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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 22, 1906: Hurt Thinks Both Women Are Insane


Seattle Sunday Times 7/22/1906 p44

Hurt Thinks Both Women Are Insane

Mrs. Creffield’s Father Believes She and Esther Mitchell Will Go to Asylum.


CORVALLIS, Ore., Saturday, July 21.-- O. V. Hurt is very much pleased at the news that Will H. Morris, of Seattle, will defend Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield in her trial for the murder of George Mitchell. He has nothing but the most enthusiastic words of praise for the Seattle officials and attorneys with whom he has had dealings. He said:

Seattle people have treated me splendidly, and I certainly appreciate their deep kindness.


“I think both women will be sent to the asylum. There is no doubt that they are both mentally deranged.


“Maud writes to me alone, and will have nothing to do with her mother or her sister in this city. Maud was always a very peculiar girl and hard to understand long before the days of Creffieldism. she has always been open and frank with me, even when I told her in Seattle that I was going to testify for Mitchell.


“Esther Mitchell also looks upon me as a friend in her hour of difficulty, although my evidence helped to clear the brother that she shot down.”



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/22/1906 p20

Esther Mitchell Sheds Tears

Kindness of Brothers in Promising Aid Touches Heart of Young Murderess.

Is Willing To Hang, But Is Not Repentant.

Girl Says Her Conscience Does Not Trouble Her for Killing Brother George, But Law Looks at It as Crime.


(Special Dispatch to The Journal)


Seattle, Wash., July 21.--Esther Mitchell shed the first tears today that she has since she has been incarcerated in the county jail for the killing of her brother George Mitchell. The tears came when she was told that her brothers, Fred and Perry, were going to aid her in her trial. She said:

I am glad of it. Fred and Perry were always good friends of mine. I always liked them.


“I knew that they would help me as much as they could.


“I would like to have seen them before they went away, but they would not come to see me. I asked the jailers to send for them and I knew they did because they have treated me well since I have been here.


“I am glad my brothers think well of me still, but I do not want their help.


“I am willing to hang. I killed my brother.


“I did right, but I know the law does not think that I did right. I might as well hang.


“My brother George ruined my reputation. When a girl’s reputation is gone she has nothing to live for.


“I never could get away from the stories he told after he shot Creffield.


“Creffield never did me any wrong and my brother had no right to say he did.


“He knew that I was not going back to Creffield when he shot him. That was a lie as was his story that he was insane.


“I never will lie and say I am insane. I never have been insane.


“When Mr. Gardner says I was insane in his place in Portland, he did not tell the truth. He told me the last time he saw me at the police matron’s house that I had been insane, but I told him that I never had been.


“I am willing to hang. I guess that is what they will do with me anyway, and really, I don’t care.


“I did right and I have no regret whatsoever. My conscience does not trouble me in the least.”


Mrs. Creffield takes her plight also calmly. She said today:

I am willing to go to the penitentiary for life. I am as happy here as I have been since my husband died. He’s dead and it does not make much difference what they do with me or where they send me.


“I am tired of living any more.


“My husband and I would have proved that we were all right if Mitchell had not killed him.”



Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/22/1906 p14

Says Creffield Was ‘Good Godly Man

Salvation Army Leader Writes Letter of Condolence to “Holy Roller’s Widow.


“Your husband was such a good and godly man,” is an extract from a sympathizing letter received yesterday by Mrs. Maud Creffield from Mrs. E. Plumstead, wife of the adjutant in command of the Salvation Army at Los Angeles, Cal. Mrs. Plumstead and her husband were formerly stationed at Portland, Or., and had there met Franz Edmund Creffield, the future holy roller. It appears from the letter, also, that she was personally acquainted with Maud Hurt, the future Mrs. Creffield, and with her father, O. V. Hurt of Corvallis.


Esther Mitchell, too, received a letter yesterday from an Oregon sympathizer, Viola Burr of Damascus, near Clackamas, Or. This woman sent Esther a check for $1, drawn on the First National bank, of Portland, to “help pay your expenses when you get ready to go home.”


Creffield, immediately after his release from the Oregon penitentiary, went to Los Angeles, but of that visit Mrs. Plumstead does not say anything in her letter. Mrs. Creffield did not say much when she received the letter, but simply tore it to pieces, with a smile.


Miss Burr, Esther Mitchell says, worked with Esther in the Oregon Woolen Mills at Portland. She will get the money back. The letters follow:

Los Angeles, Cal, July 15, 1906.


