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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 25, 1906: Judge Frater is in Very Small Business


Seattle Daily Times 9/25/1906 p1

Judge Frater is in Very Small Business

Governor of Oregon Denounces King County Jurist for His Action in the Mitchell-Creffield Insanity Case

Executive Says Order Is Illogical.

District Attorney Manning Joins in Criticism of Proceeding and Southern State Can Easily Retaliate.


The Times Special Service.


PORTLAND, Tuesday, September. 25.--The Oregonian says:


When Judge Frater, of the superior court of King County, Wash., flew off on a tangent the other day and ordered Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield, the Holy Rollers, deported to Oregon because a local insanity commission had pronounced them insane he little realized what a hornet’s nest he was about to bring about his head or how ridiculous he was making himself in the eyes of the Oregon authorities.


Even the people of Seattle recognized the weakness of his logic, and were loud in their protests against an order that could not fail to inflict an injury upon the community.


The prosecuting attorney went a step further and took an appeal to the state Supreme Court, while some of the Seattle newspapers overlooked the probable expense of a murder trial and condemned Judge Frater’s action.


Gov. Chamberlain was outspoken in his denunciation of Judge Frater’s attitude in the matter. He feels certain that Judge Frater’s ruling will not be sustained by the higher court. The chief executive of Oregon was on the point of departure for Salem yesterday afternoon, and was seen at the Union Depot.




“I am not advised to the (illegible) status of the case pending at Seattle against Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell for the murder of the latter’s brother, said the governor, but I am informed that a committee of experts has found that they are paranoiacs, hence not responsible for the crime committed by them, and that the judge before whom the case is pending will order their deportation to Oregon.


“If it is true that the judge has made such an unusual order, he has committed a judicial outrage that ought to subject him to impeachment. These defendants were at one time residents of Oregon. They left here, intending to remain away, and took up their residence in Washington, and were residents of the latter state at the time of the commission of the crime charged against them. If they should not be prosecuted because at the time of the Mitchell killing they were insane, they should be committed to an asylum in Washington.


“The court has no power to deport resident criminals or insane, and if these people are brought here and turned loose by officers of Washington, they can return there whenever they please, as the order of the court at Seattle would not justify the superintendent of our asylum in committing them here.


“In other words, the order of the Washington court would have no extra territorial force.




“If the judge has made, or intends to make the order referred to, he is engaged in exceedingly small business. He would only attempt to do so on the theory that the defendants are residents of Oregon, and in order to avoid the expense of their maintenance in Washington. If the authorities here wanted to retaliate, they could do so easily. Residents of Washington have been committed to the asylum here from counties bordering on the two states. At least one, and possibly more, patients are now confined here who were released from Washington asylums. If retaliation were resorted to, the Oregon authorities could easily even up, but there is no disposition to do it here.


“There is an unwritten law regulating these matters--a comity between the states. When a citizen of an adjoining state is committed to the asylum while in good faith sojourning her, our authorities care for him. Other states generally do the same thing, and the accounts will usually about balance each other.


“I do not believe the Supreme Court of Washington would sustain any such order as that charged to have been made by the judge before whom the cases of Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell are pending.




County Judge Webster was equally positive in his opinions on the subject. He has the handling of all the insanity cases arising in Multnomah County, and is frequently called upon to pass judgment on patients that are brought here form other states. Only the other day he ordered a woman who was brought here from Walla Walla committed to the Oregon State Asylum, and the only reason why she was not sent there was because of her unexpected death. In an interview yesterday, Judge Webster said:

I am not entirely familiar with the statutes of Washington bearing on the subject, but it seems to me that the idea of a court commission taking from the hands of the criminal authorities persons charged with capital offenses is an unheard of proposition, and I have no doubt the Supreme Court of the state will take the same view of the matter.


“It strikes me that there ought to be some sort of interstate reciprocity on questions of this kind, and so far as Multnomah County is concerned, I am not aware of a single instance where we have attempted to foist an insane person upon some other state merely because he did not happen to be a resident of Oregon.




