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 11, 1906: Bail Is All Ready
Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/11/1906 p6
Bail Is All Ready
Avenger Mitchell Finds Many Friends in Seattle. Judge Is On Record. Defender of His Home Was Quickly Released When He Was Brought Up for Trial Before Judge Frater.
SEATTLE, Wash., May 10--(Special.)-- It is significant of George Mitchell’s forthcoming trial that he will have to appear before Superior Judge Frater who has already expressed a judicial opinion of a man who broke up another’s home. Unless the County Attorney secures a change of venue, Mitchell will be tried by Judge Frater, for he sits in the criminal court.
When George Beede found Ray McDonald recently consorting with the former’s wife, Beede lay in wait at the rendezvous of the two. McDonald was not killed, but he hovered between life and death for weeks. Finally he recovered and refused to prosecute. In dismissing the case against Beede, Judge Frater delivered a scathing denunciation of McDonald, declaring he instead of Beede ought to have been put on trial. The judicial statements created a sensation among attorneys at the time.
Seattle Star 5/11/1906 p1
Holy Roller Ruled by Hypnotic Power
Louis Sandell of Louis Sandell, of East Seattle, Says Creffield’s Eye Made women Do What Ever We Wanted--Sister is With Colony in Oregon With Her Husband.
That Edmund Creffield, the “Holy Roller” leader who was shot by George Mitchell, held his saw over women by hypnotic power is the firm belief of Louis Sandell, of East Seattle. Sandell’s sister, Mrs. Frank Hurt, is a member of the sect and is now near Corvallis, where Creffield had planned to unite his followers.
Sandell is very closely connected with all the parties connected in the “Holy Roller” trouble. Frank Hurt, who is the only male member of the “Holy Rollers,” married Sandell's younger sister, and it was through his influence that she also became a member of the sect. He also influenced Sandell’s other sister, Olive, to go to the “Holy Roller” colony near Corvallis, Ore.
TRIED TO SAVE THEM
When Creffield was sent to the penitentiary two years ago, Sandell tried to get his sisters out of Creffield’s influence and succeeded in getting Hurt to move to East Seattle, where he has been living until Creffield began to reorganize the “Holy Rollers.”
About two weeks ago Hurt complained of illness and told Sandell he was going to leave for his health. Without knowing where Hurt was really going, Sandell allowed his two sisters to accompany him.
SYMPATHY FOR MITCHELL
Sandell sympathizes with Mitchell, and says that if he was place in the same condition he would have done the same. In speaking of Creffield he says:
“I know many of the people he had under his control, and they were perfectly rational and strong minded people before they met him. It was through his hypnotic powers that he got girls under his control. Creffield has a look that seemed to cast a spell over a person, and one felt more secure the farther away from him While Creffield was in the penitentiary, Hurt and my sister were all right, but as soon as they had seen Creffield, I noticed a change.
LEFT TWO WEEKS AGO
“The left two weeks ago. My other sister went with them to be a companion to my married sister. When she left I could see that she was troubled and did not want to go. After she came back two years ago, she told me what an immoral fellow Creffield was, and what a terrible power he had over his followers and the girls especially. The stories concerning their community are all true. Creffield was a beast, and his actions at the colony were only those of a brute.
KNEW MITCHELL’S INTENTIONS
In speaking of Mitchell, Sandell said:
“I know Mitchell well. I saw him a week before he took Creffield’s life. Creffield ruined his sister and when he was released from the penitentiary he again got his sisters under he control. I saw the girl two weeks ago, and I know that she was controlled purely by his hypnotism.
SEND MONEY TO CREFFIELD
“She and several other girls were working in Portland last winter and sending him their earnings. There was nothing else that Mitchell could do. I saw him in the county jail, and he told me he was glad he did the deed, as he would rather suffer in Walla Walla alone than see his whole family ruined forever. As far as the killing is concerned, I know several men who were after Creffield and who would have killed him instantly.”
Sandell has not yet heard from his sisters, but he expects that they will come back and live in Seattle.
Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/12/1906 p6
Mitchell Will Ask Bail
Slayer of Holy Roller to Be Arraigned Today.
