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.
May 7, 1906: Holy Roller Shot Down Like A Dog
Seattle Star 5/7/1906 p1
I Got My Man
Brother Slays Man Who Ruined Sisters. George Mitchell Shoots and Instantly Kills Edmund Creffield, Leader of Fanatical Religious Sect--Victim Accomplished Ruin of Slayer’s Sisters---Avenger Followed His Man For Weeks and is Now Satisfied.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE MITCHELL, THE SLAYER
“I came to Seattle on the Wednesday morning train from Portland. I came here for the purpose of killing Creffield. I saw them this morning on First av. and shot the man. That is all there is to it. He ruined my two sisters and I took his life.”
STATEMENT OF MRS. IDA CREFFIELD, WIFE OF THE SLAIN MAN
“Mitchell had no reason to kill my husband. He never did him any harm. I went downtown this morning to buy a skirt. On First Av. I heard somebody call ‘Creffield.’ My husband turned and at the same moment the shot came. I don’t know why he did it. When we were in Albany I was told that this Mitchell was watching for Creffield, but I don’t know what he had against him. My husband never ruined those girls and they are not with us here. The youngest, Esther, is now staying with the family of my brother, Frank Hurt, at Corvallis and has been there for some time.
“I’ve got my man. am in jail.”
With this brief telegram sent to O. V. Hurt of Corvallis, Ore., George Mitchell, aged 23, this morning committed a tragic life chapter that brought the end of Edmund Creffield, originator and leader of Oregon’s famous “Holy Rollers.”
Mitchell shot and instantly killed Creffield in front of the Quick pharmacy on First av., between Columbia and Cherry Sts.
TRACKED HIS MAN
With infinite patience young Mitchell, whose two sisters had been ruined through Creffield’s infamous (text illegible) organization, has followed the religious fanatic for several weeks (text illegible) past. Creffield himself was recently released from the Salem penitentiary after serving two years for ruining one of the Mitchell sisters. To Waldport Ore. the avenger tracked his man: Thence to Albany, from there to Portland and thence to Seattle.
Mitchell reached Seattle on Wednesday morning from Portland. since that time he has been waiting (??) patiently around the streets, spending some time at the depot, knowing that it was only a matter of time when his quest would be ended.
This morning, at 7:10 o’clock he saw Creffield and his wife walking down on First av. When the couple reached a point in front of the Quick Drug store he walked up to Creffield and shot him through the head. The bullet entered at the base of the skull and came out above the right eye. Creffield died instantly.
MITCHELL PLACED UNDER ARREST
Mitchell made no attempt to escape. Patrolman Le Count was running from a point south of Cherry St., and Special Officer Sam Huth, who heard the shot and saw the man fall, from First Av. and Columbia St., also made haste to the scene. The young slayer was calmly smoking a cigar. He handed his revolver, a 22-caliber, to the officer and quietly waited for the patrol wagon.
Dr. Emil Bories was the first doctor summoned to reach the scene. Creffield’s body was taken into the drugstore and the doors locked to keep out the curious crowd. The man had died instantly, however, and when Bories arrived the body was almost cold. The remains were turned over to Deputy Coroner Arnold and taken to the morgue.
MRS. CREFFIELD SILENT
During all this excitement, Mrs. Creffield hardly uttered a word. she appeared to be calmer than any of the bystanders and at first refused absolutely to give the officers any names. When her husband dropped she did not seem to realize that he was dead. She firmly believed in his pretensions of being a special messenger from heaven to reveal the divine truth, which he always asserted in his teachings, the woman would not believe that Creffield had breathed his last.
Begs for a Word.
“Speak to me. you cannot die, Joshua,” she cried. “Joshua” was the name by which Creffield was known to the members of his sect and which he told them had been given him by the Supreme Being.
All the time Mrs. Creffield knelt by the side of the prostrate man. She remained on her knees, gazing into his face until the body was removed by the coroner. There was not the slightest trace of emotion. Her features, however were set and she answered very few questions that were asked her.
“I’ll tell anything I have to tell at the proper time,’ she told Detective Corbett. “But the mad had absolutely nothing to shoot my husband for,” she insisted.
MITCHELL IS CALM
At the police station Mitchell maintained the calm composure, which never deserted him at any time when he was interviewed and photographed. “Why did I shoot the man?” he replied to a question. “Well, he simply ruined my tow sisters and I shot him. That is the sum and substance of the whole matter.”
There was not the slightest trace of hesitation or fear of consequences. He sat in a chair at headquarters and answered every question put to him without any evidence of hesitation.
CAME HERE WEDNESDAY
“I came to Seattle on the train last Wednesday Morning,” he explained. “I have been staying at different rooming houses here since and walking about the streets. This morning I saw Creffield and his wife going down First Av. I walked up to him and shot the man through the head. I was brought up here to the police station and that seems to be about the way the situation stands at present.
“My parents lived in Illinois. My married sister, Mrs. Bertha (sic) Starr, lived at Portland. My younger sister, Esther, who is 18 years of age, worked at the woolen mills in Oregon City, 18 (illegible) miles up the Willamette river from Portland. Creffield got both of them in his power and ruined them. He ruined others, too.”
Sent to Penitentiary
“The man was tried on a charge of holding illicit relations with some of the women in his diabolical sect and was sent to the penitentiary for two years. He was released some time earlier in the winter and started to gather his former members together again. I heard they were to meet him at Waldport, on the Oregon coast, and I went there. I followed him until I reached Seattle, and here found a man, whom I shot this morning.
After being taken to headquarters Mrs. Creffield was taken to the place where she had been topping with her husband, at 1116 Fifth av., in charge of Detective Adams. It was up in a little garret room that the couple had been living. there was hardly any furniture and the bed was simply a double cot. Everything indicated that the couple had been living in straightened circumstances.
TAKES HER BIBLE
Maren McGuire as Maud Hurt Creffield
Mrs. Creffield gathered her belongings and they were wrapped together and they were wrapped up in a piece of newspaper. There was a small Bible, some writing paper, a few pens and pencils, combs, a couple of hair ribbons and a package of tobacco. a pistol was found in a commode drawer. In her pocket she had some cartridges for the weapon in her pocket, and this also was taken in charge by the police.
HAD NO TRUNK
Mrs. Creffield said that they had no trunks or grips, and that the small package of belongings found in the room included all their worldly possessions. “We were going out to look for work,” she said to the officer, as if in apology for the evidence of poverty that the personal effects indicated.
From the beginning Mrs. Creffield insisted that Mitchell had no reason for shooting her husband.
“Why, I can’t think of a single thing that he had against the man, she insisted. At first she even gave the officers wrong names and it was not until after Mitchell had been interviewed that the real facts and names were learned.
SPOKE TO CREFFIELD
According to the woman’s story Mitchell came up behind them as they walked down the street and spoke Creffield’s name, shooting him as he turned to look back.
“We were going down town so that I could buy a skirt,’ she explained in further conversation.
Creffield, according to the facts developed by the investigation that followed the shooting, came to Seattle immediately after being released from the penitentiary at Salem last winter and went to Southeast Seattle in the Columbia River valley, where he was joined by his wife. There it is believed that he started his “Holy Roller” religious work again, although nothing to the effect ever reached the public. From letters which were received by the Hurt Family, at Corvallis, Ore., however, it is known that Creffield met Frank Hurt here and that the young man fell victim to his peculiar tenets, resigning a position which he had held as an employee on a lake launch.
Creffield, however, soon returned to Oregon, most likely intending to gather his scattered forces together and begin anew in another camp. He did not go to Corvallis for preceding his term in the Salem Penitentiary by the indignant residents and run out of town.
A few of those who were still faithful to the beliefs of the religious fanatic gathered in a camp at Waldport, near the Oregon Coast, but were warned of a raid pending and scattered. They were to arrange a general meeting place by letter, in some place where they would be undisturbed.
SEARCH FOR CREFFIELD
A number of residents of Corvallis and vicinity, however, whose relatives had in a number of instances been inveighed into the ranks of the “Holy Rollers” and had been ruined, started out to search for Creffield, with the avowed intention of lynching him.
Many of the families of the Corvallis district had been split up when the leader of the sect had made his first appearance. In many cases wives left their husbands, daughters forsook their parental roots, and among those who became inculcated with the strange belief were Mitchell’s two sisters, Esther Mitchell, who had been working for some time in the Oregon City woolen mills and who had gone to Corvallis to visit the Burt family. The other sister was a Mrs. B. Starr, who had been living in Portland with her husband. Under the horrible sway of Creffield they fell victims to the craze and joined the camp that the leader had established outside of Corvallis.
REVELATION FROM HEAVEN
In Corvallis the family of O. V. Hurt also fell into the tolls of the strange man who claimed to have had a revelation from heaven, in which he was the appointed to come to earth and gather the faithful.
