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.

June 25, 1906: George Mitchell on Trial For His Life


Archibald FraterSeattle Daily Times 6/25/1906 p1

(Headline across entire top)

Mitchell Trial Begins

George Mitchell on Trial For His Life.

Attorneys Begin Monotonous Search for Jurors Qualified to Pass Upon Guilt of “Joshua” Creffield’s Slayer.

Five Person Tested, but all Except Two of Them Have Decided Ideas Upon the Ethics of the Case.

Plea of Temporary Insanity Indicated by Line of Questioning Adopted by Attorneys for the Defense.


George Mitchell, the young man, whose family wrongs impelled him to kill “Joshua” Creffield, , the Holy Roller leader, sat in Judge Frater’s courtroom all day intently watching the faces of the men in the jury box in which will finally sit the twelve through whose minds will sift the evidence and the arguments, and who will finally decide whether he shall go free and return to his family or to the penitentiary or--the gallows.


The young man realizes now, if he never did before, that he is on trial for his life. He has done his part. He killed the man who ruined his sisters and broke up their home. It is now this rolling wheels of the law which he faces and in their manipulation he had no part. He must sit aside, a spectator, to await the final slip of paper which at the end will drop into the hopper of the mill.


The opinions of men have been passed. Most of them have said that Mitchell did right. There now intervenes binding oaths and legal technicalities to impede the red-blooded judgment of twelve men, who, all unprejudiced, must review the whole pitiful tragedy.


Mitchell realizes all this, but he shows no sign of weakening. He sat today at the corner of the table occupied by his counsel, Messrs. Morris & Shipley, serious and thoughtful. In the bottom of his heart, he wished that this man Creffield had never lived to practice his holy-robed deviltries upon his sisters. He wished that they had never come under his spell--or at least that he had never heard of them.




But there was nothing about him of the man afraid. It was just the realization of a boy who loves liberty and who loves life that the act which he felt himself compelled to commit has jeopardized them both, that the law has no sentiment, and that he is in the hands of twelve men over whom his lawyers and the attorneys for the prosecution will fight for the next two weeks.


He is like a man who has leaped beneath a swaying rock, hung high on a derrick, to throw his sister out of danger, and finds himself prostrate, helpless, able only to wonder whether the rock in its fall will crush him, maim him, or fall to one side. No effort of his can change the result.


Mitchell was brought in from the county jail, where he has been confined for seven weeks, at 9:30 o’clock this morning. There, for the first time there were pointed out to him Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh and Chief Deputy John F. Miller, the two men who are determined to bend every effort to send him to the gallows for what they term a cold-blooded, cowardly murder.


He has the right to hear the thousands of words which will be spoken for and against him and to face the twelve men who will decide his fate. That is all. At the end he will be permitted to take the stand, perhaps, and answer a few questions. As for the tumult of thoughts and facts which impelled him to fire the shot, he will scarcely be permitted to tell. His soul must be painted by others. The jury must look at a bare composite photograph, while the original remains locked in his bosom, all glowing in color. The composite is cold black and white, for the law takes no cognizance of color.



It was tedious work this morning. It was all the examination of talesmen, and the questions were much the same. It was the beginning of the machinery part of it. The cogs were the lawyers, alternately joking with one another or sober in thought: the men in the jury box solemn with responsibility, and the silent judge on the bench. The wheel under the guidance of which they clicked their slow round was contained in the sheepskin-bound books of the law of the land.


The courtroom was crowded, but contrary to general expectation, there were few women present. None of those here as witnesses or intimately concerned in the case were present. All but nine or ten were men. Some of them were members of the regular panel, which is to be exhausted before the special panel of sixty drawn for this case is called upon. There were a few regular courtroom loungers, but the majority were men of affairs, lawyers and business men deeply interested in the ethical question at issue.


The temporary insanity caused by the knowledge of the fact that his sisters had been drawn again into the fanatical web of this Holy Roller, would be the defense was intimated from the start by the attorneys for Mitchell. Their examinations of the talesmen as to their attitude toward such evidence was thorough and minute. this lead was at once followed by Mr. Mackintosh and Mr. Miller.


The result was a charge, slightly, unveiled [illegible] by the prosecution that such a defense was a trumped-up excuse and there followed from both sides a line of questioning bearing upon the amount of proof required to show the difference between genuine insanity and the variety trumped up as a subterfuge.


