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.

July 5, 1906: Expected Admissibility of Evidence Will Arouse Controversy


John F. MillerSeattle Star 7/5/1906 p1

Wanted a Chance to Kill Creffield

Aged Witness Testified That He Asked Mitchell to Be Allowed to Slay Holy Roller Leader--Trial is Now an Empty Forum.


If D. H. Baldwin, of Corvallis, had found Franz Edmund Creffield before George Mitchell had succeeded in what Mitchell believed to be a God-given mission, he would never have been a prisoner in the hands of the law, and Baldwin, in the evening of his life, would be answerable to his make for the life of the unworthy leader of the Holy Rollers.


“I told George Mitchell,” said Baldwin on the witness stand this morning, “that he was foolish to persist in his determination to kill Creffield. I told him I took no stock in his belief that he had received a divine command to remove Creffield from this life.




“I told him, too that he was a young man with his life ahead of him, and with every opportunities offered to upright young men. The better days of his life were still to come, I told him, and I repeated that it was unwise for him to go about with the idea that he had been commanded by God to take the life of Creffield.


“I told him of my wife, my son and my four daughters, and how my eldest daughter had been led away by Creffield. By force I had taken this daughter away from the Holy Roller camp; had carried her home, weak and emaciated, and had nursed her back to health. I told Mitchell that I did not intend that she should be led away again by Creffield, and that I was looking for the man and intended to take his life.




“I tried to show Mitchell how much better it was that I, in my old age, with but, at best, only a few more years to live, should find Creffield, and remove him from the earth, than that he should find persist in his determination. I had a family to protect and I could afford to give my life for that of Creffield, if in so doing, I should remove the danger to my family.


It is these stories, such as Baldwin and O. V. Hurt told the jury that will gain Mitchell his freedom, if he is to go free. There is not a man about the court room who has been present at all of the session of the court since his trial began, who doesn’t believe George Mitchell will be acquitted.




Sane or insane--laboring under what he believed to be a God given command or in full possession of all his mental powers when he committed the deed, there seems to be everywhere even at the table of the prosecuting attorneys, a feeling that it is all a farce--that all the wrangling and bickering about the introduction of that or this bit of evidence is purely a waste of time and energy--that the 12 good men and true who sit in the jury box, if they don’t believe George Mitchell to be insane, are going to perjure themselves--it’s a strong word, but it fits--in order to free the boy who sits through the warm hours of the trial and waits until that verdict comes.




That he killed Creffield deliberately and with premeditation no one disputes. His attorneys say he was insane when he committed the deed. The state will dispute this claim and will attempt to prove to the jury that he was possessed of all his mental faculties when he fired the fatal shot. Put yourself in the place of the jury--listen every day to all the testimony and you conclude that if Mitchell was insane when he killed Creffield that he ought to be locked up because there can be no credit given a man for performing a good act when driven by insanity, and that, insane, he might again do something of a similar nature. Find him sane, and you make a hero of him--a man who single handed and at the risk of execution or imprisonment, undertakes to remove a pestilence whose blighting influence has wrecked homes and broken hearts, ruined women and driven strong men to despair.




That’s all there is to the Mitchell case. The trial will drag along for another week perhaps. The jury will eat and sleep and listen. The lawyers will mop their brows and talk and wrangle just as though it was all for some purpose. The honorable court will play his role in the farce, will sustain and overrule objections, will warn the curious people who come to listen that if they laugh aloud again he’ll put them out, and will go on silently chewing gum. And then will come the verdict, and if it’s other than acquittal it will be the biggest surprise that ever came from Profanity hill. And up from Oregon there’ll come a roar of anguish that will continue to echo and re-echo until succeeding generations will have forgotten all about the story of the Holy Rollers and their degenerate leader.




And it’s such stories as told by Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Hurt that go home to the hearts of the jurors. Mr. Baldwin was still on the stand when the court adjourned at noon today, and was taken for cross-examination by Mr. Miller this afternoon.


The first witness called this morning was Dr. Arthur C. Crookall who was placed on the stand as an insanity expert. Dr. Crookall wasn’t allowed to say much. Nearly all of the questions asked were objected to by Mr. Miller and Mr. Mackintosh, and the objections were sustained.


When Mitchell left the court room at noon to go below for the noon recess, O. V. Hurt met him at the door and handed him a large bouquet. Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh passed as the flowers were handed to the prisoner.


“Now, that’s all right,” said Mr. Mackintosh. “Any man could be proud of a friend like old man Hurt. He’s one of the finest old men I ever met.”




