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 14, 1906: Creffield’s Widow Watches At Grave


Esther & Maud
Brighid Thomas & Maren McGuire as
Esther Mitchell & Maud Hurt Creffield

Seattle Star 5/14/1906 p1

Creffield’s Widow Watches At Grave

Fully Expecting ‘Holy Roller’ to Arise Woman Accompanied by Police Matron, Visits Cemetery---Displays No Emotion at Failure of Leader to Arise.


Fully expecting her husband to arise from the grave, as she prophesied immediately after he was shot by George Mitchell, Mrs. Edmund Creffield, wife of Edmund Creffield, Holy Roller leader and self-styled “Joshua,” visited his grave in Lakeview cemetery yesterday.




In company with Police Matron Kelly, the widow of the slain religious fanatic reached the little mound of earth under which his body had been placed last week, and, although she expressed no such statement in words, her mind was evidently fully made up to find the grave empty and her husband come back on earth to “confound his enemies.”




Several avowed followers of the peculiar creed which the dead man preached are known to be in this city, but as far as can be learned they did not appear in the vicinity of the cemetery yesterday. When viewing his remains at the morgue preceding interment these people expressed the same conviction as the dead man’s wife, that he would arise from the grave within four days and come back to earth in the flesh.


While at the grave Mrs. Creffield, according to her companion, Mrs. Kelly, acted the same as anyone would upon viewing the last resting place of someone whom they had held near and dear. The woman did not express herself in words, in fact she has hardly spoken a word since the shooting occurred. Because of the late hour, she was unable to secure any flowers to strew on the grave.



Upon the orders of the prosecuting attorney’s office Mrs. Creffield is kept isolated and is not allowed to talk to strangers or reporters. She appears to be in good health, but is extremely nervous, being able to sleep but little.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/14/1906 p12

Creffield Fails to Rise From Dead

Wife of “Joshua” Waits in Vain for Coming of Her Master.


Out in Lake View cemetery the mound still lies undisturbed on the grave of Franz Edmund Creffield, while the wife of the self-proclaimed prophet of chosen people still sits patiently in a room under the charge of the police matron and awaits the coming of her master.


Sunday morning, at 10:45 o’clock, four days after the burial of Creffield, he was announced to rise from the grave and proclaim to the skeptical that the chief of the “holy rollers” was invincible and could not die.


But so far “Joshua” has failed to make his appearance a second time in the flesh, and his widow still sits and homes.


Matron Kelly, of the police department, stated yesterday that Mrs. Creffield had so far maintained a stoical silence regarding the death of her husband, and so far as the matron could observe she had exhibited neither sorrow nor joy at the death of the prophet.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/14/1906 p5

Looks For Spirit

Mrs. Creffield Gives Up Hope of Corporal Resurrection. Minds Seem Affected. Friends of Avenger Mitchell Have Been so Far Long on Sympathy But short on Contributions for the Defense.”


SEATTLE Wash., May 13.--(Special.)-- This was the fourth day after Edmund Creffield’s internment and the time he had (illegible) for rising to rejoin his followers. That he did not return has not worried his widow. She declares Creffield had told her he might return in spirit, and the woman lives in hope that she may (text illegible) and recognize the “Holy Roller’s” spirit somewhere. That the spirit might materialize illegible) itself in another hopeful home(illegible).


Spiritual love and spirit relationship were parts of Creffield’s teachings to his followers. Mrs. Creffield accepted it even in relation to the leader’s resurrection, though at first she thought he would return in the flesh and for that reason refused ( illegible) funeral ceremonies.


Creffield was buried in (illegible) sleeping gown before his internment the undertakers (text illegible)  out his brain to trace the course of the bullet. Moreover, Mrs. Creffield knows that her husband did not know that she was with the police matron and a (illegible) of absent-mindedness or delay in him (text illegible) locating her is not disappointing. Mrs. Creffield did not ask to be taken to the cemetery. In fact she scarcely thinks (text illegible)  of the tragedy. her mind seems to be affected and while grieving over Creffield’s absence, does not discuss it (text illegible). She is still jealously guarded by the police matron, acting under the orders of the Prosecuting Attorney. It is questionable, though, whether she can (illegible) used (illegible) to advantage in the trial.

Despite the volume of sympathy expressed for Mitchell, there is a lack of money for his defense. The Mitchell sympathizers thus far have been long on hope (illegible)  but short on funds. This may (text illegible)  him in arranging the defense.



Seattle Star 5/14/1906 p6

Sister Turns On Mitchell

Girl For Whose Honor He Shot Edmund Creffield Says Brother Had No Reason for His Act---Hopes George Will Repent Before He Pays the Penalty.


“My brother had no occasion to do anything to protect me. There was nothing in common between George and me. I hope he will not be killed until ha has had time to repent of his sins.”


This is the statement made by Miss Esther Mitchell, the 18-year old sister of George Mitchell, and one of the girls for whose sake he claims to have shot and killed Edmund Creffield, the leader of the now famous Holy Rollers, who arrived in Seattle yesterday morning at 7 o’clock from Corvallis.


The statement was made by her to Will H. Morris, the attorney who has been engaged to defend Mitchell and who met the girl at the train when she came in from the south.




Miss Mitchell has been isolated at the police matron’s and has not been allowed to talk to anyone upon orders from the prosecuting attorney. The only statements made by her to anyone since reaching the city were to Mr. Morris and Mr. Shipley, his legal partner, when they accosted her at the train yesterday morning.

“I want to see Maud,” was the first remark of Miss Mitchell, when approached by the attorneys. “Can you take me to her?”


The attorneys led her to the police station and she was later turned over to the charge of Police Matron Kelly.




“I do not want to say anything until I see Maud,” Miss Mitchell replied in answer to several questions the attorneys asked her.


Miss Mitchell was dressed in alight blue jacket, a blue skirt and her baggage was a parcel done up in a newspaper.


Late this afternoon Mrs. Creffield and Miss Mitchell were in conference with Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh and his chief assistant John Miller.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/14/1906 p6

“For whatever wrong he did Mitchell’s sister he paid the penalty in the penitentiary, and Mitchell had no right, after Creffield left the penitentiary, to decide that any additional penalty should be exacted.” Thus reasons King County’s Prosecuting Attorney, who will endeavor to secure the conviction of the man who killed “Holy Roller” Creffield. The desire of Mr. Mackintosh to uphold the dignity of the law and punish all offenders is commendable. He should consider, however, that the intense public sentiment in favor of Mitchell at this time is due to the fact that the penalty was immeasurably inadequate to the crime. There was also nothing to warrant the belief that a heavier penalty would be inflicted in case the law again its course. Perhaps Mr. Mackintosh has no sisters, and is accordingly unable to understand how great a penalty was due the dead Holy Roller.

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