“The humane view of the matter would be for us to care for them without considering where they might legally belong, and for other states to adopt the same Golden Rule doctrine.


“I do not think there would be much difference in the balance of accounts, and consider that there are not enough cases of this character arising to cut much figure, anyway.


“If we wanted to be that small, the boundary line between Oregon and Washington is not very far distant, and we could very easily dump all our crazy people upon them and save ourselves a whole lot of botheration and care, but there is not much likelihood of our resorting to any such narrow course.”


“It is a very unfortunate affair that the state of Washington has been put to a great deal of expense and trouble because of those deluded women having taken up their residence in the state,” said District Attorney Manning, “but just the same, I cannot see for the life his order in the matter as I gather it from the newspapers, can expect such an order to be binding on any of the courts or state institutions of Oregon.”




“I believe that if those women are brought into our state by the Sheriff of King County, they will be turned loose upon us unless the authorities of Multnomah County take the matter in hand and bring them before the board of insane to be examined there as to their sanity before the superintendent of the insane asylum of our state would have any right to accept them.


“However, I presume the authorities of our state will cross that bridge when they come to it. I believe those women are insane, and therefore should not be turned loose upon any community in their present mental condition. And therefore I believe it to be the duty of the officials here to take the matter in hand and do what is right with the women if they should be brought here.


“It is an unfortunate affair that Esther Mitchell should have killed her brother, because I believe he did a very laudable act in eliminating that miserable animal, Creffield, from the face of the earth.”



Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/25/1906 p1

Injunction Issued in Mitchell Case

Supreme Court Demands Cause for Making Insanity Order.

Deportation Prevented

October 26 Set as Day to Appear and Argue the Matter.


Special to the Post Intelligencer.


OLYMPIA, Sept. 24.-- The state Supreme Court this morning, on application of Kenneth Mackintosh, issued a writ prohibiting Superior Judge A. W. Frater, of King county, from issuing an order finding Esther Mitchell or Maud Creffield insane or from ordering their deportation to Oregon.


The order cites Judge Frater to appeal in the Supreme Court October 26 next at 10 a. m. and show cause why, if any, this injunction should not be made permanent.


In his application the king county prosecuting attorney contends that the court could not legally delegate to a commission the declaring the women named insane, nor was it proper to take the evidence in secret, nor should a jury have been denied to pass upon the sanity or insanity of the women. The show cause order is signed by Chief Justice Wallace Mount.




the petition filed with the Supreme Court and upon which the order was issued sets forth the history of the case since the shooting of George Mitchell. It then goes into the charge of insanity made against the women by Frank Hurt and the examination which followed.


The court and commission are attacked in the plea and it is alleged that Judge Frater failed to comply with the law in allowing the commission to usurp the judicial functions of the court. The entire plea made by the prosecutor was along the same lines argued before the report of the commission and practically the same charges of illegal measures are recited.



Seattle Star 9/25/1906 p6

Writ for Frater

Supreme Court Grants Junction Against Determination Of Esther Mitchell And Maud Creffield.


Within two or three days, Judge Frater of the Superior Court of King county will be served a writ of prohibition issued by the Supreme Court of the state ordering him not to deport Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Creffield to Oregon under the recent findings of an insanity commission.


The writ was ordered (illegible) the Supreme Court on the petition (illegible) of Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller and is returnable October (illegible) 26 at Olympia.


“I believe that the (illegible) insanity proceedings in (illegible) (illegible) irregular, and can be shown to be so in the hearing in the superior court.” said Mr. Miller this morning upon his return from Olympia.


“I expect to be able to have to (illegible) set aside and the two (illegible) brought to trial for their (illegible).



Corvallis Gazette 9/25/1906 p3

Mrs. J. K. Berry, who attempted to commit suicide last Thursday at the Occidental hotel, by taking antiseptic tablets, is entirely recovered and is employed at the Occidental as waitress. Her rash act was due to melancholy resulting from domestic troubles.

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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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