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 18, 190: Creffield Railed In Vermont


George & Perry Mitchell & ShipleyCorvallis Gazette 5/18/1906 p3

Lewis Hartley has filed suit for divorce from his wife, Cora A. Hartley. The complaint is of a sensational character. W. S. McFadden is attorney for the plaintiff.



Corvallis Gazette 5/18/1906 p4

Wednesday, five women, the last inhabitants of the Holy Roller camp near Waldport, arrived in this city. It is sincerely hoped that with the death of Creffield they will henceforth walk in the paths approved by all good citizens.


Seattle Star 5/18/1906 p1

Expert Writes on Creffield Case

Norman H. Nesbitt, A Portland Psychologist, Discusses the Hypnotic Features of the Career of Dead Holy Roller.


That no person can be induced to commit an immoral act without there exists a predisposition or willingness on the part of the “subject.”


In the view taken by Norman H. Nesbitt, a practicing psychologist of Portland, Ore., in his investigations regarding the Creffield case. He treats the slaying of the Holy Roller leader by George Mitchell and the sway which Creffield held over his subjects from a psychological point of view, in an interesting letter to Mr. Trimble of the firm of Trimble and Esterly, Portland attorneys. The letter, which has been delivered to Mitchell’s attorneys by L. V. Newcomb is as follows:

“To answer to you questions regarding the use of suggestion of hypnotism to the Creffield case I would state that this case presents the difficulties to modern experiment psychology.


Without further preamble let me say without qualification that no person can be induced under the influence of hypnosis to commit an immoral act unless there exists a predisposition on the part of the ‘subject’ to commit such offense in the waking state. Such tendency might never be observed or evoked during the previous lifetime of the subject, but a strict examination of the family history, environment, temperament, and general moral tendencies, the black streak would be found without fail. All that is necessary to bring out the latent criminal impulse is sufficient incentive or apparent opportunity, real or imagined.


“Here is where the culpability of the criminal suggester or hypnotist enters into the equation. He is responsible for furnishing the incentive and inducement--in Creffield’s case his hyperemotional victims were promised eternal bliss and creating the opportunity. At the same time it must be noted that no criminal could influence a moral, conscientiously moral person, for suggestion only works successfully along the line of least resistance, in other words, the moral consciousness, or ‘conscience’ cannot be set aside, either in the hypnotic or waking states.

“The ‘Holy Roller’ case presents a nice opportunity for expert testimony in regard to its peculiar psychological aspects. The conclusions of theory without practice are frequently far from reliable.”



Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/18/1906 p5

Mitchell to Enter Plea Tomorrow


George Mitchell, charged with the murder of Franz Edmund Creffield, the leader of the Holy Rollers, will enter his plea in the superior court tomorrow, and there is much conjecture as to what course his attorneys will pursue in conducting the defense.


Will H. Morris, one of the prisoner’s attorneys, states that he will fight the case to the last point, but he refuses to say what the plea of his client will be. The possibility of Mitchell’s attorneys trying the case on a plea of their client having been temporarily insane is considered by officials in the prosecuting attorney’s office as being the most probable course that will be pursued, for in this way testimony may be entered in the trial of the case that otherwise will be excluded.

G. C. Moser, deputy under John Manning, district attorney for Multnomah County in Oregon, is in the city in attendance at the K. of P. convention, and he is taking a deep interest in the case. He spent some time with Mitchell’s attorneys yesterday and also paid a visit to Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh.



Seattle Daily Times 5/18/1906 p4

Creffield Driven From Vermont

Holy Roller Leader Horsewhipped by Angry Citizens While Addressing Camp Meeting in East in 1899.


As long ago as 1899 Edmund Creffield was preaching the same doctrine that recently resulted in his tragic death on the streets of Seattle. Fred Dow, whose home is at Johnston, Vt., but who is now in the city preparing to take mining machinery into Alaska, conveyed to Morris & Shipley, the attorneys for George Mitchell, Creffield’s slayer, the information today that he had seen Creffield in the far East.


In the latter part of 1899 Creffield appeared at Johnston, Vt., and addressed a camp meeting there. He was introduced as “the cyclone orator of the West.” His talk was made up of such filth and vulgarity that the people pulled him from the pulpit, horsewhipped him and ran him out of town.


Creffield advocated many of the indecent acts that he committed in Oregon while leader of the Holy Rollers.


The self-styled Joshua, who now lies beneath a mound in Lake View Cemetery, the victim of a man who shot to avenge the wrongs done to his sisters, did not again show up in Vermont, and Mr. Dow did not hear of him again until he learned of his death in Seattle.



Seattle Star 5/18/1906 p1

Creffield Railed In Vermont

Holy Roller Leader Then Styled Himself ‘The Western Cyclone,’ But People Refused to Tolerate His Actions.


Edmund Creffield, who was slain in this city recently by George Mitchell, as a result of Holy Rollerism, had gained some notoriety in the east years ago from his strange religious creed, according to statements by Fred M. Dow, who is now stopping at the Hotel Northern.


In 1899, according to Mr. Dow, Creffield, then known as the “Western Cyclone,” appeared at a camp meeting in Johnston, Vt., and became so indecent in his religious protestations that a committee of indignant citizens rode him out of town on a rail.


Mr. Dow will not be used as a witness for the defense in the trial to come, but he was in session with Mitchell’s attorneys this afternoon relative to the information which he possessed of Creffield’s actions at Johnston, and according to his statements, the slain self-styled “Joseph” was given such drastic treatment at Johnston that he never showed up again.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/20/1906 p5

F. M. Dow Denies Knowing Creffield

Asks the Post-Intelligencer to Refute Statements Attributed to Him.


Fred M. Dow, who has been quoted by an afternoon paper as saying that he knew Creffield, the Holy Roller in Vermont, used very vigorous language yesterday to a Post-Intelligencer reporter in denying that the alleged interview with him had the slightest shadow of foundation.


“It is true,” says Mr. Dow, “that during a conversation about the matter I incidentally mentioned to a personal friend the tactics religious or otherwise attributed to Creffield reminded me of another prophet who held sway in Johnson, Vt. some years ago, but I never said that the two men were identical.


“I do not say this thru want of sympathy for Mitchell, tho in passing I may say I feel no lack of it, but I do not desire to be put on record as holding a man up to obloquy for acts which I have no knowledge of, and which I should not be quoted as having ascribed to him.


“I did not speak to another being on the subject and the publicity given remarks to which I have never given utterance lead me to believe those in charge of Mitchell’s defense have taken unwarrantable steps. I leave here today at 3 p.m., but I was unwilling to do so without having given the Post-Intelligencer the facts as they occurred.”

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