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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 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Not Seriously Ill


Seattle Post Intelligencer 8/13/1906 p4

Esther Mitchell Not Seriously Ill

Jail Physician Says Girl Prisoner Is Only Slightly Indisposed


“Esther Mitchell is suffering from a slight attack of summer complaint, the same thing that is troubling half of the people in the city at this time.”


This is the statement made yesterday by Dr. J. C. Snyder, jail physician, when asked concerning the young woman prisoner’s condition.


“As I stated on Saturday the woman has been troubled during the last day or two with a slight indisposition, but at no time has she had any of the symptoms of typhoid or even the slightest fever. She has perhaps eaten more than is good for one who is confined and who is not allowed to take all the exercise she needs. Her condition is such that I did not consider it necessary to call on her today.”


Esther Mitchell was lying on the bed in her cell yesterday afternoon, dressed in a wrapper. She showed no signs of fever or illness, but stated that she was tired.


“I am a long way from the morgue,” she said with a smile, “and will live a long time yet. Since being allowed in the women’s ward with Mrs. Creffield I have had her to wait on me, and she has been very kind. Before that I waited on myself all the time, without any inconvenience. If I were to eat everything that is brought to me, I might be ill.”


About the postponement of their trial until after the Thompson murder case Mrs. Creffield said:

It is just what we have expected, and it makes no difference. We are in no hurry for the hearing, but are ready for it at any time.”


The women expressed great satisfaction at being again allowed to be together.



Seattle Star 8/13/1906 p1

Esther Mitchell is Far From Death

Times Deliberately Fakes Story That Young Woman Is Dying of Typhoid Fever---It Is a Weepy Story But It Makes Esther Laugh.


(In a box)




“This 18-year old girl, about 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 in the county jail, tossing in the delirium of typhoid fever, and the attending physician believes she has little chance of recovery.”



Tragic, isn’t it?


It is the story of Esther Mitchell as told in the Sunday Times of yesterday.


Esther Mitchell, awaiting trial on the charge of murder, dying in a cell in the county jail, while high above her, on the dome of the county building, justice stands holding in one hand the scale, and weeps that she is to be cheated of her prey by this white robed angel of death, whose coming is chronicled in the only really true “Seattle made” article.




If the story hadn’t been entirely false, it would have been a very good one.


Esther Mitchell hasn’t got typhoid fever, never had typhoid fever, and doesn’t expect to have.


True, she spends much time lying on her cot in the little cell in the county jail.


But she doesn't toss any. Neither has she been delirious--at least, if she has been she has kept it very quiet.




Saturday she partook of something that didn’t agree with her, and as a consequence, she was troubled slightly with a stomach ache.


To a Star Reporter this morning she laughingly denied that she had tossed any on her cot or in her delirium.


“I don’t know where such a story could have come from,” she said. “It is so silly. I haven’t been sick at all to speak of.”




And she didn’t look sick this morning. She also refrained from tossing and raving while talking with the reporter.


“Esther Mitchell has not at any time since her confinement in the jail had even the slightest symptom of typhoid fever,” said Jail Physician Snyder. “If she was indisposed at all, it was a slight attack of indigestion caused from eating too much fruit.”


But it was a good story and was “Made in Seattle.”



Evening Telegram (Portland) 8/13/1906 p4

Esther Mitchell Shows Signs of Improvement


[Telegram Coast Special.]


SEATTLE, Wash., Aug 13.--It is the opinion of Dr. Snyder, the jail physician, that Esther Mitchell will recover within a short time unless complications arise. The diagnosis indicated typhoid fever, but it is now believed the ailment is less serious. Mrs. Creffield is admitted to the girl’s cell to minister to her wants and her visits are considered beneficial by the physician. Should Miss Mitchell recover she will go to trial next month for the murder of her brother. If her illness continues, a later date will be set.


Seattle Star 8/14/1906 p1

Terrible Tale of Illness of Esther Mitchell


“This 18-year old girl, about 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 in the county jail, tossing in the delirium of typhoid fever, and the attending physician believes she has little chance of recovery.”--From the Times of Sunday last.



“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 sign 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 paid a visit to the girl at the jail.”--From the Times of yesterday.



SEATTLE, Wash., July 14, 1906.


Editor of Star, Seattle, Wash., Dear Sir: In reply to your request for information in regard to Esther Mitchell’s condition, I can briefly state that she was indisposed from an ordinary attack of summer complaint on Friday and Saturday of last week. She is at the present time a little weak, but is otherwise perfectly well. She has had at no time any typhoid fever or any delirium from any other cause. Respectfully,





“I never felt better in my life than I do today. I ate a hearty breakfast this morning and enjoyed it. I don’t know where this story about my having typhoid fever could have come from.”--Esther Mitchell’s statement to The Star this morning.



Corvallis Times 8/14/1906


--Esther Mitchell, who killed her brother at Seattle is sick. At first it was believed that her malady was typhoid fever, but yesterday’s dispatches state that she is better and that the former typhoid fever theory is probably wrong. Maud Hurt Creffield has been put in the same cell with her during Miss Mitchell’s illness. A dispatch announces that the women will be brought to trial next month for the shooting of George Mitchell.


Corvallis Gazette 8/14/1906 p1

Day ‘Juice’ Now


Corvallis has taken another step in the line of progress, and has electricity now for power purposes, day and night. The day current was turned on Friday by Willamette Valley Company and a twenty-four hour service will hereafter be maintained.



Corvallis Gazette 8/14/1906


The date of the trial of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell on the charge of murder has not been set, and the two young women are growing pale and thin as they idle away the time in a Seattle prison, awaiting their fate. Information from there to O. V. Hurt is that it is hoped an insanity commission may yet be established and that the women may be committed to the asylum, but there is nothing certain about it. The trial, his informant says, may be set for an early date, or it may not come up for weeks; so the only thing that can be done is for those concerned to wait with what patience they can command.



Corvallis Gazette 8/24/1906 p3


Miss Esther Mitchell is recovering from her attack of typhoid fever in the Seattle jail, and is able to sit up part of the time. Maud Hurt-Creffield, however, is very ill and is looking very bad. She had not partaken of food for several days when last heard from. Meanwhile, the work goes on in the murder case, preparatory to the trial that is to come.


Corvallis Gazette 8/31/1906 p3


Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield who has been seriously ill in the Seattle jail, where she is awaiting trial, is somewhat better, according to a letter received from Esther Mitchell by O. V. Hurt (sic), in this city, Wednesday. The letter tells Mr. Hurt not to worry about Mrs. Creffield and the writer, and states that the two women are given the best of treatment by the jail officials. “Of course,” so the letter runs, “the air in the jail is not the best, and it is not a very quiet place for any one who is ill, but we are treated as well as we can be under the circumstances.”

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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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