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

July 16: 1906: Will Mortgage His Home for Daughter

 

OV Hurt's HouseSeattle Star 7/16/1906 p1

Will Mortgage His Home for Daughter

In This Way O. V. Hurt, Father of Mrs. Creffield, Will Raise Funds to Defend the Woman Against Charge of Murder.

 

O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield, is willing to sacrifice his comfortable home at Corvallis, Ore., to provide money for the defense of his daughter. Shocked by the news of the awful deed of Esther Mitchell, in which his daughter is also implicated, the old gentleman has written a letter to Will H. Morris and Silas M. Shipley, of this city, offering to mortgage their little home for $500 as attorneys fees.

 

“I am greatly upset by the shock,” states the letter, “but there is nothing else, in view of the circumstances, that I can do but offer assistance to my deluded daughter. My little home here will only bring about $500 on a mortgage, but I am willing to sacrifice it for my daughter’s sake. If the two women are tried together, I am willing to back both of them.

 

WILL PROVIDE WITNESSESEsther Mitchell

 

The grieved father also states that he will make every possible effort to have competent witnesses and the doctors and surgeons from the Oregon state asylum present at the trial to testify as to the sanity of his daughter and Esther Mitchell.

 

Mr. Morris, upon receiving the epistle this morning, stated that he had not, as yet, decided as to whether he would accept the offer, although, if he does, it will be because of the kindly feelings he has for Mr. Hurt. Mr. Morris stated that Mr. Hurt, he realized, was doing the proper thing in defending his daughter, but under the circumstances he could not at this time accept of the stricken father’s offer.

 

INSANITY DEFENSE

 

It is plainly evident from the tone of the letter that the defense of the two women will be made along the lines of insanity, although Esther Mitchell, in an interview with a Star reporter this morning, stated that she would not plead insanity as the cause of her shooting George Mitchell.

 

“I don’t think that a jury will look upon my act as justifiable,” she told the reporter, “because of the manner in which I committed the act. As for myself, I will not enter a plea of insanity, because I think that would be false, and I am not insane in the least, as everyone who has the slightest acquaintance with me can testify.”

 

Although Esther Mitchell has been besieged by attorneys soliciting retention as her counsel, she has not decided upon engaging her defense, but stated that she was well aware that such matters were in the hands of the court, as she and Mrs. Creffield are without available funds.

 

HOPES TO HEAR FROM FATHER

 

“I am in hopes of hearing from my father,” said Esther, “and I think that the least he could do would be to defend his daughter. Still, I cannot blame him for going against me in the face of all that I have done. I do wish that I could get out and see my two brothers, Perry and Fred, although I care nothing about the funeral of George or anything else concerning him.”

 

Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell are momentarily expecting word from the former’s father, but Mrs. Creffield this morning stated that he would probably not communicate with her directly, but with attorneys in this city.

 

FLOWER FIEND (SIC) BUSY

 

Both women spent an easy night in their cells and during yesterday afternoon were presented with a vase of American Beauty roses, which look out of place in the desolate cell. Esther is continually reading, while Mrs. Creffield is at the head of what is known as “Kangaroo Court,” organized to promote sanitary conditions among the incarcerated female prisoners.

 

MRS. CREFFIELD’S RELIGION

 

Mrs. Creffield is no longer a steadfast believer in the teachings of Holy Rollerism. To a Star reporter she announced this morning that since her husband’s untimely death her mind on the subject of her former belief had greatly changed.

 

“There will never be a leader for our people again,” she explained, “and after all this trouble I am firmly convinced that our belief along certain lines was not right, in fact.” she continued. “I am not the woman that I was when in company with Mr. Creffield, for I have become more or less sensitive to the fact that there were some funny teachings in our religion.

 

THINKS HOLY ROLLERISM IS DYING

 

“Of course, there are a few of us left, and as I expect to be confined here for some time I think the religion which I have followed will entirely die out.”

 

Asked if she knew of the whereabouts of other Holy Rollers, she stated that she did not.

 

“As for George Mitchell,” she concluded, “he is entirely out of the way, and that, in my opinion, is the end of our religion. We both believe that we will never again see our people, although we expect from time to time to hear from followers in Oregon.”

 

HER CONDUCT CHANGES

 

The jail authorities believe that Mrs. Creffield is gradually awakening to the realization of her queer actions, her ridiculous statements and cold-blooded assertions before and after the murder of her husband by George Mitchell. Her actions during her incarceration are different to what they were when she was first arrested. She has a pleasant method of talking to people, is easily approached and talkative, associating freely with her fellow prisoners, and mending her few garments. In fact, she is industrious and also particular as to the quality of food that she is served with.

