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 27, 1906: Mitchell Trial Held Up By Squabble


John F. MillerSeattle Star Slow 6/27/1906 p1

Work to Pick the Mitchell Jury

Four Changes Have Been Made and the Attorneys Continue Their Painstaking Questions---Women Tired by the Monotony Are Noticeably Absent Today.


Four changes in the Mitchell jury as it stood last night, were made during the morning session of the trial today. George Bill, who presented to the court a doctor’s certificate of ill-health, was excused. Charles L. Sheldon was called, examined and passed for cause in his stead. R. E. Fisher, a druggist of Seattle, and J. Simpson, a barber of Kent were excused by the defense under the right of peremptory challenge, and their places filled by J. C. Adams, a contractor of Hillman City, and W. I. Evans, a farmer of Derby. The state exercised its second peremptory challenge by excusing John Sinn Jr., a farmer of Novelty.




Thomas B. Doyle, a bookkeeper for the Chiopeck Fish company, who resides at 511 Terry Av., was called in the place of Sinn, but on examination admitted that he believed that in certain cases an individual is justified in taking the law into his own hands, and that one of these cases is in aggravated cases of the abuse by another man of a man’s female relatives. He was promptly excused on a challenge by the state. Thomas Olin was called to the vacant seat, but immediately after he had been called the court adjourned for the noon intermission.


When the court adjourned for the noon intermission the occupants of the jury box were: John F. Dore, W. I. Evans, H. A. Thompson, J. C. Adams, F. M. Townsend, M. H. Ring, Thomas Olin, Charles I. Sheldon, I. F. Jones, C. W. French, Fred Clinton, and W. C. Howard. Of these Olin had not been passed for cause.




During the trial this morning the women who had up to that time been in attendance to the number of some 20 or 30, were conspicuous by their absence. As if by common consent or prearrangement they did not present themselves for admission to the court room, though there were two or three present in adjacent halls during a portion of the morning. When the court convened Judge Frater announced that all witnesses present would be excused until tomorrow morning.


As if to counteract the influence on the minds of the jury of the leading questions of the defendant’s attorney’s, Judge Miller, for the state, this morning took up much the same line of questioning in the examination of Juror Sheldon. In the course of the examination of the juror, Miller asked:

“If it should develop in the course of this trial that the deceased Creffield was a leader or center of a class of religious enthusiasts or fanatics who desired to have re-established on earth a condition of primeval simplicity of the habits of man, and who in the pursuit of that desire went barefoot and practiced other peculiar rites, and that this evidence should be admitted here, would you consider those facts except to the extent of showing their effect on the mind of this defendant?”




The attorneys for the defense, when it came their turn to examine the same juror, countered this question with another, asking:

“If it is shown in the course of this trial that the deceased Creffield exercised such an influence upon certain women, among them two sisters of this defendant, that they submitted themselves to the gratification of his beastly lust under the delusion that they were thereby serving God and purifying themselves, and, under his instructions thereafter submitted themselves to the lust of other men, would you take those facts into consideration in arriving at your verdict?”




Something of a diversion, leading to a mild demonstration in the court room, was caused by the replies of Juror Sheldon to the question asked for the purpose of ascertaining whether the juror had discussed the killing with anyone. Sheldon replied that he had so discussed it, but only for the purpose of ascertaining what is meant by the term “Holy Roller.”

“And did you find out what it was?” asked Judge Miller for the state.


“From whom?”

“One of the attorneys in the case.”

“Which one?”

“From yourself.”

“Did I speak to you about it?”

“No; I only heard you in your examination of jurors in this court room.”


Whereupon the assembled audience indulged in such a laugh that Judge Frater declared that if it were repeated he would order the room cleared of all spectators. This threat was repeated just prior to the noon recess, when a number of the spectators rose to leave the room before court had been adjourned.



Throughout the examination of jurors both sides have been especially scrupulous in asking those examined what states they have lived in, the purpose being to avoid admitting to the jury any persons who have recently lived in that portion of Oregon where the influences of Creffield and his followers were felt.


At the time of the noon adjournment there were no indications that the jury would be completed today, and there is a probability that it may be well along toward the end of the day tomorrow before the actual taking of evidence in the trial is begun.




A new and leading question was sprung by Attorney Will H. Morris in the examination of jurors in the Mitchell murder case yesterday afternoon which throws additional light on the nature of the defense which will be put up for the slayer of the “Holy Roller” leader.