The men examined were impressed with two facts. One was that there would be evidence introduced to show that Mitchell, at the time he killed Creffield, was insane, at least to the extent that he could not control himself so far as Creffield was concerned. The other was that they must make sure there was evidence to prove actual insanity before allowing the defendant the doubt as to the control of his understanding of right and wrong. It is a delicate point and it takes a long time to explain it to the varying intellects of each talesman.


There were other points brought up in the examinations. Mr. Miller was especially anxious to find out the views of the talesmen as to justifiable assassination. He wanted to know whether they believed that any private individual had the right to take the life of another under any circumstances. He also wanted to know whether the fact that the dead man had committed adultery with the defendant’s sister would make any difference with his verdict. The defense was also eager to find if the man fully understood the different degrees of homicide.




The first talesman examined was James Brackett, of Bothell. He had decided opinions in the case and was not afraid to express them. It developed at once that he believed the young defendant should go free and stated his belief in such terms that Mr. Mr. Miller asked that he be excused and Judge Frater so ruled.


Then same A. J. Bussart of Black River. Mr. Bussart also seemed to have convictions, but there were on the other side. He did not incline to the belief that one man had the right to kill another under any circumstances and that if this was done, the man who did the killing should be punished. This was satisfactory to Mr. Miller, but did not exactly suit the defense and they objects. However, the court declined to excuse the man and he was passed for “cause.”


C. G. Swanson, a cabinet-maker, was next. He believed that a man had a right to kill another under certain circumstances, but was not able to define exactly what the circumstances were. If what he had heard and read were true, he thought Creffield deserved to be killed, but was not willing to say that Mitchell was justified in killing him. The point as to whether he would be guided by his oath or his inclination was raised and the witness promised to abide by the instructions of the court. Neither seemed to be satisfied and the man was left in the box for future action.


George A. Chute personally appealed to Judge Frater to be excused on the ground that his brother was lying at the point of death and that he would be unable to fix his mind upon the evidence. Upon the consent of both sides, he was excused. Jesse G. Crandall of 602 Cherry Street, a grocery clerk, was the next man examined. He thought he would make a fair juror and that he would require proof of real insanity and be able to excuse a crime if insanity were proven. He was passed.


P. W. Fisher of 323 West Mercer Street was the last talesman examined before the noon recess. He is a druggist at 618 Broadway. Mr. Fisher does not believe in any man taking the law into his own hands. He also has no prejudices against religious fanatics and believes they have as much right to live as any one else. He also said he would not be too much influenced by the adultery charge. He too was passed.


V. L. McCracken was the first talesman examined at the afternoon session. He was excused because he had already formed an opinion in the case. M. H. Ring came next and was passed.




Seattle Daily Times 6/25/1906 p2

Says She Talked With God


Believing that she has had a visitation from God and that the Almighty is angry with the woman for coming to this city in response to the appeal of her brother, Esther Mitchell, the 18-year-old sister of George Mitchell, today under trial for the murder of “Joshua” Creffield, absolutely refuses to have any communication with her married sister, Mrs. M. E. Starr (sic), who has come to Seattle to be near her young brother in his hour of trouble.


As soon as Mrs. Starr arrived in the city, she went to the Stevens Hotel and young Perry Mitchell went to see Esther in the hope that she would once more enter the family circle, trusting that the influence of an older sister would have a beneficial effect upon the mind of the young woman who still seems under the baneful influence of the man who was responsible for the great afflictions which have been visited upon her family.


It was upon the charge of adultery with Mrs. Starr that Creffield was convicted and served a sentence in the Oregon prison. It was also alleged that he had been intimate with Esther Creffield (sic) and it was mainly for this reason that young Mitchell committed the deed for which he is now upon trial for his life.


When approached by her brother Esther told him to go away and not to bother her, that she did not want to see her sister or have anything to do with her.


“Tell her for me,” said the young girl, “that last night I had a visitation from God and that He is very angry with her for coming here. She must make her peace with Him before I will have anything to do with her. I told her she was wrong to think of coming here and I did all I could to keep her away. And now I don’t want to see her or have anything to do with her until she has made her peace with the Almighty and obtained forgiveness for violating His wishes.”