 

ABOUT FRANK HURT

 

She maintains the belief that her brother, frank Hurt, is unaware of the deed committed by Esther Mitchell, and that when he does hear of the occurrence he will not sanction it. Yet she admitted this morning that he was anxious to have them return to their fellow religionists and that both girls were provided by Hurt with money before the murder of George Mitchell. She said that on several previous occasions Hurt had paid them visits, but she would not divulge the purpose of the meeting. She also explained that Esther offered to kill her brother when the matter was first mentioned.

 

 

HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

 

Seattle Daily Times 7/16/1906 p5

Will Look After His Daughter’s Defense

O. V. Hurt, While Deploring Mitchell’s Murder as Much as Anyone, Does Not Believe Mrs. Creffield Responsible.

Is Almost Broken Down as Result of Second Tragedy and Cannot Guess Where Trouble from Creffieldism Will End.

Members of Cult in Portland in Deep Horror Over Late Events, but Are More Dogged Than Ever In Belief.

 

The Times Special Service

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/16/1906 p2

Says Frank Hurt Is Innocent

Says Frank Hurt Is Innocent

Mrs. Creffield’s Father Employs Attorney To Assist In Woman’s Defense

Thinks Daughter Is Mentally Unbalanced

Parent Almost Broke Down Over Second Tragedy--Expects To Be In Seattle When Women Plead For Mitchell Murder.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)

 

Corvallis, Ore., Monday July 16.--O. V. Hurt, father of Maud Hurt Creffield, this morning made the following statement regarding the defense of his daughter for the crime of murdering George Mitchell:

I am arranging for the defense of Mrs. Creffield. I feel it my duty as a father to assist her all I can. While I deplore the act as much as anyone living and am not upholding the deed, I do not think she was mentally responsible, considering the strain she has been under. I have said so all along and I feel sure of it.

 

“I consider Esther Mitchell in the same unbalanced mental state.

 

“I expect to secure lawyers possible in both Seattle and Portland. Legal friends in Portland have kindly volunteered their services, but I prefer Seattle lawyers because they are thoroughly familiar with the case and have seen more of the girls heretofore. I expect to be in Seattle when the girls are to plead and will render what assistance I can.”

 

Asked if he thought Frank Hurt knew of the plot to kill Mitchell, Mr. Hurt answered

 

“Emphatically no; so far as Frank is concerned he had no more to do with it than a man in Alaska, and he should not be blamed in the least.”

 

CANNOT SEE THE END

 

Mr. Hurt says he cannot guess where the trouble resultant from Creffieldism will end. He is almost broken down over this second tragedy and his daughter’s part in it. Continuing, Mr. Hurt said with deep emotion:

I have fought with all my power for the destruction of Rollerism. I went to all honorable ends that man can go to in the defense of George Mitchell, and I would do it all over again. More deeply, perhaps, than any other human being do I feel and know what George Mitchell’s removal of Creffield meant for families affected by Creffield’s doctrine, and it was by that token that I felt a freed slave’s gratitude for the verdict of the Seattle jury and the restoration of George Mitchell to his liberty.

 

“But all this does not mean that because Maud Hurt Creffield and Esther Mitchell plotted and accomplished the death of George Mitchell, I , the father of one of these, shall turn my back on her, and though knowing better than do all others how she is duped, deluded, hopelessly irrational, join in general cry for her destruction. In every case, no matter how mean, the law contemplates a defense. In the present moment, if Maud Creffield’s father does not stretch out his arms, who will? To those who impugn me let me say, if Esther Mitchell had once said to Mrs. Creffield, ‘Don’t kill George Mitchell. He is my brother,’ George Mitchell would have been alive this day. In saying this I desire to shift no blame from one of these unfortunate creatures to the other, but merely to keep all the facts in view when the deplorable subject is under discussion.

 

WIRES HIS DAUGHTER

 

Hurt has sent his daughter two telegrams. The first was sent Friday and asked Mrs. Creffield what her father could do for her. The second went Saturday and informed her that arrangements had been made for her defense. The latter read:

Have arranged for counsel for your defense. Talk to no one.”

 

Hurt also wrote his daughter Sunday. The letter was of an affectionate character, giving instruction and assurances similar to those touched on in the telegrams.