Mrs. Mary J. Graham, matron of the institution of the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society of Oregon, situated at Portland, was called to the stand this afternoon, and testified as to Mitchell’s conduct at the time of his visits to the institution to see his sister Esther when she was confined there.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/5/1906 p5

Witnesses From Portland Called

Expected That Admissibility of Evidence Will Arouse Controversy.


Over the admissibility of testimony of John H. Manning, of Portland, Or., prosecuting attorney of Multnomah County, it is expected will arise one of the keenest contests that have yet taken place in the trial of George Mitchell. Mr. Manning and William D. Gardner, superintendent of the Boys’ and Girls’ aid Society, of Portland, will, according to present plans, be placed on the witness stand by the defense this morning.


Later in the day, if there is time, Perry Mitchell, the Illinois brother of the accused, may go on the stand. Deputy Prosecuting Bryerson, of Corvallis, is also in Seattle, but it is hardly probable that his testimony will be heard before tomorrow morning, say Mitchell’s attorneys.


The names of the Portland witnesses have already been connected with the case in the testimony of B. E. Starr, Tuesday. The nature of the defense, as has already been pointed out by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller, in the court, is such that the broadest lines must be drawn, and much testimony is allowed that could not be admitted in any other class of case. Mr. Manning will undoubtedly be able to tell any facts he happened to have told Mitchell, or anything peculiar he may have noticed in Mitchell’s actions or speech. so much the prosecution has time and again admitted must be allowed.


Mr. Gardner is expected to testify concerning the detention of Esther Mitchell and other girls who were followers of Crefeld, in the Boys and Girls’ Aid Society home in Portland. As a former superintendent of a New York asylum, Mr. Gardner’s testimony will have some weight as expert testimony on questions of insanity, and the behavior of people so afflicted.


Yesterday was a holiday for all concerned with the case, except, possibly the attorneys. The jurors were taken on a jaunt, as were Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Crefeld. The other witnesses stopping in the city were all reported to be enjoying the Fourth at the various parks, and while there was little in the county jail to suggest it, George Mitchell chatted with his cell mates and the other prisoners in his “tank,” and maintained the same cheerful air that has characterized him throughout his tow months of imprisonment.



Evening Telegram (Portland) 7/5/1906 p1

Corvallis Man Wanted to Kill

E. H. Baldwin Begged Mitchell to Let Him Slay Creffield.

Object To Manning

Prosecution Will Try to Bar Out His Testimony This Afternoon.

Crowd Greet Seattle Prosecutor With Mingled Round of Hisses and Laughter.


[Telegram Coast Special.]


SEATTLE, WASH., July 5.--There was a dramatic moment in the Superior Court here today when E. H. Baldwin, of Corvallis, Or., declared from the witness stand that he had tried to persuade George Mitchell to leave off his fatal search for Edmund Creffield in order that he himself might take up the hunt and crush the venomous human viper. Mr. Baldwin said he had searched far and wide for Creffield with the firm determination of killing the Holy Roller prophet. He tried to convince young Mitchell that the task of killing Creffield should be put in the hands of an old man.


“I told him he was young, with his life in front of him,” said the witness, “and that it was for an old man like me, whose life was behind him, to rid the earth of the Holy Roller monster.


“He said God had told him to kill Creffield, and that he would not give up the idea.”


Mr. Baldwin testified that his eldest daughter was under Creffield’s power until her health was ruined. He said the Holy Roller’s influence over the girl was absolute and that he finally rescued her by force, compelling her to remain at home.


“I decided that I would remover her from the earth, rather than permit her to ever again get under his control. I decided that I had raised them honorably thus far, and that it was my duty to continue to protect them,” he said.


The examination of Mr. Baldwin was barely under way at the conclusion of the forenoon session. He will complete his testimony during the afternoon, telling what he knows of Creffield and Creffieldism.


Public opinion in Seattle favoring the acquittal of Mitchell for the killing of Creffield was plainly demonstrated this morning in court when judge Frater was compelled to quell demonstrations against Deputy Prosecutor Miller, who is conducting the case against the young defendant. Mr. Miller has been combating nearly every line of testimony presented by the defense, making use of the barest legal technicalities to interpose objections. This forenoon the spectators gave vent to their feelings in this respect by a round of mingled hisses and laughter at the bombastic verbosity of the State’s Attorney. Nearly all of the forenoon session was consumed by the wrangling of lawyers over an attempt on the part of the defense to introduce the testimony of Dr. Crookall, a Seattle medical expert.


