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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.

November 19, 1906: Reviews Findings in Examination of Brain


Edmund & Maud Creffield GravesSeattle Post Intelligencer 11/19/1906 p5

Gives Opinion on Creffield Autopsy

Dr. J. H. Snively, Alienist, Reviews Findings in Examination of Brain.


Dr. J. H. Snively, a member of the commission which examined Mrs. Maud Creffield as to her sanity, in reviewing the results of the autopsy said last evening:

Sometimes in cases of insanity there occur adhesions between the membrane of the brain and certain parts of the brain itself. These have often been found as a cause of mental aberration, as have also pressure symptoms and degeneration of brain matter. These latter conditions are not apparent to the naked eye and must be found through the microscope. And so far as I am aware no such minute examination was conducted in the instance of this autopsy.


“In this particular case it was noted that there were adhesions between the durameter and the brain over the parietal lobe, and also adhesions in the middle fissures. Not only that, but there was also an area of congestion over the floor of the fourth ventricle in the medulla oblongata. This congestion might be the result of uraemic poisoning or other toxic conditions due to taking poisons in the stomach. The only things we can say that have any relation to insanity are the adhesions of the membranes to the brain, and these were found in the examination of Mrs. Creffield’s brain, as were also the congestions.


“Degeneration in her case would not easily be found, for the disease could only be in its early stages and undoubtedly difficult to detect.”



Seattle Post Intelligencer 11/19/1906 p16

O. V. Hurt Arrives From Corvallis

Father of Mrs. Ida M. Creffield Here to Arrange for the Funeral.


O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Ida Maud Creffield, arrived in Seattle yesterday from his home at Corvallis. He went at once to the Bonney-Watson morgue to view the remains of his dead daughter. He was accompanied by his 18-year-old daughter.


No arrangements for the funeral of the dead woman have been made further than to decide that the body will be buried in Seattle. The funeral services will probably be held either this afternoon or tomorrow. Mr. Hurt said at the funeral parlors that it had been the express wish of his daughter that her body be buried in Seattle if she did not live to go back to her home in Oregon. The father is very positive that his daughter died a natural death and did not take poison. “The mistakes she made were innocent ones,” he said.


Coroner Carroll has not yet received a report on the chemical analysis of the contents of Mrs. Creffield’s stomach, and the examination will not be completed until this evening.


O. V. Hurt announced yesterday that the funeral services for Mrs. Creffield would be strictly private and expressed himself as being very thankful that the morbidly curious public was not allowed to see the body.



Seattle Daily Times 11/19/1906 p7

Esther Mitchell Breaks Down at Funeral

Slayer of Brother Weeps Bitterly as She Stands at Bier of Her Companion-in-Crime, Maud Creffield.

Girl Exhibits Her First Real Grief.

Simple Services Held Over Woman Who Died Suddenly in County Jail While Awaiting Trial for Murder.


For the first time since the unexpected death of her bosom friend and companion-in-crime, Esther Mitchell this morning broke down and wept like a child at the bier of Maud Creffield, widow of the leader of the notorious Holy Rollers and the woman who planned the killing of George Mitchell, who sent Joshua Creffield to his grave.


A simple though impressive funeral service was held at the Bonney-Watson Company chapel for Mrs. Creffield today. It was at the end of this service when the handful of friends and relatives of the dead woman were asked to take their final leave that Esther Mitchell stepped in front of the neat, but inexpensive casket containing the body of Mrs. Creffield, and bowing over the glass enclosure, looked pitifully for a moment on the dead face and wept loudly.


This girl, who at the instigation and request of Maud Creffield, shot and killed her brother George Mitchell, said nothing. she gazed steadfastly at the casket a moment and then burst into tears crying loudly, but never uttering an audible word. Here eyes were for awhile so steadily fixed on the corpse that they seemed to be glued there. After a time she was led away to a carriage in waiting and returned to the county jail.



Seattle Star 11/19/1906 p3

Mrs. Creffield Laid to Rest


Funeral services for the late Mrs. Maud Creffield were held this morning at 11 o’clock at the undertaking rooms of Bonney Watson. By the wishes of her father O. V. Hurt, who arrived in Seattle yesterday from Corvallis, the services were strictly private. Burial was made in Seattle in accordance with the express wish of Mrs. Creffield near the grave of her husband.


The coroner’s report on the autopsy held over the body of Mrs. Creffield has not yet been sent in. coroner Carroll is awaiting the result of the chemical analysis of the stomach.


Esther Mitchell, the girl-murderess of George Mitchell, her brother, was given permission by order from Judge Frater of the superior court, to attend the funeral of Mrs. Maud Creffield, the woman whose hypnotic power over her it is alleged, drove her to her crime. The girl left the county jail shortly before 11 o’clock in the custody of Police Matron Kelly and Deputy Sheriff John C. Liner (illegible). Miss Mitchell spent the greater part of this morning in tears, and refused to be comforted.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 11/22/1906 p4

Holy Roller Leader Buried Beside Wife

Body of Franz Edmund Creffield Exhumed in Lake View Cemetery.