No amount of persuasion would avail towards changing the resolution of the young woman who still persists that Creffield was of another clay from ordinary mortals and that he will yet return to punish the men and women who, she says, have traduced and maligned him.



Seattle Star 6/25/1906 p1 George Mitchell

George Mitchell on Trial For His Life

Defense Will be Temporary Insanity Induced by Justification---Attorneys Show Caution in Their Examination.


Temporary insanity, occasioned by the action of the man he killed will be the defense interposed in behalf of George Mitchell, place on trial in Judge Frater’s court this morning for the crime of killing Franz Edmund Creffield, the leader of the Holy rollers.

this became immediately evident from the questions asked of the prospective jury men by the attorneys for the defense, Will H. Morris and S. M. Shipley.



Four jury men were examined by the opposing attorneys during the morning session of the court, and all of them were passed for cause. To of them were challenged by the defense, but both challenges were denied. Those accepted are A. J. Bossert, C. G. Swanson, J. G. Crandall and P. E. Fisher. George A. Chute, who was summoned as a jury man was excused by Judge Frater on account of the serious illness of his mother.


The other jury men called in the case and to be examined this afternoon, if their examination does not drag out at too great length are L. M. Bechtel, Daniel Meyers, V. L. McCracken, M. R. Ring, W. E. Williams, C. W. French, Fred Clinton and R. Cowman. (All names may be spelled wrong in that the print is almost illegible.)



Two points were dwelt on by the attorneys for the defense in the examination of jurors. One was the point of a defense on the ground of insanity, and the other was the religious element in the case. On the subject of insanity a question asked in one form or another of every [illegible] examined was:

“If it is shown that there was a reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s mental condition at the time this deed was committed, will you give him the benefit of that doubt in rendering your verdict?”


And another one was:

“On the question of the sanity of the defendant will you accept the testimony of the witnesses place on the stand in this trial and disregard any preconceived ideas which you have formed in advance?”




The attorneys for the prosecution, Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh and his assistant, Judge Miller countered these suggestions as to insanity by asking the question:

“If insanity is interposed as a defense in this case will you endeavor to distinguish between the actual insanity of the defendant and a pretense of insanity put up as a means of escaping punishment for a crime?”




Attorneys for the defense were very scrupulous lest some one be accepted on the jury who is disposed to have sympathy for the dead leader of the Holy rollers. Attorney Morris repeatedly asked the jury men:

“If it is shown in the course of this trial that the deceased Creffield was a religious teacher, professed in fact to be a second Christ, will that fact have a tendency to influence you against the defendant?”


Judge Miller, on the other hand, made a strong point with several of the jury men of the question of the right of personal assassination. Of one jury man he asked repeatedly in one form or another the question:

“Are you a believer in the right of personal assassination?” Is there existing in your mind the belief that any state of affairs could arise which would justify one man in going out and taking the life of another?”




the proceedings of the trial in its early stages were tame to the point of being uninteresting but for the indications displayed of the fierce legal battle which is to be developed as the trial progresses. The court room was filled almost to the limit of its standing room with interested spectators, there being some 150 persons present, including a number of women. About a score of these are from Corvallis, and other points in Oregon attracted here by their interest in the developments of the trial. Some of the women who have come into prominence in connection with the case were present at the opening of the trial.




Mitchell, the defendant, sat through the morning session at the left of his attorneys, attentive, collected and to all appearances calmly confident of the outcome. There was not a sign on his face, not a move in his actions to indicate that he feels any nervousness regarding his condition. He was but very rarely consulted by the attorneys, and references to him in the discussions of the attorneys or the cross questioning of jurors did not move him in the slightest degree.



Seattle Star 6/25/1906 p1

Mitchell’s Brother Here For the Trial

Comes From Danville To Lend What Assistance He Can To The Slayer Of Holy Roller Creffield.


Perry Mitchell, brother of George Mitchell, arrived in Seattle this morning from Danville, Ill, to be present when his brother is placed on trial Monday for the killing of Edmund Creffield, the Holy Roller leader.


Upon his arrival in the city at about 10 o’clock he almost immediately went to the courthouse and visited his brother. They talked for about an hour in the jailer’s office and them Perry made direct for the offices of his brother’s attorneys. He was seen at the court house by a reporter for the Star.



