. “You are Mr. Miller. How are you?”




Then the secret examination proceeded. At the end the authorities called in Dr. J. B. Loughary who examined the girl as to her sanity. The result of this examination was not made public and will not be given out, according to the prosecuting attorney’s office.




It was only yesterday that the Mitchell boys had succeeded in making their arrangements for leaving the city. They were busy packing up their clothing in the morning and about 3 o’clock George went to the county jail to secure a few things which he had used while a prisoner, waiting the verdict of the jury which exonerated him. He had a long conversation with Jailer Smith, bade him and several others good-bye and returned to the Steven’s hotel, from where the trunks were sent to the depot.




Fred and Perry Mitchell visited their sister at the Pretoria house, on Sixth Av., near Pine St., where she had been staying with Mrs. Creffield since escaping from the police matron’s. Mrs. Creffield was there.


“Won’t you come down and say good-bye to George?” they asked the girl. “He is going away and you may never see him again.”


In unison the Mitchell girl and Mrs. Creffield had exclaimed that they didn’t want anything more to do with George, adding that they were through with him.




Sorrowful at the failure of their errand and grieved at the hatred of the sister for her brother, the two boys left and joined George at the hotel. About 4 o’clock the three proceeded to the depot, where they waited for the 4:30 o’clock train for Portland to leave.


“Let’s go up and get some fresh air,” suggested George.


The three boys walked towards the entrance. At the foot of the steps they saw Esther approaching, dressed neatly and walking hurriedly. Fred and Perry spoke to her as she stepped up to where they stood, but George turned facing the wicket in the ticket agent’s office, not knowing whether his sister intended speaking to him or not.




George and Perry started to walk into the waiting room and Esther and Fred fell in at the rear. “Let me hold your coat, Esther,” Fred said, and then came the shot which blotted out a life. The brother who had taken a gambler’s chance with legal death to avenge the honor of his sisters escaped the noose only to be assassinated by one whom he had defended.




In the details of the frank confession of the two women is seen the handiwork of Mrs. Creffield, who had fully determined to kill George Mitchell as he had killed her husband. Standing by the side of the slain leader of the Holy Roller, this wife of the lust-crazed man had exclaimed, “If I had a gun, I would have killed that boy.” Later came the opportunity and that she could have wreaked her vengeance through the medium of Mitchell’s sister makes the crime one of the most staggering in police-annals.


The father and brothers of the girl several days ago saw the futility of trying to reclaim Esther from the belief which had wrecked her life. The girl in the meantime escaped from the home of the police matron, Joined Mrs. Creffield at the Pretoria house and the remaining incidents leading up to the tragedy of yesterday follow in natural sequence.




“George ought to be killed,” Mrs. Creffield suggested frequently to the girl. Under the domination of this stronger spirit, which was amenable to no law, but that of their own strange cult, the girl gradually yielded. Mrs. Creffield insisted that the sister would have the best chance to accomplish the end she sought and it was Esther to whom she gave the gun and who so zealously marked her brother for death.


Fanatical Faith.


It counted not that he had stood on trial for his life to preserve her honor and to rescue her from the madness which had blighted her future. With a fanatical faith and unswerving loyalty to the teachings of the monster in human flesh whose trail had only wrought sorrow and destruction, she carefully laid her plans. The gun was loaded and there was no mishap or miscalculation to prevent the consummation of her full purpose.


Yesterday afternoon at the depot came the climax of it all. whit he brother’s inert form at her feet she expressed satisfaction. Today she is in the county jail, as cool and collected and satisfied as she appeared after the shooting.




Immediately after George had been killed the police started in search of Mrs. Creffield. Detectives Barbee and Philbrick went to the room in the Pretoria house on the chance of the woman returning there. She did not appear there. About 4:30 o’clock she telephoned from a grocery store on North Broadway, where she waited until Detective Brown arrived. She surrendered to him and at the police station announced that she was greatly relieved that the murder had been accomplished.




“Certainly I know all about the gun,” explained the woman. “We bought it for the purpose of shooting George.” In her manner and words she gave the impression of one who had accomplished something worth. With Esther Mitchell she was removed to the county jail for safe keeping.