Up to yesterday the questions touching on the practices of the dead leader which were asked of the different jury men had reference to the treatment by Creffield of the married sister of Mitchell, whom the defense will undertake to show was induced by Creffield to abandon her husband and children and live with him in bestial and licentious intimacy.




The new question sprung yesterday touched upon the relations between Creffield and the unmarried sister of Mitchell, who was also one of Creffield’s victims. The question was long and involved and in it the questioned was apparently undertaking to outline what the defense would undertake to prove of that circumstance. Attorney Morris asked:

If testimony should be introduced in the course of this trial proving, or tending to prove, that the deceased Creffield had so deceived with his teachings the 17-year-old unmarried sister of this defendant, that she fell completely under the sway of his power; it should be proven that her relatives had caused her to be sent to a reform school for the purpose of getting her out from under his influence; it should be shown that Creffield, with the aid of this girl’s sister succeeded in getting the girl away from her place of detention and had induced her to run away with him; that he, the said Creffield, had betrayed, seduced and ruined this girl; if it should be shown by the evidence introduced here that immediately before the killing of Creffield by this defendant the said Creffield had prevailed upon this girl he had ruined, to abandon her home and go away to his camp in the mountains, and that the knowledge of this last indignity upon his sister had come to this defendant immediately before the act of killing Creffield; if this evidence is permitted by this court to be introduced for your consideration, will you take it into consideration in making up your verdict in the case?”



Another new question on behalf of the defense was whether the jury men would take into consideration evidence showing that mothers and daughters had been seduced by Creffield in the presence of each other under the pretense of sanctifying their bodies in the presence of God.


Early yesterday afternoon the twelfth juror in the case was passed for cause, but the prosecution asked permission of the court to ask a few questions of A. J. Bossart, the first jury man passed, and permission was granted, brought out the fact that Bossart had formed an opinion of the guilt or innocence of the accused. He was thereupon dismissed.




Further questioning resulted also in the dismissal of J. C. Crandall, who replied that he was not a householder, as required by law, and H. S. Compton, who confessed to having an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. To fill these three places required the greater portion of the afternoon, several of those called to the box answering that they had either formed an opinion as to the accused’s guilt or innocence or were opposed to the death penalty.




As the close of the day’s session approached the state exercised the right of peremptory challenge on C. G. Swanson. After questioning three other talisman, J. Simpson, a barber of Kent, was passed for cause in Swanson’s place, and the day closed with 12 jury men who had been passed for cause in the jury box and but one of the 18 peremptory challenges having been utilized.





Seattle Daily Times 6/27/1906 p1

Still Endeavoring to Secure a Jury to Try Mitchell


Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 6/27/1906 p8

Mitchell Trial Held Up By Squabble

Trying To Score On Mitchell Jury Men

Questioning Of Talesmen Made More Tedious Than Usual By Attempt Of Lawyers To Produce The First Impression.

Bickerings Of Attorneys Finally Lead Judge Frater To Call Informal Conference, But It Does Not Change Quizzes.

Prosecution And Defense Seek Prospective Jurors’ Opinions Regarding Reports Of Orgies Conducted By Dead Man.




It was a day of legal squabbling in the Mitchell murder trial. Will H. Morris, counsel for the young man who killed Creffield became indignant early in the day and fought the efforts of the prosecuting attorney to question talesmen along lines tending to bring out whether they would take into consideration the crime of adultery and whether they believed that any man had a right to take the law into his own hands.


It reached a climax when Morris declared that he was there to defend his client and was going to do it, regardless of the ideas of the prosecution or the court. Mr. Mackintosh grew sarcastic, Mr. Miller expounded the law and Mr. Shipley punched the air full of holes with his yellow pencil.


The result was that Judge Frater excused the jury and summoned the four attorneys to a secluded formal conference like a group of boys who had acted badly in school. He endeavored to persuade them to reach an agreement by which the examination of the talesmen could be limited to a more usual line of questioning and thus avoid the constant fire of objections, arguments and more or less personal remarks between the opposing sides.




But he could not. Mr. Morris remarked as the jury filed back into the box that he would fight until a certain warm locality was annexed to the frigid zone and Mr. Mackintosh replied: “Let the fireworks go on.” and it did.


Meantime, young Mitchell sat in his chair pushing his chin still further into the palm of his hand. He was the one over whom they were making all the fuss, but he wasn’t even sure what it was all about. Few of the spectators were. He only wished that they would hurry up and get twelve fair minded men into that box where the faces of the talesmen have been shifting before his eager eyes for three days, and get it over with. He believes he will go free, but he thinks they are taking an awfully long time about it.


