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 11, 1906: Not Guilty




Morning Oregonian (Portland) 7/11/1906 p1

Slayer Mitchell Found Not Guilty

Roar Of Applause Greets The Verdict.

Officers Powerless To Still

Women Crowd About Avenger To Congratulate.

Jury Deliberations Brief

State (Illegible) Opens With A Very Weak Statement, And The Lawyers For The Man Who Killed Creffield Score.


Evening Telegram (Portland) 7/11/1906 p3

Sister Hiding From Mitchell

Slayer of Creffield Spend First Day of Liberty in Vain Search.


Corvallis Times 7/13/1906 p1

Is Not Guilty

This Is The Decision Of The Jury That Tried George Mitchell For Slaying Roller “Prophet.”

A Crowded Courtroom’s Applause Greets The Verdict--Officers Unable To Quiet The Crowd--Women Congratulate Mitchell.


Corvallis Gazette 7/13/1906 p2

With Roar of Applause

Mitchell Trial Ended at Seattle--”Not Guilty” the Verdict.


SEATTLE, Wash., July 10.--George H. Mitchell, who shot Franz Edmund Creffield, leader of the Holy Rollers on First Avenue, May 7, was acquitted late this afternoon. After nearly an hour and a half in the jury-room the 12 men who have listened to the testimony in Mitchell’s trial filed back and announced their verdict “Not Guilty.”


Despite the advance warning of the court that no demonstration would be permitted, irrespective of the verdict, a roar of applause greeted the announcement and the court officers were powerless to still it. The court room was crowded, but aside from those who sat on the front row directly under the eye of the presiding Judge, the spectators applauded almost unanimously when the clerk had read the words that freed Creffield’s slayer.


Judge Frater was obviously nervous when summoned to receive the verdict, and still more so when Mitchell was acquitted and the crowd broke into cheers and applause. Raising his voice above the tumult he ordered Mitchell “remanded into the custody of the sheriff.” None save Mitchell’s attorneys and a few spectators realized the purport of the order, but the men who had defended Mitchell knew what it meant.




Attorney Morris hurriedly demanded an explanation and threatened a writ of habeas corpus proceedings. Then Judge Frater acknowledged his error and insisted he had merely attempted to get the crowd out of the court room by the instruction. He cried to the sheriff to let Mitchell go and the young man elbowed his way through the mob, which was trying to congratulate him, into the corridors of the Courthouse. A few minutes later he walked out of the building a free man again.


Mitchell was almost overcome by the verdict, although he had anticipated it. For several minutes he perfunctorily received the congratulations of the crowd, but there was undeniable evidence that he was glad when he managed to escape from a flock of women that insisted upon giving him hysterical congratulations. He felt better half an hour later in the private office of his attorney than he did as the center of an admiring throng at the Courthouse.




Creffield’s slayer will not stay in Seattle long. He expects to go to Portland tomorrow night and his brother, Perry will go with him. Peter View who owns the lath (illegible) mill at which Mitchell was employed before he started to track down Creffield, has offered him reemployment, and Mitchell starts immediately for Portland to accept the work.


Charles Mitchell, the Salvation Army leader (illegible) of Mount Vernon, Ill., who came west to help his son in his fight for liberty, will return east at once. The elder Mitchell will try to induce his daughter, Esther, to return with him. Mrs. Burgess Starr went back to Oregon Saturday, when O. V. Hurt and the small army of Oregon witnesses for the defense returned home. But Esther has remained her in charge of the police matron. Now her father will step in and try again to reconcile her to her family. If possible, he will provide her a home in Illinois, where the Holy Rollers’ influence will be absent.




In the last day of the Mitchell trial there were dramatic situations following each other in rapid succession. Early in the morning the story of Juror Start’s illness (illegible) threatened to upset the entire case. The state had already determined to waive its rights of rebuttal and begin the (illegible)) argument. The defense heard of the jurors illness, and facing the possibility of a mistrial, hurried in alarm to Judge Frater, to beg that the case be carried (illegible) through.


The defense demanded the Juror Start’s condition be made known at once and when he was reported much improved, the defense had the jury called in. Then Mitchell’s attorneys offered to waive all arguments for the feared the collapse of Start.


The state would not consent to this programme, and a counter-proposal that each side be limited to two hours in arguing was accepted by Deputy County Attorney Miller. But the attorneys wanted Judge Frater to hold the watch and call time on the speeches, something he refused to do. The whole programme of hurried argument was thus upset (illegible), and County Attorney Mackintosh opened for the county.