“Mrs. Creffield, Seattle, Wash.-- My Dear Maud: I really do not know what to say to you after reading in the papers what has happened. I feel that I must write you. We cannot tell how sad we feel for we do not forget you, and do not forget what a happy home yours was when you were there as a girl. And dear Esther. I knew her so well and four or five years ago when we were in Portland. Such a good girl! It seems impossible that the events of the past few weeks could ever take place. We knew your husband well, and he was such a good, godly boy. It was too bad that he was induced to take the step that he did. but God forbid that we should judge him, or you, or anyone else. If we could only keep our spiritual eyes open and see the danger signals on every hand, which oft times warn us of the side path of duty. God has called us and chosen us, and he is not going to keep us in darkness for a number of years; but as soon as he calls and we obey that call he will show us the path that he wants us to walk in. But with some it takes them so long to find their place in life that their usefulness is destroyed before they find it. Dear Maud, forgive me if there is anything I have said in this letter that seems to be harsh at this time, for if ever there was a time in your life that you needed spiritual help and guidance, it is now. Oh! that I could be by your side and have a heart-to-heart talk with you.


“We thank God for the blessed experience he has given us during the past fourteen years. We found our place then, and I trust that we shall always stick to the path that God has chosen for us. We have been tempted many times, but God has always come to our aid and given us the victory. bless his name.


“May God bless you, dear Maud. Yours in Christ, yet sorrowing for you.




P. S. --Write to me if you have the opportunity. I do so want to hear from you.”


The letter to Esther Mitchell is as follows:


 “Damascus, Or., July 19, 1906.


“Miss Esther Mitchell: Enclosed is a check for $1 to help pay your expenses when you get ready to go home.


“I don’t belong to your church. I was going to send you $2, but thought I better keep the other one. The Bible says ‘know thyself.’ What you going to do with such fools. With regards.


“Viola Burr.



Seattle Daily Times 7/22/1906 p8

Esther Mitchell Receives $1

Friend From Oregon Writes to Her, and Mrs. Creffield Gets Letter From Salvation Army Women at Los Angeles.


Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Creffield had the gloomy hours of their confinement in the county jail, where they are awaiting trial for the murder of George Mitchell, illuminated yesterday by the receipt of letters from people, who, while not relatives, nevertheless sympathize with the women in their hour of trouble. The letters were handed to the women by Deputy Sheriff Tom Smith, and the recipients seemed much cheered at the evidences of the fact that they are not forsaken entirely by those who knew them in former days.


The letter to Esther Mitchell was signed Viola Burr, of Damascus, Oregon, and the writer evidently is unaware of the fact that the girl is charged with the murder of her brother, for the letter, while dated July 19, had enclosed a check for $1, which was said to be for the purpose of assisting the girl in reaching home. The writer states that it was the original intention to send $2, but says: “I thought I had better keep the other one.


After reading the letter, Esther Mitchell asked Deputy Sheriff Smith to return the money to the writer. She said she knew who it was who sent it, but offered no further information concerning the matter. Her request will be complied with.


The letter to Mrs. Creffield was from Mrs. E. Plumstead, wife of the adjutant in charge of the Salvation Army at Los Angeles. The writer started by saying that she hardly knew what to say in view of what she had read in the papers about the killing of George Mitchell. She then referred to the time when, at Portland, she had known both Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell, and also the husband of the former, who is referred to as a “Godlike boy.” The writer regrets the conditions leading up to the present trouble, in which Mrs. Creffield finds herself, and closes with words of sympathy and religious consolation.


Mrs. Creffield read the letter carefully and then tore it up. She made no comments.


It is the intention of Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh to have both women arraigned tomorrow if Superior Judge Frater is present.





Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/22/1906 p13

End to Troubles of Holy Roller Family


Corvallis Gazette 7/24/1906 p3

End to Troubles of Holy Roller Family


(Special dispatch to The Journal)


Corvallis, Or., July 21.-- A deed filed at the recorder’s office Saturday afternoon conveys the handsome residence property of the Hartleys, in this city, from the mother, Mrs. Lewis Hartley to the daughter, Miss Sophia. A bill of sale of the household effects is also given the daughter, thus making her sole possessor of the premises. Lewis Hartley is in town today, having been absent for several weeks. The report is on the street that the family is reconciled and will again settle down. They are former Holy Rollers and it has been suspected for the past week that the women were going to Washington to join the Holy Rollers there.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 7/22/1906 p10

Churches, Where One May Go and Worship This Morning and Evening


Pentecostal Mission--Fifteenth and Mill streets. Sunday school at 9:30. Preaching at 11 and 8. Fraternity meeting at 7. Prayer meeting on Friday evening. You will be welcomed.

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