The Hurt family was enrolled in the sect and Creffield married one of the daughters--Ida M. Hurt. It was about this time that George Mitchell, who had been working in Portland, first learned of the danger which threatened his sisters. He went to Corvallis to remonstrate with them, but found the hold with which Creffield had gained on the women too strong to be broken, and he returned home, broken hearted.
PUBLIC IS AROUSED
At this time the public had only learned in a small way of the peculiar rites which the “Holy Rollers” performed. Their ceremonies were kept secret and the orgies that were held in the building where the faithful followers lived and gathered in services each night were only surmised in a vague way.
Behind closed doors the “Holy Rollers” worked themselves into a fearful frenzy, along with their leader and his wife. Their actions became so notorious finally that the officials were appealed to. Then two or three of the man’s followers became insane from the frenzies which they practiced and this aroused the people to a state of indignation.
SISTERS ARE RUINED
Among those who had almost given down under the strain of the self-inflicted mental tortures were the two Mitchell girls. Mitchell again proceeded to Corvallis with all possible speed.
In the excitement Creffield escaped. His followers scattered, many of them going back to their homes, among them the two Mitchell girls. Later Creffield was captured and tarred and feathered by a crowd of indignant citizens.
PLAN TO LYNCH CREFFIELD
The stories told by a few of the man’s followers who recovered their normal senses after Creffield had disappeared inflamed the decent element to the point where they threatened to lynch him on sight. When he was finally captured near Corvallis, however, the officers succeeded in getting him to jail before the lynchers could form, and later they allowed the law to take its course. On a charge of holding illicit relations with the women who had been in the camp, Creffield was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary at Salem. He was released last winter.
GIRLS GO TO CAMP
Creffield had been out of the penitentiary but a short time when he began an attempt to gather his followers together again. The Mitchell girls were brought under his influence once more and fully a dozen of those who had been under his sway before his conviction, joined his new camp near Waldport.
Terrified by rumors of a threatened raid, the camp was abandoned and the few adherents who had rejoined their former leader scattered in all directions. It is supposed that they had planned to come to Seattle by separate routes and start a new camp near this city.
RELATIVES SEEK REVENGE
Men from Corvallis whose relatives had been enticed a second time into the ranks of the lawless fanatical band, started out eagerly searching for the self-appointed apostle. George Mitchell among the others. He went to Waldport from Portland, but arrived too late and found all the “Holy Rollers” gone.
Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield, wife of the leader who was with Creffield this morning when he met his death spent last Tuesday in Albany, Ore., and to there, Mitchell traced the pair. Mitchell overtook the woman as she took a train for Portland and boarded it as it pulled out from the depot. Creffield, however, had evidently come on an earlier train. At Portland Mitchell lost sight of Mrs. Creffield again, but soon found out that she had come to Seattle.
It appears that Creffield himself had come from the coast, but fearing to appear in Corvallis had left the train at Blodgett station and struck off south, intending to walk to Junction City. He took the train there again and reached Portland by another route.
Creffield and his wife came to Seattle. According to Mrs. Creffield’s story they have been here for weeks, but this is impossible, as she was seen and interviewed at Albany, Ore., last Tuesday. It is more likely that Creffield and his wife, who were married for the second time by Justice George in this city on April 3 of this year, had proceeded to Oregon from this city, sometime last month and were compelled to flee when the news of the second organization of the “Holy Rollers” became noised about. They then came back to Seattle, evidently reaching here within the last few days.
Mitchell was not to be daunted at losing track of Mrs. Creffield in Portland and, after some inquiry, learned that she had purchased a ticket to Seattle. He came to this city, reaching town last Wednesday morning, and has since been walking the streets, constantly on the watch for Creffield. This morning, as already told, his search ended.
MITCHELL IS INDIFFERENT
He came upon the man and wife walking on 1st Ave., and shot Creffield with the revolver which he carried for that purpose. The erstwhile leader of the “Holy Rollers” and the destroyer of homes Lies cold in death on a slab at the morgue. His wife is in charge of the police matron, and young Mitchell, calm and indifferent, now that his purpose of vengeance has been accomplished, quietly occupies a cell at the police station.
Mrs. Creffield was Miss Maud Hurt, of Corvallis, where her parents and several relatives still live. all her family were in Creffield’s first camp. She married Creffield the first time in Albany, Ore., three years ago, after he had been tarred and feathered by a crowd of Corvallis citizens.
SENT TO ASYLUM
When her husband went to the penitentiary, she was sent to the insane asylum, together with others of the man’s followers, whose minds had failed as a result of the “apostle’s teachings.” she was later discharged as cured, but Creffield was not long at liberty until the woman fell into his power again.
In the meantime, the Hurt family had become entirely disillusioned as to their belief in the alleged apostle’s divinity, and tried to rescue Mrs. Creffield from the man’s clutches. While Creffield had been confined at Salem, his wife was granted a divorce, and it seems that they came to Seattle and were married a second time by Justice George on April 3rd of this year. Mrs. Creffield’s father is O. V. Hurt, a traveling man, residing in Corvallis, and it was to him that George Mitchell went for information as to the whereabouts of his sisters.
SEEKING HIS DAUGHTER
Mr. Hurt was also striving to reach his daughter and rescue her from the clutches of Creffield. Mitchell himself took up the search and never faltered a moment in all the weeks that he has been on the trail until he saw the dead body of his sisters betrayer lying on the pavement this morning.
To Mr. Hurt he then sent the message which appears at the head of this story:
“I got my man. Am now in jail.”
LIVED IN PORTLAND
Mitchell, Creffield’s slayer, has lived in Portland for several years. He was alone in that city and for some time roomed at 233 Burnside St. At other times, according to the story he told today, he lived at different boarding houses. His married sister, Mrs. B. Starr, also lived in Portland, and his younger sister, Esther Mitchell, was boarding at Oregon City, where she worked in the woolen mills up until the time she fell into Creffield’s clutches, three years ago.
The Mitchells were acquainted with the Hurt family of Corvallis, and both the girls were visiting there in 1903 when the Holy rollers were first organized.
It was through Mrs. Creffield’s statement to Acting Chief Willard and Capt. Sullivan that the facts underlying the shooting were first obtained this morning. Mitchell, when first arrested, simply stated that he shot the man because Creffield had ruined Mitchell’s two sisters. Later, when questioned, he told the whole details of the Holy Roller episode which preceded the shooting.
WOMEN DENIES IT
Mrs. Creffield denied in her statement that Creffield had ruined the Mitchell girls. “Esther Mitchell, the younger sister,” she said, “Is now staying with my married brother, Frank Hurt at Corvallis, and I do not know where the other one is.”
The marriage license showing that Mr. and Mrs. Creffield had been married a second time in this city on April 3 of this year was found in the dead man’s pocket when searched at the morgue. There was nothing else on his person, except a few papers of no importance. His clothing was of ordinary texture and black. The man’s exact age is not known, but he appears to be about 35 years. He is short in stature and his head is large.
Mrs. Creffield is rather stout, short in stature and plainly dressed. Her eyes are large and of deep blue. She shows no emotion whatever and at no time did she appear to be excited at the tragic death of her husband. She discusses the shooting with a nonchalance that is almost disconcerting, even to the officers, inured to scenes of violence. she has not spoken since the tragedy occurred, except in answer to a direct question.
At first the woman absolutely refused to allow her photograph to be taken. Later she consented with the proviso that she be allowed to make herself a little mote presentable. The police matron’s she crimped her hair up, arranged her waist and faced the cameras without the quiver of an eyelid.
“I’m afraid it will be a wretched thing (text illegible) was the only comment she made while posing.
Mitchell sat for his picture and discussed the shooting with reporters with apparently less concern than the outsides exhibited in the ??? When warned that he was talking to newspaper men and that his statements to them might appear against him at the trial to come, the young man showed no concern.
“Well, he replied, “I just shot the man for ruining my two sisters. That’s all there is to it.” and he continued to answer every question that he was asked.
IS WELL EDUCATED
Mitchell appears well educated and there was nothing of the braggart in his talk. He seemed to take the whole affair as a matter of course and even the officers at police headquarters who observed his every movement closely remarked upon his cool demeanor and entire absence of any fear or excitement. He talked and acted like a sane man who had accomplished a purpose upon which he had been fully determined beforehand.
HOLD NO INQUEST
There will be no coroner’s inquest. Deputy Coroner Wiltsie viewed the body at the morgue this morning and announced that an inquest would hardly be necessary.
Seattle Star 5/7/1906 p3
Revolting Creed Of Holy Rollers
The Holy Rollers, as they were called, the sect of which Creffield was the organizer and leader, first came to the attention of the public in the spring of 1903. Near the town of Corvallis Creffield first appeared in the guise of a divine being.
