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 26, 1906: Mitchell Jury is Selected With Care


Trial SketchesSeattle Star 6/26/1906 p1

Mitchell Jury is Selected With Care

Attorneys Are Selecting Men With Great Caution--Twelve Jurors Have Been Passed for Cause---Peremptory Challenges Still Remain---Court Room Is Crowded and Case Is Closely Followed.


(In a box)


A. J. Bessert, Farmer, Black River

C. G. Swanson, Farmer, Vashon.

B. E. Druggist, Seattle.

F. M. Townsend, Foreman City Water Department, Seattle.

H. M. Ring, Postal Clerk, Seattle

John Sims, Farmer, Novelty

George [illegible], Farmer, Cedar Mountain

L. F. Jones, Farmer, Enumclaw

C. W. French, Dairyman, Enumclaw.

Fred Clinton, Marine Cook, [illegible],

C. W. Howard, Hotel Man, Seattle.


The rest of the day and all tomorrow will be consumed in getting a jury in the Mitchell jury case, according t the indications of the progress made in the trial this morning and the first half of the afternoon. At noon today but 11 jury men has been passed for cause by the examining attorneys, the 12th one being passed early in the afternoon.


As soon as 12 men had been selected the opposing attorneys began exercising their right to peremptory challenges of which the prosecution is entitled to six and the defense to twelve. Should the full number of peremptory challenges be exercised, it will mean that 18 more jury men must be passed upon by the attorneys before the jury is finally selected.




The indications are that the trial will be before a jury comprised of farmers. Five of the eleven jury men accepted up to noon were farmers, and one other a dairyman.


The defense in the examination of witnesses has displayed a marked preference for farmers and for men who have families of their own, preferably grown and married daughters. From this indication it becomes increasingly apparent that the defense is relying very strongly on the sympathy which can be aroused among jury men on account of the actions of Creffield in seducing and betraying his female followers.




Better luck was enjoyed this morning in the selection of jury men than yesterday, though the examination proceeded much more slowly. Of the four men examined during the morning session, but one, H. B. Compton, was rejected for cause, he having formed an impression of the guilt or innocence of the accused from the accounts of the case in the newspapers. Attorney Shipley, who examined him, endeavored to secure from him a distinction between an impression and an opinion, and the reply was so confusing that the juror was dismissed.




A stereotyped question asked by the defense of every juror examined and which bears some indication of the character of the defense is:

“Have you any prejudice against the defense of insanity in criminal cases, and would you give the same weight to evidence tending to indicate the insanity of an accused person that you would give to evidence of any other character?”


The prosecution, on the other hand, is endeavoring in its questioning of jury men to guard against the acceptance of men who will be influenced in their finding by the fact that the deceased Holy Roller was criminally intimate with the sister of the accused. On this point Prosecuting Mackintosh has a long and involved question which he asks of each juror examined which in its form indicates the course which the trial may be expected to take.




The question as usually asked is:

“If it should develop in the course of this trial that this deceased Creffield committed adultery with a married woman, the sister of this defendant, a woman 22 or 23 years of age, married and with two children and a husband living, three or four years ago, and had been punished for that crime by confinement in the state penitentiary, would that fact have any other influence on your mind with reference to this defendant that as tending to show the condition of his mind at the time he committed the deed for which he is now being tried?”




The crowd of spectators at the trial was even larger this morning than yesterday, and had even more than yesterday the appearance of a convention or reunion of some tribe of moral, political and religious free thinkers. The crowd for the most part is made up of long haired and bald headed men, men with unusual phrenological bumps prominent in their features, men of abnormal mental development or inclinations. Of the 160 or more persons in attendance, of whom some 20 were women, there were at least 30 bald headed men. One spectator is so completely bald and has such a striking resemblance to pictures and cartoons of John D. Rockefeller that it was the cause of much remark in the court room. Another spectator was adorned with Elbert Hubbard hat and hair, while there was a general tendency on the part of the male spectators to that kind of slovenliness in dress which so many persons appear to associate with habits of plain living and high thinking.