 

The names of the attorneys engaged for the defense of the two women have not been given out. It can be said that a well known and prominent Portland attorney has signified his willingness to take part in the case. Hurt has written Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller, asking that Mrs. Creffield, his daughter, be given respectable quarters while in confinement as is accorded any woman of respectability.

 

“All I ask is a fair trial and no favors,” said Mr. Hurt. “Let the evidence on both sides be heard, and let the verdict be on the evidence and the law. I ask no more.”

 

The second telegram sent to Mrs. Creffield was signed by both Hurt and his wife.

 

The members of the Holy Roller cult in this city, of whom there are but half a down now, are all in deep horror over the late events. There are no demonstrations and no gatherings for worship, but the members are more dogged than ever in believing the Creffield doctrines. They declare now that he is God and that he will come back and reign on earth, that they implicitly and fervently cleave to him as their soul’s salvation. One of them asked this morning to give up her religion and she replied:

I cannot give up my Lord.”

 

“Who is your Lord?” was asked.

 

“Edmund is my Lord,” she replied.

 

“And you will see that he will come back and rule this earth.”

 

Within a few days Miss Sophia Hartley, one of the most fanatical of the cult in this city, said that if her father had succeeded in Killing Creffield when he snapped so many times at the Roller leader at Newport, she would have killed her father for the act.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/16/1906 p6

Manning Scored by Frater

Seattle Judge Does Not Approve of District Attorney’s Stand in Mitchell Case.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

 

Seattle, Wash., July 16.-- action of John Manning, district attorney of Multnomah county, in the Mitchell case was denounced by superior Judge Frater who presided over the Mitchell trial, from the bench this morning. The remarks were made while Judge Frater was passing a sentence of 20 years on Robert H. Jones, convicted of murder in the second degree for killing Arthur Gregson aboard a ship in Seattle harbor.

 

HUMAN LIFE TOO CHEAP

 

“Human life is too cheap in this community,” said Judge Frater. “It is not only held too cheap by those who recklessly murder others on our streets and in the victim’s own house, but by the public in general.

 

“The demonstration made by the spectators in this court room when George Mitchell was acquitted was a disgrace to any law abiding community.

 

“When a jury of twelve men return a verdict of not guilty in a case where it was clearly proved that the defendant was guilty of a cold blooded murder under the laws, the spectators applauded their act.

 

MADE HERO OF MURDERER

 

“They made a hero of a man guilty of murder in the eyes of the law and demonstrated their approval when a jury failed to do their duty and freed a murderer.

 

“I am glad to say, however, that this public approbation for murders is not publicly expressed by our public officials.

 

“Men sworn to uphold the law as counselors do not share in the clamor for the acquittal of murderers.

 

OFFICIAL INTERFERED

 

“An extraordinary anomaly was presented in the case I just referred to of a man sworn to execute the criminal laws of a sister state interfering in this county and attempting to shield a murderer from punishment.

 

“I rejoice that our public officials do not come forward and make pathetic pleas that criminals be not dealt with according to the law.

 

“When an officer of the law in a neighboring state takes such action it shows that a deplorable spirit of lawlessness is abroad.”

 

 

Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/16/1906 p14

Says She Has Kept Religion Out of It

Creffield’s Widow Says Mitchell Should Have Done the Same.

Doctrine Is Maligned.

Declares Mrs. Starr Did Not Know What She Was Swearing.

 

For about an hour, last evening, Mrs. Maud Creffield talked with a reporter freely on the various phases of the trial and death of George Mitchell, and of her prospects. Standing behind the bars in a women’s ward at the jail she adopted a conversational style as free and easy as if she were talking with an old acquaintance in her own parlor. Here are some of the casual remarks she made:

I have kept religion out of this case. It should have been kept out of the trial of George Mitchell, too.”

 

“When Mrs. Starr, George Mitchell’s sister, signed the affidavits in District Attorney John Manning’s office, in Portland, she did not know anything about legal forms, and thought she had to sign them.”

 

“The expedition to Waldport was merely a summer camping trip of mine to places where I had spent many childhood days. My brother and his wife were along with us; and they brought her sister and Esther Mitchell. We did not know then that Mrs. Starr was coming. Mr. Hartley came down on the same train with us, but in a different car. He minded his business, and we ours.”

 

“There has been so much said about the religion we followed, and the time is now so late that I do not care to talk about our belief. There were many lies, but it is too late now to correct them.”

 

“I suppose I shall accept whatever provisions are made for our defense, but I do not think it worth while for my father to waste any money on our case.”