“I am the Joshua, the Christ,” he said, “come on earth to being the true belief and save the anointed of God.”
TENETS OF CREED
The tenets of the Holy Rollers was first of all founded upon the theory of free love, which was imposed upon all the membership.
“His cloak of religion was only a means of getting my innocent sisters in his power,” said Mitchell today during an interview. “Not warned by the first occasion, when he was tarred and feathered,” Mitchell continued, “Creffield got the girls into his power again after he got out of the penitentiary. There was nothing in the world for me to do but to protect the honor of my sister.”
ORGIES AS RELIGION
From those who learned the secret of the Holy Rollers, after several of the original members of 1903 had left the ranks, stories became public of the orgies held under the guise of religion, that appeared almost past belief. But they were too well authenticated by later confessions of repentant girls and women and men to be discredited and the storm of indignation that arose became general throughout the entire state of Oregon.
In a little camp which the Holy Rollers established a short distance out of Corvallis they held nightly meetings and prayers. Creffield as the head of the church always made a preliminary address to his believers. He would continue his harangue until he became worked up to a frenzy.
ROLL ON THE FLOOR
Gradually the others in the congregation would become worked up to state of excitement and then the whole crowd would commence shrieking and start to rolling around the floor. This would continue for some time, until the people became exhausted or fell into a partial state of unconsciousness from sheer loss of strength.
It was only a short time after the Holy Rollers were first organized that a number of women became violently insane. Creffield’s wife herself was adjudged insane and sent to the state asylum in Oregon for some time before being released.
In other ways the Holy rollers were unique. The true believer would never use artificial light and candles and everything except the light of day was eschewed. The followers of Creffield were also compelled to wear just as little clothing as they could possible get along with. They ate very little and only certain kinds of food. The first gathering of the faithful under Creffield’s lead at Corvallis was (text illegible) by the citizens who treated the leader himself to a coat of tar and feathers.
Many of the best homes in the vicinity of Corvallis were ruined by the presence of the Holy Rollers, which claimed in numerous instances daughters, and even wives, of well-known men. Husbands are even known to have taken up the new religion and permitted their wives and daughters to embrace the faith which carried with it dishonor.
Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/8/1906 p1
Holy Roller Shot Down Like A Dog
Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/8/1906 p1
Leader Of ‘Holy Rollers’ Killer
Avenger Follows Creffield to Seattle. Sisters Were Among Victims. George Mitchell, slayer, Surrenders to Police. Justifies The Shooting. Strange Spell Cast by Leader of the Fanatics Rendered Women Deaf to All Pleadings to Return to their Homes.”
Brother Revenges Wrongs Done His Sisters by Franz E. Creffield. Expresses No Remorse. Slayer of Self-Styled Prophet Declares He Did Right.”
(In a box above the Morning Oregonian article)
PRINCIPAL EVENTS IN CREFFIELD’S CAREER
Born in Germany, his full name was Franz Edmund Creffield.
Deserted German army and came to America. Shortly after came to Portland joined the Salvation Army.
In 1903 he went to Corvallis and organized a religious sect of fanatics called the Holy Rollers.
January 4, 1904 he was taken from a house in company with a companion named Brooks, and the two were tarred and feathered by indignant relatives of some of their victims.
Immediately after this event he was arrested and taken to Portland, where he was tried, convicted and sentenced to two years in the penitentiary on statutory charges.
On his release from prison he returned to the vicinity of his former exploits, and induced his wife, who had secured a divorce during his imprisonment, to remarry him. Through correspondence, Creffield induced his followers to assemble near Waldport, Lincoln County. He was followed from Corvallis by Louis Hartley, of Corvallis, whose wife had become a victim of the strange doctrine, and Hartley made an attempt on the life of Creffield by pulling the trigger of a revolver five times, but the (text illegible) failed to explode because the cartridges were not made for the gun. Creffield fled secretly to Seattle to which place he was followed by George Mitchell, of Portland, who yesterday avenged the wrongs done his sisters by Creffield by killing the leader of the fanatical sect.
Franz Edmund Creffield, who styled himself the “Joshua” of the so-called “Holy Rollers,” met his death yesterday morning near the corner of First avenue and Cherry street at the hands of George Mitchell, who asserts that he committed the deed because the “prophet” had led his two sisters astray. Mitchell had come to Seattle for the purpose of killing Creffield. He had followed the latter’s wife from Albany, Or., here. Creffield’s slayer declares he does not feel any remorse over the deed which he committed; on the contrary, he believes that he has done only what was right.
Creffield and his wife arose early yesterday morning and came down town to make some purchases. They were living on Fifth Avenue, near Pike street. Coming down Pike street, they turned down First Avenue, walking leisurely, stopping in front of a drug store that Mrs. Creffield might be weighed.
MITCHELL TOOK NO CHANCES [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
Then they crossed over to the other side of First avenue, and had proceeded only a few blocks when, just before reaching Cherry street, Mitchell came up from behind, and without a word, placed the muzzle of a .32-caliber pistol at the back of Creffield’s neck and fire one shot.
With hardly a groan, Creffield sank to the sidewalk, mortally wounded.
Mrs. Creffield, who had not seen Mitchell or suspected his presence until she heard the shot, turned and saw what had happened. At first she seized Mitchell, trying to hold him until help came. But seeing the form of her husband lying on the sidewalk, with the blood flowing freely, let loose her grasp and knelt by the side of the dying man.
MAKES NO RESISTANCE (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
SLAYER GIVES HIMSELF UP [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
Patrolman Le Count and Special Officer Huth were a short distance away when the shot was fired, and hurrying to the scene, place Mitchell under arrest. The murdered made no attempt to escape, but calmly handed his weapon to the officer.
Dr. Bories was immediately called by the officers, who carried the body into a nearby drug store. When the physician arrived, Mrs. Creffield was crying.
“He cannot die; he can never die. No one can kill him.” But as soon as the physician arrived he pronounced the man dead.
When arrested Mitchell made the remark: “I came here to kill that man as he ruined the lives of my two sisters, and I have completed my work.”
The first thing that Mitchell did after reaching the police station was to send a telegram to O. V. Hurt, the father of Mrs. Creffield, saying:
“Have got my man. Am in jail here.
SEARCHING FOR HIS SISTERS [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
Mitchell said he had come to Seattle from Portland last Wednesday, and had learned that Creffield and his wife were living in this city. His two sisters, Mrs. Burgess Starr and Miss Ester Mitchell, have been missing for some time, and he concluded that Creffield had influenced them to follow him to this city.
It was on the mission of looking for his sisters that Mitchell came to Seattle. He was on the street early this morning. He was walking up First Avenue when he saw Creffield and his wife go down the street.
For the last week the Creffields have been living in an attic room. Two chairs, a small table and a camp cot comprised their furniture.
Their clothing consisted of what they had on their backs. Mrs. Creffield wore a tattered waist and a skirt with equally bad shoes.
PROMISED A NEW SKIRT [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
She and her husband had arisen earlier than usual this morning, for Creffield had promised to buy her a new skirt, and they wanted to reach the down town stores before the morning rush. The woman says neither she nor her husband knew Mitchell was in the city. She said she had heard in Corvallis that Mitchell was looking for her husband.
“I killed Creffield,” said young Mitchell, because I believed it was right for me to do so. I shall take the consequences, whatever they may be.
“Creffield influenced my sisters, Mrs. Starr and Ester Mitchell, until they joined his Holy Roller crowd at Corvallis.
“He had them under a spell, and I could do nothing with them. I begged them to quit the shameful life that was being led by the Rollers, but they would not heed me.
SWORE TO BE REVENGED [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
“But that is not all. this brute who declared he was appointed ‘Joshua’ by God, betrayed both those girls. I swore that I would be avenged and my time came this morning.
“I am sorry, of course, that I have been compelled to take a man’s life, but there is no man among you who can appreciate my feelings.
“No brother could love his sisters more than I. To have a man of the stripe of Creffield take them away from me and ruin their lives under the guise of frenzied religion was too much to bear.
“The more I thought of it, the more angry I became, and I resolved at the first opportunity to meet Creffield and secure my revenge. It was willed that I should meet him today, and Creffield suffered the end that he was entitled to.”
Creffield was released last December from the penitentiary in Salem, Or., where he had served two years upon his conviction on a criminal charge which connected him with B. E. Starr, of Portland, and which was preferred by the woman’s husband.
WIFE A FIRM BELIEVER [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
Mrs. Starr had left her family, consisting of three little children, to go with Creffield, and was a firm believer in his peculiar doctrine. She was a sister of young Mitchell, who killed Creffield yesterday.
TRIED TO REORGANIZE (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
The second sister, Ester, who is only 18 years of age, was living in Seattle with Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hurt up to two months ago.
