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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 17, 1906: Sad Christmas For Holy Roller


1906 Heinz 57 Varieties Pickle advertisementHEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE


Evening Telegram (Portland) 12/17/1906 p4

Sad Christmas For Holy Roller

Sits Gloomily in Cell, Perhaps Remembering Those Other Christmas Days.


Benton County Republican 1/3/1907 p4

Has Sad Christmas


[Telegram Coast Special.]


SEATTLE, Wash., Dec. 27.--The Christmas holidays of Esther Mitchell, the Holy Roller girl, were not happy ones. One of the most pathetic figures in the women’s ward was that of the slim, youthful, melancholy fratricide. Sitting in the far corner of her cell, she gazed blankly at the little groups of inmates. She was gloomily, dejected and morose, and declared she wanted to be away fro the noise.


Occasionally a tear would slowly trickle down her face when the stories of cheer coming from the lips of other inmates of the jail would break upon her and recall the happy Christmas days of her childhood. At times she struggled hard to suppress her emotions, but occasionally a tear would be hastily brushed away.



Corvallis Times 12/21/1906

Fined For Fishing

Fischer Was--And so Got Hurt--And Hurt Got fined as a Fisher Too.


Fishing is an expensive business at this time of year. It is the closed season, and the deputy game wardens are thicker than flies around a lump of sugar. That is the most likely opinion of the two Corvallis boys who paid fines of $15 each for taking trout from Mary’s River. They are Fred Fisher and Roy hurt. They had a famous scheme of capturing speckled beauties. They placed a dip net at the foot of the ladder recently installed at the dam at the head of the race on Mary’s River. A trout starting up the ladder is often carried back by the current and the way the boys had their net rigged all such dropped into it and were snugly and safely held until the boys had time and inclination to remove their catch. In that way they captured fifteen fine handsome trout Wednesday and began yesterday with a catch of seven when a deputy game warden butted in and spoiled the fun. In the lot of seven was one big speckled chap of more than sixteen inches in length.


The deputy game warden was ex-sheriff Al Munkers, of Linn county. He and game warden Baker happened to be in town Wednesday, and heard of the fishing operations. Munkers was on hand yesterday morning and from ambush saw the boys locate their net, saw them take out fish and watched them until tired of the sport.


When taken before Justice Holgate, both boys pleaded guilty and were fined $15 each, which was promptly paid.



1906 Edison phonograph advertisementHEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE


Evening Telegram (Portland) 1/2/1907 p5

Says Esther Mitchell Seems Sane Enough


Corvallis Gazette 1/4/1907 p4

Esther Mitchell


“I wonder how the people of Portland would like to have Esther Mitchell return to this city?” inquired Sheriff R. L. Smith, who was in Portland yesterday to witness the football game between Multnomah and Seattle.


“Esther Mitchell is a model prisoner,” said sheriff Mitchell (sic). “She never makes any trouble or creates disturbances of any nature. She refrains from discussing Creffield or his religion and never mentions the name of Maud Creffield, who poisoned herself while in prison awaiting the disposition of the charge brought against her for complicity in the murder of George Mitchell. The religious frenzy to which she was subject when she entered the jail has entirely disappeared, and she appears as sane as anybody. she does not appear to worry whatever over the charge of murder which is hanging over her.”



Evening Telegram (Portland) 1/9/1907 p14

Just as Soon Be in Asylum

Esther Mitchell Doesn’t Seem to Care Where She Goes for Rest of Life.


[Telegram Coast Special.]


SEATTLE, Wash., Jan. 9.--Esther Mitchell’s attorney announces that within a few days her will ask Judge Frater for commitment to Steilacoom Asylum for Esther Mitchell. Under the decision of the Supreme Court, the next step in the proceedings will be the Judge’s issuance of an order of commitment. The fund for temporary maintenance is only accessible for keeping insane persons from another state. Where will she go when this fund is exhausted? This question will likely be raised when proceedings are begun to commit her to the asylum at Steilacoom.