The body of Franz Edmund Creffield, better known to that peculiar sect of worshipers known as the “Holy Rollers” as “Joshua,” was yesterday exhumed in Lake View cemetery and his remains laid beside those of his wife, Ida Maud Creffield, who committed suicide in the county jail last Friday night.


It was her wish that when she died the body of her husband be laid beside her own and that wish was carried out.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 11/20/1906 p10

Funeral Held to Late Mrs. Creffield

Esther Mitchell Breaks Down at the Bier of Her Dead Companion.


But a few relatives of Mrs. Ida Maud Creffield sat in the chapel of Bonney-Watson Company yesterday, when Rev. W. J. Wilson preached the short funeral sermon over her remains. The curious public was excluded, and the members of the family who loved the widow of the Holy Roller leader despite her association with the self-styled “Joshua,” mourned at her bier.


Esther Mitchell, who is held in the county jail charged with the murder of George Mitchell, the slayer of Creffield, was allowed to attend the funeral. she was escorted to the chapel by a deputy sheriff.


She broke down and wept bitterly when she looked upon the face of the woman who had been her companion through all the dark days following the Holy Roller tragedies. She gazed at the cold, set, features for a minute, then sank to her knees and tears rolled down her pale, drawn cheeks. She was then led away to the waiting carriage and taken back to her cell.


The body was buried in Lake View cemetery. Two lots have been purchased, and the body of the Holy Roller leader will soon rest beside that of his wife.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 11/20/1906 p10

Decided Change in Esther Mitchell

Since Companion's Death, Girl is Nervous, Dejected and Tearful.


Since the death of Mrs. Maud Creffield a decided change has become noticeable in the girl, Esther Mitchell, held in the county jail for the murder of her brother last July. While she was, up to the time her companion was taken away, stoical, calm and collected at all times, she is now in an entirely different mood.


She occupies a cell near the jailer’s quarters and remains in her couch during the hours of the day and night. Few visitors are seen, and for these she has no welcome. For a time she even refused to seen anyone, but her immediate friends and relatives, but admitted a Post-Intelligencer reporter yesterday. She had little to say, however, and showed plainly that she feels the loss of the friend who has been with her through all of their mutual troubles.


Upon her return to her cell yesterday, after attending the funeral of Mrs. Creffield, the girl took to her bed again. She is extremely nervous and starts up with wide-open eyes when anyone enters her cell. She was dejected and on the verge of tears during the entire day. Esther refuses to talk of her case and shows no interest in the question of her deportation or trial which is now being considered by the Supreme Court.


Police Matron Kelly spends considerable time with the girl, and Esther declares she appreciates this greatly. During the nights one of the women inmates of the jail is placed in the cell with her, partly as a means of prevention in case the girl should be tempted to suicide and partly for the company it will afford her in her nervous condition.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 11/20/1906 p14

Special Notices--Deaths and Funerals

CREFELD--Funeral services for Ida Maud Crefeld were held at the parlors of Bonney-Watson Co. yesterday at 11 a. m. Interment at Lake View cemetery.



Corvallis Gazette 11/23/1906 p1

Her Funeral

Mrs. Maud Creffield at Rest--The Services Were Private.


The funeral of the late Maud Hurt-Creffield was held in Seattle Monday. The services were attended by none save members of the family who were in the city. Mrs. Creffield was 25 years of age and resided for many years in Corvallis. The Oregonian gives the following concerning the funeral:

For the first time since the unexpected death of Mrs. Creffield, Esther Mitchell this morning broke down and wept like a child at the bier of the widow of the leader of the notorious Holy Rollers. The funeral was held at the Bonney Watson Company’s chapel for Mrs. Creffield. It was at the end of this service, when a handful of friends and relatives of the dead woman were asked to take their final leave, that Esther Mitchell stepped to the casket and bowing wept.


Behind Esther Mitchell were O. V. Hurt, father of Maud Creffield, Mae Hurt, her sister, Frank Hurt, her brother, and Mrs. Frank Hurt. In another part of the room were Attorneys W. H. Morris and s. M. Shipley, who represented George Mitchell at his trial for the killing of Joshua Creffield, and Attorney Holzheimer, attorney for Esther Mitchell. There was no music and few flowers.


“Coroner Carroll has not yet received a report of the chemical analysis of the contents of Mrs. Creffield’s stomach, and the examination will not be completed until this evening. Hurt announced that the funeral services for Mrs. Creffield would be strictly private, and expressed himself as being very thankful that the morbidly curious public were not allowed to see the body.

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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