SEATTLE, Wash., May 11--(Special)-- George Mitchell will be arraigned tomorrow morning before Judge Frater on a charge of murder in the first degree in killing “Joshua” Creffield. Will H. Morris, attorney for the young man, will defer pleading until more time has been afforded for an examination of the information, but will at once make an application for bail. This application will be fought by the prosecuting attorney.
If Mitchell should be admitted to bail the security will have to be provided by strangers, for the Mitchell family is without means. Mitchell’s attorney claims that enough assurances of support have been given to lead him to believe there will be no difficulty in raising any reasonable amount. Prominent business men are said to have offered to go on the bond.
Local precedents are plenty for allowing bail, although the laws of the state are rigid and do not contemplate the release of homicides on bonds unless doubt exists as to their guilt of murder in the first degree exists.
Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/11/1906 p8
Has No Need of Manning’s Help
District Attorney’s Offer to Testify for George Mitchell Declined.
Kenneth Macintosh, Prosecuting Attorney for King County, has answered District Attorney John Manning’s letter advising him of the moral character of Edmund Creffield, the Holy Roller “prophet” in Oregon, and his request to be permitted to appear before the grand jury or in the trial court on behalf of George Mitchell, who shot the Holy Roller.
Commenting on the letter, Mr. Manning said:
“Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh makes light of my communication to him, and winds up by saying that he is surprised that Creffield was not punished here, omitting to note that we sent him to the Penitentiary for one crime, and says that he had not heard of a single recital of a specific instance in which Creffield did wrong. This is to be expected, for the crimes committed by this man were with simple-minded people. They were committed in secret, and the officers could not reach him. There were no witnesses obtainable. Furthermore, the nature of his offense were so unprintable that they have never gained publicity and consequently Mr. Macintosh who never heard of them says so and lets it go at that.
“If he will come to Oregon we will relate a tale that will cause him to wonder.”
The letter follows:
SEATTLE, Wash., May 10.-- John Manning, District Attorney, Multnomah County, Portland, Or.: Dear Sir--I am in receipt of your letter of May 8 in regard to the case of State of Washington vs. George Mitchell, in which I have today filed an information charging the defendant with the crime of murder in the first degree. There being no grand jury in session, it is impossible to adopt your suggestion of appearing before such a body in order to relate what you know about the previous conduct of Mitchell’s victim, and, as your testimony in the trial of the case in Superior Court would be inadmissible, being merely of a hearsay nature, the second part of your suggestion is also impracticable. Although I am thus unable to avail myself of your knowledge of some of the circumstances leading up to the perpetration of this murder, I wish nevertheless to thank you for the interest you have manifested in the matter and for your offer of assistance.
As citizens of this country, you and I realize that the enforcement of our criminal laws is entrusted to our courts, juries and public officers, and that lynch and mob law and anarchy are the natural and only results of the efforts of individuals to personally avenge real or fancied injuries. There is no security to life or property if the individual can act as attorney, Judge, and jury, and take the execution, not of the law, but of his passions, into his own hands and kill any one who he may determine has wronged either himself or his family, and this, whether his determination is the product of a sane or demented mind, and whether his wrongs are real or merely delusions.
As officers of the law, sworn to prosecute crime, you and I realize that it is our duty where we are satisfied that a crime has been committed and that there is sufficient evidence to prove the act, to honestly and vigorously prosecute the offender, and that the moral well-being of the community which we represent is vitally affected by the vigor or laxity with which these efforts to enforce the criminal laws are made.
The defendant Mitchell, with deliberate and premeditated malice, shot Edmund Creffield in the back and the laws of this state constitute that act murder in the first degree, and do not accept as a justification for it the facts and circumstances which Mitchell and his friends allege up to the shooting, even if such facts and circumstances are true as reported by those people. Being sure that this act was done, and that the witnesses to it are available, it became my duty to file an information charging Mitchell with murder, and this I have done; and it will become my further duty to prosecute the defendant fearlessly and vigorously, which I shall do. I cannot and will not presume that a jury of 12 men of the citizens of this county will do other than observe honestly the oaths which they take when they are sworn to try the case, and, observing these oaths, return a verdict in accordance with the law and the evidence, which in this case should mean a verdict of conviction.