The women for the most part are less noticeable for individual characteristics than the men, though there were several among them who were marked by some of the same striking general characteristics.


Some diversion was caused in the courtroom over the cross examination of C. W. French, and Enumclaw dairyman, by the replies of the juror with reference to his own work and habits of life. French testified that newspaper accounts of the killing were received at his home, but that he did not read the accounts closely because he was so busy. He has been engaged at clearing land, at which he works from 10 to 12 hours a day. In the morning and again in the evening he milks 20 cows and has other chores to attend. When his day’s work is done, his wife reads the papers, but he does not, as a rule, give her reading a great deal of attention.




While she read the accounts of the Creffield killing in his presence, they did not discuss it at all, and there was no exchange of opinions between them regarding it.


At the opening of court this morning Judge Frater dismissed all of the witnesses for the prosecution until Thursday morning, and all of those for the defense until Friday morning. It even appears improbable that the jury will be procured before Thursday afternoon or later.



A striking feature of the examination of the veniremen in the Mitchell murder case yesterday and this morning was the indication of the widespread interest and knowledge of the case, as shown by the fact that all men examined had read more or less about the case in the newspapers and had, almost without exception, discussed it with others and formed opinions as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.


Ordinarily, on such criminal trials there are a few jury men called who have never heard of the case, or at least who have taken so little interest in it that they have never discussed it or formed any opinions regarding it. In this case all the prospective jurors have done so.



Another feature which renders it more than ordinarily difficult to get a jury is the fact that so many men believe that circumstances can arise in which a man is justified in taking the law into his own hands. all men who express, or in any way display such a belief in the course of the examination, are scrupulously excluded by the attorneys for the prosecution.



As yet, the religious element in the case has hardly been referred to, the only references to it in the examination being an occasional question by the attorneys for the defense whether jury men under examination would be prejudiced against the defendant on account of the fact that the man he killed is a religious teacher and professed to be a second Christ.





Seattle Post Intelligencer 6/26/1906 p1

Select Jurors in Mitchell Trial


Corvallis Gazette 6/29/1906 p1

About The Trial

Counsel For State And For Defense Show Great Care In Questions


Talesmen Examined Closely As To Various Possible Phases

Of The Case.




Seattle Intelligencer Report

The first day of the trial of George Mitchell, charged with murder in the first degree in the killing of Edwin (sic) Creffield, the “Holy Roller,” in the streets of Seattle, May 7, proved in some sense a forecast of the tedious care and attention which may be expected to be exhibited by the court and by the opposing counsel all through the case, which is expected to last three weeks. At the end of the day’s work twenty talesmen had been examined, of whom nine had been selected as possible jurors in the case.


The questions of both the prosecuting attorney, Kenneth Mackintosh, and his deputy, John F. Miller, for the state, and of Will H. Morris and Silas M. Shipley of Morris, Southard & Shipley, for the defense, covered almost every possible phase of the now famous case. Especially close were the interrogations on the attitude of the talesmen to the right of a man to kill another under provocations such as Mitchell is claimed to have had. The right of a man to plead insanity was also a subject for particular attention on the part of counsel, the effort being made by the state to secure men who would explicitly follow the court’s supposed instructions that a man is believed sane until he has established his insanity.



It will probably be noon today before the remaining three chairs in the jury stand are filled. Counsel for the defense will then have the right to challenge twelve men, peremptorily, and counsel for the state six. Then the questioning and cross-questioning of jurors will begin again, and it is probable counsel will have proceeded well into the special list of sixty jurors subpoenaed to be present in court today, before the twelve men who will try the case are finally selected.


It is not expected that the court will be ready for counsel to begin the presentation of their cases until some time tomorrow, if then.


