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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.

December 4, 1906: Washing Dirty Linen


Seattle Star 12/4/1906 p1

Washing Dirty Linen

Creffield-Mitchell Insanity Commissioners Were Reputable Physicians,’ Says Judge Frater.

They Were Neither Reputable Nor Were They Honest Says Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh.



“The charges are entirely groundless and untrue. The members of the commission were selected by me without solicitation or suggestion on the part of anyone. No advice was offered and none would have been permitted. I selected the members of the commission because I knew them to be capable and reputable physicians, and for no other reason.”--Superior Judge A. W. Frater.



“I objected to the commission because there was not, to my knowledge, one reputable physician of ability in it. I knew at the time that I was being jobbed. I had no notice that a commission was to be appointed until I was called up by a physician ten minutes before the matter came up. I would have been satisfied with the commission had there been one reputable physician named. I am in full sympathy with the charges made by Dr. Sharples.”--Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh.



With the full approval of Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh, Dr. C. W. Sharples, charged in an address before the King County Medical association last night that there were ugly rumors aboard regarding the selection of the members of the insanity commission which passed upon the sanity of Esther Mitchell and the late Mrs. Edmund Creffield in this county several weeks ago. In substantiation of his charges Dr. Sharples read communications from Dr. H. M. Read and Dr. I. A. Parry in which those gentlemen stated that they had been approached and asked to accept appointment on the commission and bring in a verdict that the women are insane.


The members of the commission were appointed by Judge W. A. Frater on motion of Attorney Clark of Portland, who represented the women. the commission was composed of Dr. Kenneth Turner, Dr. J. H. Snively and Dr. R. M. Eames. At the time of their appointment Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh protested both against the proceeding and against the character of the men named, and before their finding was read in court he again protested, declaring that the commission had been “fixed.”


Judge Frater, when asked this morning regarding the charges made by Dr. Sharples, entered an indignant denial.




Last night’s meeting was held chiefly for the purpose of affording Dr. Sharples an opportunity to make public his charges. The scandal regarding the appointment of the insanity commission in the Mitchell-Creffield case has been the subject of much discussion among the members of the medical fraternity, and has contributed its share towards the movement among physicians for the enactment of better laws to govern the criminal insane. It was ostensibly for the furtherance of the movement towards the enactment of such legislation that the meeting was called, and Dr. Sharples had been assigned to discuss the subject of “The Relations of the State to Criminal Cases.


It was first planned to hold the meeting several weeks ago, but it was postponed on account of the fact that there was pending in the county another insanity case in the prospective trial trial of Chester Thompson. But when that case was transferred to Pierce county the members of the association proceeded with their arrangements for the meeting. In doing so they consulted with Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh, who approved of the meeting and its purpose.




In the course of his address Dr. Sharples discussed the rumors that the commission in question had been chosen with a view to brining in a report that the women were insane. In substantiation he read the statements of Drs. H. M. Read and I. a. Parry. Dr. Read in his statement said that he was called up over the telephone and asked to go on the commission and bring in the desired report. He does not know who the person was who called him up, but thinks that it was a physician. He refused to countenance the suggestion of fraud and was told he was not wanted.


Dr. Parry’s statement was more specific. He stated that he was called upon by Attorney Clark of Portland, who was defending the accused women, and asked to go on the commission and bring in a report of insanity.


He refused to do so, and Clark stated that Judge Frater desired the commission to declare the women insane.


At the conclusion of the meeting Dr. Sharples, in conversation with Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller asked Mr. Miller if he had gone too far in the matter, and Miller replied that he had not.


At the time of the appointment of the commission Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh declared that the members were both incompetent and partial, and that their report would be that the women were insane. The case is now on appeal in the Supreme Court from the decision of Judge Frater to deport them to Oregon.



Seattle Star 12/5/1906 p1

Say It Is Up To Judge Frater


Among the members of the local bar there is a feeling that it is now up to Judge Frater to take some action in the matter of the charges of collusion in the appointment and findings of the medical commission appointed to inquire into the mental condition of Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell.


It is pointed out that the charge has been openly made that Judge Frater was desirous of appointing only medical men who could be relied upon to declare both women insane. Men who declared they spoke for Judge Frater are reported as having gone to them in an effort to secure their services on the commission, providing they, the physicians, could give some assurance beforehand that they would find the two prisoners to be insane.




This accusation is one Judge Frater’s brother lawyers say the jurist cannot allow to pass unchallenged. It is a charge of very grave nature and one that can be dispelled only after a thorough investigation. That Judge Frater would, within a very few days demand an inquiry into the affair seemed to be the general impression among lawyers this morning.


Members of the new Seattle Bar association express the opinion that the matter is one which would properly be a subject for investigation by that body, with a view of ascertaining the facts so far as they involve the methods pursued by the accused attorneys in the case, but for two reasons; one of these is that the attorney chiefly involved is Attorney Clark of Portland who is not practicing before the local courts, and the other is that the charges involve also the integrity of a member of the judiciary. Many members of the association feel that it might be taken by Judge Frater as a reflection upon his court should the matter be brought before the association for an investigation and action.