The doctor was plied with technical and hypothetical questions bearing on the defendant’s probably state of mind at the time of the tragedy. Dr. Crookall indicated in the few questions he was permitted to answer under Judge Frater’s rulings, his belief that the defendant’s mind was affected when he shot Creffield; that the terrible revelations made to him concerning Creffield’s heinous influence over the young man’s sisters was an inducing cause of insanity as regards Mitchell’s attitude toward Creffield.


Dr. Niles, another medical expert, has been summoned to testify this afternoon.


It is the intention of the defense to call Prosecuting Attorney Manning, of Multnomah County, Or., to the stand this afternoon, but the prosecution will object.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 7/6/1906 p1

Hartley Testifies in Mitchell Trial

Witness Tells Jury He Tried to Kill Holy Roller Creffield But Weapon Failed to Go Off---Matron Mary J. Graham and Superintendent Gardner of Portland Take Stand.


SEATTLE, July 5.--Two men in the prime of life or even beyond it, testified in the Mitchell trial today that they had been ready to kill Holy Roller Creffield on sight. That they had prayed the youth, whom they thought was crazy or “loony” to let them accomplish the task rather than for him to destroy his future life. One of them, Lewis Hartley, testified that he aimed his weapon at Creffield and pulled the trigger five times, but the gun failed to go off. Hartley went on to describe how his daughter and wife had been led astray by Creffield.


Both Mrs. Mary J. Graham, the matron of the Boys’ and Girls’ Home at Portland, and Superintendent Gardner of the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society testified regarding the mental condition of Esther Mitchell, Mitchell’s sister. Mrs. Graham had been afraid Esther would kill other children while the girl was in her care, and Gardner among other things told of a clandestine meeting between Esther and her Sister, Mrs. Starr, in the cellar of the home, when he found them embracing each other, exclaiming: “Glory to God; down with the devil; victory.” Gardner had been compelled to withhold the bible from Esther because of the exciting effect it had on her.


Hartley also testified that Mitchell told him “God had commanded him (Mitchell) to kill Creffield.”


E. H. Bryson, deputy prosecuting attorney of Benton County, Oregon and District Attorney Manning of Portland will probably testify tomorrow.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/5/1906 p5

Oregon Attorney Here for Mitchell

John Manning Is To Testify for the Slayer of Crefeld


John Manning, district attorney of Multnomah County, Oregon, arrived in Seattle yesterday morning to testify in the Mitchell murder trial. Mr. Manning was responsible for the term which Crefeld served in the Oregon penitentiary, and his testimony will deal mainly with the past of Crefeld and the acts which led Mitchell to end the life of the latter.


When the news of the killing of Crefeld first went out to the world Mr. Manning was one of the first to offer aid to Mitchell. He wrote to Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh setting forth the facts in connection with the alleged Joshua’s past, and concluding with the broad statement that the killing was justified.


That he still retains this view of the case is evidenced by the statement which he gave to a reporter for the Post-Intelligencer yesterday, when he stated that if Mitchell had killed the Holy Roller leader in Multnomah county he would never have been charged with murder.


It is expected by Mr. Manning that the prosecution will oppose the introduction of the testimony which he will offer on behalf of Mitchell.





Seattle Daily Times 7/5/1906

Attorneys Argue Many Wary Hours.

Mitchell Trial Drags, the Testimony of E. H. Baldwin Being the Only Feature Holding Any Interest for Spectators.

Witness Spends Three Days Hunting for Creffield in Order to Kill Him to Free Daughter From His Influence.

After Fighting for Two Hours Prosecution Is Successful in Preventing Insanity Expert From Giving Opinion.


Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/5/1906 p10

Baldwin Tells of His Man Hunt

Corvallis Resident Whose Daughter Was Member of Creffield’s Band Testifies.

Ready For Consequence If Killed Holy Roller

Witness Speaks of His Love for His Family Which He Was Determined to Save From Ruin at “Apostle’s Hands.




Tedious wrangling on the part of the opposing attorneys went to make this morning’s session of the Mitchell trial one almost devoid of interest and the only reward the spectators received was listening for a few minutes prior to the noon recess to the testimony of E. H. Baldwin, a Corvallis man who spent the last three days of April, just passed, in an unsuccessful hunt for Creffield. It was Baldwin’s admitted intention to kill the Holy Roller prophet on sight.


“My oldest daughter was one of the converts of this man, but she had not gone as far as some of his victims in indulgences in the unspeakable practices which he demanded as evidences of holiness. When Creffield was sent to the penitentiary I brought this daughter home and nursed her back to health and sanity. When the law gave up its claim on Creffield and he came back to Oregon he reestablished his influence over my daughter and I was forced to use force to keep her from going to him.




