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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 18, 1906: Maud Creffield Anxious to Hang




Seattle Daily Times 9/18/1906 p1

Maud Creffield Anxious to Hang


Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 9/18/1906 p10

Glad Mitchell is Murdered


Mrs. Creffield Tells Insanity Experts That God Ordered the Crime. Perfectly Willing to Suffer Extreme Penalty. States The Lord Appeared to Her Twice as Did Her Slain Spouse Who Wanted His Death to Be Avenged.


(Special Dispatch to The Journal)


[Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) In answer to the question as to whether or not she was willing to undergo punishment for the murder of George Mitchell, Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield made the following reply to the alienist examining her this morning:]


“I am anxious to pay the penalty of the law. I would be glad to give up my life for taking George Mitchell’s life. I have fulfilled the purpose for which God place me in this world and I care not what happens to me.”


This is the statement made by Mrs. Maud Creffield this morning to the medical commission that is inquiring into her sanity. The statement was in answer to a question as to whether she was willing to undergo capital punishment for her crime. The examination of Mrs. Creffield this morning was searching and exhaustive and related to her reasons for committing the crime.


Although brought into court in a weak condition that necessitated her being revived by food before the examination could begin the woman bore up well through it all. All of the questions put to her were answered in clear, concise language in a most intelligent manner and with much force. Frequent quotations from the Bible were used by several woman to illustrate her meaning. Several times she refused to answer questions concerning her religious experiences. Her refusals were always made in the most polite manner, the witness simply saying: “I have said all I care to say about that matter.”




Mrs. Creffield testified that after the killing of her husband she was so disturbed that she could not receive a message from God and entered into a state of prayer that God might tell her what to do. “When I became composed,” she said, “it was witnesseth through my spirit that it was the will of God that I should kill George Mitchell. I feared that my desire and not the will of God was speaking to me, so I again entered into a state of prayer. Again God’s word came to me that I should kill George Mitchell. There could be no mistake that it was God’s will.


“My husband’s spirit also spoke to me telling me that it was his wish as well as that of God that I should avenge his death. I knew that if I were to fulfill the word of God that I would be subjected to the penalty of man’s law. But then I never considered the laws of men when the will of God has been made known to me.”


After this statement the medical commission inquired if she had been commanded by God to kill George Mitchell, why she let Esther Mitchell do the slaying. She said: “Until two days before the killing I intended to do it, knowing it was God’s will that I should do so. At that time Esther came to me and said that God had made known to her that it was his will that she should kill her brother, George. Both of us had been in a state of prayer. I did not believe her. I was certain that it was God’s will that I should do the killing. However, both of us again entered into a state of prayer and it was witnesseth to me that Esther was correct and that it was God’s will that she should do the killing.”




When Dr. Turner pointed out to her that the statements she was making to the commission were quite at variance with those made at police headquarters after her arrest she admitted that it was so. She was handed a stenographic report of her confession to the police, but refused to read it saying: “I know what is there.” She said that before the killing she and Esther Mitchell had agreed to make the statement taken down by the police. She declared her reason for this was because she was satisfied that the public would laugh at her religious motive and “mock and scoff at it.”


Since her incarceration she declared that God had made it known to her that she should make public the true motives of her act regardless of consequences. Mrs. Creffield stated that if she had not been a party to the killing that her life would have been a failure and that she would be unhappy at not having fulfilled her divine mission on earth.


When asked whether the killing of Mitchell had made her happy she said: “I am satisfied; I am certain that I have fulfilled God’s will. I was not happy. I am never happy. I care nothing for happiness on earth. I simply wish to do God’s will.”




Mrs. Creffield, speaking of Esther’s desire to commit the crime, said: “Esther told me that God had made it known to her that the reason she had been spared was to do the killing. She said that she had never suffered the persecutions that the others of the flock had suffered for the sake of the religion, and that God had made it known to her that the time had arrived for her to do her part.


The examination of Mrs. Creffield closed at noon. Esther Mitchell is being examined this afternoon. The medical commission are in hopes of closing their labors by night and making a report to the court in the morning.



Maud Hurt CreffieldSeattle Star 9/18/1906 p7

Did Only What the Spirits Commanded

Mrs. Creffield Says She But Obeyed the Will of Her Heavenly Father in Allowing Esther Mitchell to Kill Her Brother.