The nine men who have so far stood the searching test made by counsel are:

A. J. Bessert (sic), Of Black River, Farmer; C. G. Swanson, Of Vashon, Farmer; J. G. Crandall, Of Seattle; R. E. Fisher, Of Seattle, Druggist; F. M. Townsend, Of Seattle, City Water Department; M. H. Ring, Seattle, Post Office Department; John Sims, Novelty, Farmer; George Bill, Cedar Mountain, Miner, and H. S. Compton, Seattle, Street Car Conductor.



Of the men who were excused by the court, the majority stated they had already formed an opinion on the case which it would require a considerable amount of evidence to remove. George A. Chute was allowed to go on account of sickness in his family. L. M. Bechtel, of Houghton, declared himself opposed to capital punishment. V. L. McCracken and A. C. Abrams each declared himself of opinion that a man was at times justified in taking the law into his own hands. The others had been reading the papers and from the statements made in them had come to so settled a conclusion on the case that the court excused them acting on the trial. They were James Brackett, of Bothell; W. E. Williams, J. M. Sparkman, T. A. Holt, Daniel Meyer and Martin Kramer, all of Seattle.


Of the jurors provisionally selected, most of those from the country had not read very much of about the case, either being absent from home about the time of the killing, or else not close readers of the daily papers. Of those in the city some declared they had formed no decided opinion on the case, and the remainder confessed to such, but thought they could disregard it in the weighing of evidence, in accordance with the instructions of the court.


Mitchell proved a silent spectator of the proceedings of the trial. His brother, Perry Mitchell, from Illinois, was allowed to sit by his side during the day. The two young men, though there is two years difference in their ages, resemble one another almost as closely as twins. The one is a trifle paler than the other, on account of the confinement of almost two months in the county jail. Only occasionally did either make a remark and for the most part they sat quietly watching the jurors as the latter were questioned.




The court room was crowded the greater part of the day, and among the spectators were several witnesses from Oregon already on hand to testify for the defense. Those who had arrived yesterday were: O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield; E. H. Baldwin, James K. Donny and Louis Hartley, of Corvallis; Mrs. B. E. Starr, of Corvallis, Mitchell’s sister; John Caplin, deputy marshal, and George vanDrant, of Albany; B. E. Starr and his three children; E. P. Harris, Mrs. Hager and Mrs. Anna Hager, all of Portland, and J. J. Woods, deputy sheriff; Mayor Robert Morris and a. Mills, a prominent farmer of Newberg.


Corvallis Gazette 6/26/1906 p1

The Trial On.

George H. Mitchell Will Have Hearing at Seattle.


Yesterday at nine a.m., in Judge Frater’s court at Seattle, the trial of George H. Mitchell was begun and intense interest is taken in the outcome by residents of Corvallis and, in fact, throughout Oregon.


O. V. Hurt, Ed. Baldwin and J. K. Berry left Saturday morning for Seattle to remain until the trial is ended and the fate decided of Edmund Creffield’s slayer, young Mitchell, for whom, in this section, there is nothing but sympathy.


Mr. Hurt, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Berry were served with subpoenas Thursday, but it was of their own choice that they made the trip, desiring in every way possible to aid the man whose act in defense of his sister’s honor has placed him in such a precarious position under the law.


As everyone hereabout knows, George Mitchell, after following Joshua Creffield, the self-styled “apostle” of holy roller fame, for several weeks, finally ran across him in Seattle on May 7th and deliberately shot him down, stating that latter had ruined Mrs. Burgess Starr and Miss Esther Mitchell, the sister of the murderer.


In spite of the manner in which the deed was committed, coolly, with premeditation and in defiance of law, there has never been a moment since that everyone familiar with the practices and teaching of the dead Joshua has not affirmed that Mitchell did a good deed, and was perfectly justified in slaying one who could scarcely be called a human being because of his bestial nature.


This sympathy for the young man who valued his sisters’ virtue and fair name above all thoughts of personal safety, and who avenged their ruin to the limit, is universal, and there is hope expressed on all sides that he may be cleared, in the trial that is now in progress.