“I am an old man and the honor of my family is dearer to me than life itself and I was ready to take any consequence which might be my portion if I killed this man and I started out with the intention of protecting my girl by the only means I knew of, the death of the man who had her in his power.


Thus it was that this rugged old farmer had declared himself to Mitchell whom he met for the first time at the railroad station at Corvallis on May 1, while the latter was searching for the man who had brought disgrace on one sister and was seeking the other to make a victim of her. Baldwin had come to the railroad station believing that Creffield was coming to Corvallis on the train soon due and there Mitchell had been pointed out to him.


“I spoke to Mitchell,” said the witness, “and told him of my unsuccessful search for Creffield. He replied that I would never be able to remove the man because I had not been selected for that purpose by God. He said that he had been chosen by God to do this thing and that he and he alone held the power to put a stop to the wrongs for which Creffield’s influence was responsible.


“I told him he would surely be punished by the law if he carried out his intentions and urged him to leave the affair in my hands, as I was an old man and had only a few years to live anyway, while he was young and with his life before him. My counsel was of no avail, however.”


Baldwin stated that in his opinion Mitchell was crazy at the time, as he would talk only on one subject, that of the harm done his sisters and the necessity of losing no time in carrying out what he believed was a divine injunction to kill Creffield.


E. H. Baldwin was cross-examined this afternoon by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller, who sought to discredit Baldwin’s testimony regarding his belief that Mitchell was insane.


Armstrong Glover, a Portland mill foreman was called as a character witness and testified that as long as he had known Mitchell the latter had always borne a good reputation.


Mrs. Mary J. Graham, matron of the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society's home at Corvallis, where Esther Mitchell was confined for a time, was called to the stand and told of the conversations she had with Esther Mitchell. These occurred in 1903 and Mr. Miller promptly interposed an objection, unless it was shown that Mitchell’s mind had been affected at that time. The wordy squabble between Attorneys Morris and Miller became so heated that Judge Frater was compelled to interfere.




All the wrangling which marked the first two hours this morning was over the legality of permitting Dr. A. C. Crookall, a Seattle physician, called by the defense as an insanity expert, to give is opinion whether or not Mitchell can be considered as suffering from hereditary insanity. Authorities both legal and medical were cited at great length by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller on the one hand and Attorney Shipley on the other. Once the jury was sent back to the jury room while Mr. Shipley made a statement which he desired to go on the records in connection with a ruling by Judge Frater.


In the end the prosecution won its point and Dr. Crookall left the stand with no further result from his presence in court than to give the jury the technical definitions of certain forms of insanity, and to tell what conditions might make a person insane.


In charge of Bailiffs Vincent and Gallagher, the jury yesterday went out to the shores of Lake Washington, where the day was spent, lunch being taken along.


Mitchell came into court wearing his customary buttonhole bouquet. He acted as though the proceedings of the morning bored him and seemed glad when Prosecuting Attorney E. R. Bryson, of Benton County Oregon, who will be a witness for the defense, came into court and chatted with him for a few moments.



Harry ThawOregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/5/1906 p8

Mitchell and Thaw


In the two most noted criminal cases now occupying public attention, those of George Mitchell at Seattle, now on trial, and of Harry Thaw, who will be tried later in New York, the character and conduct of the victim will undoubtedly have much effect on the minds of some if not all the jurors, even under the judges charges that the dead men’s acts constitute no sufficient legal defense.


In the Mitchell case the provocation, though not so great to him, it would seem as to O. V. Hurt and Burgess Starr, was great and the average jury man, after hearing the evidence of these men and being fully apprised of the horrible and fairly demonic practices of the slain fanatic, are likely to look with much leniency upon his taking-off.


The case of Thaw scarcely present so weighty elements of justification or excuse, for the infatuated young millionaire should have known the character and disposition of the sportive young woman he married, and abided by the result if she went wrong. Yet it will be difficult if not impossible for the state’s attorneys to prevent the jury from taking into consideration the utterly base character and abominably scandalous conduct of the victim of Thaw’s vengeance. His life was devoted chiefly to “pleasure” of the most vicious sort, and to the ruination of fair but frivolous young women and mere girls, an occupation that he pursued as unconscionably and remorselessly as an entomologist pursues insects in the cause of science.


It is possible that some jury men may even take into consideration the alleged condition of the dead moral viper’s health, physicians who performed the autopsy having declared that Thaw’s bullet was not over two years in advance of the operation of a bunch of ailments due largely to a vicious and extreme dissipation, and (the rest of the article is cut off.)

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