Mrs. Maud Creffield, who with Esther Mitchell is being examined before an insanity commission, the verdict of which will determined whether or not the two women will be tried for the murder of George Mitchell, was again placed on the stand this morning.


Mrs. Creffield stated that she had communications with her husband through the spirits, and acted according to the instructions given her by those spirits in the Mitchell case.


The morning before the murder of Creffield by George Mitchell, Mrs. Creffield said Creffield told her that his blood would soon flow at the hands of the enemy. He also stated that his death would be avenged, but did not state by whom.




Mrs. Creffield said this morning that she and Esther had planned on what to say when they were arrested and that they would stick to the story, and would take the penalty for the deed rather than to feel that their lives had been failures.


When asked if she would do the same thing again she said:

It was the will of our Heavenly Father that George should die, and I did as I was told to do by the spirits. I had no personal feeling against George Mitchell, and I intended to take his life myself, but Esther said that she felt it her duty to kill him, so I let her do it.”


Mrs. Creffield was then asked why she did not kill Messes. Morris and Shipley, the attorneys who defended George Mitchell. She said: “I would have killed them if the spirits had told me to.”





Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/18/1906

New Evidence in Sanity Hearing


Corvallis Gazette 9/21/1906 p1

In Seattle

What Has Been Done In Mitchell Creffield Case.


 Attorney Will H. Morris Gives Information in the Mitchell-Creffield Case. Mrs. Creffield on Stand. Witness Tells of Her Religious Belief--Hearing Continued Today.”


The conclusion of the hearing of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Creffield on charges of insanity was yesterday put off one more day by the commission on account of the discovery of a new witness who occupied much of the time of the physicians and gave some new information that heretofore had not been heard. This witness was Will H. Morris, the attorney who defended George Mitchell when charged with the murder of Franz Edmund Creffield. Mr. Morris was not called by the commission but volunteered to place the facts at hand before the board.


He made the statement that from the first time he had been thrown with the two women in a professional way he has considered both of them insane and declared that he was so thoroughly convinced of this that after Mitchell had been released he warned the authorities to watch the women very closely so that there could be no chance for them to do violence to anyone. He said further that during the trial of the case he watched those interested in the Creffield affair very closely and as soon as possible swore many of them in as witnesses when he had no intention of using them merely to get them out of the court room and save any demonstration that he felt might be made at any time.


Mr. Morris related his experiences with Esther Mitchell since the first time he saw her as she alighted from the train shortly after the shooting of Creffield. [(Corvallis Gazette) He said that when he introduced himself as the attorney for her brother, she refused to have anything to do with him.] He said at the time Esther Mitchell refused to have anything to do with her brother and would have no conversation with the witness relative to the case, saying that she and her brother had nothing in common. She expressed no sympathy for the man, said Mr. Morris, more than to say she hoped he would not be killed until he had had time to get right with his creator.


Mr. Morris said that not only himself, but the other attorneys interested in the George Mitchell trial, including Deputy Prosecuting Miller, were all of the same opinion regarding the mental condition of the women.


“I believe these women have such a weak mentality,” said Mr. Morris, “that it will be impossible to convict them before a jury of twelve men and do not think the county should be put to the expense of trying it. I do not think they will ever become normal and think the place for them is an asylum.”


[(Corvallis Gazette) He said that he thought the girl had done the shooting because of a plan which had been arranged for a new “Christ,” to which she was to have been a party, and which was stopped by the death of Creffield.]


Mrs. Creffield was placed on the stand again during the morning and questioned closely regarding her religion and its practices. Then she recited her meeting with Creffield and later of her marriage to him. She explained in detail the relation of Creffield, herself and Esther Mitchell in a religious way.


Dr. Snyder, the county jail physician, was called by the commission and he told of the jail life of the women.


Early in the afternoon the commission adjourned, much to the surprise of those interested for it was understood that the hearing was to be closed yesterday. This morning at 9:30 o’clock another session will be had and at that time Esther Mitchell will be examined.


It is impossible to say whether or not the commission will end its labors today, for new witnesses have appeared almost daily.


Corvallis Gazette 9/18/1906

--Frank Francisco is clerking at S. L. Kline’s during the absence in Seattle of O. V. Hurt.

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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