The list of witnesses drawn by the defense is as follows:

O. V. Hurt, John Catlin, Lewis Hartley, Phoebe Vanderkelen, Mrs. Hager (illegible), Milt (illegible) Beer, Chas. Shires, Alpheus Mills, E. R. Bryson, Edwin Baldwin, Geo vanBrant, John Baldwin, Willis T. Gardner, Dr. F. W. Brooks, Peter View, Wm J. McMillan, Fred Mitchell, Mrs. Burgess Starr, M. P. Burnett, J. K. Berry, Burgess E. Starr, Henry P. Harris, Mary J. Graham, John Manning, J. J. Woods, Henry R. Morris, Mrs. Hager, May Hurt.--Glover.





Seattle Daily Times 6/26/1906 p1

Still Working on Mitchell Jury


Evening Telegram (Portland) 6/26/1906 p1

Much Caution in Mitchell Trial


Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 6/27/1906 p3

Attorneys Display Caution”

Eleven Men Now in the Box, but Most of These Probably Will Be Peremptorily Challenged by Either Side.

Talesman Who Admits He Has Lived in This Country for 16 Years Without Becoming a Citizen Severely Scored.

Women Press to Rail of Courtroom Enclosure and Extend Their Sympathy to Young Prisoner on Trial for His Life.


by Walter Deffenbaugh



In the legal lottery of the law the names of the twelve men who must decide whether or not George Mitchell was justified in killing “Joshua” Creffield have not been drawn. The sifting of the talesmen under the direction of the attorneys and the court still goes on. It is doubtful if even tomorrow night will see the chosen twelve in their chairs.


The young defendant is becoming nervous with the monotony of it. The necessary repetitions are tiring the nerves of even the attorneys and talesmen. To the man who is concerned above all it is doubly wearing. He usually sits quietly in his chair, with his hand upon his chin. There is not a trace of self-consciousness, although he knows that every eye in the rows of spectators is upon him. His face is serious. He does not even smile, though the courtroom occasionally titters at the naive answer of some man to a question fired at the jury box. It may be fun to others, but for him it is a matter of liberty, life or death. The only trace of nervousness is the drumming of his fingers upon the seat of his chair. He takes this choosing of the men who must decide his fate as he took the descriptions of his sisters’ downfall--as cold, hard realities upon which, as a foundation, he must risk his future.




But in these trying days--more trying than those which will come next week, just as the minutes before a regiment rises from the ground to charge are more trying than the actual conflict--this boy finds some grains of sympathy and comfort. Late yesterday afternoon he asked that his brother Perry, the only one of his family in the courtroom, be allowed to sit at his side. This request was granted, and the two--alike as two peas, except that one was pale and white from the unaccustomed weeks in prison and the other burned brown by his work on an Illinois farm--sat almost with their arms about one another in a welcome relief from the solitude in which Will H. Morris, busy with the graver affairs of his client, had been forced to leave him.


Perry Mitchell was not in court this morning. He was busy in his brother’s interests outside, but there were other comforters. When the court took a recess about 11 o’clock this morning, four women pressed through the crowd to the enclosure inside the rail, where Mitchell sat, to shake his hand and express their sympathy. They were not young women or seekers of morbid sensation. They ranged from Middle age to white-haired venerability.




Mitchell blushed and embarrassedly thanked them. His mother died when he was a small boy, and he is not accustomed to kind words from women who would be sitting beside him as if he was their son. He did not know them. He did not even ask their names. They did not give them. He will not even say what they said to him, except that they were very kind.


But through the rest of the day his fingers did not drum upon his chair quite so nervously and he seemed more cheerful. There was some one in the world who was not concerned in the disgusting disgraces of a frocked libertine or a heartless piece of the mechanism of the law.