The fanaticism which had made this crime possible is a startling revelation of the faith which the Mitchell girl as well as Mrs. Creffield still retain in the divinity of their slain leader. The confession which both women had made to the authorities shows immediately after the dead boy was discharged they planned to this end. Mrs. Creffield first carried the revolver and walked the streets for several hours without meeting the object of her hearth. Then Esther, who knew about the proposed departure of her brothers, took the gun with her to the station, and without any more feeling than if she had been shooting down a wild animal, ended the life of her brother.




It is a remarkable coincidence that Mitchell met death in much the same manner as Creffield, whom he shot on First Ave. near Cherry St. in this city May 7 last. His bullet struck Creffield in the back of the head, causing instant death. The bullet which Esther Mitchell fired entered the boy’s head on a line with and to the right of the left ear from the rear of the skull. Death must have ensued almost as quickly as in Creffield’s case.



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p1

Esther Tried To Hide Name

Registered As “Annie Mitchell” At Lodging House--Gave No Evidence Of Ill Feeling Toward Brother.


Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield went to the Pretoria rooming house at the corner of Sixth Av. and Pike St., last Monday and engaged one room. When asked to register Mrs. Creffield refused, stating that it was not necessary. Esther Mitchell, after a time, registered as “Annie Mitchell.”


Both Mrs. Creffield and Miss Mitchell told the landlady that they desired to make their own bed and it would not be necessary for her to go in their room.


When Mrs. Creffield and Miss Mitchell left their room yesterday before the shooting, Miss Mitchell paid the bill.




The proprietor of the rooming house stated that he learned that Esther Mitchell was the sister of George Mitchell a day before. Both conducted themselves in an orderly manner and gave no evidence of their feeling, and during their stay at the Pretoria no one heard them mention the tragedy in any way.




Upon the acquittal of Mitchell no one heard either Mrs. Creffield or Miss Mitchell express any dissatisfaction in connection with the affair. The proprietor stated that Miss Mitchell was wholly under the influence of Mrs. Creffield, who seemed to be fond of the young girl, always calling her “dearie” and “darling.”



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p1

Murder in First Degree

Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield Will Face Trial for the Killing of George Mitchell.


Murder in the first degree is the charge which will be filed against Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield in the superior court tomorrow. Papers will be prepared and regularly placed on the court records by the prosecuting attorney’s office.




This information was made public today by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Miller. The preliminary examination as to the Mitchell girl’s sanity, conducted by Dr. J. B. Loughary has determined that the sister is only mentally unbalanced as regards one thing, and that is her firm belief in the Holy Roller doctrine of Edmund Creffield.


Mr. Miller would not divulge the nature of Dr. Loughary’s report, which has only been tendered him informally, but from another source it was learned that it disposed of the theory that the young girl was insane when she fired the shot which killed George Mitchell.




Another medical examination will be mad as to Miss Mitchell’s condition of mind, but the general belief is that the report will bear out the preliminary report, showing that the girl was in her right mind and realized perfectly what she was doing when she murdered her brother.


That there will be a determined prosecution in this case is quite evident from the statements emanating from the prosecuting attorney’s office. There were only two theories tenable, on e that the girl was insane and the other that she was in her right mind. Now that the insanity theory, so far as the murder is concerned, is disposed of, there remains the only alternative of bringing the guilty parties to a full account for their crime.


Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p6

Demands Arrest Of Frank Hurt

Fred Mitchell Says Mrs. Creffield’s Brother Is Responsible For The Killing Of George Mitchell--Gave Money To The Women--Is Still A Believer In Holy Rollerism.


In Special Detective Jack Barck’s office at the police station, Perry and Fred Mitchell, the murdered boy’s brothers, were taken. Perry sat in an armchair weeping and murmuring over the affair. The shock had so excited him that he bled freely from the nose. He was very weak.


Fred Mitchell was cool and collected and did all of the talking. To a Star reporter he said:

My sister was not right. Frank Hurt is at the back of this whole thing with Mrs. Creffield. I want Frank Hurt arrested,” and he called for the captain.