 

“It does not matter what happens to me now. I am as well off here as anywhere else.”

 

“I do not know yet, at least I am not prepared to state, whether I shall plead not guilty or guilty at the arraignment. I may have something to say on that point later.”

 

As the conversation rambled on from topic to topic to topic, she expressed herself frankly on most subjects, or as frankly denied her willingness to talk along certain lines. In many instances it was she, herself, who introduced a subject, and she passed the remark that she was questioning the reporter as much as he was her.

 

INTERESTED IN FUNERAL

 

She expressed interest in the funeral of George Mitchell, and wanted to know if it had been held yet, and where it was the intention to take the body. she asked, also, about the procedure of the trial, and wanted to know when she might expect to be arraigned. She claimed not to be familiar with legal procedure, particularly in Washington, but had the impression that she ought to be given a hearing soon.

 

She talked about an attorney who had been in the cell and had expressed some sympathy with her, though he did not offer to take up her case.

 

“I did not take a picture of him,” she replied with a smile, in response to a question put with the purpose of learning who the attorney was.

 

She talked about the autopsy, and of the fact which had been brought out that George Mitchell was not insane at the time of his death.

 

“Of course he was not,” she remarked, “and he never was.”

 

Occasionally her face was lit up with a smile, as something was said or suggested that appeared humorous to her. Occasionally it was a trifle sad, particularly when she mentioned her father. Of the great climaxes of her life, the killing of George Mitchell and the killing of Creffield, she spoke without emotion.

 

NOT ACCUSTOMED TO WAYS

 

She talked about the surroundings in which she and Esther were placed, and thought Esther was on the whole better off, thought she would like it if they were together. She had not slept very well she said, with a smile. “The others here sleep and smoke all day, and are moving about all night preparing midnight dinners and so on. I have not become accustomed to sleeping in the day as yet. Nor to smoking either.”

 

She had seen Esther passing in the jail hall yesterday, and the two had asked after each other’s health, she said, that was all.

 

Esther, also, seemed to be in much the same frame of mind as her fellow prisoner, though she refused absolutely to make any statement to a reporter. The two are rapidly falling into the ways of life in the county jail, and neither has been as yet affected physically by the confinement imposed.

 

 

Seattle Star 7/16/1906 p8

Money is Raised to Bury Mitchell

Contributions Made Through The Star Are Sufficient To Pay All Expenses--Three Men Work Hard.

 

The body of George Mitchell left this morning at 11:15 for Newberg, Oregon. On the same train where Fred and Perry Mitchell, brothers of the deceased.

 

“We want you to tell the people of Seattle,” said Fred Mitchell, “just how grateful we are to them for the generous aid and sympathy extended to us in our bereavement. But for the aid given us through the friends of The Star, I do not know what we would have done. We were almost without funds when George was killed, and without assistance we would have been unable to bury our brother beside the grave of our mother.

 

FUND IS RAISED

 

The funds wherewith to meet all of the expenses connected with the preparation of the body for burial and its transportation to Newberg were raised Saturday afternoon and Sunday. The greater part of it was collected by three men who called at The Star office on Saturday noon and asked authority from this paper to solicit funds. There men were W. A. Casebere (illegible), 419 Denny Place, F. P. Furnell, 1217 East Alder St., and William Powell of Georgetown.

 

They worked all of Saturday afternoon and evening and a portion of yesterday and this morning turned into The Star office the sum of $102.60. Subscriptions coming into the Star office from other sources brought the total amount at 10 o’clock this morning up to $130.30.

 

GUARANTEED PAYMENT

 

On Saturday noon The Star telephoned to the Bonney-Watson Co. at whose undertaking parlors the body was, instructing them to prepare the body for shipment today noon, supplying such a casket as the brothers might select. The Star guaranteeing the payment of all bills.

 

The bill of the Bonney-Watson Co. amounted to $126. From this bill they made a discount of $76, accepting $50 in payment for the entire-expense. The Star, therefore, turned over to the two Mitchell boys, before their departure this morning, $80.30, which will be used for the expenses of the journey, the funeral at Newberg and the remaining will be applied toward the purchase of a stone for the grave.

 

OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS

 

Other contributions have come to The Star office since the above amount was given to the Mitchell boys and this will be forwarded to them at Portland.

 

Because of the very large number of small contribution it is found impractical to publish all of the names. The complete list of contributors is, however, on file in The Star office.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/16/1906 p6

Body is Shipped to Oregon

Remains of George Mitchell Sent to Newberg for Burial by Liberal Friends.