Creffield was divorced from his wife while he was in the Oregon prison, but was remarried to her in Seattle on April 2 of the present year. Justice George performed the ceremony.
Creffield then persuaded his wife and the members of the Hurt family to accompany him to Ocean View, Or., where he had gathered some of his old adherents, including the two sisters of Mitchell, for the purpose of taking up government land and starting a new settlement.
TOOK A CIRCULAR ROUTE [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
The people in that section, however, soon found out who their new neighbors were to be and made things so unpleasant that Creffield left and instead of coming through Corvallis, which would have been the ordinary route by train, he drove for many miles by a circuitous route in order that no one might know that he was in the country.
Mrs. Creffield claims that during the one week that her husband was at Ocean View was the only time that he was near the young Mitchell girl, and that he was well behaved during that time.
Last Wednesday Mrs. Creffield started to this city and while at Albany, where she had to lie over for several hours to wait for a train, she says that the police of that city informed her that someone was shadowing her. She saw the man and recognized him as young Mitchell. After that she had not seen him till yesterday morning when the shooting occurred.
WARNED AWAY FROM CORVALLIS [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
A. J. Johnson, mayor of Corvallis, who is also a national bank inspector, was in Seattle yesterday and made the following statement to a Post-Intelligencer reporter:
SYMPATHY FOR SLAYER (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
“Creffield never dared to come back to Corvallis after his release from the Salem penitentiary. He had been treated to a coat of tar and feathers while in the city and warned that if he ever showed his face there he would be shot down like a dog.
“Mitchell was not the only man looking for hi on account of his conduct. Only a few weeks ago, when he tried to start his new colony at Ocean View he took the wife and daughter of a man named Hartley away from their husband and father.
“Hartley went after his wife and child and I understand that he tried four times to shoot Creffield, but his revolver snapped each time.
“The outrages that have been committed by the ‘Holy Rollers’ in Corvallis and in the vicinity of Oregon City have been too numerous to mention. They have broken up dozens of families with their vicious doctrine. In the case of the Hurt family, there was only one member of the entire family that was not under the influence of Creffield at the time of his death, that being the father, O. v. Hurt, who is a respected citizen in Corvallis, and even he was under the hypnotic spell of the infamous creed for some time.
OFFERS OF ASSISTANCE (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
OFFERED AID FROM CORVALLIS [Morning Oregonian (Portland)]
During the afternoon a telegram was received by Mitchell from several prominent citizens of Corvallis, offering their assistance to him to the extent of their resources that he might be set free.
The post-mortem examination was held by Dr. Bories last night and showed that Creffield met his death by a bullet that entered the back of the neck, breaking the spinal cord at the base of the brain and then ranging thru to the right jaw which it shattered.
Mitchell was removed to the county jail yesterday afternoon by orders of Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh. Mrs. Creffield was placed under the charge of Mrs. Kelly, the police matron, to be detained as a witness. There will be no inquest held by the coroner as Mitchell acknowledged that he killed Creffield, thus doing away with the necessity of that formality. He has retained Will H. Morris as his attorney.
HURT WELL KNOWN BY SEATTLE PEOPLE (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
Frank Hurt, who with his wife and Mitchell’s two sisters, went to Ocean View to form the new colony with “Joshua” Creffield is well known to many people of this city. He was in the employ of the Anderson Steamship Company acting as engineer on a Lake Washington launch.
OBITUARIES (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
CREFFIELD--In this city, May 7, 1906. Franz E. Creffield, aged 33 years. Announcement of funeral hereafter. Remains at the private receiving rooms of Bonney-Watson Company.
Corvallis Gazette 5/8/1906
A dispatch to this city from Seattle, Wash yesterday conveyed the information that George Mitchell had just shot and killed Edmund Creffield of Holy Roller fame. Full particulars were not obtainable at the time we went to press yesterday.
Thus do the guilty meet their deserts. We realize fully that to take a life is an awful thing, but there are things more precious than life. George Mitchell had two sisters become victims to Creffield’s practices, vicious and awful as they were. Not only did Mr. Mitchell suffer, but others--families and communities. The taking of Creffield’s life was no more than should have been expected. It was what the people of any respectable community might desire. Considering the sorrow, grief, humiliation, and many other causes for human suffering and distress this man was accountable for news of his death brings to this city more than anything else a sense of relief.
Jason Haines as George Mitchell
HEADLINES IN DIFFERENT PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE
Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/7/1906 p1
Holy Roller Creffield Killed
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/7/1906 p1
Holy Roller Leader Shot Dead
Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 5/8/1906
Bullet Kills Holy Roller
Brownsville Times 5/11/1906 p1
Holy Roller Creffield Killed
Corvallis Gazette Fri 5/11/1906
The Creffield Tragedy
Oregon City Enterprise Fri 5/11/1906 p1
(text illegible) Meets A Tragic Death
Creffield Killer By His Victim’s Brother. The Modern “Joshua” Who Led Many Weak Minded Women Astray and Who Filled Insane Asylum With Followers, Pays Penalty of Crimes at Hands of George Mitchell, Who Slays Him in Revenge for Misdeeds.
Story of the Shooting as Told by Seattle Reporter.”
Shot and Instantly Killed on the Streets of Seattle by George Mitchell.”
Edmund Creffield Shot Down In Streets Of Seattle. George Mitchell His Slayer. Portland Young Man Gets Revenge for Alleged Betrayal of His sisters. Deed Is Witnessed by Mrs. Creffield and Several Pedestrians--Mitchell Makes No Effort to Escape, but Quietly Surrenders to Police.
Fanatic Dies On Street. George Mitchell Calls on Him to Halt and Sends Bullet Into ‘Apostle’s’ Brain.
Seattle, Wash., May 7--Franz Edmund Creffield, self-styled “Joshua,” leader of the notorious Holy Roller Fanatics that created so much excitement at Corvallis and other Oregon towns three years ago was shot and instantly killed on First Avenue at 7:10 o’clock this morning by George Mitchell, a Portland young man who accused Creffield of influencing and betraying two of his sisters. Creffield was the leader of the band of holy Rollers that caused so much excitement at Corvallis, Oregon, three years ago. Mitchell made no attempt to escape and coolly submitted to arrest by Patrolman Le Count and Deputy Sheriff Sam Huth after the shooting, but stood beside the body of his prostrate victim until Patrolman Le Count place him under arrest. He told the police that he shot Creffield because he had ruined his two sisters, Mrs. Burgess Starr and Miss Ester Mitchell.
As soon as he reached the city jail, Mitchell asked permission to send a telegram. He sent the following to O. V. Hurt at Corvallis, father of Creffield’s wife:
“I’ve got my man. I’m in jail here.”
The shooting occurred on the sidewalk directly in front of a drug store and was witnessed by Creffield’s wife and a few other pedestrians. It took place outside the Quick Drug Company’s store in the heart of the retail district. Mitchell has been in Seattle since Wednesday looking for Creffield.
MEETS HIS VICTIM
Mitchell was walking up First Avenue when he saw Creffield coming down First Avenue, his wife on his arm. Mitchell stepped in close to the drug store and as Creffield and his wife went by he drew a .38-caliber revolver, sending a ball through the back of Creffield’s head. The bullet came out above the right eye. Creffield fell to the sidewalk and was carried into the drug store and Dr. Bories was summoned.
Mrs. Creffield dropped on her knees beside the corpse of her husband. She pressed her lips to his as she threw one arm around his neck. In that position she remained for five minutes neither weeping nor making an outcry of any sort. Finally she relaxed her hold and looking up into the faces of those who had gathered around said:
“He can’t die. He can never die. He did no harm to George Mitchell.”
Dr. Bories lifted her to her feet saying, “But he is already dead, Madam.”
The woman was taken to police headquarters with her husband’s slayer and held as a witness.
WIFE IN TATTERS
The Creffields have been here for a little over a month. They have been living in a little attic room at 1116 Fifth Avenue. The only furniture in the room was two chairs, a cheap table and a sleeping cot. The only clothes the woman had on was a tattered skirt and shirtwaist. Her husband yesterday promised to buy her a new skirt, and they were on their way to the store to purchase it when he was shot.
Mrs. Creffield says her husband did not see Mitchell. she caught sight of him just as he pulled the trigger. Mitchell is 28 years old and gave his occupation as a laborer. At police headquarters he said:
MITCHELL TELLS OF CRIME
“I killed him; I have been looking for Creffield, and I got him. I have no regrets, I am willing to take any punishment that is meted out to me without a whimper. I did not kill a man. I killed a brute. He obtained a devilish influence over my two sisters and ruined them and I did only what any true brother would do.”
The police agree with Mitchell and gave him the best quarters in the jail making his imprisonment as comfortable as possible.
