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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.

September 12, 1906: Hurt Thinks His Daughter Insane


Seattle Star 9/12/1906 p7

Hurt Thinks His Daughter Insane

Father of Mrs. Creffield Testifies Before Commission Appointed by Judge Frater--Girls Examined This Morning.


(In a box)


The greatest show of emotion by Esther Mitchell since she has been in the public limelight occurred this afternoon in the court room. When her two brothers, Perry and Fred entered she sprang quickly from her chair and threw both arms about the necks of the two boys and kissed them affectionately.



The commission appointed by Judge Frater last Monday to determine the sanity of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell, composed of Drs. R. M. Ames, J. H. Snyder and Kenneth Turner, which is to determine whether or not the two women are to be tried for the killing of George Mitchell, brother of Esther Mitchell, July 5, or be sent to an asylum for the insane, began.


Upon motion of Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller the examination is being conducted in open court. The two women were first questioned as to their ages and as to where they were born and how long they had lived in Seattle. These questions were answered readily.


Maud Creffield was born in Oregon and is 26 years old.


Esther Mitchell was born in Indiana and is 18 years old.


Both women appeared to be in good spirits and talked freely. Perry Mitchell came from Oregon to be present at his sister’s trial, but did not talk to his sister this morning.


O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield, who came from his home in Oregon to do all in his power for the defense of his daughter, was the first witness called.




Mr. Hurt testified that his daughter had always been of a very religious turn of mind and that whenever a new religion was presented she invariably put all her soul into the teaching.


At the age of 22 Mrs. Creffield began to show signs of insanity. When her belief of a certain religious teaching was not accepted by others she refused to speak to or recognize such persons. She gradually grew worse and finally only spoke of her father as “that old man Hurt,” because he would not accept her religious beliefs.


As her actions and slovenly appearance began to attract the attention of their neighbors in Oregon an insanity commission, composed of Drs. Cather and Farra, was appointed to determine her sanity and found that she was mentally unbalanced. She was committed to the insane asylum in Benton county, Oregon, where she remained for six months. She was taken sick at the asylum and upon the promise of her father to care for her, she was released upon parole. According to attorneys in the case, she is still a paroled patient of the Oregon insane asylum.




After Mrs. Creffield was taken home she again began to show signs of weakness and refused to eat meat, especially pork, as it was against her latest religion. she would then have melancholy, weeping spells and when over the effects of one of these spells would destroy her clothing and proclaim to all who knew her that “God will protect me.”


Shortly after he release from the asylum and over her sickness she met Franz Edmund Creffield. She then went with him, believed his teachings, and finally the two were married.


Creffield was with the Salvation Army at that time, but later organized the “Holy Rollers.”


Mr. Hurt declares his daughter has been partially insane for years, which he says may have been caused by typhoid or scarlet fever, both of which she has had in their worst forms.


W. A. Holzheimer and C. L. Baxter, attorneys for the two women, are firm in their belief that the two women will never be brought to trial for murder.


The report of the commission will probably not be ready until tomorrow morning.


This afternoon Mrs. Graham, matron of the Boys’ and Girls’ society at Portland, Ore., and W. F. Graham, superintendent of the same institution, testified for Esther Mitchell. Both stated that while Miss Mitchell was under the care of the officers she always appeared queer and would not associate with the other children. At no time did she appear exceptionally bright.


James Berry, of Corvallis, testified for Mrs. Creffield, saying that at one time he was engaged to be married to her, but upon “a command from God” she broke the engagement.


Perry and Fred Mitchell, it was stated this afternoon, will go on the stand and testify in their sister’s behalf.





Corvallis Gazette 9/14/1906 p3


Corvallis Times 9/14/1906 p14


Seattle, Wash, Sept 12.-- In the court room where she is being tried to determine her sanity Esther Mitchell was reconciled to her two brothers, Perry and Fred, this afternoon. As the two boys came into the room she sprang up from her seat and threw her arms about their necks, kissing each effusively.


The boys had come north to testify for their sister, and she recognized in their appearance an indication of their love for her. When they went away from Seattle, taking their brother George’s body to Oregon for burial, Esther was indifferent and almost brutal in her attitude toward the rest of her family. Either the imprisonment or the manifestation of her brothers’ interest has softened her, for this afternoon she was overjoyed at their coming.



Corvallis Times 9/14/1906 p4


Seattle, Sept. 12.-- The medical commission appointed by Superior Judge Frater to inquire into the alleged insanity of Esther Mitchell and Maud Hurt Creffield charged with murder in the first degree for slaying George Mitchell, commenced its hearing this morning with the interrogation of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield. Only questions calling for the most general answers were asked the two women.


Esther Mitchell testified that she was 18 years old in January. She asserted that she had been in Seattle since April, coming here from Oregon, the state of her nativity. She asserted that her education consisted of a course in grammar school. The crime for which she is incarcerated and her mental condition was not inquired into at all.


Mrs. Creffield testified that she was 26 years old, a native of Indiana and that she had also completed a grammar school course. Her examination was as meager as that of Esther Mitchell.


O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield, testified that both his wife and Mrs. Creffield had been in the insane asylum in Oregon. Three years ago a medical commission at Corvallis ordered Mrs. Creffield confined in the asylum at Salem, Oregon.


While there she had frequently to be kept in the straight-jacket. Mr. Hurt testified that Mrs. Creffield had never been discharged from the insane asylum, that she had been released on parole in his care. His wife, and the mother of Mrs. Creffield were in the insane asylum, according to the witness at the same time.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 9/12/1906

Development of Bohemia

Great Activity Is Manifest in Thriving Gold Camp in Cascade Mountains.

Musick Electric Plant Short Of Water Power.

Tram From Mill to Mill Is Run Half Day Because of Low Stage of Steam--Quantities of Good Ore Taken Out.


(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)


Bohemia, Or., Sept 12.,-- Much development work is being performed in this mining section and everybody seems prosperous.


The 30-stamp mill at the Oregon Securities is steadily grinding away on Musick ore. The electric tram from the Musick mine to the mill is operated only half the day now, as the water is low at the power plant and electricity is not very plentiful.


The North Fairview Company is being rapidly developed, a good crew of men being at work under the management of Elzie Holderman. Much good ore has been opened up in the different drifts on this property and the day is near at hand when the North Fairview Company will require a mill to treat its ores.


O. P. Adams, an old-timer, is developing his property near the Musick and is working in the tunnel. He has a fine property, known as the Ophir group, that is waiting for capital to properly develop it.




The Royal Flush company, composed of local miners, is steadily developing it property and much good ore is exposed.


Lewis Hartley has a crew of men at work on the “Bohemia Seven” property and much progress is being made.


A contract has just bee finished on the Great Eastern property. This company has three groups of claims and owns valuable ground.


Work is progressing nicely on the cross-cut tunnel at the Twin Rocks property. The company has 1200 feet yet to drive before they strike their main ledge, in which they expect to show up some stuff of very fine grade. The ore is free milling on this property for a great depth.


Blackburn, Underwood and Farra of Corvallis and Albany have just finished some development work on their group of five claims west of the Great Eastern property. They run a short cross cut to the ledge and will drift on it when more work is done.



Corvallis Gazette 9/14/1906 p3

Local and Personal


--J. K. Berry and O. V. Hurt left Tuesday night for Seattle to appear as witnesses in the trial of Maud Hurt-Creffield, Wednesday.

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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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