 

A SLIGHTLY ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE SAME ARTICLE ALSO APPEARED IN

 

Seattle Daily Times 7/16/1906 p4

Body is Shipped to Oregon

Perry and Fred Mitchell to Bury Their Murdered Brother Beside Their Mother at Newberg.

 

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

 

Seattle, July 16.--The body of George Mitchell, enclosed in a neat but inexpensive casket, was shipped to Newberg Oregon, for burial this morning. Fred and Perry Mitchell accompanied the remains of their brother.

 

Ever since George Mitchell was shot down by his sister the two brothers have devoted their attention to an attempt to raise money enough to take their brother’s body back to Newberg and lay it at rest beside that of their mother. For a time the brothers, who were almost penniless, were crazed with grief from the fear that their brother’s body would have to be interred in the pauper’s cemetery. Kind and generous friends, however, came to their aid and contributed the money needed to take the body to Oregon.

 

NO SERVICES AT MORGUE

 

No services were held at the morgue of Bonney & Watson this morning when the body was removed. Simple funeral services will be held at Newberg.

 

Perry and Fred Mitchell will remain in Oregon, working until Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh requests them to return to Seattle to testify against their sister and Creffield’s widow. They declare they will obey the summons.

 

Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell, when arraigned in court on the charge of murder in the first degree will ask the court to appoint counsel to defend them. They, however, declare that they will not allow a plea of insanity to be interposed in their behalf.

 

FATHER MUST KEEP MONEY

 

Mrs. Hurt has already been shown a telegram from her father, O. V. Hurt, stating that he had hired an attorney to look after the defense of herself and Esther Mitchell. Mrs. Creffield declares, however, she will not allow her father to waste his money employing a lawyer to fight for her liberty.

 

Mrs. Creffield refuses to say whether she will plead guilty or not.

 

Esther Mitchell has become uncommunicative and refuses to discuss anything bearing on the case. Yesterday she told her jailers that she would like to see her brothers Perry and Fred before they went away. She said that they had always been friends of hers. Her request, however, was not made known to her brothers and neither of the brothers sought an opportunity to see her since the murder.

 

The epidemic of murder that recently aroused Seattle was the topic of discussion in the pulpits of the city yesterday. Rev. W. A. Major of Bethany Presbyterian church took for his subject “Lawlessness and Its Remedy.” The clergyman said:

No man should take another’s life who is not prepared to sacrifice his own to the law if that be its requirement. If men knew that their own necks would break if they, under a fit of jealousy or hatred, took another’s life, 99 per cent of those who commit murder would never purchase a revolver.”

 

PREACHER SCORES JURY

 

Rev. John M. Dean of the Baptist church scored the jury that acquitted George Mitchell in the following words:

 

“Granting Creffield’s guilt, George Mitchell had no alternative, but the jury should have put him into the penitentiary as the laws demand, for the entire twelve rightly believed that he never did a saner act in his life than shoot Creffield.”

 

Esther Mitchell has not heard from her father, but says she does not blame him much after what she has done. She wants to see her brothers, but will not attend the funeral of her victim.

 

Mrs. Creffield for the first time announced this morning her belief in Holy Rollerism is shaken.

 

“Since my husband’s death,” she said, “I have come to the conclusion that many of his teachings were funny. With its founder dead and myself in jail the religion will come to an end.”

 

The jailer says a great change has come over her, her spell of fanaticism seemingly having vanished.

 

 

Evening Telegram (Portland) 7/16/1906 p1

Brothers Bring Body to Oregon

Fred and Perry Mitchell on Way From Seattle to Newberg.

No Information Yet.

Unequal, They Said, to Visiting Esther, although She Wanted to See Them.

Maud Hurt Says She Feels Better Since Mitchell Was Killed.

 

[Telegram Coast Special]

 

SEATTLE, Wash., July 16.--The body of George Mitchell left Seattle this morning from the same depot where only 3 1/2 days ago the young man was just preparing to board the train taking the same route, when he was killed by a shot from a gun in the hands of his sister Esther.

 

Perry and Fred Mitchell, brothers of the deceased, accompanied the body, which will arrive in Portland this evening and will thence be taken to Newberg, Or., where their mother is buried.

 

In Superior Court this afternoon, it is expected, Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield will be charged with the crime of murder in the first degree. the information had not been filed at noon today, nor was information procurable at the Prosecuting Attorney’s office as to whom the witnesses would be.