Knowing, as I do, the vigor with which you direct and prosecute crime, and the moral fiber of the citizens of Oregon, it seems remarkable to me that, if the deceased Creffield was guilty of all these atrocious outrages of which he is now accused, he was not prosecuted in your state and convicted. I am loath to believe that, if the things which are now laid at this man’s door were committed by him, your officers were unable to suppress those acts.
There has been a great deal said in the papers in regard to this crime, and your letter also contains a good many generalities; but I have yet to hear the recital of any specific act which would justify me in believing that Creffield was really guilty of revolting crimes.
Thanking you again for your kind offer in this case, I remain, yours truly,
Lincoln County Times (Waldport) 5/11/1906 p1
A couple of Holy Rollers, the remnant of the late Creffield’s outfit, which was camped for awhile near Ocean View, this county, passed valley ward yesterday morning--going home, no more to roll--let us hope.
Corvallis Gazette 5/11/1906 p4
O. V. Hurt arrives home Wednesday night from Seattle.
Lincoln County Times (Waldport) 5/18/1906 p1
The Prevailing Opinion
HARLAN, Or., May 11,/1906.
“In the death of Creffield society has been rid of a dangerous character, and yet the manner of his taking off was [NOT] brutal and cowardly.” If we have a “varmint” of any kind that is preying on our sheep and goats--especially our lambs and kids--we put the hounds on its track and run it down, and then we kill the “varmint” as soon as we get to it. We don’t call the dogs off when we get there and let the thing go and start to run in order that we may shoot it four or five times before we get it killed. “The world abhors a villain; it despises a coward;” therefore, a man who uses his brutal influence over weak-minded women, ruins young girls and breaks up happy homes--why isn’t he the worst coyote on the society rang? And when the law has had its inning and has done no good, and a brother is broken-hearted over the villainous ruination and downfall of his sisters, is it to be wondered that a man would take the law in his own hands and put the villain out of the way? He is to be pitied in being forced to do so. Had young Mitchell tried to escape after killing Creffield, it would have been different; but he does not; he stands face to face with his own danger and says: “Do what you will with me. I have only avenged the wrong done my sisters, who are as dear to me as my own life.” Creffield was forewarned, if he had any conscience, for his every movement was criminal; he needed no other warning. We believe in protecting the purity of our land, and we should honor the man who has the courage to take the chance that George Mitchell has taken, for he knows not what the outcome may be.
“The disregard and contempt of law” is NOT growing, if real criminals are punished as they should be. If a jury of twelve men could have convicted Creffield for an act far worse than murder in the first degree, and a judge could have sentenced him to the gallows, without any chance of a reprieved, it would have saved George Mitchell the very thought of doing what he did. Men are not “blood hungry and blood crazy”--only in the fertile brains of a very few individuals--and even they, in some instances, handle one case very rough, while in another they are very lenient. And now, Mr. Reporter man, up her in our little law-abiding neighborhood George Mitchell is not considered either a murderer or a coward; and more than that, we believe if a jury of twelve men could be found in Oregon who would convict a man for such an act, we have a Governor who would reprieve him, if he has the power. This is probably the sentiment in the state of Washington, where young Mitchell “rid society of a dangerous character” from Oregon.
HEADLINES IN DIFFERENT PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE
Evening Telegram (Portland) Fri 5/11/1906 p1
Mitchell May Plead Temporary Insanity.
Only Way Necessary Testimony Can Be Introduced Says Mackintosh. He Talks to No One. Answer to District Attorney’s Letter Sent to That Official in Portland.”
Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh Says That Is Best Defense.
Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/11/1906 p5
Insanity May Be Mitchell’s Plea
[Telegram Coast Special]
If the predictions of Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh prove true, George Mitchell will plead temporary insanity in the superior court when he is arraigned on a charge of murder in the first degree for killing Franz Edmund Creffield in this city a few days ago. Mr. Mackintosh holds that by making this plea it will be possible for the defendant to get the testimony before the jury which he declares necessary if the young man is to have even the slightest chance of escaping the penalty for his crime. He declares that under the law testimony bearing on the former character or condition of the dead man is not generally admissible, and that in order for it to be placed before the jury a plea of temporary insanity will be necessary. More than this the prosecutor asserts that he is certain that this is the plea that will be put before the court and upon which the case will be fought.
Mitchell still remains silent and talks only thru his attorney concerning the case.
