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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 24, 1906: Must Not Deport


Seattle Daily Times 9/24/1906 p1

Supreme Court Acts

Appellate Tribunal Restrains Judge Frater From Signing Order Deporting Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield

Must Appear And Make Explanation Of Acts

Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh Successful in Preventing Immediate Liberation of Murderers Found Insane.




Corvallis Gazette 9/28/1906 p1

Must Not Deport

Women to Oregon--Order to Restrain Judge Frater.


Superior Judge Frater was restrained by an order of the Supreme Court issued this morning, from signing an order directing the sheriff to transfer Esther Mitchell and Maud Hurt Creffield to Oregon and as a result free them from the necessity of standing trial for the murder of George Mitchell. Judge Frater was also ordered to appear before the Supreme Court on October 26 and show cause, if any exists, why he should not be permanently enjoined from having the two women accused of murder deported and the criminal laws of the state set at naught.


The order that will prevent the immediate transfer of the women was secured by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller acting under instructions from Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh. The county attorney prepared the necessary papers Saturday and his deputy left for Olympia this morning. At noon Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh received word that the Supreme Court had come to his aid in his attempt to prevent the murderers from escaping trial.


Pending the date of this hearing, which will also determine whether Judge Frater should not be compelled to return the cases to the trial dockets, from which he arbitrarily struck them, the order issued this morning will prevent any attempt being carried out to liberate the women.


[(Corvallis Gazette) The writ issued by the court directs Judge Frater not only to show cause why he should not be prevented in his attempt to turn the two murderers loose upon the people of the friendly state of Oregon, but why he should not be compelled to return the cases to the trial docket from which he arbitrarily struck them. Pending the date of this hearing the order issued this morning will prevent Judge Frater from carrying out his scheme to liberate the women.]




In his petition Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh declares “that great and appreciable loss and injury to this petitioner in his said official capacity, as well as great and irreparable loss, injury and damage to the public generally and to the State of Washington, and to the due, orderly and legal administration of the criminal laws of said state will result by the threatened acts of said court and said judge unless relief is granted this petitioner.”


The showing made by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh in his petition for the writ was a strong one. The petition set up that an information charging the women with murder in the first degree had been filed on July 18; that the two women had been arraigned and pleaded not guilty; that the women had demanded and had been granted separate trials and the date of their trials fixed. All of these acts were done in accordance with the law.


The application for the writ then set out that on September 10 Frank Hurt, brother-in-law of Esther Mitchell, swore to a complaint, alleging that both women were insane. The appointment of the commission over the protests of the prosecuting attorney is (illegible) (illegible) out. The method in which the hearings were conducted is then described (?:) in length. Judge Frater's illegal (illegible) connection with the commissioners also set up for the information of the court.




Speaking of the illegal manner in which the attempt to free the two women was made, the petition sets up “that in said insanity proceeding, and at the time of the hearing of the same and the whole thereof, said three physicians wrongfully and unlawfully usurped the judicial functions, powers, authority and prerogatives of the said court and the said judge thereof, wrongfully and without authority of law delegated to said three physicians the judicial functions, powers, authority and prerogatives of said court and said judge in this:

That the said charge of insanity of the said Esther Mitchell and the said Maud Creffield was not examined by the judge before said commission as required by law, but on the contrary, said physicians solely and alone, without judicial control, guidance, or limitation (illegible), and without the presence of any court or judge whatsoever, conducted said examination and the whole thereof, asked and propounded to each and every witness each and every question asked throughout the entire hearing of said insanity proceeding, passing upon the immateriality, competency and relevancy of said questions, and judicially considering the weight, materiality, competency and relevancy of the answers thereto, and the entire evidence was introduced without legal or judicial guidance, control, limitation, or restriction exercised over them by any judge or court whatsoever.”