“I don’t want to say anything about this affair yet till I’ve seen the attorneys,” he said. “I’ve come all the way from Illinois to do what I can to help my brother, and it would be foolish to say something that would weaken our side. I was in Danville when I read in one of the papers that my brother had killed that cur, Creffield, and I left the town immediately for Seattle. I haven’t seen my sister, Esther, yet; I didn’t even know she was in town until this morning.



Interest in the case is increasing as the time for the trial approaches. The prosecuting attorney’s office has laid aside all other business in the preparation of the prosecution, and the same thing can be said regarding the preparation for the defense.

Mr. Shipley says that he receives letters every day from prominent people in Portland offering their services as witnesses or in any other way they can be of help to the defense.





Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 6/25/1906 p1

Mitchell is Placed on Trial


Corvallis Times 6/26/1906 p1

The Trial

Slayer of Creffield, the Holy Roller Leader Faces Seattle Jury to Answer for Crime

Work of Selecting Jurors Occupies First Day’s Proceedings--Only One of Five Talesman Examined Excused at Noon--

Sister of Accused in Court.



Work of Selecting Jurors Not Yet Finished--Miss Esther Refuses to See Her Sister--Perry Mitchell of Illinois, is Present at Trial.


(Journal Special Service)

Seattle, Wash., June 25.--The case of George Mitchell, the youthful slayer of Edmund Creffield, and avenger of the wrongs done his two sisters by the holy roller prophet, was called for trial today. No criminal case in many years has attracted so much attention throughout this section as that of young Mitchell and the trial will be followed with intense interest. The accused youth has hosts of sympathizers in Portland, Corvallis and other Oregon points where the people were acquainted with the odious practices and teachings of Creffield and a substantial fund has been raised for Mitchell’s defense.



The work of selecting a jury began this morning before Judge Frater in the superior court. At the noon adjournment of court five jurors had been examined and one had been excused for being prejudiced. None of the other had formed an opinion of the case.


W. H. Morris, who is defending Mitchell, will use peremptory challenges to get rid of three out of four who have passed. It will take three days at the least to secure a panel to try the case.


Mrs. Burgess Starr, the married sister of Mitchell, and for debauching whom Creffield served two years in the Salem penitentiary, is in court with her three young children to testify in favor of her brother.




Perry Mitchell of Illinois, a brother of the accused, is here to give aid to the defense. Yesterday he called on Esther Mitchell, his sister, who will testify for the prosecution, at the home of the police matron, and told her that Mrs. Starr, her sister, was here and would be in toe see her.


“I do not want to see or to speak to her,” said young Esther Mitchell.


The brother said, “Don’t you want to see your sister?”


“No, I do not,” replied the girl, “but if she comes I suppose I shall have to see her. Last night I had a vision that she had displeased God and that God did not want me to see her.”


The defense will try to exclude Esther Mitchell’s testimony on the ground that she is insane.


The killing of ”Apostle Joshua,” as Creffield called himself, occurred on the streets of Seattle some two months ago. “I’ve got my man. Am in jail,” was the unique telegram the young murderer sent to his father at Corvallis.


“I came here from Portland for the purpose of Killing Creffield,” Mitchell explained after his arrest. “I saw him and his wife on First Avenue and shot the man. That’s all there is to it. He ruined my two sisters and I took his life.


Shortly before he was killed Creffield had been released from the penitentiary after serving two years for illicit relations with women followers. Prior to his conviction, the peculiar ceremonies of the holy roller behind closed doors and by the light of candles became so objectionable to the people of Corvallis that the authorities were appealed to (Continued on Page two.)



(Continued from Page One)


Tales too revolting to be put into print were told of the practices habitually indulged in by Creffield and his followers. Many of the latter were wives, sisters and even young daughters and numerous families were broken up before Creffield’s career was brought to an end.


Many of the holy rollers were sent to the insane asylum. Among them was Creffield’s wife, then Ida M. Hurt (sic). She recovered, and got a divorce, while Creffield was in the penitentiary. On his return, however, she remarried him in Seattle, despite the protests of her family. She declares he was guiltless of Mitchell’s charges.






Evening Telegram (Portland) 6/25/1906 p1

Slayer of Holy Roller Creffield Begins Fight For Life in Seattle


Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 6/26/1906 p3

Mitchell on Trial

Trial of George Mitchell, Charged With Murder in the First Degree, Commences Before Judge Frater in Superior Court.



