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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 15, 1906: Mrs. Creffield’s Trial Set for Next Month




Seattle Daily Times 9/15/1906

Sets Creffield Case for Trial in October


Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 9/16/1906 p14

Mrs. Creffield’s Trial Set for Next Month


Judge Frater, Upon Motion of Prosecuting Attorney, Fixes Date When Woman Shall Face Jury.


Judge Frater this morning set the case of Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield, charged jointly with Esther Mitchell with murder in the first degree, for trial on October 12. Although the insanity commission that is now examining into the woman’s alleged insanity has not completed its labors, Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh wished the case to be set down for trial.


Esther Mitchell’s trial has already been set for September 24. The prosecuting attorney will demand that the women be tried, even should the commission find them to be insane.



Seattle Star 9/15/1906 p1

Trial Set for Mrs. Creffield


Mrs. Maud Creffield, who is to be tried separately from Esther Mitchell, but charged jointly with the killing of George Mitchell, is to be on trial October 12 before Judge Frater, providing the medical commission now making the examination of the women does not find her insane.


The commission is in session this afternoon, but is being conducted behind closed doors.





Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/15/1906 p5

Secret Sessions in Mitchell Case


Corvallis Gazette 9/18/1906 p1

Secret Sessions in Mitchell Case


Commission Inquires Concerning Practices of Holy Rollers. Prosecutor is Examined. Physicians Who May Testify in Murder Trial Later Are Questioned.


The hearing of the insanity commission in the Creffield-Mitchell examination was yesterday held behind closed doors for the most part and not even the attorneys interested in the proceedings were admitted. O. V. Hurt, the father of Mrs. Creffield, and his son, Frank Hurt, were examined for some time. The result was shown later in the trial of the case, when questions were asked other witnesses.


During the afternoon a second closed door session was held, when Dr. John B. Loughary was examined. In the evening the physicians once more held their session alone, for another physician, Dr. Nicholson, was examined.




The most important witness during the morning was John F. Miller, deputy prosecuting attorney. He related without interruption the conversations that he has had since coming in contact with the two women in his official position, bringing out the love they show for each other and the inattention which Esther Mitchell is declared to have said her brothers gave her.


He had learned, he said, the Esther had shot her brother partly on account of the killing of Creffield and partly on account of the statements made by George Mitchell after his arrest for the murder of the Holy Roller leader when he gave his reasons for the act. He said the girl had told him that George Mitchell was an immoral man, her brother Fred was addicted to the use of liquor and that she had never been able to get on with her father and stepmother, and so did not care to live with them.


The women, continued Mr. Miller, had always been reticent about their creed. They seemed to believe in a life after death. He declared his disbelief in the assertions that there were immoral practices concerned in the religion. He admitted that the letter written by Esther Mitchell at the time she was in the home in Portland might bespeak a diseased mind. [(Corvallis Gazette) He declared his disbelief in the immoral procedures alleged to have been indulged in by the followers of Creffield, but said that if such practices were carried on they were certainly unusual and irrational.]




During the morning Mr. Hurt and his son were examined carefully. Their testimony concerned the alleged practices indulged in by the Holy Rollers. According to their declarations these were even more vicious and immoral than the former reports have made them. [(Corvallis Gazette) According to the witnesses the exercises were far more vile than would be gathered even from the reports that have gone out.] Mr. Hurt, Sr., said it was one of the beliefs of the church that Creffield was to be martyred and would be shot, and further that one of the members would be called to avenge his death. He also made the statement that there have been several cases of insanity in his family.


During the morning session Chief of Police Wappenstein was called with a number of his officers. Chief Wappenstein verified the statement made by Mrs. Creffield after the shooting of George Mitchell, as published in the Post-Intelligencer, and also that made by Esther Mitchell at the same time. The statements were further verified by Detective Frank Kennedy, who had taken them in short hand. George Brown, Capt. Sullivan and J. L. Barck, other members of the city force, were also examined. The admitted that the case stands out prominently among other criminal cases that have come under their attention because of the coolness of the women. The only indication of either of them having been nervous was related by Officer Brown, who arrested Mrs. Creffield on Broadway. He declared that while bringing her to the station she was continually looking about her. Later she told him she feared she might be killed by some of Mitchell’s relatives.