“That said physicians were at all times throughout said hearing the sole and exclusive judges of the legality of their own proceeding and the method, mode, manner and procedure thereof, and, in all things throughout said hearings, were a self-governing tribunal or commission, holding their sessions at no time in open court or in the presence of any judicial officers, and at their own personal convenience and pleasure, and the said court and judge thereof knowingly, wrongfully and without authority of law acquiesced in and permitted the same, that counsel for the state, including your petitioner, was permitted to be present a portion of the time of said hearing only, and at all times when so present was a spectator only, the limit of his participating in the proceedings being to suggest to said physicians the names of certain witnesses; that certain witnesses were suggested by your petitioner of those in his behalf, to-wit, the names of eminent alienists in mental diseases, and said commission arbitrarily and wrongfully refused to permit said alienist to come before them and testify as to their examinations of the said Maud Creffield and the said Esther Mitchell and their opinions as to the sanity or insanity of the said Esther Mitchell and said Maud Creffield, from such examinations, and that many of the examinations of witnesses and much of the proceedings held by said three physicians in said insanity proceedings at which no one but said physicians and the witness being examined was permitted to be present.




“That said insanity proceedings so held in its entirety and the acts and doings of said physicians as herein before stated were and are null and void, wrongful and without authority of law; that said court was wholly without jurisdiction to receive and accept said affidavit and complaint and is and was without jurisdiction to receive said application and to grant the same; that said court was without jurisdiction to appoint said physicians as a commission to inquire into the mental condition, sanity or insanity of the said Esther Mitchell or said Maud Creffield, or either or both of them, and was and is without jurisdiction to receive said written report and certificate as herein before stated, and said insanity proceedings in its entirety, held in the manner and form aforesaid, was and is law null and void for this, among other things: That at the time and date of the filing of said application and the granting of the same as aforesaid, the said Esther Mitchell and said Maud Creffield, and each and both of them, were not at large, but on the contrary, were then and there, and long theretofore, and at all times since, and now are, confined in the county jail of said King county, Washington, having theretofore been arraigned for an indictable offense committed within the jurisdiction of said court, and were at all times before and at the time of said insanity proceeding and now are awaiting trial thereof upon the issue joined therein, and the same is now pending and indisposed of.




“That, notwithstanding the law and the premises, said court and said Honorable A. W. Frater, as judge thereof, threatens to and will, unless restrained and prohibited by order of this court most wrongfully and without authority of law, and without legal and proper jurisdiction in the premises, enter and cause to be entered a judgment, based upon the insanity proceeding as herein before set out and stated, and the said court and said judge thereof is about to threatens to and will, unless this court, most wrongfully, and without authority of law, and without legal and proper jurisdiction in the premises, order, decree and adjudge said Esther Mitchell and said Maud Creffield, and each of them, to be insane, and the said court and the said Honorable A. W. Frater, as judge thereof, further threatens to, is about to, and will, unless he be in the meantime restrained and prohibited by order of this court, most wrongfully, and without authority of law, and without legal and proper jurisdiction in the premises, issue a certain mittimus of commitment, commanding and directing therein that the sheriff of King County, State of Washington or other suitable public official, take said Esther Mitchell and said Maud Creffield, and each and both of them, out of the State of Washington and without the jurisdiction of this court, and take said persons and each of them into and deport each and both of them to the state of Oregon.”



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 9/24/1906 p7

Frater Must Not Deport Women

Supreme Court Enjoins Judge From Liberating Slayers of George Mitchell.




Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/27/1906 p7

Restraint Might Only Delay Case

Attorneys for Mitchell-Creffield Defense Have Several Alternatives.


(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)


Seattle, Sept. 24.--


Should the state Supreme Court decide against the action of Judge Frater in the matter of the disposition of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell and declare that under the proceedings he cannot send them to Oregon, the attorneys interested in the defense of the women declare this will not necessarily mean that the defendants will be tried for murder.


The Supreme Court will decide the question at issue merely on the procedure during the examination by the medical commission. No review of the testimony heard by the physicians will be made. If the procedure is found to be wrong it is still possible that the attorneys for the defense or others may swear to a complaint charging the women with insanity and call for the appointment of a second commission to examine them.


Another method which it is held could be taken by the defendants’ attorneys and which has been stated may be taken, is an application to the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition restraining the court from trying women who are declared to be insane.


As in the Thompson case, there are many attorneys who hold that even if the women come to trial, it will not be in the courts of this county, and that at the last moment a change of venue will be asked by the defense. Judge Frater stated yesterday that he has not yet been served with the writ which he understands was issued out of the Supreme Court in the case, but that he will give the prosecuting attorney’s office all the time necessary to attend to the matter. It is understood the writ will be served on him today.



Corvallis Times 9/14/1906 p4

-- O. V. Hurt and J. K. Berry left Tuesday for Seattle to be present at the examination of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield for insanity.

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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