An information was filed in the superior court yesterday by the prosecuting attorney charging Mitchell with murder in the first degree.
Attorney Mackintosh yesterday addressed a letter to District Attorney John Manning of Portland, in Answer to one received by him from that official on the previous day. In it he says:
CAN BE NO SECURITY TO LIFE
“As citizens of this country, you and I realize that the enforcement of our criminal laws is entrusted to our courts, juries and public officers, and that lynch an mob law and anarchy are the natural and only results of the efforts of individuals to personally avenge real or fancied injuries. There is no security to life or property if the individual can act as attorney, judge and jury and take the execution, not of the law, but of his passions, into his own hands and kill anyone who he may determine has wronged either himself or his family, and this, whether his determination is the product of a sane or demented mind, and whether his wrongs are real or merely delusions.
“The defendant Mitchell, with deliberate and premeditated malice, shot Edmund Creffield in the back, and the laws of this state constitute that act murder in the first degree and do not accept as a justification for it the facts and circumstances which Mitchell and his friends allege led up to the shooting, even if such facts and circumstances are true as reported by these people. Being sure that this act was done, and that the witnesses to it are available, it became my duty to file an information charging Mitchell with murder, and this I have done, and it will become my further duty to prosecute the defendant fearlessly and vigorously, which I shall do.
WOULD MEAN CONVICTION
“I cannot and will not presume that a jury of twelve men of the citizens of this county will do other than observe honestly the oaths which they take when they are sworn to try the case, and, observing those oaths, return a verdict in accordance with the law and the evidence, which in this case should mean a verdict of conviction.
“Knowing as I do, the vigor with which you detect and prosecute crime, and the moral fiber of the citizens of Oregon, it seems remarkable to me that, if the deceased Creffield was guilty of all these atrocious outrages of which he is now accused, he was not prosecuted in your state and convicted. I am loath to believe that if the things which are now laid at this man’s door were committed by him, your officers were unable to suppress those acts.”
Seattle Daily Times 5/11/1906 p1
Mitchell To Be Arraigned At Once
Young Man Whom Prosecuting Attorney Insists Committed Murder in First Degree to Be in Court Tomorrow. Application for Bail to Be Made by Will H. Morris, Trusting to Seattle Sympathizers to Provide the Bonds. Boy’s Family and Friends Intimate Friends Own No Realty in the County and His Freedom Depends on Strangers.
George Mitchell will be arraigned tomorrow morning before Judge Frater on a charge of committing murder in the first degree in killing “Joshua” Creffield. Will H. Morris as attorney for the young man, will defer the pleading until more time has been afforded for an examination of the information, but will at once make an application for bail.
This application will be fought by the prosecuting attorney, but that is should be granted no one who has seen George Mitchell or who has heard him tell the story of how his sisters were ruined by this man whom he has removed from the community in which he was a danger to almost every weak-minded woman with religious tendencies doubts for a moment.
George Mitchell’s family owns no real estate in King County. Indeed, they own little property and have less ready money. They are not the class of people who deal in stocks and bonds. Creffield did not find his victims among the wealthy or among those whom the world classes as “our best citizens.” He chose them among the poorer residents of little Oregon towns in which his predatory efforts were employed.
CONFINED WITH CRIMINALS
If George Mitchell is freed from the confinement which now makes him an associate of criminals and men with whom he has nothing whatever in common it will be by the friendly act of some man or set of men in Seattle who will back up their oft-spoken sympathy by the substantial although technical backing of a lien upon some of their real estate.
It is the desire of Mitchell’s relatives and friends and his attorney that he be released from a confinement in which they in common with a majority of the people of Seattle believe to be unjust. The bond required will be far beyond their means and the application for bail will be made solely with the idea that there are men in Seattle who are willing to take an honest look in the boy’s face as security for the temporary obligation upon their property.
Newspaper men, deputy sheriffs and police officers used to judging the character of men from their appearance in such crises as land them behind steel bars, are united in their declarations that, whether Mitchell be guilty of murder or not, he is at least a young man who believes he has done right and is willing to take whatever punishment technical jugglers with the law may be able to impose upon him.
The measure of that punishment cannot be taken for may weeks. In the meantime it rests mainly upon the people of Seattle whether Mitchell remains a silent prisoner in the county jail or enjoys his freedom until his trial for a defense of his sisters, which the law terms a crime, shall have been concluded.
