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 19, 1906: Mitchell to Enter Plea of Not Guilty
Seattle Post Intelligencer 5/19/1906
Mitchell to Enter Plea of Not Guilty
Will Deny Guilt of Murder in First Degree in Killing Holy Roller.
When George Mitchell is arraigned in the superior court today to enter a plea to the charge of murder in the first degree he will declare himself not guilty, and his attorneys will ask that the case be set for trial at the earliest possible moment.
Will H. Morris, one of the attorneys for the prisoner, stated last night that this is the course that will be pursued and declared that Mitchell as well as himself is very anxious to have the case thru with at the earliest possible date.
Oregon Daily Journal 5/21/1906
Letters from the People
Portland, May 18.--To the Editor of the Journal--I am unacquainted with the laws, but I think that a man who has committed a premeditated murder such as that of Creffield ought to be tried and treated as murderer, irrespective of the circumstances. Civilization demands it. It seems to me to be incompatible with Christianity to commit murder under any circumstances. Respectfully yours, HAROLD S. HAGEN
PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE
Seattle Daily Times 5/19/1906 p1
Mitchell Enters His Formal Plea
Oregon Daily Journal 5/21/1906
The Creffield Murder.
Oregon Sunday Journal 5/20/1906 p4
Mitchell’s Young Sister Esther to Testify Against Brother
Corvallis Times 5/22/1906 p1
Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/19/1906 p8
Mitchell’s Plea “Not Guilty.”
Slayer of Holy Roller Pleads Not Guilty and His Trial Is Set For June. Girl Bitter Against Holy Roller’s Assassin. Maid States Creffield Did No One Any Harm--Thinks He Will Rise From the Dead--Brother Supports Accused.
Mitchell’s Young Sister Says She Will Testify Against Brother. Prisoner Pleads Not Guilty and His Trial Is Set for June 25.
Trial Set for June 25--Brother Visits Slayer of Creffield.
Seattle, Wash., May 19,--George Mitchell, the youthful slayer of “Joshua” Creffield and the avenger of the wrongs done his two sisters by the Holy roller prophet, pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder in the first degree before Superior Judge Frater this morning. The proceedings took only a few minutes and shortly after the pleading June 25 was designated as the day on which the trial will commence.
Mitchell is taking his confinement philosophically and came into the court freshly shaven and with his clothing carefully pressed. He was accompanied by his attorneys, Morris and Shipley, and took much interest in the proceedings which transpired before he was called upon to enter his plea. Interest in Mitchell has not flagged, and as was the case when he was arraigned, the deputy sheriffs who brought him into court were forced to shoulder a pathway through the crowd which had assembled.
SISTER AGAINST MITCHELL
After entering his plea Mitchell walked to his seat and before the case had been started to return to the jail at the beck of his guardians. He was recalled, however, by Will Morris, one of his attorneys, and smiled when he was informed that it was desired that he remain until the date of his trial had been fixed. This detail gone through with Mitchell shook hands with his legal representatives and followed the deputy sheriffs through the crowd back to his cell.
In the Seattle Daily Times Article:
Fred Mitchell, a brother of the accused man came to Seattle yesterday from Corvallis and spent an hour during the afternoon visiting George Mitchell in the visitor’s cell at the county jail. The brothers talked long of the events which led up to the shooting and the possible consequences of George Mitchell’s act. When they separated it was with a hearty handclasp and a promise on the part of Fred Mitchell that he would be back in Seattle in a few days.
Following the visit to the jail, Fred Mitchell spent several hours in consultation with his brother’s attorneys. Aside from admitting that the defense of his client formed the subject of the meeting, Attorney Morris declined to discuss the conference.]
In the Oregon Daily Journal and Corvallis Times articles:
When Mitchell is called for trial the strange spectacle will be presented of his sister, 17-year-old Ester, testifying for the prosecution in order to send him to the gallows for killing Creffield, and his brother Fred, testifying in his behalf. The sister said today at the police matron’s home where she is being held as a witness:
“I hope my brother will have time to repent of his sins before they hang him.”