Developments within the past 24 hours now indicate that at least five members of the medical fraternity were approached in one way or another by persons desiring to ascertain whether they would return a report of insanity in case they were appointed. In addition to Drs. Read and Parry, who were quoted by Dr. Sharples before the Medical association Monday night, it has developed that Dr. George Newlands, Dr. C. H. Thompson and Dr. J. B. Laughary were also approached, much in the same manned.


Attorney Clark of Portland, who is accused specifically by Dr. Parry with having approached the latter on the matter in an interview given out at Portland yesterday, indignantly denies that he had any such conversation with Dr. Perry as the latter recites in his letter to Dr. Sharples.


Dr. Kenneth Turner, who was a member of the insanity commission appointed by Judge Frater, has decided to ask for an investigation of the charges, and the charges will probably be investigated further by the King County Medical association.


(The headline of the article next to it is cut off, but may read Chester Thompson Guilty)



Seattle Daily Times 12/5/1906 p1

Bar Association Will Investigate Charges Against Frater!


“The report of Doctors Loughery and McLeish convinced me there was nothing in thrmental condition of the womn to warrant calling a commission. I so informed Judge Frater when he approached me and siad that the he believed the women should be examined as to their sanity, and if found insane sent to Oregon.” . . . .


“I do not believe Lawyer Clark made the statement that Dr. Parry attributes to him. I am certain of one thing, however, and that is that if Clark did make the statement he had no authority to do so. He nor any other man had any excuse whatsoever for connecting my name with any such proposition.


“I never men Clark until the morning the commission commenced its hearing. I was introduced to him in the room in which the commission was sitting in the presence of the commission. I never spoke or wrote a word to him in my life previous to the morning the commission commenced its labors. Attorney Clark had nothing to do with the selection of the commission. The fact that I did not know him is proof that he could not have influenced me in any way.


“I had no interest in the disposition of the Mitchell and Creffield cases. I believed, and believe now, that I had a legal right to appoint such a commission. My sole object was to see that the law was upheld. In open court when I held that I would call such a commission I told the attorneys that the matter belonged in Judge Griffin’s de- (sic) to appoint the members of the commission. Both the attorneys for the prosecution and the women requested that I appoint the commission and conduct the hearings, as the case had been before me. It was only upon the earnest solicitation of the attorneys for both sides that I consented to have the matter remain in my department. . . .


Dal Case, clerk in Judge Frater’s court, corroborated the story.



Seattle Daily Times 12/5/1906 p2

Strikes Blow at Insanity Plea Dodge



Seattle Star 12/6/1906 p1

Judge Frater Hits Back at Mackintosh


Considers it Beneath His Dignity to Notice in Any Way What He Terms the Malicious and Vilifying Attack of the Prosecuting Attorney.”


(In a box)


“I consider it beneath my dignity to take any notice of the absolutely false, malicious and vilifying charges made against me by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh. I stand ready at any time to answer before any impartial tribunal any specific charges emanating from dignified sources attacking my official conduct.”--Superior Judge A. W. Frater.



“Judge Frater came to me shortly after these two women had been arrested and suggested that a commission be appointed to inquire into their sanity. I told him that in my opinion such a step would be useless, for I believed that it would be impossible to find a reputable physician who would find the women insane. To this Judge Frater declared that he would find a commission that would find the women insane.”--Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh.



That judge Frater must in self protection move immediately against Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh for the refutation of the charge made by the latter in connection with the Mitchell-Creffield insanity case is the opinion of the closest friends of the former among the legal profession of the city. Judge Frater declares that it would be beneath his dignity as a judge to take any notice of Mr. Mackintosh’s charges, characterizing them as false, malicious and vilifying. But despite this declaration on his part, prominent members of the bar are frank in declaring that the charges cannot be permitted by judge Frater to long go unchallenged.


Consultations on the subject of the charges made by Mr. Mackintosh have been held by other members of the superior bench of King county, but the position taken by the other judges is that Judge Frater should be the first to move in the matter. The same position is taken by many leading members of the bar, who however for obvious reasons, refrain from discussion for publication in a matter concerning the integrity of the court.




On behalf of Judge Frater, it is claimed by his friends that if the prosecuting attorney had any basis for his charges that the sanity commission in the Creffield case was fixed it was his duty to present the matter to the Supreme Court at the time it was argued before the tribunal. This was not done, the appeal being argued purely on abstract questions of law. George H. Walker, who represented Judge Frater before the Supreme Court, said this morning:

The only questions raised on the appeal of the case to the Supreme Court were purely questions of law. No suggestion was made by the representative of the prosecuting attorney’s office of any suspicion that there had been anything improper in the proceeding.


Dr. Kenneth Turner yesterday informed officers of the King County Medical Association that he desired the association to investigate the charges made before the association insofar as they involve his conduct in the matter, and this will be taken up at the meeting of the association a week from next Monday night.




Dr. Turner has been a member of the association for a little more than a year. He applied first for membership more than two years ago, but objection was urged to him on the ground of his ethical standing in the profession and the application was withdrawn. Last year the application was again presented and favorably passed upon, though in the face of some slight protest.


The Seattle Bar Association has called a meeting of its members for the evening of December 12, at which the relations of attorneys to the scandal will probably be taken up, though nothing of that nature is suggested in the invitation cards sent out yesterday.

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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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Snail Mail
Theresa (T-) McCracken
890 North Bayview Loop
Waldport, Oregon 97394

(541) 563-3112


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Theresa (T-) McCracken