Esther Mitchell had a long conference with her attorney yesterday and expressed to him her unconcern where she was to spend the remainder of her life. She is looking pale and careworn. There is no light in her eyes, he form is fragile and she seems unconcerned what transpires about her. When asked if she would rather go to an asylum than stay in jail, she said:

I don’t care where I go. I would as soon be in an insane asylum as here--perhaps little rather.”


The only thing she seems to take any interest in is looking at Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains.



Corvallis Gazette 1/11/1907 p3

In Esther Mitchell Case--What some People Think


“If Esther Mitchell is insane now and so adjudged and sentenced to the Washington asylum it does not signify that she will remain there for any length of time. She may improve in a few months and be released, and what will be the next chapter of the affair?”


These were the questions and comments of a Corvallis man in discussing the case of Esther Mitchell, this week.


In fact, the case has aroused much comment here, when the young woman is so well known, and the fact of her being sent to the asylum while causing no surprise does bring forth an occasional query as to the probable length of time she will be confined in such an institution. Speaking of the case, Monday’s Capital Journal says:


Esther Mitchell, the Oregon girl now in the King county jail, charged with murder in the first degree for the killing of her brother, George Mitchell, last July, will never be tried for the crime, but will probably end her days in a Washington state asylum. She may not be deported to another state. Four justices of the Supreme Court of the state have decided that the act of lunacy commission called by Superior Judge A. w. Frater was legal when it pronounced the Mitchell girl and her companion in crime, Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield, insane. Mrs. Creffield is dead, presumably by her own hand, and under the ruling of the Supreme Court, Esther Mitchell will spend the rest of her life at Steilacoom.


Crow, Dunbar, Hadley and Rudkin are the justices who brought in the majority report and while sustaining Judge Frater in calling the lunacy commission, they declare that Esther Mitchell may not be sent to Oregon, holding that the state under which this order was made is invalid, for the reason that it cannot be legally enforced.



Corvallis Gazette 1/11/1907 p3

--Mrs. O. V. Hurt expects to leave tomorrow for a visit with her son and daughter, Frank and Mae Hurt, in Seattle.


--Miss Sophia Hartley is seriously ill with appendicitis, at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Hartley, in this city.



Corvallis Times 1/15/1907

--Mrs. O. V. has gone to Seattle for a visit with her son and daughter who are both employed in a large retail store. She was accompanied as far as Portland by Mr. Hurt who returned Sunday night.



Corvallis Gazette 1/25/1907 p3

O. V. Hurt spent Tuesday in Salem, having gone down to witness the election of the two United States Senators. “I never say anything like it,” declared Mr. Hurt since his return. “Why, except at the very hour when the balloting was done, there were not more than 25 or 25 people in the outside lobbies. I have been in Salem before, once when the Dolph fight was on, again when Mitchell and Joe Simon were the objects of discussion, and the hotels in the city could not furnish accommodations for the people. But it was vastly different this time.” It may be remarked that this “difference” is a great relief to the general public.



Corvallis Gazette 1/29/1907 p3

--Miss Sophia Hartley, who has been suffering from catarrhal appendicitis for several weeks, was taken to a Portland hospital Saturday for treatment.



Corvallis Gazette 2/5/1907 p3

--O. V. Hurt went to Portland Saturday to meet his wife who was returning from a visit to her son Frank and daughter Mae in Seattle. Mr. and Mrs. Hurt arrived home Sunday.


--Miss Sophia Hartley, who went to Portland a week ago for treatment for appendicitis, is improving and it is not likely that an operation will be necessary.



Corvallis Gazette 2/15/1907 p1

--News from the bedside of Sophia Hartley received in the afternoon of the day on which the operation was performed, stated that she had rallied from the anesthetic and that everything seemed favorable for her recovery.

Holy Rollers

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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