It developed that Creffield has been married here twice. Over two years ago Justice George married him. The marriage license and certificate shows a ceremony performed between Franz E. Carefield (sic) and Miss Ida M. Hunt (sic). The police believe that Creffield gave incorrect names to hide his identity. His name is Creffield and not Carefield. His wife’s name is Maude Hurt. They lived at Southeast Seattle for a time with Frank Hurt, the woman’s brother. Two years ago Creffield was convicted on a statutory charge.
Mitchell says his sisters told him that Creffield, or “Apostle Joshua,” as he liked to be called was greater than Christ. Creffield served two years in the penitentiary at Salem. while in the penitentiary his wife obtained a divorce from him. He got out of the penitentiary in February with good conduct allowance. He then went to Waldport, Oregon, and gathered about him the faithful followers who stuck by him.
Threats of lynching drove him out of Oregon. He came to Seattle, won his divorced wife back and on April 3, little over a month ago, married her for the second time. He went out to Southeast Seattle and won her brother back. He sold his home and took the proceeds to Waldport to hold together his followers. Creffield was going to leave for Waldport in a few days.
CAREER OF CREFFIELD
The murder of Joshua (Franz E. Creffield has marked the climax of a history of crime and fanaticism which has raged in the region of Corvallis for about three years. The Holy Roller movement, of which he was the moving spirit, originated in that neighborhood in 1903 and about 100 joined the sect. Although the doctrine preached was too erratic to affect the minds of many, it was such as to have dire results in the case of those that believed. Many of his disciples landed in the asylum, among whom were Mrs. O. V. Hurt, at whose home in Corvallis the meetings were held for a long time.
On November 2, 1903, a sacrificial fire was declared and all the family furniture of the believers and all the cats and dogs were burned, Creffield declaring it to be the will of God. The wrath of the citizens of Corvallis reached a head when on January 5. 20 of them went at night to the Beach house where Creffield and his followers were staying, and swore to sweep out the abomination. They carried Creffield and his chief satellite, Charles Brooks, across the river and tarred and feathered them, and warned them to leave the vicinity.
SOME TAR AND FEATHERS
The prophet and satellite returned early in the morning to the Beach cottage and removed the cumbrous covering with the aid of friends and Creffield then went to Albany, where he married Maud Hurt, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank (sic) Hurt of Corvallis.
The Creffields then came to Portland and stayed at the home of Mr. and Mrs. B. e. Starr. Mrs. Starr was a relative of the new Mrs. Creffield, who worked upon her to accept the new faith. Starr had previously brought his wife to Portland to escape Creffield, but now he brought a charge against the apostle for estranging his wife and breaking up his home. Creffield fled and was not captured till July 28, when he was found in hiding under Mrs. O. V. Hurt’s home in Corvallis. Mrs. Hurt had fed him till she was sent to the asylum. He was convicted in September and sent to the penitentiary for two years.
ROLLED ON FACES IN PRAYER
Holy Rollerism died down then for a time and nothing was heard of it. In a few homes the fanatics still continued to debase themselves and to roll on their faces in prayer. This was the custom which gave the popular name to the sect. One of the cardinal principles of the creed was nakedness. Creffield teaching that after purification this would be natural. He taught that he was “Joshua the high priest.,” and that at some future time he would be Elijah the restorer. His work was to lead the 12 tribes of Israel back to Jerusalem, where the restoration of all things would take place and the millennium dawn on earth. Meanwhile he taught his followers to live a life of free love for the purification of their souls.
Mrs. Starr’s young sister, Hester (sic) Mitchell, was another victim of the faith. She was turned over to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society and later was sent to her father’s home in Indiana. Her brother is Creffield’s slayer.
The others of the disciples were variously scattered when Creffield was sent to prison and it was thought that the faith had practically died out, although at times Mrs. Starr said that she felt yet her spiritual love for the man. As many as six or seven were sent to the insane asylum.
RALLIED HIS FOLLOWERS
Creffield’s sentence was commuted in February and little was said about his release at the time. However, he soon began to use his imprisonment to his advantage with his week-minded followers, likening his two years absence from outside life to Christ’s three days in the tomb. He seemed to prefer now being Christ to Joshua or Elijah and he rallied his followers, taking them to his new camp, near Waldport on Alsea Bay, which he declared to be impregnable to enemies.
Unfortunately it seemed as impregnable to food, because of the hostile attitude of the neighbors, and a few days ago he was forced to break up camp. This, however, was after Mrs. Starr had again given way to his influence and left her home to join him there. Mr. Starr was crazed with grief and said that if he had the money to follow her he would go and make short work of Creffield. Her brother got ahead of him and killed him in Seattle.
OF WEALTHY PARENTAGE
Creffield was about 33 years of age, of light complexion and the son of wealthy parents living in Sweden. He taught the doctrine of spiritual love and told his disciples they would find their affinity only at his camp meetings. He had in his last camp three men and nine women, who were left from his former coterie.
The Starr home, where George Mitchell lived with is sister and brother-in-law is now deserted. The two older children, girls of five and three, have been sent to an aunt in Newberg, and the baby of 7 months is being cared for by an uncle in one of the suburbs. The neighbors express much curiosity concerning Mrs. Starr’s welcome if she returns. no sympathy is shown for her. some say that she was insane.
Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/8/1906 p6
Slayers Sister Carried Messages
Creffield Made Second Holy Roller Rendezvous at Camp in Lincoln County. Spell Calls Old Victims. Husbands, Robbed of Wife, Follows With Revolver and, Though Unable to Kill Frightens the “Prophet” Away.
CORVALLIS, Or., May 7. --(Special.)-- It is not an over-statement of the fact to say that the news of the death in Seattle this morning of Creffield was received here with universal satisfaction. With him removed, there will be no “Holy Rollerism,” here or elsewhere.
During the time Creffield was in the Penitentiary, everyone of his former victims forswore their belief in him and treated him and his so-called doctrines with contempt. Immediately after his release last December, activity began among his followers, most of whom repaired to the late camp near Waldport. Among those who went was Miss Mitchell, a girl of 19, whose brother is now in jail in Seattle for the slaying of Creffield. She is still with such of the Rollers as have tarried in the vicinity of the seaside camp.
Miss Mitchell was one of the most violent of the victims of Creffield during the summer and fall of 1903 when the Rollers made their first pyrotechnic appearance in this city, in which they attracted notice all over the world. At the time so many of the victims were sent to the State Insane Asylum as crazed. Miss Mitchell was sent to the Boys’ and Girls’ home at Portland. she was then about 16 years of age, and an intelligent and very amiable young woman. After being released from the Portland Home she was sent east by her people, and there remained until recently.
MITCHELL GIRL THE MESSENGER
It was Miss Mitchell that acted as a go-between in carrying messages from Creffield, after his release from the Penitentiary to his former wife in this city, who secured a divorce after Creffield’s commitment to prison. The former Mrs. Creffield had given up all ideas concerning Rollerism and was living a quiet peaceful life with her parents in this city. she was always an amiable and eminently respectable young woman, of more than ordinary intelligence. The name of Creffield and the former doctrines are understood to have become hateful to her until after Creffield’s release.
Anticipating trouble after Creffield’s return to liberty, the mail was kept under surveillance with the expectation that the bogus prophet would attempt to communicate with his former wife and other victims of his diabolical teachings. Creffield, then in California, induced Miss Mitchell, then at Oregon City, to come to Corvallis, bearing messages with the divorced wife to Creffield, which took place in Seattle in February or March.
INDUCED BROTHER TO KILL
This using of his sister for the pernicious purposes of his foul nature is one of the influences that aroused young Mitchell to the retribution he visited upon Creffield this morning.
There was, also, another influence. Mrs. B. E. Starr, of Portland, is another sister of Creffield’s slayer. she is the woman whose illicit relations with Creffield led to his commitment to the Penitentiary to serve a two-year sentence. Like the others, she had forsworn Creffield and his doctrines, and was residing quietly with her husband in Portland.
A week ago last Sunday Mrs. Starr arrived here on her way to join Creffield and the other Rollers, then supposed to be camped near Waldport. From Corvallis she made her way, traveling most of the time afoot to Alsea, a distance of 30 miles. Creffield had, however, disappeared from Waldport by the time she reached Alsea.
In leaving her family in Portland Mrs. Starr deserted a 7-months-old babe and other children. This was another influence which with the knowledge that the law could not reach Creffield’s case, induced young Mitchell to seek redress. All who know the young man here hold him in the very highest esteem. the wrongs that he has suffered at the hands of Creffield cannot be measured, nor adequately depicted. The same is true of other homes across which his shadow has fallen.
CAST A POWERFUL SPELL
That Creffield’s so-called religion was a cloak for the basest practices is not doubted. That a sort of occult power, hypnotic or otherwise, enabled him to exercise powerful control over his female followers, is universally believed here.
