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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.

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

 

HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 8/12/1906 p1

Esther Mitchell Close to Death from Typhoid

Murderess Tossing on Prison Cot for Four Days Delirious--May Yet Escape Trial.

 

Corvallis Times 8/14/1906 p1

Esther Mitchell

Near Death’s Door From Typhoid Fever.

Murderess Tossing on Prison Cot for Four Days--Reduced to a Shadow of Her Former Self.

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

 

Seattle, Wash, Aug 11.--Esther Mitchell is lying close to death on a cot in the county jail and may, but the intervention of death, be saved from trial for murder in the first degree for slaying her brother George. for four days the girl has tossed delirious upon a fever-stricken bed, but not until yesterday afternoon did the jail physician decide that she has typhoid fever. Even now he refuses to state definitely that this is her ailment, but admits that all the symptoms of the disease are present.

 

Esther Mitchell since her confinement in the jail has enjoyed fairly good health until about a week ago. At that time she complained of the prison fare and of her inability to eat it.

 

Four days ago she took to her cot, and has not been able to rise from it since. The girl murderess is but a shadow of her former self. Always frail, the confinement has worn her down to a mere shadow. When she was first taken ill the jail physician thought that it was simply a case of indigestion, but when her temperature continued to climb the visits of the physician increased in frequency.

 

Now he visits the girl some six or seven times a day. The cell off the jailer’s office in which she is confined is fitted up as a sickroom and the girl is given the best of care. The jailers who see the most of her are candid in saying that they doubt if she will recover. The girl, however, laughs at their fears and declares that her sickness will all be over in a few days and that she will be ready for trial early in October, when the prosecuting attorney desires to try the case. The jailers, however, are not as hopeful as the girl. If she does not improve during the day the judge of the criminal court will be asked to order her sent to the county hospital, where she can be given better attention than at the county jail.

 

During her delirious moments, the girl does not make any reference to the killing of her brother or Creffield. Not once during her illness has she shown any disposition to discuss these matters. Several religious workers who visited the jail tried to ingratiate themselves with the girl, but they failed. She treated them as well as she does the most casual curiosity seeker and no better.

 

When told that she was ill and should now think of the wrongs that she had done, she declared that she was prepared to die, as she had never wronged anyone. Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh does not believe that the girl will be in condition to stand a long trial for several weeks. During her illness she has been visited by alienists in the employ of the prosecution, but they refuse to divulge the result of their investigations.

 

 

Seattle Daily Times 8/12/1906 p1

Esther Mitchell Ill

Girl Who Murdered Her Brother Stricken With Typhoid Fever and May Never Face Jury or Judge in This World.

Raves In Delirium, But Not Of Crime.

Court Will Be Asked to Permit Her Removal to a Hospital, but There Is Little Hope of Her Recovery.

 

Esther Mitchell may never face a jury or pay the penalty the law demands for the killing of another in cold blood and without excuse. This eighteen year-old girl, around whose existence two tragedies have centered, and who is charged with the murder of her own brother, is now lying on her cot in a little cell at the county jail tossing in the delirium of typhoid fever and the attending physician believes that she has little chance for recovery.

 

Although the girl has been ailing for some time it was not until four days ago that Dr. Snyder, the jail physician, considered her to be in danger, and it was not until Friday afternoon that her case was diagnosed as typhoid. She has been given every care possible in the confines of the jail and if she does not show some signs of recovery within a few hours the court will be asked to order her removal to a hospital.

 

TEMPERATURE IS HIGH

 

The girl’s temperature is very high and although there were a few hours yesterday when it was believed that she was better later in the afternoon her condition took a turn for the worse. Esther Mitchell has not stood her confinement well so far as her physical self is concerned and her condition at the time of the present attack was such as to make her particularly susceptible to the ravages of typhoid.