There were others in the court room who felt the same way, but who veiled their sympathy with the cool veil of court room etiquette. Yet this too was felt. It was a sort of telepathic current running from the rear benches, where sat men and women who had known this boy and his sisters in Oregon and who had come here, to the scene of his trial, to help him. some have been subpoenaed as witnesses and others have come at great personal hardship and endeavor, on the chance that they might find some little way in which their humble minds and bodies might be of service in dragging this young man from the path of the car in which sits the majesty of the law.




The special panel of sixty men, drawn in the expectation that the regular venire would be exhausted before a jury could be chosen, reported to Judge Frater this morning. Several of them presented excuses to the court and among these was one upon which Judge Frater based a somewhat sensational lecture upon the duties of men who are residents of this community.


Among the excuses presented was one signed by the name of Dr. George E. Thompson, a dentist in the Burke Building. He stated that he had not taken out his second naturalization papers and that therefore he was not qualified to sit upon a jury.

“How long have you lived in this country?” asked the court.


“Sixteen years,” was the answer.


“You have lived here for sixteen years,” said Judge Frater, “enjoying the privileges and emoluments of a citizen without taking any part in the duties of a citizen which made these privileges possible, or performing your proper share of duties involved in the well-being of this community. The least thing you can do is to go directly to the clerk’s office and take the necessary steps to become a citizen of the United States. You are excused.”


All day today the task of choosing a jury has continued. At this hour there are eleven men in the jury box who have been “passed for cause.” That means that they are allowed to remain until at the passing of the twelfth the peremptory challenges will be utilized to remove from the box such men as the contending attorneys feel are inimical to the best interests of their opposed causes, whom they have not been able to eliminate upon legal grounds which would be sufficient to demand their excuse by the court. The state has the right to peremptorily remove six men from the box and the defense twelve.


The chances are that nearly all, if not all, of these privileges will be utilized. This is a case in which practically everything depends upon the jury. Upon the character of the men in the box will hinge the character of the prosecution and the defense. Until they are chosen the efforts of both sides must be cluttered with generalities. With twelve chosen, living minds to play upon, the actual work will begin, and upon the response of those minds to the touch of the fingers of the lawyers as they mold the statue of the case as it appears to them, depends the fate of George Mitchell.




That is the reason for the seemingly useless and endless string of questions with which the talesmen are assailed and that is the reason for the nervous drumming of Mitchell’s fingers upon the seat of his char.


The men so far allowed to remain in the jury box are; a. J. Bussert, a farmer of Black River, a man about 65 years of age with a long white beard and the father of a family; C. G. Swanson, of Vashon, a cabinet maker by occupation; Jesse G. Crandall, of Seattle, a young man, working as a grocery clerk, unmarried and fashionably dressed, R. E. Fisher, of Seattle, a druggist, white haired, rather prim and precise and a man with a wife and children; F. M. Townsend, of the Seattle water department, middle aged, black moustached, stern, and quiet; M. H. Ring, of the Seattle post office, also middle aged, intelligent and business-like; John Sinns, of Novelty, a farmer, German by birth, father of a family, sincere, typically German; George Bill, a miner of Cedar Mountain, a quarter-breed Indian, stoical, silent, with many of the characteristics of the quartering race; L. F. Jones, of Enumclaw, a farmer, brown hair and moustache, just beginning to be tinged with gray, honest thoughtful, sincere; C. W. French, a dairyman of Enumclaw, smooth shaven, red-haired, talkative, apparently a man of active intelligence; and Fred Clinton, a steamboat cook who lives at Chautauqua, on Vashon Island, short, swarthy and firm.



Late yesterday afternoon there was a discouraging failure to find men who did not hold opinions in the case. A. c. Abrams, a Seattle business man, had once lived in Texas and had an idea about the case which caused the prosecution to challenge him and he was excused. J. M. Sparkman, a Seattle real estate man, met a similar fate. Martin Kramer, a lineman for the city electric plant came under the same head. L. M. Bechtel of Houghton had scruples against capital punishment and was excused. Daniel Myers of Seattle, a Negro, had an opinion and was sent from the box. E. A. Holt of Seattle, a grocer also had an opinion.