“Captain,” he said, “I demand that Frank Hurt be arrested, he is the whole cheese. I know that he is at the back of all this and he must suffer for this.”


Captain Sullivan immediately detailed a man to arrest Hurt, but Hurt could not be located.


“I know that there is a colony of these people who have ruined my sister, and Frank Hurt has been providing them with money. He has been living out on Yesler Way, and my sister Esther told me that he had frequently been down to see them. At about 2 o’clock this afternoon we visited my sister and Mrs. Creffield and I asked them both if they would go down to the station to bid George goodbye. Both of them stated that they would not, and they had seen enough of George.


“Esther, we said, you had better go back with you father, but she would not consent. I have joined these people and I intend to follow them to the end.”


“’Where are you going, Esther?’ Perry and I asked them, and she told us that they were both ready to go back to their people.


“ ‘I do not ever care to see any of my people again,” she said, ‘for they have not treated me right. George lied about us and we will have no more to do with him.’


“We left the room as they were washing and preparing to go out. we started for the depot. George told us that he would at least like to see Esther before he went home, as he would probably never see her again. We told George that she would not come down to see him and he replied that he did no like his sister’s actions, after he had done so much for her.




“We arrived at the depot about 4 o’clock and George and the two of us sat down to await the train. We were not there long, but George wished to go out and we all got up. We were not outside long when Esther appeared, all dressed up, and we could see Mrs.. Creffield--or at least somebody who looked like Mrs. Creffield, and we thought nothing of it.


“We attracted George’s attention to his sister, and we both went over to where they were standing and greeted them.




“They did not pay any attention to us until I offered to take my sister’s coat, and she at first refused. I told her that it was very warm, and she consented. Her right hand was concealed under her coat, and the moment I took her coat from her she raised her revolver and fired at George.


“We both grabbed at her and held her, and she submitted. she never murmured a word. By that time and officer came up and took Esther’s gun away from her.


“When the trial was over we tried in every way to get Esther to go home with her father, but she would not. She told him that she would see everything out to the end. What she meant by that, I do not know.




“I don’t know, but I could swear that George was afraid that something would happen to him. He told us that he would like to get away from Seattle as quickly as possible.”


“Did you boys have any idea that such a thing would be likely to happen?” asked the reporter.


“We knew that Mr. Miller of the prosecuting attorney’s office tried to persuade Esther to go back with her father, but she would not.


“’Something is very likely to happen,’ said Mr. Miller to Esther, ‘and you had better accompany your father back home. But she persisted in saying that she would rejoin her people.


“She repeatedly told us that Mrs. Creffield was not going to give up the belief of her husband, and that Frank Starr (sic) would see that they got back to their people. From time to time she received money from Starr, and Esther’s new dress was evidently purchased with some of that money.


“How can we ever get over this,” sobbed Perry Mitchell. “I do not care to talk over this thing any more,” he said, and he refused to discuss the matter any further. Perry Mitchell was in a faint condition, and asked for a drink of water. The water was brought to the boy, and they made no further mention of the matter, but sat weeping.


Fred Mitchell nervously twirled his dead brother’s cap in his hands and finally said, dramatically: “This is all I have to remember my dead brother by.”



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p1

Hurt Cleared of Suspicion

Esther Mitchell And Mrs. Creffield Are Held Responsible For The Plot And Its Execution.


The guilt for the murder of George Mitchell rests entirely between the two women under arrest, according to a statement made by Chief of Police Wappenstein late this afternoon. The chief explains that the results of the investigation conducted from that office had determined to a certainty that none outside of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield had any hand in the plot to shoot the young boy.


Frank Hurt whose arrest was demanded yesterday by Fred Mitchell, is believed to be at Meydenbaner Bay, at work. The prosecuting attorney’s office notified the police today that they knew where (the rest is illegible)



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p1

Climax Of Crime In History Of Seattle

Killing Of George Mitchell The Most Sensational Ever Done In City--Question Of Girl’s Sanity.