The defense states that the trouble was started by improper questions asked by the prosecution tending to fix in the minds of the jury the idea that the shot was fired because of a crime for which Creffield had already been punished by a term in the penitentiary. They protested that these questions were unfair and were overruled. Yesterday afternoon the defense retaliated with a series of questions which became addressed to the jury, and both attorneys rose to the heights of oratory. In these questions they outlined much of the charges of disgraceful orgies practiced by the Holy Rollers, some of which evidently amazed the men in the jury box who had read little or nothing of the case. The face of more than one honest, simple farmer clouded as he listened and prosecution became uneasy and finally protested.




The defense replied that they were only exercising a privilege of latitude which had been granted to the prosecution and the questions were allowed, with the amendment that this evidence if introduced was to be considered by the juror under examination, only as to its probable influence upon the mental condition of the defendant at the time he fired the fatal shot.


Mr. Miller tried another tack. After a lengthy question from Mr. Morris, in his best jury manner which ended with the question: “Would you consider that?” Mr. Miller objected on the ground that it was a speech and not a question. The court remarked that the juror could answer if he could remember what it was about. It seemed, however, that the juror did.


This battle for the privilege of planting the first idea in the minds of prospective jurors has gone on ever since with no prospect of cessation. It is merely an indication of the intense earnestness of both sides. Mr. Mackintosh and Mr. Miller are determined that Mitchell shall be punished and are fighting hard against the odds of public opinion and natural sentiment, which they fully recognize, for a conviction. Mr. Morris and Mr. Shipley are just as firmly determined that the young man should go free and are fighting with a determination to secure his acquittal before this jury or to so safeguard the legal status of the case that the supreme court may be invoked to order a rehearing.




So they fight and bicker over every new phase of the case and then ostentatiously explain to each other that their heated words are merely professional necessities and that they are personally just as good friends as ever.


Meanwhile the work of selecting a jury drags. At the adjournment of court for the noon recess there were but two of the original twelve men left in the jury box and one of these will probably be challenged before the panel is passed. But three peremptory challenges out of the eighteen allowed had been used up to that time and half a dozen men now sitting in jurors’ chairs will probably never hear the evidence.


Yesterday afternoon Mr. Miller, in what seemed to be an effort to remove a danger of reversal on error, went back over ground upon which the defense had been overruled on Monday sand secured the rejection of A. J. Bussert, of Black River, who stated that he was convinced that Mitchell killed Creffield. As there has been no evidence introduced to show this, it was held to be an opinion in the case.


Jesse G. Crandall was further questioned by the defense, who were not satisfied that the man was antagonistic to them. To save a peremptory challenge, Mr. Morris developed the fact that Mr. Crandall was neither a free-holder or the head of a family, and because the prosecution did not resist, the court sustained the challenge.




David Myers of Seattle, a retired banker, was the last man of the first twelve in the box to be examined. He had an opinion in the case and was excused. This chair was filled by W. C. Howard, a young saloon keeper in the lower part of the city who was passed.


Bossart’s chair was filled by John F. Dore, a Seattle newspaper man, after Mark Holmboe of Seattle and John Platt, a farmer of Novelty, had been excused because of fixed opinions and James O. Cass, a farmer of Maple Valley, because he had scrupled against capital punishment.


In the effort to fill Crandall’s chair, C. W. Frankland, a printer, was called. He had an opinion in the case and E. S. Moulton, a farmer of Juanita, was also excused for a similar reason. H. C. Thompson, an old man whose resemblance to John d. Rockefeller startled the whole courtroom, was next called and was passed for cause.


When the state first called upon to exercise its first peremptory challenge, Mr. Mackintosh excused C. G. Swanson, who had been passed on Monday. Mr. Mackintosh evidently feared that he had somehow offended Mr. Swanson by some of his questions.


It required a long time to refill this place yesterday and that proved to be only for over night. C. A. Newman and R. J. Faney of Seattle were excused because of fixed opinions. Ole Thompson was opposed to capital punishment and M. c. Madson of Seattle and J. a. Lydell of Novelty, who followed were excused because of opinions they had formed. J. Simpson, a barber of Kent, was finally passed.


Charles L. Sheldon was the first talesman examined this morning after George Bill, the quarter-breed Siwash, had been excused by an agreement of both sides, it being feared that his understanding of the English language was scarcely broad enough to comprehend the ponderous diction of legal practices. Mr. Sheldon was passed after a wordy conflict along the lines previously indicated.