(Photo Of “Slayer Of Holy Roller Creffield, George Mitchell, Whose Trial Begins In Seattle Monday, June 25.”)


SEATTLE, Wash., June 25.--George Mitchell, the Corvallis farmer boy, who on May 7 shot and killed Franz Edmund Creffield, the Holy Roller prophet, on a Seattle street corner, was this morning place on trial in Department No. 1 of the Superior Court, charged with murder in the first degree.


Mitchell came into court in charge of a Deputy Sheriff, his face smooth shaven, his hair carefully brushed and his linen spotless. Long before the hour of opening court the room was crowded and the corridors were full of curiously inclined, anxious for a glimpse of the man who because of the wrongs done his sisters took the law into his own hands. As Mitchell took his seat behind the rail, he was greeted by his attorneys, Will H. Morris and Silas Shipley. He shook hands with both and chatted without any display of nervousness until Judge Frater took the bench and court was called to order.


The Mitchell trial promises to be one of the longest and hardest fought criminal cases in the history of King county. In the belief that the 90 men who are on the regular venire of talesmen for this term of court would be exhausted before a jury was secured, the jury commissioners drew a special venire of 60 men. It is expected that it will take at least a week and probably longer to secure a jury.


Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh is assisted in his duties for the state by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller.


The defense will plead that Mitchell was driven to temporary insanity brought about by brooding on the wrongs done his sisters by Creffield. Thirty witnesses have been subpoenaed by the defense from Oregon.


One of the main efforts of the prosecution will be to prevent any testimony concerning the doings of the Holy Roller cult from being presented to the jury, and it is likely that the arguments of opposing counsel on this question will take up at least two days of the month which it is believed will be required before the case will be given to the jury.


(The usual about defense and prosecuting strategies and a recap of the murder).



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 6/26/1906 p1

Mitchell Trial On At Seattle

Much Difficulty Found In Securing Jury.

Talesmen Are Prejudiced.

(illegible) Without Opinions As To (illegible) Killing Of Holy Roller

Defendant Seems Stoical

(illegible) Declares That He Did Right (illegible) Shooting Sister’s Betrayer. Nevertheless He Will Plead Temporary Insanity.


by George White

SEATTLE, Wash., June 25.--(Staff Correspondent)-- George Mitchell who shot Franz Edmund Creffield, leader of the “”” “Holy Rollers,” on the streets of Seattle last month, was placed on trial for his life in Superior Court today. the courtroom was packed (illegible) the morning and afternoon sessions, and keenest interest was shown (illegible) proceedings throughout. among spectators were a number of people (illegible) Corvallis, where the self-styled (illegible)” fist taught his debasing doctrines and committed the crimes that (illegible) his assassination by the outraged (illegible) of one of his victims.

Several Portland people directly interested in the case were also on hand, (illegible) those in attendance were elderly and many of them being members of (illegible) Seattle churches.


Mitchell came into the court this morning with the stoical air of one who id prepared for anything that may come. His (illegible) to the proceedings was perfunctory. His attitude was that of a man (illegible) that he has done nothing he (illegible) feel remorse. In an interview during a recess of court he said as much.




(illegible) killed Creffield and had a right to (illegible)” he quietly remarked. “I would do the same thing over again. I am prepared for whatever may come. I am (illegible), however, that my release from (illegible) with follow this trial.”

Notwithstanding this attitude of the defendant, his lawyers will set up the (illegible) of temporary insanity. It is believed (illegible) that this plea will be made only (illegible) with the requirements of the (illegible) which does not recognize the right of an individual to avenge his own (illegible) The real strength of the defense (illegible) in the circumstances that led Mitchell to take the life of his sister’s (illegible)


(illegible) the case is to be closely contested by both prosecution and defense (illegible) clearly indicated by the effort to secure a (illegible) today. The regular panel was soon (illegible) and a special venire will be (illegible) tomorrow. All talesmen whose (illegible) did not appear to be entirely free of bias or prejudice were promptly (illegible) to the prosecution. all who were excused from service because of prejudices in the case were biased on the defendant’s behalf. One talesman, (illegible) Swanson, declared unqualifiedly that he believed Creffield received his just deserts.