Seattle has in the past been shocked and horrified by the details of many murders. Crimes of an enormity that staggered belief have been committed and been the talk of a day or a week. Yesterday in the killing of George Mitchell the climax was reached.


In all the criminal annals of the city there has never been a chain of sensational circumstances such as culminated in the death of George Mitchell. Brutal murders there have been a plenty, calm, deliberate murders, murders done in the heat of rage, lust avarice and revenge have furnished the motives for the taking of life, but never before has “religion” and “divine command” prompted the murder.




Stripped to the elementals, the killing of George Mitchell is similar to the killing of Creffield. They differ in motive. The motive of George Mitchell and the character of his victim were such as to justify the deed in the minds of practically everyone. The motive of Esther Mitchell and the character of her victim being universal condemnation.


George Mitchell felt it was his duty to kill Creffield, and a jury upheld him by declaring that he was insane, while the public, knowing him to be perfectly sane, applauded. The will of the people was done. Equally conscientious, Esther Mitchell killed her brother. She too believed it to be her duty.




Both were willing to brave the law to accomplish that which the law says shall not be done.


George Mitchell killed his victim, without a moment’s warning. His victim, in the eyes of the world, was a reptile and deserving of no other fate. Even the grim custodians of the law cannot admit but what the world is better that Creffield lies in his unmarked grave. And George Mitchell did the world a service when he ridded it of the (illegible) Holy Roller leader. His method may be questionable, but the result cannot.




Here is where the related killings diverge. Esther Mitchell’s purpose was personally as sincere as that of her bother (illegible) opinion (next several lines are illegible)


Made him a hero in the eyes of hundreds. That he was of her flesh and blood adds fuel to the indignation, and that she killed him for his efforts to save her shows a lack of so many human sentiments as to indicate madness.




Esther Mitchell is certainly a fanatic. Who will draw the line between fanaticism and madness? Experts will decide officially whether of not she is sane. The magnitude and inhumanity of her crime spells madness to the common ear. But is not every murder done in madness. No normal person in a normal frame of mind will kill another. The mind must swing from the normal before murder is possible. Normality cries out in loud protest against murder.




George Mitchell carefully planned and killed his victim, and the law says he is insane. Esther Mitchell carefully planned and killed her victim--and what will the law say? One rid the world of a scoundrel; the other of a hero. The law pretends to (illegible) not of the villainy or virtue of the victim--but the public does. Public opinion acquitted George Mitchell. What will public opinion do with Esther Mitchell?


Against George Mitchell’s provocation and the general posthumous hatred of his victim, Esther Mitchell has the fact that she is a woman and is tied in the bonds of fanaticism--a fanaticism unholy and repulsive, but none the less fanaticism.


She believed she was doing what was right, but most murderers are able to justify their deed to their own satisfaction.


If Esther Mitchell is insane she is only insane in that she believes she did what was right.




She went about the killing of her brother with calm forethought. She planned the murder with care and executed every detail with a precision not compatible with an irresponsible mind. Her every act previous to the killing was that of a sane person. At her command she had reason, logic, a clear mind and determination. What the penalty would be she did not care.


Many a love maddened woman has poisoned her rival with a recklessness of consequences similar to that of Esther Mitchell, and they have paid the penalty.




Every way one looks at Esther Mitchell she is sane except for her religious beliefs. Her primary impulse was (the next several lines are illegible)


The fallibility of Creffield, she may or may not be insane.


Back of Esther Mitchell there is Maud Creffield. Outwardly she shows more signs of insanity that does Esther Mitchell. While Esther is possessed of a child-like calm, Mrs. Creffield shows signs of intense inward emotion, so well controlled that it only appears in the eyes.


Mrs. Creffield realizes what has been done, and it is evident that she has some fears for the future. She is cautious in all she says, and is sensitive to public opinion.


Wherever the plot to kill George Mitchell originated, Mrs. Creffield was the one who planted the seed of murder in the heart of Esther Mitchell. The question naturally arises: Is Mrs. Creffield insane? Or did she conspire to kill George Mitchell out of pure revenge for the death of her husband? Her relationship to Creffield does not leave her as disinterested as Esther Mitchell.