Dr. Bories was called. He had attended Creffield after the man had been shot down by Mitchell, and Mrs. Creffield was present with the body when he arrived. He declared she showed no sign of sorrow, but that when he pronounced the man dead, she said he was not dead but would rise again in a few hours. E. O. Kelsey, a reporter, was called later in the day and he recited his experiences with the two women after the shooting of Mitchell.


It was stated on Thursday night that Mrs. O. V. Hurt had arrived from Corvallis in response to the telegram sent her, but yesterday it materialized that the shock of the announcement of the examination proved to be more than she could endure, and she collapsed. If she is brought here now it will be necessary for attendants to accompany her, for she is very low.


The physicians declared yesterday that they may not be able to finish their work before the fist of next week.





Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/16/1906 p7

Insanity Hearing May Close Monday


Corvallis Gazette 9/18/1906 p1

Insanity Hearing May Close Monday

Examination of Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell by Commission Next Move.


The hearing of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Creffield, which is being conducted in the superior court by a commission to determine the question of the sanity of the women, will probably be concluded on Monday. It is not likely that the physicians will be ready to make their report to the court until later in the week. One of the members said yesterday that the testimony will be in by Monday night, and that the commission will then go over the transcribed copy of the proceedings and determine the mental condition of the women.


Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller stated some days ago that he desired to introduce evidence in rebuttal when the physicians had finished their examinations, and it is expected that other of the attorneys interested may also wish to take the same step. According to statements of the members of the commission this will be allowed if requested.


At the session of the board yesterday, Jailers Thomas Smith and Larsen, of the county jail, were called. They told of the conduct of the two women since their incarceration, and both declared their belief in the sanity of the prisoners. They said, however, that both Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield acted unlike any other prisoners they had ever had to deal with. Police Officer Mason, of the city force, was also examined. He made the arrest of Esther Mitchell after the shooting of her brother. His testimony was along the same lines as that given by other officers of the force, and nothing new was developed.


Following the adjournment of the board the examiners paid a visit to the two women in their quarters in the county jail. There they found the little cell as clean as it can be kept, with white linen on the cot, clean towels and handkerchiefs and other necessary articles hung about the place. For a long time the physicians talked with the women, letting the conversation drift from one topic to another, frequently asking questions of a personal nature. The visit was made especially for the purpose of learning the general habits and condition of the women and the manner in which they cared for themselves in their temporary home.


On Monday the commission will examine the women, and it is intended to devote the entire day to this part of the program. One of the prisoners will be heard during the morning session and the other during the afternoon, and they will not be allowed to see or converse with each other during the day, or until the examination of both is concluded. Unless it is found necessary to call Mrs. O. V. Hurt from her home to be examined, the hearing will end so far as the commission is concerned, on Monday evening, or at the conclusion of the examination of the women.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/16/1906 p7

Creffield Murder Trial on Oct. 22

Cochran Assault Case and Marfaudilli Hearing Are Also Assigned.


If the commission now occupied in examining into the sanity of Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield finds that the woman is not mentally unbalanced, she will be tried on a charge of murder in the first degree on October 22. The charge is the result of the shooting of George Mitchell by his sister, Esther, at the Union station, July 12. The woman is implicated in the crime through statements she made after the tragedy in which she declared she had intended to do the deed herself, but did not have the opportunity and so allowed the young girl to act. The date for the trial of Esther Mitchell has not yet been set.


The first of the more interesting cases that are to be heard during the fall term of the criminal court, is that of William Cochrane, a pioneer settler of the county, charged with assault with intent to kill Thomas J. Sharkey, a pioneer neighbor. This will be heard on October 1. The information charging Cochrane with the crime sets out that he shot Sharkey three time through the body, inflicting wounds from which the man came very near dying. Both of the parties are well known throughout the county, and each is now asking damages of the other for personal injuries. Cochrane alleges that Sharkey assaulted him with a pitchfork.


On October 8, the hearing of Julius Marfaudilli will be had. He is charged with murder in the second degree. The information states that he set a trap in a trunk in a lodging house in Seattle and that while his landlady, Mrs. Bailey, was attempting to lift the trunk lid the gun exploded, killing her. The defendant was brought into court to enter his plea to the charge preferred against him, but was not allowed to do so on account of a motion to make the information more plain which is now under advisement. He will plead on Tuesday, at which time the decision of the court will be made.




Charles Riley, found guilty a few days ago of robbery, was arraigned to receive sentence. A strong plea was made to the (the rest of the article was cut off)

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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