 

Neither Perry nor Fred visited their sister in jail before they left the city. They were unequal to the task, they said, and did not wish to see their sister again. The slender, brown-haired girl in prison expressed a desire to see them and it was published, but they did not comply. She does not yet know they have left the city.

 

The expense of taking the body to its resting place in Oregon was defrayed by popular subscription. The boys had no money to pay the undertakers or the railroad, and were perforce compelled to accept the proffered aid.

 

Both women prisoners will ask for an attorney when the time comes for them to appear in court to plead. O. V. Hurt, of Corvallis, Mrs. Creffield’s father, telegraphed that he had made preparations for a defense, but of what nature these were is not yet known here.

 

FEELS BETTER SINCE THE MURDER

 

Mrs. Creffield talks freely of her prospects and her present condition. she says she feels more contented since the death of George Mitchell, and denies, as does Esther Mitchell, that either religion or insanity had anything to do with the killing. Of their religious beliefs she is not willing to say very much, but she does say that much has been said about Creffield and his teachings that was untrue.

 

“Mrs. Starr told me while she was in Seattle a week or so ago,” she stated to a reporter for the Telegram “that she did not know what she was signing when she made the affidavits in John Manning’s office. She thought it was some legal form that she must go through.

 

DEPRECATES TALK OF RELIGION

 

“I have never brought religion into this case, nor should it have been brought into that of George Mitchell. Whatever had been done in the past was all past and gone. The trip to Waldport was merely a pleasure trip to a place where I had spent part of my childhood, and there were with us only my husband and my brother’s family, who brought Esther along. Mrs. Starr came later, and we did not know she was coming.

 

“Oh, I am as well off here as anywhere else,’ she replied smilingly to a question about her jail life. “I do not get much sleep at nights, for the other women are in the habit of sleeping by daytime and keeping awake at night, But so far I have felt no bad effects of prison life.

Seattle Daily Times 7/16/1906 p10

Mitchell’s Murderers Talk to a Lawyer

A. J. Speckert Sends Messages to O. V. Hurt and Judge Upton at Request of Prospective Clients.

 

It is possible that A. J. Speckert, a Seattle attorney, will assist in the defense of Esther Mitchell and Maud Creffield when they are placed on trial for the murder of George Mitchell. Mr. Speckert held a consultation with both women at the county jail this morning and at their request has sent messages to O. V. Hurt, the father of Mrs. Creffield, and to Judge Upton of Wall Walla, who wired Esther Mitchell that he would lend her any assistance in his power immediately after the killing. The message to Judge Upton was a query as to whether or not he would assist in the defense. That to Mr. Hurt was in connection with Attorney Speckert’s willingness to take the case.

 

Both women are conducting themselves with their usual calmness and take their jail experience as placidly as they have taken everything since their arrest. To Attorney Speckert they expressed interest in what is going on in the outside world. The subject of a defense was not discussed between the women and the attorney, but the latter will hold another consultation with the prisoners as soon as he hears from the people to whom he sent messages.

 

 

Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/16/1906 p14

Both Women Will Ask For Attorney

Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell Will Make Defense of Their Acts.

 

Both Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield intend to ask the court for an attorney as soon as the opportunity presents itself, but neither will attempt to make the insanity plea, according to the statement made by both women yesterday. When asked for a statement as to her future intentions yesterday, Mrs. Creffield spoke more than she has for some time and freely answered the questions of a reporter for the Post-Intelligencer.

 

“Both Esther and myself will ask the court for an attorney as soon as the opportunity presents itself,” said Mrs. Creffield yesterday, “although we will try to escape the excuse of pleading insanity.”

 

“How do you feel now that Mitchell is dead?” she was asked.

 

“Well, I feel a great deal more relieved, not because Mitchell was killed, but because my husband’s death was avenged. During the trial of George Mitchell I became aware that public sympathy was with him and the verdict of the jury came as no surprise to me. During the trial I was unable to sleep nights and would often pace the floor in the middle of the night, thinking of the deed and that the murderer would evade punishment. It cost me much more to let Esther do the deed than if I did it for myself, for I didn’t know whether she would accomplish it as satisfactorily as I would.”

 

“Weren’t you afraid of violence after the murder was committed?”

 

“Well, yes, I feared that someone would attempt to kill either Esther or myself, or maybe both of us, but I for one, was perfectly willing to take the consequences as I had anticipated them before.”

 

“Where were you before you telephoned to Chief Wappenstein after the murder?”