The personal motive enters strongly into the case with her. There is room for the suspicion that she used Esther Mitchell as a tool. Her words when Creffield was shot down were the words of a revengeful woman. If there is any responsibility for the killing of George Mitchell, Maud Creffield will bear the greater burden.


Religious insanity, so-called, is not considered a separate class of insanity, and religion itself is not a cause for insanity.


It is only when a person carried religion to an excess that it is spoken of as insanity.


A man who carries anything to an excess is naturally unbalanced. While religion may be contributing cause, it will always be found that the man is mentally defective previous to the taking up of religion, and if religion did not attract him something else would.




Religion attracts two kinds of primarily defective persons:


The man who is depressed, imagines himself wronged or that he has committed a wrong, whose life appears of no account, and as a means of saving himself turns to religion. This class of persons usually commit suicide or homicide, believing that the spirits have directed them.


The second class feel excited, happy and delirious. They feel themselves to be above the earth, and have no regard for life, property or their families. This class of persons will commit the most outrageous crimes in the name of the so-called religion or hallucination, and are the most dangerous class of insane people.



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p1

Sleeps the Sleep of a Care-Free Girl

Esther Mitchell, Undisturbed by Her Deed or Her Surroundings, sleeps in Her Cell in the County Jail and Shows No Fear of Consequences.


In her cell in the county jail, Esther Mitchell last night slept the sleep of a school girl. Jailers keeps constant guard over her, fearing an attempt at suicide, but their fears were groundless.


Not once during the night did she murmur. For her there were no horror dreams, no blood-stained phantoms of a murdered brother to trouble her girlish sleep; no vision of the gallows disturbed her slumbers.


No young woman in Seattle went to sleep with a lighter heart than did Esther Mitchell last night.


In her cell near by was Mrs. Creffield, and she to slept the sleep of the untroubled, and the satisfied. Utterly oblivious to the future, neither woman had a moment of worry. Grief, remorse, foreboding, all of the emotions that arise in the hours of great stress, were absent.




This morning they rose bright and refreshed, dressed with care, going over every little detail of their toilets with the care of women planning a social day. Their breakfasts they ate with the relish of a hearty appetite and an untroubled conscience. Their morning meal over, they sat down, calmly waiting events.


When a reporter for The Star called, Mrs. Creffield declined to see him. Esther would not talk, except to say that she passed as pleasant a night as she ever remembered.


They have had no visitors, and have mad no plans for their release. They simply don’t care what becomes of them. Except in form, they are beyond all law.


A reporter for The Star visited the two women in the county jail last night. As he took a seat near Esther Mitchell a fain smile played about the lips of the woman.


“What makes you smile, Miss Mitchell?” asked the reporter.


You reporters.”


“Reporters? What is there odd about us?”


“Well--well, you ask such foolish questions. While I was at the police office a reporter tried to get me to talk with him, but I would not. Then he asked me how old I was. I told him, and then I asked him how old he was. He told me, and I said he should put it in the paper.”


This from the girl who but a few hours before had taken in cold blood the life of the brother who had risked his life to save her from the power of a degenerate.




At this point Deputy Sheriff Tom Smith took the women to one of the cells adjoining the office.


Mrs. Creffield put her arms about her companion’s neck and exclaimed:

Oh, Esther, Esther!”


Esther only smiled. A contented almost happy smile it seemed.


“Miss Mitchell, you do not appear at all nervous. Does not the act you did this afternoon make you sorry?”


“I am not sorry. If I thought I would be sorry I would never have killed George.”


“Was it not your intention to go with your brothers to Portland?”




“What were your plans for the future?”


“To do what I did.”


“And then what were you going to do?”




“Then,” coolly replied the girl,


“I was going to take the consequences.”


“What do you think the consequences of this deed will be?”


“I do not know, and what is more, I do not care in the least. I am happy and satisfied. My work is done.”


Mrs. Creffield hugged the girl close and they smiled and looked into each other’s eyes knowingly. Mrs. Creffield was the next to speak.


“Esther is less guarded in her remarks than I. I have never told the reporters anything. They all take George’s part and tell such awful things about me that are not so.”