The first peremptory challenge of the defense removed R. E. Fisher, a Seattle druggist, from the box. The defense did not exactly fancy his apparently firm convictions upon the subject of the enforcement of the law. J. C. Adams, a contractor, of Hillman City, was chosen to take his place.


Upon its second peremptory challenge, the defense excused Simpson, who had been chosen yesterday. A seeming cold-blooded indifference in his demeanor was the cause. He didn’t appear to be a man of much capability of emotion and being a young man, Messrs. Morris and Shipley removed a possible danger to their case.


W. I. Evans, a farmer, of Derby, was called in his place. He said that he was born in Liverpool, England, and came to this country when a youth. He has lived at Derby for twenty-five years and has five sons and seven daughters. He was passed for cause.


It was then the prosecution’s turn, and Mr. Mackintosh excused J. J. Sinn, a German who was in the first twelve. To fill his place, Thomas B. Doyle of 511 Terry Avenue, a bookkeeper, was called. After a scathing examination by Mr. Mackintosh, he still insisted that in his belief there were circumstances which justified one man in taking the life of another, and he was excused.


From indications at this hour, it is doubtful if a jury can be secured before tomorrow noon at the earliest.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 6/27/1906 p1 Thaw and White

Mitchell Trial Advances Slowly

Proceedings Of Yesterday Reveal New Tactics On Part Of Defense

Lawyers Crafty Battle

Second Day Of Trial Ends With But One Peremptory Challenge.


It became more and more apparent yesterday that the cue of the defense in the trial of George Mitchell, charged with the murder of Edwin Creffield, “Holy Roller,” May 7, is partly to influence the minds of the jurors by disclosure of the awful charges laid against the deceased, and partly to take advantage of every possible chance that may be allowed to secure a rehearing in case a conviction should be secured. Even at the preliminary stage of the selection of jurors, the battle that is being waged between the state’s attorney, Kenneth Mackintosh, and John f. Miller, on the one hand, and Will H. Morris and Silas M. Shipley on the other, is one involving a technique which at times is beyond the ordinary spectator’s comprehension, tho well appreciated by practical lawyers.


One of the comments commonly heard among those who have seen trials for murder is the strange reversal of the positions in the present case. Ordinarily counsel for the state is willing to leave the case in the hands of jurors who may have formed some slight conviction as to the guilt or innocence of the man accused. In the Mitchell case, it is the counsel for the defense that is so willing, while counsel for the state seeks to secure men who have not heard or read much, if any, about the case.



The second day of the proceedings ended with the jury box full after the examination “for cause” had been completed, and with the exercise of but one peremptory challenge by the prosecution. Today the defense will have the right to exercise peremptory challenge twice, then the prosecution again once, and so on until the six challenges by the prosecution and the twelve by the defense are exhausted.


Perhaps the feature of the day’s proceedings was the change of tactics assumed by the defense as soon as the twelfth juror had been “passed up to court.” all the talesmen subpoenaed for the case were in court. The prosecution had been asking questions of each man as he was questioned in turn regarding his possible attitude towards evidence introduced with the object of proving insanity--evidence that Creffield had been confined to the penitentiary on charge of adultery and even that his actions had been such that the whole community in which he lived had been moved against him. Then Attorney Morris cam back with the question as to the possible attitude of the talesmen toward evidence that tended to show that mothers had been debauched in the presence of their daughters, that Esther Mitchell, sister of the accused man, had been driven insane by the teachings of the deceased, and many other allegations which have become public matter thru the press.


The question was, of course, objected to, but the sudden quiet which ensued in the court room showed that the drift of the interrogatories was apparent.




Another portion of the day’s proceedings which attracted attention was in connection with the excusing of A. J. Bossart, of Black River, who was the first juror to be passed the preceding day. Mr. Morris on Monday, following out the apparent intention of the defense to introduce error as quickly as possible into the proceedings, has been very careful in questioning Bossart as to whether he had formed an opinion which would affect his bringing in a verdict for murder in the first degree. He had defined the technical meaning given to “purpose,” “deliberation,” and “premeditation,” necessary on the part of the homicide before murder in the first degree can be established. Yesterday, after the panel was full Mr. Miller asked leave to question this man again.


“Mr. Bossart,” he questioned in substance, “did the attorneys understand you correctly yesterday as stating that you had a fixed opinion respecting the different elements of murder in the first degree?”


The juror stated he did not think he had so stated, and there followed a series of close questions by Mr. Miller. He passed the juror and the defense again took him in hand and secured answers which led the attorney to again stand upon the objection which had been overruled the day before. The court suggested that there might be a doubt as to the juror understanding the questions as put by the defense, but Mr. Miller stated he was convinced that Bossart had and the objection stood.