(illegible) prosecution is seeking to secure (illegible) who believe that retribution is a (illegible) to be left entirely in the hands of the law. An issue will probably be (illegible) the fact that Creffield served two years in the Oregon Penitentiary as a result of his illicit relations with Mrs. Donna Starr, Mitchell’s sister, and that (illegible) the law has been satisfied on that score.


(illegible) also known that the prosecution will endeavor to exclude all testimony (illegible) to “Rollerism?” as preached by (illegible) at Corvallis. This point will be contested by the defendant’s attorney as herein lies the bulwark of the defense. They have subpoenaed a (illegible) of witnesses from Corvallis (illegible) Portland.

(illegible) of the witnesses from Oregon more (illegible) interested in the case are already, but the majority will not come until summoned by the defense. Not until (illegible) positively known just what testimony will be admitted will this call be made, (illegible) the expense of maintaining 20 or 30 witnesses for a week or ten days would (illegible) means small.




(illegible) the intention of the defendant’s attorneys--will H. Morris and Silas M. Shipley--to bring out the whole miserable (illegible) of Creffield’s career, if the court (illegible); his unholy practices at Corvallis, the relations with Mitchell’s sister; (illegible) for and conviction of a statutory (illegible) earned him two years in the Oregon Penitentiary; his action in luring Mitchell’s sisters away from their homes, (illegible) them and other women to an (illegible) spot on the Oregon coast; his (illegible) future bestial orgies at this re(illegible) at the time he was shot down like a do on one of Seattle’s principal streets(illegible) all these things, it will be con-(illegible) had produced in Mitchell a mental (illegible) that had rendered him incapable of (illegible) right from wrong at the time hi fired the fatal shot.


(illegible) state, it will be urged, was closely (illegible) immunity, and was in fact nothing more nor less than a temporary state of insanity.


Today was devoted entirely to the examination of talesmen. The jury may not be completed for a week. Examining these talesmen is unavoidably slow work. The mental attitude of each talesman must be sought out by state and defense. The state will accept no man that professes to uphold the right of one individual to kill another regardless of legal remedies. Nor do the state’s attorneys want anyone who has been prejudiced by the published accounts of the tragedy.


Talesmen who have not one or both of these flaws seem few and far between. Of 14 men examined today, eight were excused; nearly all of them at the request of the prosecution because of having prejudices which testimony would be required to remove. six were passed for cause.




Any or all of these may be swept away tomorrow, as the defense has 24 peremptory challenges at its disposal, while the state has six.


The six talesmen passed for cause were: Jesse G. Grandall, R. E. Fischer, C. G. Swanson, John Simms, M. F. Piney and F. M. Townsend. Those excused were : James Brackett, A. J. Bossert, George Chute, N. L. McCracken, W. R. Williams, Wallace Bechtol, A. C. Abrams and C. M. Sparman.


The case of the state is being handled by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh and his assistant, John F. Miller. Judge Frater is on the bench. The expense to the state of Washington will amount to many thousand dollars. This probable expense in Seattle is viewed as rather unfortunate inasmuch as the principals in the tragedy were from Oregon and the cause arose there. Washington’s sole connection with the affair is the fact that Mitchell chanced to locate in Seattle the man he was seeking to kill.



The cost of Mitchell’s defense is being borne by residents of Corvallis and surrounding districts, where the feeling is bitter against Creffield. A purse of several hundred dollars was raised here and it is understood that more will be forthcoming if necessary. In Attorneys Morris and Shipley, Mitchell has lawyers who have been notably successful in criminal practice.


Among the deeply interested spectators in the courtroom today was O. V. Hurt, of Corvallis, father-in-law of Creffield. Hurt is not here as Creffield’s sympathizer, being one of Mitchell’s staunchest supporters. His wife and two daughters suffered at Creffield’s hands. His daughter, Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield, the Holy Roller’s widow, was not in court today, although she is in Seattle. She is held by the state as a witness.




Others from Oregon who have reported to Attorneys Morris and Shipley are: John Catlin, Albany, Mrs. Hager, Burgess E. Starr, E. P. Harris, and Mrs. Burgess, Portland; Edwin H. Baldwin and James K. Berry, Corvallis; George VanDran, Albany.


Tomorrow morning at 9:30 o’clock the case will again be taken up. The attorneys are confident that before the end of the week the first witness will be placed on the stand. It is hoped to have the case in the hands of the jury within ten days.