“What did they ever say about you that was untrue, Mrs. Creffield?” was asked.




“They said so many things that it would be useless to deny them.”


“Well, for instance, what one thing was said that is not so?”


They said I once made the remark that my husband would rise from his grave. I never said it.”


“What else did they say?”


“Too much.”


Of the two women, Esther seems the brighter. As she sat fingering a magazine, she spoke of the different books she had read, and her conversation seemed perfectly sane. She also spoke of her school days and the happy times she had had.


“But all that is ended, now. My life has been changed and I am not the girl I was three years ago. It made no difference what they do with me. My interest in this life has ended.”



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p7

Mrs. Creffield Bought Gun

Purchase Was Made Early Wednesday Morning And Woman Appeared To Be Perfectly Sane.


The gun with which Esther Mitchell shot her brother was purchased at the store of G. f. Spangenberg, Second Av., and Union St. about 7:20 o’clock Wednesday morning. This information was secured today from the proprietor of the place.


“Mrs. Creffield, as she turns out to have been,” said Mr. Spangenberg in reply to a question, “came to the store a short time after 7 o’clock on Wednesday morning. It must have been about 20 minutes past the hour.




“She appeared to be perfectly sane. In fact, had there been the slightest doubt about her actions we would not have sold her the gun.


“I want to keep it at the house,” the woman explained to the young man who made the sale, and she appeared perfectly natural and as any ordinary, sane woman would. We never dreamed of anything wrong.


“After carefully looking over the stock, the woman selected the gun, had it wrapped and paid for it, leaving the store quietly and as if bent upon the most natural business in the world.




“The minute I saw her picture in the paper I recognized the woman, of course, but previously I had thought of Mrs. Creffield as some ill-dressed and eccentric individual. When she was in our store Mrs. Creffield was dressed very neatly, talked in an ordinary tone of voice, and there was not the slightest thing about her actions or manner which would lead anyone to believe that she was other than perfectly sane.


Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p1

Will Hold a Post-Mortem


Coroner Carroll will hold a post-mortem examination of the remains of George Mitchell late this afternoon, possible at 5 o’clock. No arrangements have been made as to the future disposition of the body. The two brothers here express a wish to bury the boy by the side of his mother in Eugene, Ore., but they have no money and their only recourse is to appeal to charity. The results of the post-mortem will be made known to the prosecuting attorney’s office. It will be largely a matter of form. Any prosecution will depend entirely upon the report of medical examiners at the girl’s insanity. Dr., J. B. Loughary, who examined the Mitchell girl at the jail last evening today absolutely refused to divulge any opinion that he may have formed. This will be given to the prosecuting attorney and is for the information of that official only.



Seattle Star 7/13/1906

Crowds Flock To View Body

All Day Long A Procession Passed Marble Slab On Which Lies George Mitchell’s Body.


From the moment that George Mitchell’s body had been laid out on a slab at the Bonney-Watson morgue, scores came to look on the dead boy’s features.


Women, men, children--all classes, nationalities and ages were represented. For the most part they walked quietly by the body, stood for a moment and then passed out into the bustling, crowded, thoroughfares once more.


All day it continued. The majority of the visitors appeared to be from the better walks, and the majority were well-dressed women.


There was very little of the morbid curiosity usually visible under such gruesome conditions. Nearly everyone displayed a grief at the human tragedy unveiled in such a terrible climax. The women were especially affected, many breaking into tears.


Several bouquets of flowers were sent to the morgue during the day and placed on the breast of the boy. There were no names attached, only the mute tokens of some unknown’s heartache and pity at the terrible fate which had been meted out to the Mitchell boy.



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p7

’Flower Girl’ Visits Morgue

Young Woman Brings Flowers And Weeps Bitterly After Gazing At Face Of Dead Boy.


“The flower girl,” who attracted so much attention during the trial of George Mitchell by bringing him flowers each day to the court house was one of the first to visit the morgue last night. She first appeared at the police station and asked Captain Ward if the news of the killing was true. Then she inquired where the body was and then went to the morgue.