The day that Creffield recently passed through Benton County on his way to the Waldport camp a wife and daughter in a Corvallis home left on the same train on which he and Mrs. Creffield took passage to Wren, 16 miles west of Corvallis. Finding that the husband and father in this home had discovered their flight and was on the same train, the wife and daughter left the train at Blodgett, and traveled afoot via Summit, Toledo, Yaquina and other points, down the beach to a point beyond Waldport, covering a distance of 70 or 80 miles. The husband, who was Louis Hartley, followed them.
GUN WOULD NOT WORK
At Newport Hartley purchased a revolver and ammunition and went gunning for Creffield. The account is that he got in reach of the man and that he snapped his gun five times at the prophet, but the gun failed to fire because the cartridges were rim fire, while the weapon was central fire.
The knowledge that outraged husbands or other relatives would not tolerate the resumption of Rollerism at the Waldport camp is believed to have put Creffield to flight to save his life. He did not come out from Waldport the same way that he went in. His means and route of leaving there are unknown here. His wife passed through here and Albany a week ago today, alone, and went thence through Portland to Seattle.
Another home that has been terribly outraged is that of Victor Hurt, whose sufferings as a result of Creffield teachings and practices cannot be told in words. His wife, two daughters and son were all at one time in the asylum. One of his daughters is Mrs. Creffield.
DEFIANCE TO INJURED FATHER
It is stated that when in San Francisco, shortly after his release from the penitentiary, Creffield wrote Mr. Hurt: “I have my foot on your neck now, and I intend to keep it there.”
Since his release from the penitentiary Creffield taught his followers that he was the risen Christ, his rising being his emergence from prison and his death being his captivity there. He also claimed that it was his curse that destroyed San Francisco and that he had a similar curse on Portland and Corvallis.
The sensational rise of Creffield into notoriety was in the summer of 1903, when he began holding Holy Roller meetings in Corvallis. On account of the noise made in their worship, the authorities sent them out of town. then they went into camp a few miles south of town, where their peculiar practices were carried on for a period of six weeks. After that they occupied the Hurt house, where by the burning of furniture, wearing apparel and other unnatural rites they became conspicuous all over Christendom. Among other signs of the wide publicity given them was the receipt here of a copy of the Scot. published at Edinburgh, containing a two-column story of their doings.
ANTICS OF THE ROLLERS
At the time of the furniture burning, a sign conspicuously displayed was at the garden gate, put there by Creffield, was: “Positively “ no admittance except on God’s business.” In their worship, the Rollers rolled on the floor, groaned, screamed, prayed, shouted, and otherwise gave evidence of great bodily and mental agitation.
Creffield was tarred and feathered by Corvallisites on the night of January 4, 1904. A companion named Brooks, formerly a Salvation Army officer, underwent the process with him. Twenty men were engaged in the affair, which took place under the light of a winter moon near the Corvallis sawmill. At the time, Creffield and Brooks were occupying a house across the Willamette from Corvallis along with eight or ten young women.
The house was forced open by the White Caps and the two men were brought across the river into Benton County, were the tar and feathers was applied. Both men disappeared and nothing was known of either thereafter until one day Creffield was found under the house of Mr. Hurt. The bogus prophet’s body was entirely nude, and his frame a mass of skin and bones.
That happened July 30, 1094. Creffield was being searched for at the time by the Portland officers on a charge of adultery. It was supposed that he had been hidden under the Hurt house for a period of four months, during which time he had been fed clandestinely by Rollers. He was discovered by accident by a small boy, and was taken to Portland, where he was tried and sent to the penitentiary.
Seattle Daily Times 5/7/1906 p1
Creffield Shot To Death
Leader of Notorious Holy Rollers Instantly Killed by Young Man Whose Sisters He Had Led Astray Self-Styled Apostle Meets a Tragic End at Hands of George Mitchell, Who Long Ago Had Sworn Revenge.
FRANZ EDMUND CREFFIELD, who called himself “Joshua” leader of the notorious Holy Roller fanatics that created so much excitement at Corvallis and other Oregon towns three years ago was shot and instantly killed on First Avenue near Cherry Street by George Mitchell, a Portland young man , who accuses Creffield of influencing and ruining two of his sisters.
The murderer made no effort to escape and coolly submitted to arrest by Patrolman Le Count and Deputy Sheriff Sam Huth. Soon after being placed in jail young Mitchell sent this remarkable telegram to O. V. Hurt, father of Creffield’s wife at Corvallis:
“I’ve got my man. I’m in jail here.”
The shooting occurred on the sidewalk directly in front of the Quick Drug Company’s store, and was witnessed by Creffield’s wife and a few other persons who were passing along First Avenue at the time. Mrs. Creffield had hold of her husband’s arm when he was shot. The Holy Roller leader dropped to the pavement with a bullet hole clear through his head, the leaden ball penetrating the brain and causing instant death.
Patrolman Le Count and Deputy Sheriff Huth carried Creffield into the drug store. Dr. Bories was called, but Creffield breathed his last even before he had been carried into the store.
Mrs. Creffield dropped on her knees beside the corpse of her husband. she pressed her lips to his as she threw one arm around his neck in that position she remained for five minutes, neither weeping nor making an outcry of any sort. Finally she relaxed her hold, and looking up into the face of those who had gathered round, said:
“He can’t die. He can never die. He did no harm to George Mitchell.”
“But he is already dead,” calmly replied Dr. Bories. The woman was then led away to police headquarters, and Creffield’s body was taken by Deputy Coroner Arnold to the Bonney-Watson Company’s morgue.
YOUNG MURDERED TALKS
At the city jail Mitchell readily answered all questions put to him by Acting Chief Willard and Capt. Sullivan. He said he came to Seattle from Portland last Wednesday. He had learned that Creffield and his wife were living in this city. His two sisters, Mrs. Burgess Starr and Miss Ester Mitchell have been missing for some time and he concluded that Creffield had induced them to follow him to this city. It was ??? the mission, of looking for his sisters that Mitchell came to Seattle.
Mitchell was on the street early this morning. He was walking up first Avenue near Cherry Street, when he saw Creffield and his wife going down the street. Mitchell stepped close to the Quick Drug Company building to allow the Creffield’s to pass. At last they were opposite and a little ahead of him. Mitchell pulled a 32 caliber revolver and fired at Creffield. The bullet struck the Holly Roller in the back of the head and passed clear through the brain and out of the head just above the right eye, tearing a hole an inch wide. The crushed bullet was picked up on the sidewalk by a by-stander.
AIM WAS DELIBERATE
Creffield did not utter a word. It is not known whether he saw Mitchell, and if he saw him whether he would have recognized him. Mrs. Creffield says she saw Mitchell an instant before he fired, but at the time she saw no revolver. She heard the report of the weapon and her husband dropped at her feet.
For the last week the Creffields had been living in the attic room at 1116 Fifth Avenue. Two chairs, a small table and a camp cot was all the furniture they had. Their clothing consisted of what they had on their backs. A tattered waist and skirt with equally bad shoes, were all that protected the woman from the cold.
She and her husband had arisen earlier than usual this morning for Creffield had promised to buy her a new skirt and they wanted to reach one of the downtown stores before the morning rush. Mrs. Creffield says that neither she nor her husband knew that Mitchell was in the city. Mrs. Creffield knew Mitchell well, but declares that she does not believe that Creffield knew him. She said that she had heard in Corvallis that Mitchell was looking for her husband.
GOT DESERVED REVENGE
“I killed Creffield,” said young Mitchell, who gave his age as 23 years and really looks younger, “because I believed it was right for me to do so. I have not the least regrets and am prepared to take the consequences whatever they may be.
“Creffield influenced my sister, Mrs. Starr and Ester, until they joined his Holy Roller crowd at Corvallis. He had them under his spell and I could do nothing with them. I begged them to quit the shameful life being led by the Rollers, but they would not heed me. But that was not all. This brute of a man who declared he was appointed Joshua by God, ruined both girls. I swore that I would be avenged and my time came this morning.
“I am of course, sorry that I have been called upon to take any man’s life, but there is no one among you who can appreciate my feelings. No brother could love his sisters any more than I. To have a man of the stripe of Creffield to take them away from me and ruin their lives under the guise of a frenzied religion was too much to bear. The more I thought of it, the more angry I got and I resolved at the first opportunity to meet Creffield and secure my revenge. It was willed that I met him today and Creffield suffered the end that he was entitled to.”
CREFFIELD MARRIED HERE
Mrs. Creffield claims she has been married to Creffield twice. The last time was in this city April 3, when Justice George married “Franz E. Carefield to Miss Ida M. Hurt.” There is a difference in the spelling of the names which leads the authorities to believe that Creffield wanted to hide his identity. Creffield is the man’s real name, but he gave Carefield to throw off suspicion. Mrs. Creffield’s real name is Maude Hurt. The marriage license gives it as Ida M. Hurt.