 

“I was at the Lakeview cemetery on Capitol hill where I visited my husband’s grave. I remained there for about an hour and then returned to the grocery store and telephoned the chief.”

 

“If you are from the Post-Intelligencer, will you please deny the report in the evening papers that I mentioned the name of ‘Joshua’ to their reporter?” was the request made by Esther Mitchell.

 

“The evening papers also said that killed my brother because I was commanded by God to do so. That is wrong,” and she looked up smiling. “I did it because he ruined my character.

 

“I don’t want to say anything about it,” she said, referring to the murder, “but I would like to see my brothers before they leave.

 

“I haven’t anything against Perry or Fred, and I would be glad to have them visit me. I’d like to see the papers and find out what they had to say about this,” she concluded, “but the officers won’t let me.”

 

 

Seattle Daily Times 7/16/1906 p11

Follows in Steps of Creffield

Rev. U. B. Evans, Leader in Faction of Pentecostal Mission, Run out of Salem Under Threat.

 

The Times Special Service.

 

SALEM, Ore., Monday, July 16.--Salem people are in arms against Holy Rollerism. It is probable that the pernicious doctrines and practices advocated in this city by Joshua Creffield in the early part of his career still find a lodgement in the minds of some of his quondam followers.

 

Rev. U. B. Evans, a leader in one of the factions of the Pentecostal Mission, has left Salem under a threat of getting a coat of tar and feathers. Evans, who claimed to be a preacher in the Free Methodist Church, came to Salem some time ago and became a strong man in the mission. The mission became divided into factions, each branch accusing the other of fanaticism and even more serious things.

 

It is openly stated by some of the members that Evans advocated, in private, the doctrine of free love, and he is said to be another Creffield. At any rate the intimacy between the Rev., Mr. Evans and Agnes Wolf, a pretty teacher in the Holiness School, became notorious and Miss Wolf was sent back East. Soon afterward a notice was found on the door of Evans’ house warning him to leave Salem within twenty-four hours, and not to return. He was threatened with tar and feathers if he should return. Evans obeyed the order.

 

Both Evans and the Wolf girl confessed their fault and Evans was forgiven. He claims to have gone into the mountains of Eastern Oregon, where for two weeks he fasted and was in close communion with the Lord.

 

However, the people of this city will take no chances of a recrudescence of Holly Rollerism and Evans was forced to walk the plank. Members of the Pentecostal Mission say that Evans is still in the state.

 

 

Corvallis Gazette 7/16/1906 p1

Plotted to Kill

And Willing to Face Punishment--The Seattle Tragedy

 

Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield and Esther Mitchell are the ones, and the only ones, who plotted to kill George Mitchell, according to their own declarations.

 

They did not tell Mrs. Burgess Starr because they say she talks too much. They feared to tell other Rollers lest their plans should miscarry by some chance word being spoken.

 

The women both vow that their plans were made with utmost deliberation and they scoff at the idea that they are insane.

 

A relentless war is to be carried on in Seattle to drive every Holy Roller from the city and from King county.

 

Experts are to examine both women for insanity, but these will not be called upon to report their findings at present.

 

The state has abandoned any idea held immediately after the shooting of George Mitchell of treating the women as insane persons and it is determined upon a vigorous prosecution.”

 

“I am positive that no insanity exists in any member of the Mitchell family, that is any that I have seen, and our office will make a hard fight against this plea,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller in a statement Friday night.

 

“Since the first appearance of Esther Mitchell in this city, which was shortly after he brother shot Creffield,” he continued, “I have been in contact with her a good deal, and she has never at any time displayed any form of insanity. We merely asked to have her retained in the custody of the police matron until after the other trial was completed.

 

“All stories that she was to become the mother of a new Christ was denied to me by the girls. I investigated these charges while in Portland and received corroboration of Esther’s statement. She stated on several occasions that her brother had no reason for shooting Creffield on this account.

 

“I do not believe that any person outside of Esther and Mrs. Creffield will be implicated in this murder. I really believe that it was the result of their secret consultation. Of course, we cannot tell what evidence we might secure at a later date, but from information that we have in this office at the present time I feel safe in making the statement that Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield are alone responsible for the murder of George Mitchell.”

 

The women themselves corroborate Mr. Miller in his belief.

 

Both positively assert that no act of theirs was ever more deliberate or less free from motives of insanity that the murder of Mitchell.

 

“I am not insane,” declared Esther Mitchell today. “Before I killed my brother, Mrs. Creffield and myself talked it over, and we knew that we would be arrested and the law would punish us. After my arrest I told the chief everything.