 

Not for one instant so far as her jailers have been able to determine, has this girl suffered the slightest compunction for her crime, and now in her delirium she maintains the same serene indifference to her rash act and its possible results to herself. Not once during the almost incessant ravings of her fever-tortured brain had she mentioned the brother she killed, nor the man Creffield whose life this brother took to protect the virtue of the sister who repaid his kindness by murdering him close upon the heels of an acquittal by a jury.

 

This is a surprise to the men who watch Esther Mitchell at the county jail, for these men who have seen the girl grew pale and thin since she was placed in their custody have felt that remorse and worry have caused her to fail.

 

SAYS NOTHING OF CRIME

 

Now, however, she is beyond any restraint which she might have exercised while in her right mind, but the events of a month ago have evidently left no impression. During her almost incoherent mutterings this girl has talked of her childhood and of other things so trivial as to cause wonder that they ever made any impression upon her, but of the thing which one would believe must have seared her memory beyond the power of an instant’s forgetting, she makes not a mention.

 

The physicians and jailers believe that this girl will be punished, if at all, by a sentence imposed by a higher power than human jury or judge. If, however, she does recover, it will probably be many weeks before she will be well enough to be taken into court and her illness will, it is believed, necessitate a change in the present plans of the prosecuting attorney for her trial. It has been intended to try her early in October, but Dr. Snyder believes that in the event of her recovery it will be at least two months before she will be able to leave her cell.

 

 

Seattle Daily Times 8/13/1906 p5

Esther Mitchell Very Ill

Fever of Girl Who Is Awaiting Trial for Murder Show No Sign of Abatement--Jailers Anxious as to Outcome.

 

Esther Mitchell, awaiting trial in the county jail for the murder of her brother, George Mitchell, is seriously ill. The fever that has racked her body for the last five days showed little signs of abatement today. Her temperature is still high, and the girl is unable to partake of the fare furnished the other prisoners.

 

The jailers are anxious as to the final outcome of the girl’s illness. Last night she became worse and Dr. Snyder made a visit to the girl at the jail. The girl murderess, although very ill, bears up well and declared to her attorney this morning that she thought she would soon be better.

 

If her condition is not improved by morning, her attorney will probably take up the matter of having her transferred to a hospital. Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh will not make any opposition to the girl being removed under proper guards.

 

Mrs. Creffield, who is jointly charged with murder in the first degree, is Esther Mitchell’s nurse. The woman who has played such an important part in the shaping of the girl’s life does not leave her companion’s bedside even for sleep. The night jailers declare that late at night upon their rounds they find her sitting by the girl’s bedside, ready to minister to her needs.

 

Mae Hurt, the sister of Mrs. Creffield, paid a visit to the women this morning. She spent much time conversing with her sister. She declares that she will be present at the trial and will testify for her sister.

 

 

Corvallis Gazette 8/14/1906 p1

Ill in Seattle

 

A dispatch from Seattle in Sunday’s Oregonian says,”

 

Esther Mitchell is seriously ill at the county jail, and unless her condition improves soon a request may be made that she be removed to the County Hospital. Dr. Snyder, the jail physician, who at first denied that her illness was serious, this afternoon diagnosed the case as one of typhoid fever. The girl’s temperature ranged near 101.

 

There is a feeling among jail officials that the girl’s condition may make it impossible to bring her to an early trial. It was expected that she could be brought up for a hearing next month, but this may be impossible.

 

It is said by jail officials that she is delirious much of the time, but her wandering mind has not run back to the murder of Creffield, or the shooting of her brother.

Holy Rollers

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***

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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

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Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers

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Life in Corvallis in the early 1900s

Life in Waldport, OR in early 1900s

Heaven's Gate

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

Oregon State Penitentiary
Where Creffield Was Incarcerated

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Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults

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Creffield's Preachings

Creffield Vs. Crefeld

The Salvation Army Opening Fire in 1886

Holy Roller Theology

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

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About the Authors

Theresa (T-) McCracken

Robert B. Blodgett

In addition to writing, McCracken is a cartoonist.

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

McCracken's Blog

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

(541) 563-3112

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