Without a word the girl looked for several minutes on the face of the dead boy. She made no comment and did not give her name. After a long, searching look the girl went out and stood in the shadow of the door, silently weeping.


None intruded on her grief to ask her name or errand. She was daintily dressed in white, even to slippers. There was nothing of the morbid in her manner.


Early this morning the girl appeared again with a magnificent bouquet and laid it tenderly upon the breast of the dead boy. Again she took a long, searching look at the murdered boy, then walked hurriedly away, disappearing in the passing crowd.



Seattle Star 7/13/1906 p1

Girl’s Heart Will Break

Young Woman In Hood River, Ore., Will Mourn Death Of George Mitchell.


Yesterday George Mitchell received a postal card from Hood River, Ore. There was nothing on the card but the name of a young woman, but brief as it was, it meant much to the young man.


To Louis Sandell and other friends he showed the postal card, making no other comment than “I must write long letter when I get to Portland.”


Always taciturn, George Mitchell did not discuss the postal card further, but went about with a feeling of elation that was obvious to all.


“There’s a girl in Hood River,” said one of his friends this morning, “whose heart will break when she hears what happened to George.”

Holy Rollers

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Newspaper Articles about Creffield & the Holy Rollers

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

1900:Holy Rollers' Lives Before Creffield

1901:Holy Rollers' Lives Before Creffield

1902:Holy Rollers' Lives Creffield

January 18, 1903: Fred Mitchell Attempts Suicide

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

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

November 2, 1903: Fanatics In Court

November 3, 1903: Had Promise of Tar and Feathers

November 4, 1903: Flight of The Apostles

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

November 6, 1903: Rollers Take On New Life

November 7, 1903: Is Creffield Back?

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

November 24, 1903: Girl of Sixteen Almost Insane

November 25, 1903: In Pursuit of Creffield

November 27, 1903: The Lord May Starve Them

November 28, 1903: Holy Rollers Receive Unwilling Baptism

December 7, 1903: Demented Woman Suffers

December 8, 1903: Hurt Seen In Portland

December 11, 1903:Holy Rollers Roll Into Eugene Church

December 21, 1903:Holy Roller Victim Worse

December 22, 1903: Linn County Holy Rollers

December 23, 1903: Is Crazy Now

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

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

January 6, 1904: Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered

January 9, 1904: Their Welcome Departure

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

January 13, 1904: Where Brooks Went

January 19, 1904: Our Brainy Contemporaries

January 25: Holy Rollers’ in Hobo Camp Life

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

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

February 11, 1904: Medium Mystify Corvallis People

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

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

March 17, 1904: Where is the Apostle?