BELIEVES IN HOLY ROLLER
She is in daily consultation with Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh and has outlined to that official the evidence she will give: The prosecution’s home of convicting Mitchell of some degree of Murder has increased since the sister has come to its aid.
Esther Mitchell declares even now that Creffield is Christ and that he will rise again. She says her brother lies when he says that Creffield ever did her any harm. She admits that she believes Creffield will arise again from the dead to lead his flock. she says that her brother did wrong in taking his life and thus depriving his flock temporarily of leadership.
Fred Mitchell who reached Seattle yesterday from Corvallis declares that his brother did right and that he will stand by him. He says that his sister was ruined by Creffield. Esther Mitchell said today:
“My brother had no right to kill Creffield. If he says that Creffield did me any harm, he lies, and he knows it.
“Creffield always treated me properly as he did all of his other followers. They sent him to the pen simply to break up the religious camp we had. He was not given a fair trial. The people at Corvallis did not like us and they thought if they sent him to the pen we would all desert him.
“The committed perjury to send him to the pen. Every one in Corvallis knew it was a put up job. When we did not desert him and leave Corvallis, the people there began trying to send us to the insane asylum. I am sane and always was. So are the rest. They sent me to a home in Portland because they said i was crazy but too young to go to the asylum.
“I know Joshua will arise. I shall certainly testify against my brother. He never helped me. He never gave me a cent in my life and when I was a little girl I had to work for every cent of spending money I had. I believe he should be hanged after he is given a chance to repent.”]
Next to this article in the Oregon Daily Journal is an article titled:
Woman President Of Bank In California Town
Venice, Los Angeles County, Proud of Its Female Financier” about the first female bank president in California history.
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/22/1906 p2
Still Believe In False Prophet.
Women Followers of Creffield Will Not Abandon Resurrection Idea. Faith Grows Stronger In Spiritual Existence. Corvallis People Subscribing to Fund for Aid of George Mitchell, Slayer of Holy Roller Leader--Indignation is Still Intense.
(Special Dispatch to The Journal)
Corvallis, Or., May 22.--With a faith firmer than ever the Holy Roller followers of the late “Joshua” Creffield are awaiting some spiritual manifestation of the return of the chief to this world. Persuasion is of no avail in lessening their belief that Joshua, while slain in body will return in spirit and direct his chosen.
Such is the statement given out today by those in touch with the situation.
“They have no idea of ever giving up their belief in Creffield and his doctrine,” said a relative of some of Creffield’s victims. “Creffield had with infinite cunning prepared them for the emergency that finally overtook him and had instructed them in every particular as to their attitude and conduct after his possible demise.”
The followers who returned to Corvallis from the camp at Waldport a few days ago are still in this city, some of them at the O. V. Hurt home and others at the Lewis Hartley home. Mrs. Burgess Starr, who deserted her family in Portland shortly before the shooting of Creffield and who walked a good part of the distance to the Holy Roller camp below Waldport, is at the Hartley home, and it is not known whether she intends to return to her husband and helpless children in Portland or remain with the handful of deluded women who still await the return of “Joshua.”
Mrs. Frank Hurt is reported to have returned to her husband at Seattle. Lewis Hartley has effected a division of his property here, leaving the pretty Corvallis home to his wife and daughter, while he has gone to a son in a neighboring town. Homes have been broken up and husbands and brothers driven to despair by the practices and teachings of the late Edmund Creffield.
A fund is being raised here to aid George Mitchell in his trial at Seattle. Nearly $200 has been contributed and sentiment in favor of the young man and indignation against the late leader of the Holy Rollers is not less intense today that it was when Joshua fell at the hands of George Mitchell.
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/26/1906
Mitchell’s Attorney Goes To Corvallis
(Special Dispatch to The Journal)
Corvallis, Or., May 26.--Attorney Will H. Morris arrived here at noon from Seattle in the interest of his client, George H. Mitchell, the slayer of Joshua Creffield. It is presumed that he will gather data and evidence for use at the trial.