H. S. Compton, a conductor on the University car line, was being examined when the court adjourned yesterday evening and this was concluded this morning. Compton being finally excused because he had a prejudice against the defense of insanity. Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh seemed inclined to resist the challenge of Messrs. Morris and Shipley, but after a consultation with Mr. Miller, dropped his objection.

The record is already cluttered with objections and exceptions by the defense. Mr. Morris is fighting hard for his client and pressing every point, while the prosecution fights back. The prosecution, however, fights more calmly. With them, it is only the law which is involved, with Morris it is a human life which he is defending.


Oregon Daily Journal 6/26/1906 p3

Sympathy With Mitchell

Fifteen Gray-Haired Women Grasp Young Prisoner by Hand and He Breaks Down and Weeps Declaring He Did Right


(Special Dispatch to the Journal)

Seattle, Wash., June 26.--When the Mitchell case was called this morning in the superior court 15 gray-headed women were among the audience. After the jury was brought in before the trial started, one after another of the women walked in the side rail which divided the lawyers and spectators and grasped Mitchell by the hand.


With tears pouring down their faces the women declared that Mitchell had done right, and prayed the jury to acquit him. Many jurors were affected.


Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh rushed into the courtroom and got the judge on the bench. The judge ordered the bailiffs to keep the women and all spectators in their seats.


Mitchell broke down and wept like a baby when the women were expressing sympathy. Court officers were instructed to take great precautions that no further outbreak occurs on the part of sympathizers of the defendant that might influence the jury.


Three hours were occupied this morning in attempting to qualify the tenth juror. At noon the tenth juror had been passed for cause. Two other jurors will have to qualify before peremptory challenge will be used.


James K. BerryAmong the Oregon people who are here as witnesses in the case are the members of the Hurt family, the women of which were among the first to be led away by the “apostle.” John Catlin of Albany, Mrs. Hager, Burgess E. Starr, E. P. Harris and Mrs. Burgess of Portland, George vanDran of Albany and James K. Berry of Corvallis. Other witnesses who are to appear for the defense will be sent for as they are needed, as the fund which has been made up for the defense is not so large that it can be afforded to keep a large number of witnesses in Seattle for a week or more before they are needed to testify.


Another reason that more of the witnesses are not already in Seattle lies in the fact that it is not assured that their testimony can be introduced. It is the intention of the defense to introduce evidence showing the horrible deeds of Creffield in his “Holy Roller” orgies, but it is planned by the prosecution that this evidence shall be prevented if possible. Another line of prosecution will be to show if possible that Creffield had already been punished under the law by two years in the state penitentiary for his debauchery of Mitchell’s sister, while this will be met by the defense with a showing that under the mental strain and awfulness of the whole affair the defendant was temporarily insane.


M. F. Townsend, M. F. Piney, Hohn Simms, C. G. Swanson, R. E. Fisher and Jesse G. Randall were passed for cause as jurors. The jurors excused were C. M. Sparman, A. C. Abrams, Wallace Bechtol, W. R. Williams, N. J. McCracken, George Chute, A. J. Bossert and James Brackett.


There is little chance of obtaining a jury this week. One juror from Enumclaw declared he was afraid to serve, as when he told his companions he was called for the jury they told him that he ought to be tarred and feathered if he came home without acquitting Mitchell.

Two other men were excused because their wives had told them to be sure to acquit Mitchell.


The special venire of 60 men called specially for this trial reported this morning. It is believed it will be necessary to call another venire before a jury is obtained.


Mitchell is the most collected person in the courtroom. He sits beside his counsel without making a movement of any kind. He does not even offer a suggestion as the jurors are examined.


The courtroom is crowded. Women make up the larger part of the audience.

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