“Holy Rollerism” is not yet dead. It still beclouds the mind of Esther Mitchell, the sister of George Mitchell. While her brother sat in the Superior Court today on trial for his life, this girl, still in her teens, was mourning the death of Creffield and living as she has lived for weeks, in expectation of his resurrection. The girl seemingly has no sympathy for her brother, and today she refused to see Mrs. Burgess Starr, her own sister, on whose account Mitchell killed Creffield.


The girl came to Seattle shortly after Creffield was killed. She had been under the man’s power for two years, and was one of those who believed he was immortal.


The girl says she refused to see Mrs. Starr today because the latter came her to assist her brother in his fight for his life. Word was taken to her at the city jail, where she is in charge of the police matron, that the sister was anxious to have a talk with her.


“My sister has displeased God by coming here to testify in this trial,” said the girl. “I do not care to have anything to do with her.”



It developed that Esther recently wrote to Mrs. Starr at Portland advising her to remain away from the trial. In this letter she claimed to have had a revelation from God through Creffield saying that Mrs. Starr was not to come here or take any part in the trial--especially by testifying in her brother’s behalf.


Fred Mitchell, a brother of George, is in Seattle to help the latter out of his trouble. Esther also refuses to have anything to do with him.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 6/27/1906 p1

Holy Rollerism Is Again Revived

Followers Of Creffield Cling To Faith

Snake Is Only Scotched

Witnesses At Seattle Show Signs Of Backsliding.

Esther Mitchell’s Work

Dead Prophet’s Former Adherents Secretly Cherish Idea That He Will Return To Earth--Jury Not Yet Secured.


by George White.


SEATTLE, Wash., June 26.--(Staff Correspondence.) All day the tedious, humdrum work of selecting a jury to try George Mitchell for his life on a charge of Murdering Edmund Creffield was kept up. When the Superior Court adjourned for the day there were 12 talesmen in the jury box; all passed for cause. Were all these to be accepted in the morning, the taking of testimony could be proceeded with. To all outward appearances there is no reason for objecting to any of these talesmen. All have answered the questions put to them satisfactorily to both prosecution and defense. All have the requisite legal qualifications.


But in their capacities as students of human nature the attorneys in the case undoubtedly have formed prejudices. Watching each talesman intently every moment they have weighed each personality and studied the psychology of each man with whom they must rest their hopes of success or chances of defeat. By this weighing and judging of men they have formed their opinions as to the desirability of each talesman as qualified. Hence, when court convenes again tomorrow morning, peremptory challenges will be in order.




It is known this evening that at least two of the talesmen now in the jury box are to be challenged in this manner. Probably more may be similarly dealt with. It is not altogether improbable that the box will be entirely emptied and a new set of talesmen brought in. as it now stands the jury may be complete by noon tomorrow, or it may not be ready until the end of the week or the beginning of next week.


Both sides are feeling every inch of their way with utmost care and caution. Legal maneuvering has already begun, each side seeking to outflank the other on some point that may seem unimportant to the lay observer but which may develop significance later in the trial.


Late this afternoon, Attorney Will H. Morris, representing Mitchell, recited all the morbid details of Creffield’s fanatical teachings and of his dealings with the prisoner’s sisters prior to the shooting. He brought our these facts in the examination of F. M. Townsend, one of the last talesmen of the afternoon, at a time when the jury box was filled with men who had qualified to serve. The effect of the story was easily apparent. As the nauseating story of Holy Rollerism was unfolded several talesmen grew deeply interested in their own feet. Others sniffed covertly, and one or two made no effort to control their emotions as the wretched picture of the wrongs young Mitchell’s family had suffered was painted to their minds in broad, unmistakable English.




The state’s attorneys objected to this statement of the case, but since Attorney Morris was putting it forward in the guise of a question the objection could not consistently be sustained under previous ruling made by the court. In his word picture of Holy Rollerism and its practices, Mr. Morris told of Creffield’s first meeting with Mitchell’s sisters, Mrs. B. E. Starr and Esther Mitchell, when they were devoted to each other and to other members of their families. He contrasted this with the subsequent estrangement, the desertion of her husband and three small children by Mrs. Starr that she might follow the fanatical pervert, of Esther Mitchell’s apparent mental derangement as a result of her association with the blighting cult, of the camp on the sea coast where the sisters suffered countless privations and hardships in obedience to the hypnotic call of Creffield.