The second of the men who had been selected the day before was J. G. Crandall of Seattle. Leave to question him again was granted to the defense which soon elicited the information that Crandall is not a householder or a freeholder, tho he was a month ago when he had been chosen to act as a talesman in June. In this manner the defense was saved a peremptory challenge.


One of the most tedious battles of the day was over the street car conductor, H. S. Compton, who was being examined as court adjourned Monday evening. It took Mr. Shipley tow hours before he was able to gain an admission from the juror that he had an opinion in regard to this case which would require evidence to remove, but finally the man was excused.


Compton occupied the ninth chair in the jury stand. His place was filled by L. F. Jones, a farmer of of Enumclaw, who qualified. His neighbor is C. W. French, a craftsman, also of Enumclaw.


For the eleventh position Fred Clinton of Vashon, recently a cook on the steamer Bertha, was passed to the court. Over the last chair there was more trouble. David Meyers, of Seattle, a retired banker, had an opinion on the case. He was challenged by the defense, and his place was taken by W. C. Howard, a saloon man, of Seattle, who qualified.




The excusing of Bossart led to the examination of Mark Holmboe, of Seattle, who proved to have a fixed opinion in the case; of John Platt, a farmer of Novelty, who was of a similar mind; of James O Cass, a farmer of Maple Valley, who is opposed to capital punishment, and finally of John F. Dore, a newspaper man of Seattle, who said that if he were to trade places with Mitchell he would rather have a more partial juror than he himself was likely to prove. Mr. Dore occupied the chair when the court adjourned.


After Crandall was excused, C. W. Frankland, of Seattle, asserted he had an opinion on the case; E. S. Moulrton, a farmer of Juanita, had one, too; and finally H. C. Thompson, an ex-soldier, was passed. Thompson declared he was not able to read, and that all he had heard of the story of Creffield’s death was from what his wife read to him after his day’s work was done. He occupies the third chair.


The state exercised its right of peremptory challenge on C. G. Swanson, C. A. Newman and R. J. Fahey, both of Seattle, were soon disposed of as having an opinion on the case. they were followed by Ole Thompson, who is opposed to capital punishment, and by R. s. Madson, of Seattle, and J. A. Lydell, of Novelty, who gave place on account of their convictions, to J. Simpson, a barber of Kent, who, in spite of having talked of the case, qualified as a juror.


The fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth chairs of the jury are occupied tonight, as last night.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 6/28/1906 p1

Much Squabbling in Mitchell Trial

Judge Frater Becomes Exasperated and Attempts by Conference With Attorneys to Agree Upon Line of Questioning Jurors---Defendant Becomes Confused at Fight of Lawyers---Slow Progress


SEATTLE, June 27.--The fight for a jury in the case of George Mitchell, accused of the murder of Edmund Creffield, leader of the Oregon “Holy Rollers,” continued today. Judge Frater, exasperated by the continued speeches of the attorneys to the jurors, dismissed those already empaneled, and attempted by conference with the lawyers to agree upon a line of questioning, but none of the attorneys would yield anything. The fight that was going on about him seemed to confuse young Mitchell, and he sat through the day with an air of bewildered amazement at the struggle. His attorneys have tried to crowd into their questions to the jury much of the story of the “Holy Rollers” orgies.


Will H. Morris, counsel for the young man who killed Creffield, became indignant early in the day and fought the efforts of the prosecuting attorney to question talesmen along lines tending to bring out whether they would take into consideration the crime of adultery and whether they believed that any man had a right to take the law into his own hands.


It reached a climax when Morris declared he was there to defend his client and was going to do it, regardless of the ideas of the prosecution or the court. The result was that Judge Frater excused the jury and summoned the four attorneys to a secluded formal conference. Morris remarked, as the jury filed back into the box, that he would fight until a certain warm locality was annexed to the frigid zone, and Mr. Mackintosh replied, “Let the fireworks go on.” And it did.


Mitchell sat in his chair, pushing his chin further into the palm of his hand. He was the one over whom they were making all this fuss, but he was not sure what it was all about. He believed he will go free, but he thinks they are taking an awfully long time about it.


The defense states the trouble was started by improper questions asked by the prosecution, tending to fix in the minds of the jury the idea that the shot was fired because of a crime for which Creffield had already been punished by a term in the penitentiary. They protested that these questions were unfair and were overruled.

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