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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.

April 6, 1909: Esther Mitchell Leaves Asylum

 

Sarah & OV HurtMorning Oregonian (Portland) 4/6/1909 p1

Esther Mitchell Leaves Asylum

‘Holy Roller’ Convert Set Free. Taken to Home at Waldport. Hot Her Brother After Latter Had Slain Creffield. Sister Took Own Life. Girl Released From Steilacoom Institution on Approval of Superintendent Calhoun and King County Prosecuting Attorney.”

 

SEATTLE, Wash., April 5.--(Special.)--Esther Mitchell, central figure in the murder of “Joshua” Creffield, and the killing of her brother, George Mitchell, who had shot the “Holy Roller” leader, has been paroled from the Steilacoom Asylum. She was taken to Oregon by O. V. Hurt, who suffered more than any other man from the Creffield teachings, and whose daughter married the Holy Roller agitator.

 

Superintendent A. P. Calhoun, of the Steilacoom Asylum, granted the parole for Miss Mitchell, with the approval, he said, of the Prosecuting Attorney of King County and Superior Court Judge A. W. Frater.

 

RELEASED SUBJECT TO RECALL Esther Michell

 

One of the stipulations in the parole is that Miss Mitchell shall be returned to the Steilacoom Asylum if she shows any symptoms of a return of her malady. However, the Hurts took her to their home at Waldport, Oregon, and it is doubted by state officials whether Miss Mitchell could be compelled to return from that state.

 

“Apparently the girl has recovered” said Superintendent Calhoun today. “For some time she has appeared rational, and we could find no symptoms of any danger of the return of her affliction.”

 

WAS FRIEND OF MAUD HURT

 

(The usual history)

 

 

Morning Oregonian (Portland) 4/7/1909 p6

Mitchell Girl Escaped

Paroled After She Had Fled From Asylum. Went for Walk Week Ago Sunday With Mrs. Hurt, and Has Not Been Seen Since.

 

SEATTLE. Wash. April 6.--(Special.)-- That Esther Mitchell escaped from the Steilacoom asylum and that she was paroled after she had escaped is the latest development today in the case of the girl which attracted attention in connection with the Holy Roller movement which came to such an inglorious end in this city three years ago. Further, there is no one even among her relatives who will say where she is.

 

The story of her escape came out today when it was seen that the parole was dated long after she was supposed to have left the asylum. Dr. Calhoun, of the asylum, stated that the Mitchell girl was out walking with Mrs. Hurt a week ago Sunday and failed to show up for dinner. A futile search was made for her. A parole was contemplated for the girl and had been promised.

 

Dr. Calhoun therefore followed up her escape by issuing a parole after consulting with the Prosecuting Attorney of King County. It is believed that Esther Mitchell is now in Oregon at the home of her relatives.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 4/8/1909 p11 Steilacoom Asylum

Esther Mitchell Did Not Break Parole

 

(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)

 

Tacoma, Wash., April 8.--The story sent from this city to a Portland morning paper that Esther Mitchell, who shot Holy Roller Creffield, and who has been admitted to parole from the Steilacoom asylum escaped from the asylum before parole had been granted, is denied in toto by Superintendent Calhoun. The story was made of whole cloth.

 

 

1910 Nabisco advertisementWeekly Gazette-Times (Corvallis) 8/20/1909 p7

Esther Mitchell Found In A Hut

Girl Is Now Held By Provincial Police at Nanaimo Drugged in Chinamen’s Den. Central Figure in Seattle’s Holy Roller Craze Located by British Columbia Authorities at Departure Bay In Horribly Emaciated Condition.

 

Some time ago, when it was reported that Esther Mitchell had escaped from the Western Washington Hospital for the Insane at Fort Steilacoom, it was supposed that she had sought shelter with relatives near Waldport in Lincoln County. Though it was then given out that the Washington authorities were quietly seeking to locate her in order to bring her back to the asylum no effort seems to have been made in this direction and a special from Victoria B. C. says that she is now in the hands of the Provincial Police at Nanaimo, having been found, horribly emaciated and heavy with opium in a Chinaman’s shack at Departure Bay. She is held for vagrancy and will probably got to a rescue home.

 

In Seattle during July 1907 (sic), her brother shot Joshua Creffield, a Holy Roller priest, who he charged with ruining the girl. Esther, meeting the avenging brother at the Union Depot, shot him dead, allegedly being inspired thereto by Creffield’s wife. She escaped punishment on the ground of temporary insanity and has since fallen lower and lower, consorting wholly with the Chinese of late, and living only to satisfy her craving for the poppy.

 

Whether this report is true or not is not certain as it is impossible to communicate at once with her relatives over on the coast to find out if she is still there.

 

 

Weekly Gazette-Times (Corvallis) 8/27/1909 p6

Mitchell Girl at Waldport

 

City Press Tory in Regard to Holy Roller Was False Was Not in Chinese Den. Went to Seattle Fair, but Returned to Waldport in Due Time and Has Been there Both before and Since----The Facts.”

 

The lurid story floating around in the city press to the effect that Esther Mitchell, of Holy Roller fame, had been found in a Chinese den in some Washington coast town, was evidently a deliberate fabrication. It develops that with the exception of time spent on a trip to Seattle to make a report to officials and to see the fair, Esther Mitchell has been at the home of O. V. Hurt at Waldport and is there at this time. The Gazette-Times has no report from Mr. Hurt personally, but has this assurance from various Corvallis campers in the vicinity of Waldport, and this morning corroboration comes from C. R. Evans, water bailiff at the coast resort. Mr. Evans said he had not seen the story referred to, but was confident that it was wholly incorrect as he is familiar with the news of the neighborhood and knows that since her arrival at the Hurt home several months ago, there has been nothing sensational or unpleasant connected with the name of Esther Mitchell. It is possible that some scribbler saw the girl on her trip and because of the wide notoriety attained by her during the Holy Roller crusade and the final killing of her sweetheart and brother saw in her an appearance the basis for a great story. The city press certainly had the Mitchell girl pictured in wonderful colors as a hanger-on in Chinese dens.

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***

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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

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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

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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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