March 21, 1904: Reward For Creffield's Capture

March 23, 1904: Fugitive Creffield

March 28, 1904: Reward is Offered

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

April 18, 1904: Holy Roller High Priest Is Seen

April 29, 1904: Urania Seeley is Arrested

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

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

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

June 11, 1904: Attie Bray Escapes

June 17, 1904: Mae Hurt is Committed

June 29, 1904: Sarah Hurt is Committed

July 22, 1904: Holy Roller on Death Row

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

July, 30 1904: Armed Guards Protect Creffield

July, 31 1904: Corvallis Could Not Raise a Mob

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

August 2, 1904: Creffield Does Not Dislike Prison

August 4, 1904: Creffield Says He Is Entirely Purified

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

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

August 9, 1904: No Flowers For Creffield

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

August 16, 1904; Creffield Reward Will Be Returned

August 19, 1904: Followers in Asylum Stick To Faith

August 23, 1904: Creffield Will Fight His Own Case

August 28, 1904: Creffield Destroys His Revelations

September 16, 1904: Creffield is Guilty

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

March 22, 1905: Prison Life Of Joshua Creffield>

April 8, 1905: Life In Corvallis Returns to Normal

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

April 24, 1906: Creffield Establishes a Camp Near Waldport

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

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

May 3, 1906: Creffield In Fear Of His Life

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

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

May 9, 1906: Oregon Prosecutor Would Aid Mitchell

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

May 11, 1906: Bail Is All Ready

May 12, 1906: Mitchell Denied Bail

May 13, 1906: Creffield is Due To Rise Today

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

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

May 16, 1906: Holy Rollers Starving Near Heceta Head

May 17, 1906: Public Sentiment Favors Mitchell

May 18, 1906: Creffield Railed in Vermont

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

May 27, 1906: Joshua Says Not to Worry

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

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

June 19, 1906: Many Witnesses For Mitchell

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

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

June 26, 1906: Mitchell Jury is Selected With Care

June 27, 1906: Mitchell Trial Held Up By Squabble

June 28, 1906:  Jury is Secured to Try Mitchell

June 29, 1906: Trial is Now on in Earnest

June 30, 1906: Mrs. Creffield's Testimony

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 7, 1906: Insanity Expert on the Witness Stand

July 8, 1906: Plan To Revive Holy Rollerism

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

July 10, 1906: Mitchell Case Goes To Jury

July 11, 1906: Not Guilty

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

July 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Kills Her Brother!

July 14, 1906: Mitchell Boys Are Done With Esther

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

July 16: 1906: Will Mortgage His Home for Daughter

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

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

July 19, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Weeps in Jail

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

July 21, 1906: Mitchell Boys to Stand by Esther

July 22, 1906: Hurt Thinks Both Women Are Insane

July 23, 1906: Frater Favors a Commission of Alienists

July 24, 1906: Mackintosh Will Oppose Calling Commission

July 26, 1906: Is Reconciled to Holy Roller Wife

July 27, 1906: Holy Rollers Seek Home in Wyoming

July 28, 1906: Mitchell Juror is Insane

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

July 31 1906: Esther Mitchell Says Not Guilty

August 1, 1906: Relatives to Help Esther Mitchell

August 4, 1906: Creffield Greatly Hurt True Religion

August 6, 1906: Mitchell Boys in Drunken Row

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

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

August 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Not Seriously Ill

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

September 10 1906: To Examine Minds of Slayers

September 12, 1906: Hurt Thinks His Daughter Insane

September 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Objects to Help

September 14, 1906: Women Not Agitated

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

September 17, 1906: Mrs. Creffield on Stand

September 18, 1906:  Maud Creffield Anxious to Hang

September 19, 1906: Are They Sane of Insane?

September 21, 1906: Both Women May Go Scott Free

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

September 23, 1906: Murders Must Be Tried

September 24, 1906: Must Not Deport

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

September 28, 1906: Insanity Board Not Paid

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

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

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

November 18, 1906: Death May End a Hypnotic Spell

November 19, 1906: Reviews Findings in Examination of Brain

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

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

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

December 4, 1906: Washing Dirty Linen

December 17, 1906: Sad Christmas For Holy Roller

February 21, 1907: Esther Mitchell Goes to Asylum

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

April 6, 1909: Esther Mitchell Leaves Asylum

April 9, 1914: Esther Mitchell Marries James Berry

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

1953 Stewart Holbrook's Murder Without Tears

1951 Startling Detective Magazine: Nemesis of the Nudist High Priest

A List of All the Articles


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


The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers


Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers


Info for Book Groups

Book Reviews


1903 to 1907 Newspaper Articles About the Holy Rollers

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

Stewart Holbrook Holy Rollers Article

Advertisements from 1893 to 1913


Oregon Insane Asylum
Where the Holy Rollers Were Committed

Creffield, Brainwashing & Thought Reform

Early Cases of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

1906 Autopsies Of Holy Rollers
Forensics Before CSI

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


Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers


Life in Corvallis in the early 1900s

Life in Waldport, OR in early 1900s

Heaven's Gate

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

Oregon State Penitentiary
Where Creffield Was Incarcerated


Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults


Creffield's Preachings

Creffield Vs. Crefeld

The Salvation Army Opening Fire in 1886

Holy Roller Theology

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


About the Authors

Theresa (T-) McCracken

Robert B. Blodgett

In addition to writing, McCracken is a cartoonist.

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

McCracken's Blog

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

(541) 563-3112


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Theresa (T-) McCracken