For a time after the marriage the Creffields lived at Southeast Seattle. There Creffield came in contact with Frank Hurt, a brother of his wife’s who at the beginning of the Holy Roller movement in Oregon was one of Creffield’s closest followers.
About two years ago Creffield was convicted for his conduct toward George Mitchell’ sister. He was sentenced to two years in the Salem prison. That sentence, with the good time off, was finished along in the winter. Creffield again returned to the Oregon country, but being afraid to go back to Corvallis, where he had once been tarred and feathered, he got a few of his followers together and started a quiet movement at Waldport, Ore.
COMES TO SEATTLE
That was along about the 1st of April. Then Creffield came to Seattle hoping to gather a few more followers. Mrs. Maude Hurt Creffield, who had secured a divorce from Creffield after he went to the penitentiary, had been living with her brother Frank Hurt at Southeast Seattle. Creffield came here and found his former wife. They patched up their troubles and decided to remarry with they did April 3.
Her brother Frank was won over. Frank sold out his holdings and went to Oregon to help out his former leader. He is supposed to be near Waldport now keeping together the Holy Rollers who have remained true to Creffield. The Joshua of the Holy Rollers had planned in a few days to go to Oregon to join his followers and again attempts to lead the movement of fanatics that shocked the whole state three years ago.
Information in the hands of the police is that Creffield soon after being released from prison went to Albany, Ore., where he laid plans for reorganization at Waldport. The people down there were familiar with the plans that had leaked out and the Holy Rollers terrified by rumors of a threatened raid are said to have partially abandoned their camp. The majority of the members scattered in all directions, Creffield coming here to remain until the trouble had died out.
SEARCH FOR CREFFIELD
Men from Corvallis and other Oregon cities whose relatives had been enticed away the second time, started out scouts to search for the “apostle.” Lynching was predicted if Creffield was found. In some manner Creffield succeeded in eluding his pursuers and his presence in Seattle was not known until last week, when young Mitchell learned that he was here and came direct from Portland.
The modern “Joshua’s” tragic death this morning was the end to a spectacular career that has been read about from Maine to California.
Three years ago, when Creffield was at the zenith of his power, he had his followers in such a frenzied state that many of them, among them his wife, were sent to insane asylums. Mrs. Creffield was later released as cured, but Creffield soon had her in his power again. Creffield is accused of calling himself an equal of Christ. He said he had risen from the dead to again lead the faithful. His life in prison he designates as “the time of death.”
The Holy Rollers practiced one of the most peculiar creeds ever devised. They believed in what is commonly called “free love.” The men, women and children lived in camps or big buildings and all slept in the same room, without beds or coats. They wore only enough clothing to keep them from freezing and whenever the believed they had sinned their means of seeking forgiveness was to lie flat and roll over and over until they were exhausted or until the “apostle,” Creffield had informed them that their sins had been atoned for.
Their carryings on were so disgraceful that the people of Corvallis finally drove them from the city after they had tarred and feathered Creffield and rode him from the city on a rail. The fanatical hand of those where were left with their reasons were not heard of again until after Creffield had been released from the penitentiary.
But little if anything is known of Creffield’s life prior to his organization of the Holy Rollers. His wife claims he was formerly an officer in the Salvation Army, but she admits that she knows nothing else of his life.
Young Mitchell, the murderer, is a laborer. He has lived for the past few years at Portland, going there from Illinois where his father is residing. His sister Esther was employed at Corvallis. She was then 18 (sic) years of age. She met Creffield and he immediately influenced her to join the Holy Roller band. Later, Mrs. Starr, her married sister, fell under the spell and all that young Mitchell could do would not lead them away. They disowned him as a brother and spoke to him of Creffield as the equal of Christ. Both girls lost their minds as a result and it was then that George swore revenge, which came to him this morning at the time he least expected.
Opinion at police headquarters is universally with Mitchell. The prisoner is shown every comfort at the hands of the police, many of whom are open in their declaration that the killing was justifiable and predicting that no jury in King County will ever convict him of the crime with which he will be charged.
HAS NO FEAR
“I do not fear the outcome,” said Mitchell. “Whatever it is I will continue to feel that I have done what any brother should have done. Should my life be taken for Creffield’s, there will be no whimper from me.
Young Mitchell looks as he spoke.
George Mitchell says he is well acquainted with the family of O. V. Hurt at Corvallis. Hurt is the father of Mrs. Creffield. Mitchell declares that prior to the time that Creffield stole Maude Hurt and influenced her brother away that there was no happier family living. Creffield broke it up and today there is nothing but sorrow there. It was because Mitchell believed that O. V. Hurt would be pleased to hear of Creffield’s end that he sent the remarkable telegram told of at the beginning of this article.
TO FILE MURDER CHARGE
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller announced this afternoon that he would file an information direct in the superior court charging Mitchell with murder in the first degree. This decision was announced after Detectives Adams and Corbett had taken Mrs. Creffield to the prosecuting attorney’s office where she told her story of the killing.
The woman reiterated the statements made earlier in the day that Creffield had never warned Mitchell or his sisters. She did admit that Mitchell’s sisters were members of the Holy Roller Band, but said that they had joined voluntarily. Those who are familiar with the facts leading up to the arrest and the conviction of Creffield say that Mrs. Creffield herself is not responsible at times and that her husband so thoroughly had her in his power that she would do his every bidding.
Police officers pity Mrs. Creffield. She is penniless and has no place to go. It is probable that she will be kept at the home of the police matron until some arrangements are made for the trial of Mitchell. Being an eye witness, she will become the most important witness the state will have at the trial.
“Unless some of Mrs. Creffield’s relatives claim the body of the murdered “apostle,” the chances are that it will occupy a space in the King County potter’s field.
Seattle Daily Times 5/7/1906 p2
Creffield’s Followers In An Insane Asylum
PORTLAND, Ore., Monday, May 7.--F. E. Creffield, who was killed in Seattle claimed to be “Joshua the high priest.,” and stated that at some future time he would be Elijah the Restorer.” His work was to lead the twelve tribes back to Jerusalem, where the restoration of all things would take place and the millennium dawn on earth. His creed was a mixture of free love and fanaticism.
Creffield organized his sect in 1903. More than 100 joined. Several of them became insane, among them Mrs. O. V. Hurt, at whose house in Corvallis Creffield made his headquarters, and whose husband saved him from the fury of a mob. She is now in the asylum. For many months meetings were held at the Hurt home.
(The usual history about the tarring and feathering, and the first trial plus …)
HELD CLOTHING SINFUL
A cardinal principle of his creed was nakedness, he holding that it was sinful to wear clothes.
Creffield was about 33 years of age, with light complexion and was to son of wealthy parents in Sweden.
HIS CAMP BROKEN UP
When Creffield was released from the Salem penitentiary he immediately assembled his followers in a camp near Nehalem, on the sea coast. On account of opposition in the neighborhood, the camp was abandoned last week, several of the attendants being arrested.
Since his release Creffield has been claiming to be Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. He startled Corvallis last week by predicting a worse earthquake that that in California in which the town would be entirely swallowed up.
“Spiritual love” formed a prominent part in Creffield’s creed and his followers hastened to the camp meetings to find their “affinity.” Mrs. B. E. Starr, who fell under the spell of the “Rolling Prophet” three years ago, left her home at Portland a week ago to join her “spiritual love” as she styles Creffield.
Creffield was released in February and has made his headquarters near Waldport and Alsea Bay. There were three men with him and nine women who were seeking purification through the immersial (sic) methods he practices.
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/7/1906 p6
O. V. Hurt Leaves For Scene Of Shooting
(Special Dispatch to the Journal.)
Corvallis, Or., May 7.--O. V. Hurt left here on the 12:40 o’clock train today for Seattle. He is the father-in-law of Joshua Creffield. the Holy Roller apostle, shot at Seattle this morning by George Mitchell. The news of Creffield’s death almost caused rejoicing in this city.
Morning Oregonian (Portland) 8 May 1906. p6
Held By A Spell
Strange Power of Creffield Over His Victims. Hurt Goes to Seattle. Corvallis Man, Whose Daughters were Led Astray, Will Do All in His Power for Slayer of Chief Holy Roller.
“God only knows the days and nights of anxiety and mental agony that have been suffered because of the work of that man Creffield,” said O. V. Hurt of Corvallis, who was in Portland last night on his way to Seattle to look after his daughter, Mrs. Maud Creffield, and George Mitchell, who shot Creffield yesterday morning.
“Peaceful, happy families have been broken up, virtuous women have been led astray, children have been turned against parents and wives against husbands, through some strange unaccountable power this man Creffield exerted. Thos who were wronged tried every possible means to protect themselves from a renewal of his detestable practices. Fathers and husbands and brothers have tried to control themselves while their loved ones were being led astray. The law could afford no protection, no remedy, and I am not one who will say that Mitchell did wrong in taking the matter into his own hands.”