 

“I only told the truth. I knew the law would not consider the reason which makes me believe I did right, and any way, I don’t see what harm it can do, for I am going to be punished anyway, I suppose.

 

“He,” continued Miss Mitchell, speaking of Creffield and in answer to a question, “was a holy man. My brother was of the world and was defiled. It was right for him to be punished for what he did, and the law set him free.

 

“I have no money,” she said reverting again to her own affairs, “and have no friends to whom I could go, if I would, and I would not. If they ask me I shall say that I killed George, but I will never say that I was insane. I don’t see what is the use of a lawyer, so far as I am concerned.

 

“ I do not know Judge Upton. His message was read to me last night, but I never heard of him in my life and I do not know why he should offer to help me. What can he do? I would not let him tell the jury I am crazy, for I am not, and you say that is the only way I can keep from being hanged.”

 

“Yes, George was set free that way, but he didn’t enjoy his liberty long, did he?” The girl spoke as calmly as if George had been a total stranger.

 

Esther Mitchell asked anxiously for Mrs. Creffield, and wistfully begged for a chance to see her.

 

“I would like to see her,” she said. “I volunteered to shoot George.” Then, apparently anxious to shield Mrs. Creffield further, she added: “She did not want me to, but we knew that she could not do it, but they were afraid of her, so I did it.”

 

Mrs. Creffield does not attempt to justify her part in the shooting on the ground of religious training, nor does she insist that the Creffield influence is still alive. She was asked whether the spirit of Joshua had been heard or whether she expected him to return to her.

 

“I never said he would,” she declared.

 

“But the men at the morgue all said you did after the funeral,” it was urged.

 

“Yes, I suppose a great many things have been said. Oh, I didn’t want to deny anything,” she added wearily. Then of the killing of Mitchell she stated:

I had as much right to cause his death as he had to kill my husband. I would have done it myself if I could, but I could not because they were afraid of me. Esther knew this and volunteered to do it for me. At first I did not want her to, but when we had talked it over for a while I told her to do it if she could.

 

“I knew we would be arrested and I was afraid I would be killed before I was locked up.” “Oh,” she added hurriedly, “I should not have said that! But I didn’t know what they would do with me.”

 

“They can’t hang me, can they?” she added. Both capital punishment and imprisonment for life were suggested as extremes, and of the latter she said:

I don’t care. I would be just as happy there in the state penitentiary as I have been since my husband was killed, or as I ever can be anywhere.”

 

Mrs. Creffield, like Esther Mitchell, insisted that she was not insane.

 

 

Corvallis Times 7/13/1906 p2

Editorial

 

The slaying of George Mitchell by his sister, melancholy tragedy that it is, is a small part of the legacy left to this country by the late Mr. Creffield. When the roll of the damned is made up, if the distinguished name of Creffield is not found far up toward the head of the list and the illustrious Edmund himself a chief bower at the right hand of the devil, then hell is not what it is cracked up to be and the scheme of eternal punishments a misfit.

 

 

Seattle Star 7/16/1906 p8

Pastors Talk of Tragedies

 

The Mitchell-Creffield and Thompson tragedies were the topics for sermons in many of the local pulpits yesterday.

 

The act of Mitchell was condoned, but the necessity of the enforcement of the law was demanded.

 

Rev. W. A. Major (illegible), of the Presbyterian church, took for his subject “Lawlessness and the Remedy.” According to Mr. Major, the laxity of home teaching and living has brought a reign of lawlessness which threatens the home and state. Rev. F. E. Drake (illegible), of the Haven (illegible) M. E. church, discussed the tragedies from the scriptural sense, taking for his text, “Have Faith in God.” Rev. John M. Dean, of the Baptist church, discussed the murders and attributed the prevalence to the crime “Commercialization of the Law.”

 

Rev J. P. D. Lloyd (illegible) of St. Mark’s Episcopal church, made a few general remarks on the murders. It was his opinion that the origin of such crimes was in the universal neglect of family discipline.

 

 

Corvallis Gazette 7/16/1906 p1

The Second Tragedy

In Mitchell Family-Esther shoots Brother at Seattle.

 

“Esther shot and killed George in depot this afternoon--L. T. Sandell.”

 

Such was the dispatch sent from Seattle at 5 o’clock Thursday night to O. V. Hurt, that shocked Corvallis and sent a shiver of horror over all who listened to the direful news. (etc, )

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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

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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

***

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
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