There things, with details too revolting to print, would be brought out in the testimony, Mr. Morris said. He wanted to know if such things, as tending to explain Mitchell’s mental attitude toward the Holy Roller leader would create any prejudice against the defendant in the talesman mind, should he be accepted as a juror. The talesman admitted that it would not, and he was passed for cause.




During the recital of these things young Defendant Mitchell displayed the first real emotion that he has shown since the trial began. As the names of his sisters were spoken he lost his passive, stoical air. The muscles of his face worked convulsively. His head dropped forward and his eyes became riveted on the carpet at his feet. He did not look up until some minutes after his attorney was done speaking, and then he seemed restless and ill at ease, shifting his position frequently and drumming nervously on the table in front of him.


The recital of these hideous facts and their apparent effect on the talesmen and spectators are believed by those following the case to give a fair insight into the strength of Mitchell’s cause. It is not believed by many people that 12 men can be gotten together who can hear recited the details of Creffield’s pernicious practices and yet consider the case calmly without emotion and in accordance with the letter of the law, which says with icy logic: “Mitchell killed Creffield, premeditatedly, when he had recourse at law; hence Mitchell is guilty of murder.”


Public opinion in Seattle appears to be, for the most part, with Mitchell. There are many, however, who cannot reconcile their sympathy for the defendant with the idea of personal assassination; who believe that no man has the right to take the law into his own hands.




During a recess of court today the young prisoner received a visit from a group of women, all of them elderly or past middle age. They said that they did not know Mitchell, but assured him that he had their deepest sympathy and best wishes. Mitchell also received a visit from the Starr Children, his nieces, during the forenoon. They were brought to him by their father; the mother did not appear in court today. One is 7 years old, one 5 and the other a baby in arms. They are the little ones that were deserted by Mrs. Starr at Creffield’s call.


Mitchell greeted the children pleasantly and talked with them during the few minutes they were allowed to remain at his side.


The 12 talesmen in the jury box when court closed this afternoon were L. F. Jones, C. W. French, Fred Clinton, W. C. Howard, James O. Cass, John F. Dore, H. A. C. Thompson, R. F. Fahley, Jesse G. Crandall, F. M. Thompson, R. E. Fisher and George Bill. All are residents of King County some of years’ standing, substantial occupations, and, with the exception of Crandall, men of family.




C. G. Swanson, who passed muster Monday, was let out this afternoon on peremptory challenge by the state. It was the first peremptory challenge, and the only one thus far. The state’s objection to Swanson was the fact that he intimated having formed strong convictions bearing on Mitchell’s innocence, but quickly modified this statement sufficient to prevent being disqualified.


Nine talesmen were excused because of having strong convictions as to Mitchell’s guilt on the murder charge. One was dismissed because of prejudice against any man who kills another, and two were let out because they are opposed to capital punishment even for cold-blooded murder.


Evidently inspired by the radical stand taken by Miss Esther Mitchell against her own brother, who is on trial for murder of the Holy Roller prophet, a revival of the hysterical faith among its followers now in Seattle came to light today. Though relatives of the women who came under Creffield’s spell had though the incident closed with Creffield in his grave, they became painfully aware this morning that they were mistaken.




Mrs. Burgess E. Starr gave evidence that her faith in Holy Rollerism was revived when she went through some of the forms of Creffield’s teachings at the Stevens Hotel during the forenoon. Her husband, B. E. Starr, of Portland, who was with her, is apprehensive as to the outcome.


“I fear that she takes stock in the theory that Creffield will return to earth,” he said this afternoon. “The idea has been presented to here from some source that he will return in spirit if not in flesh, and I can judge from her manner today that she is awaiting developments. She refuses to talk with me at all on the subject, and acts queerly when I mention it.”


O. V. Hurt of Corvallis, likewise fears that the teachings of Creffield are still advocated secretly by his wife and two daughters.


“They seem to think he will return to earth in spirit,” said Hurt. “I find that I cannot get them to talk at all on the subject. They are still believers, I fear, and have been greatly influenced by Esther Mitchell’s stand against her brother. To the best of my belief, this trial and the young girl’s strange attitude have aroused all the followers of Holy Rollerism. There are about 15 of them here in Seattle.”

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