Mr. Hurt left last night for Seattle, and as soon as he arrives there will secure the aid of the best lawyers in that city to defend Mitchell against whatever charge may be brought against him. He says if the case were to be tried here in Oregon, where the work of Creffield has been carried on, he would have no concern whatever as to the outcome, but he is not sure that a Seattle jury can be made to understand the extreme provocation under which Mitchell took the life of the “holy roller” leader.
Mr. Hurt is a merchant at Corvallis where he is highly esteemed by all the people. He has a family consisting of a wife, a grown son and daughter, and a younger daughter in her teens.
Before Creffield appeared at Corvallis happiness reigned unbroken in the family. The mother was deeply devoted to her husband and children. The daughter was a quit, home-loving girl and the son an industrious, intelligent, steady young man.
As soon as Creffield gained his hypnotic power they lost all love for home and friends and cared naught but to do his bidding. They came and went at his command. for days at a time they lay prostrate upon the floor of their own home, refusing all food and joining him in continuous prayer.
When Creffield’s immoral practices were discovered he was sent to the penitentiary, the wife and two older children to the asylum and the younger daughter to the Boys’ and Girls’ aid society, but as soon as they were released it became evident that Creffield still exerted his power. The older daughter went to Seattle and married the author of all this trouble and the mother announced her faith in his perfection--his divinity. Under circumstances such as these, Hurt cannot condemn the act of Mitchell.
“I cannot account for the power Creffield exerted,” said Mr. Hurt last night, “except upon the theory of hypnotism. My family believed he is divine, and they assert that although dead he will rise again in three days. The least I can hope is that they will recover from the spell which he threw over them.”
Mr. Hurt says that Creffield was a very highly educated man, having been trained in Germany for priesthood in the Catholic church. Few could hold their own with him in argumentation.
Seattle Star 5/8/1906 p1
Justifiable Homicide Is The Defense
George Mitchell Will Plead Right to Kill Edmund Creffield when the Case Comes to Trial---Prisoner Is Not Worried Over Outcome and Gets Many Offers of Assistance.
“Justifiable homicide” will be the defense introduced by George Mitchell, who yesterday shot and killed Edmund Creffield, self-styled apostle and originator of the famous “Holy Roller” organization of Central Oregon.
Mitchell, who was yesterday afternoon placed in the county jail has secured Attorney Will H. Morris to take charge of his case.
MITCHELL NOT WORRIED
The slayer of the fanatical leader of the most remarkable sect ever devised (text illegible) under the cloak of religion is taking things coolly and will probably be given an ample defense fund by residents of Corvallis, Ore. and vicinity who have interested themselves in the case.
OFFERS OF ASSISTANCE
Last evening the prisoner received a dispatch from Corvallis and while the name of the sender is not known, it was ascertained that this telegram gave offers of any financial assistance required in carrying the defense to the court.
Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield, the dead man’s wife, is held in custody at the police matron’s. She has been enjoined from talking by the prosecuting attorney’s office and has been allowed to make no statement in addition to the story she said yesterday.
O. V. Hurt, the father of Mrs. Creffield, arrived in this city from Corvallis, Ore., this morning, and proceeded at once to see Mitchell in jail.
“He hypnotized my daughter,” says Mr. Hurt, “and she would listen to no one but him. His death set her free.”
HURT TELLS STORY
To Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh Hurt told the story of the crimes of the “Holy Rollers” at Corvallis, and of the plan to lynch Creffield. Hurt said that he feared such was the case, that the young women had been members of the “Holy Rollers” band for some time, but had returned home, and that Esther Mitchell, the younger, is now living with the family of Hurt’s son at Corvallis.
GLAD TO HEAR IT
Mr. Hurt expressed a belief that George Mitchell will never suffer for the shooting of Creffield.
“The death of that villain was a blessing to humanity,” he said “and I never received gladder tidings than Mitchell’s simple message to me yesterday, “’I have got my man.’”
The meeting of Mitchell and Hurt in the county jail was touching. Hurt will attend to the defense of the young man who killed his son-in-law.
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/7/1906
Starr Happy to Get The News
Shows Unfeigned Delight When Told Creffield Had Been Killed in Seattle. Murdered is Brother of Fanatic’s Victim. Leaves Portland to Track False Prophet and Slay Him--Starr Prepares to Go to Seattle and Aid Mitchell.
George Mitchell, who shot and killed Creffield in Seattle this morning, is a brother of Mrs. Donna Starr, who deserted her husband, Bert Starr, a week ago Saturday and disappeared in company with the religious fanatic. Mitchell lives at Corvallis, where his people have resided for years past.
Information secured at the warehouse of the Standard Oil company, where Starr is employed, is to the effect that Mitchell appeared here just after his sister eloped with Creffield and visited Starr at the warehouse almost every day. They were frequently seen in conference. Last Wednesday he disappeared and it was generally understood about the warehouse that he had gone in search of Creffield. What his intentions were neither he nor Starr intimated in any way. This morning Starr was called by long distance telephone and informed that his brother-in-law had found and killed Creffield in Seattle.
Starr, it is said, received the news with undisguised pleasure and immediately informed the foreman under whom he was working that he would have to go to Seattle at once. He left the warehouse immediately afterward and he is not expected back there for a week. Starr is still in Portland, but is planning to leave for Seattle tomorrow morning to do what he can for his brother-in-law and to see his wife who deserted her children and him, leaving the former picking dandelions in the front yard of their home.
Mitchell is said to be a quiet and unassuming man. He made no boasts of what he proposed to do and no one, with the possible exception of Starr, knew his plans until the news of what he had done reached here.
It develops that Ester Mitchell, a younger sister of Mrs. Starr, also left her home and followed Creffield to Seattle. She came to this city for a while and lived with Mrs. Starr. She preceded Mrs. Starr by two or three days in her flight to Seattle.
Chapter 15: I Got My Man
May 3, 1906: Creffield In Fear Of His Life
May 8, 1906: Medal to Be Given Mitchell in Recognition of His Killing
Newspaper Articles about Creffield & the Holy Rollers
1897-1903: B.C. (Before Creffield)
October to December 1903:Holy Rollers Burn Furniture & Pets
January to March, 1904: Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered
April to June 1904: Holy Rollers are Committed to the Asylum
July 1904: Creffield is Found & Arrested
September 1904: Creffield's Trial
April 1906: Men are Gunning For Creffield
May 1906: Creffield is Murdered, Murderer is Considered a Hero
May 1906: Holy Rollers Found Starving Near Heceta Head
June 1906: George Mitchell's Trial Begins
July 1906: Hurt Testifies of Debauched Wife and Debased Sisters
July 1906: Esther Mitchell Kills Her Brother
August to October 1906: Seattle Prepares for another Big Trial
November 1906: Maud Hurt Creffield Commits Suicide
April 1909-August 1914: Esther Leaves the Asylum
1953 Stewart Holbrook's Murder Without Tears
1951Startling Detective Magazine, Nemesis of the Nudist High Priest
Holy Rollers: Murder & Madness in Oregon's Love Cult
Part 1: The Seduction
Chapter 1: Trust Me, Brothers And Sisters
(Life Before Creffield [B.C.])
Chapter 2: God, Save Us From Compromising Preachers
Chapter 3: The Flock
(Profiles of the Holy Rollers Were)
Chapter 4: The Holy Rollers
(Things Start to Get Wild on on Kiger Island)
Chapter 5: Housecleaning
(There's a Sacrificial Bonfire)
Chapter 6: Community Concerns
Chapter 7: Esther, The Chosen One
(Creffield Plans to Marry 16-Year- Old)
Chapter 8: Tar and Feathers
(The Men of Corvallis Act)
Chapter 9: Sane People Don’t Go Bareheaded
(Holy Rollers are Committed to the Asylum)
Chapter 10: More Beast Than Man
( Creffield is Arrested)
Chapter 11: God Will Plead Creffield's Case
(Creffield in Court)
Chapter 12: Scandal
(Shocking Testimony at the Trial)
Chapter 13: Calm Before the Storm
(The Holy Rollers Resume their Lives)
Chapter 14: Giving Up The Ghost
(Men are Gunning for Creffield)
Part Two: The People V. Creffield
Chapter 16: The Widow Creffield
Chapter 19: An Inherited Streak of Insanity
Part Three: The Madness
Chapter 23: Seeking Reconciliation
Chapter 24: Another Holy Roller Page One Murder
Chapter 25: What Can Papa Do For You?
Chapter 26: Human Life is Too Cheap In This Community
Chapter 30: The Final Chapter
(What Happened to Everyone Afterwards)