OLD COUPLE CALL ON HIM
As an instance of Mitchell’s character, according to men who have known him all his life, an old man and woman who happened to be in Seattle on a journey, read in the newspapers of the Creffield case and called at the county jail last night to make sure that the George Mitchell was the boy they knew in Illinois years ago.
It was the same boy, and after a short talk with him the old people declared to the jailers that they had known him before he came to Oregon with his family and that the boy, his father and his mother were of the highest character and generally respected in the farming community in which they lived. They extended their sympathy to the young man and offered him such aid as is within their means.
This bond which will be required will run into the thousands of dollars. It may be as high as $20,000. It might be as low as $5,000. either of these figures is beyond the reach of Mitchell’s intimates. The men who knew him best are not financially equal to such an emergency. Perhaps no one stranger would be willing to furnish the security for the entire amount, but there should be enough men of property in Seattle to make up the amount which this boy’s act in a matter in which most men of right ideas of living would have done the same has made necessary.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller will strenuously oppose the application for bail. He declares that Mitchell is not entitled to liberty. His view of the law leads him to the position that this boy is a murderer pure and simple and entitled to no sympathy. He admits, however, that the motive, if it be properly brought out, may have some weight when the case comes to trial, but believes that the duty of the prosecutor is to leave the verdict to the jury and to present the case in the best possible shape on behalf of the law, which forbids the taking of a human life save by a legalized executioner.
“Mitchell will know he has been tried, at least, when he gets through with this,” he said.
WILL ARGUE FOR BAIL
Mr. Morris, on the other hand, says that he cannot believe bail will be refused in such a case, and will argue the provisions of the constitution which he alleged entitle his client to his freedom to the utmost. He has at present no idea where the bond is to come from, but will proceed with the idea that there are men in Seattle who will not allow young Mitchell to remain in jail a day longer than is necessary.
Rev. Myron W. Haynes, pastor of the First Baptist Church, whose argument concerning passed over railroads in the removal of his family to Seattle has made perhaps even better known than the ordinary minister of prominence, has injected his personality into the case by telephoning to Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh his assurances off support on the side of the law. Dr. Haynes will preach a sermon on his idea of the case by telephoning to Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh his assurances of support on the side of the law. Dr. Haynes will preach a sermon on his idea of the case Sunday night. He considers the taking of a human life unjustifiable in any extreme. In this instance it is a case of a minister of the gospel agreeing with the administrators of the technical law.
Mr. Mackintosh says that other men have sent him similar messages of support, but the talk of the streets and in the homes where neighbors gather continues to favor Mitchell.
(Next to this is an article “Women To Fight For Right To Ballot, Campaign Will Be Made Before the Next Legislature to Secure Passage of Law Extending Suffrage.”)
SAME ARTICLE REPRINTED
Corvallis Gazette 5/11/1906, 5/18/1906, p3 5/22/1906 p4, 5/25/1906 p4, 5/29/1906 p4
To Assist Mitchell.
Seattle Daily Times 5/15/1906 p1
Throughout the states of Oregon and Washington there is an intense feeling of sympathy for and endorsement of the action of George Mitchell in slaying Edmund Creffield. Mr. Mitchell is a poor young man and he needs financial assistance. Many of our prominent citizens are taking the initiative and are contributing.
“The Gazette” will receive contributions and receipt for the same.
Help the boy in his trouble.
Corvallis Gazette 5/18/1906 p3
In response to the above appeal for contributions for the assistance of George Mitchell the Gazette is in receipt of $67, contributed as follows:
Harry Pritchard ...........................$1.00
B. W. Johnson ... ...........................5.00
Cottage Grove Party ..................45.00
W. H. Rickard .................................1.00
Frank W. Hughes, Canyonville ...1.00
I. L. Finlav ........................................1.00
A. B. Alexander ............................. 1.00
John Doe ....................................... 1.00
T. H. Davis ..................................... 1.00
E. E. Wilson ................................... 5.00
I.D. Bodine ..................................... 1.00
S. H. Horton .................................. 1.00
Thos. Bonlden .............................. 1.00
George W. Smith ......................... 1.00
John Doe ....................................... 1.00