Mackintosh made a half-hour address that did not go deeply into the merits of the case. He concluded by citing Judge Jacobs (illegible) charge of territorial days wherein he pictured an impossible insane assassin shooting down his victim. The plea of insanity was ridiculed by the State’s Attorney, but Mr. Mackintosh left the critical study of the case to his assistant.


Obviously the Mackintosh argument had not hurt the defense, and Attorneys Will H. Morris and Silas M. Shipley hurried off for a moment’s consultation. Mr. Shipley’s suggestion that argument be abandoned was adopted and the court was told that the defense would not speak. Deputy County Attorney Miller tried to speak, but the court sustained the defenses’ objection, on the ground that the defense had not spoken, and there was nothing to which he could reply.


The defense insisted again it left the case to jury out of consideration for them. and that was the way the case hung when the court adjourned at noon to allow the state to produce authorities to prove a right of speech.




After an hour’s argument this afternoon, the court held that in a case of such moment he would rule that the state could occupy its full time and to give a fair opportunity to both sides would allow the defense to withdraw its announcement that no address would be made to the jury. Attorney Morris instantly served notice upon the state that as the two hours’ programme had been abandoned, the defense would speak at any length it chose. The two-hour plan would have allowed the case to go to the jury today. An unlimited debate meant it might easily be carried over until Thursday, for Mr. Shipley was prepared for a speech of several hours, and Mr. Morris proposed, if necessary, to read the testimony.


Deputy County Attorney Miller immediately abandoned his demand for speech. He declared the defense had paraded its anxiety for Juror Start’s health before the jury, but the state would be willing to abandon the idea of argument if the court would explain the waiver was by mutual consent.


That was agreed, they jury was called in and the court explained.




In his instructions to the jury, Judge Frater declared that a verdict of manslaughter would not be received, since there were none of the elements of manslaughter about the case. He held that murder in the first or second degree, or acquittal, were the only alternatives. Voluminous definitions of the various degrees of murder and the effect of a plea of temporary insanity were given by the court and the case was given to the jury.


Scarcely a person in the crowded courtroom left the building while the jury was deliberating, and when the knock came at the door that told of a decision, clerks and Courthouse visitors rushed from all surrounding offices about the courtroom to listen to the announcement. Just before he admitted the jury, Judge Frater announced that he would tolerate no demonstration, but when the words that freed young Mitchell were read a few minutes later, the court bailiffs and Sheriff’s deputies were unable to restrain the applause that lasted for nearly a minute.


Women shouted their approval and a frenzied rush of the throng of women that has followed the trial ensued towards Mitchell’s seat. The young Portland boy, who had sat with anxious stare until his fate was known, stood awkwardly by the rail receiving handshakes and congratulations until the court ordered him set free and his attorneys called him to leave the courthouse.




When Mitchell elbowed his way into the corridors of the courthouse, the women rushed pellmell after him. Down three flights of stairs they followed to the jail doors, whither Mitchell headed to gather his belongings. Women peeped through the bars and gurgled their appreciation of his freedom, while Mitchell bade jailers and fellow prisoners goodbye. As the prisoners’ parting cheer rang out, the women rushed to the street to greet him again.


Surrounded by his attorneys and father, brother and Superintendent Gardner, of the Boys’ and Girls’ aid Society of Portland, Mitchell escaped the women. But all the way down town crowds turned to look at him, and the curious passerby called for the news of the acquittal.


Mitchell’s freedom was accepted with acclamation by the street crowds. Extra editions of the afternoon papers proclaimed his acquittal before the court house crowd reached the business district, and Mitchell’s attorneys were showered with congratulations.




Mitchell’s own expressions of appreciation, however, counted the most.


“I expected it all the time. I did not believe the jury could do anything but acquit me,” Mitchell said to the Oregonian afterward. “But I want to give all the credit to my attorneys. They won this fight. Of course, I am grateful to the jurors and to the court. I am particularly thankful that the people of Oregon rallied to my support. Thos who came up here to aid me did me a service I can never forget.


“I was not allowed to see the papers that contained any news of the trial, but now and then the jailers told me what they were saying. When my brother came, he brought me clippings, particularly of the Oregonian. I want to thank the Oregon papers for the fairness they showed in telling the whole story. I am glade the people of Oregon know all about it, and I feel they sympathize with me.




“I want to get away from it all here. Just as soon as possible, I want to get back to Portland. I expect to be there tomorrow night, but something may prevent it. My brother is going with me and is going to stay there. Peter View has offered me my old job, and I think I shall accept it and go back to work immediately.


“It was hard enough to spend two months in jail, but they have been kind to me here and they have made it just as pleasant as possible. So far as one can enjoy confinement, I have found pleasure in it, but of course, no one really enjoys being locked up.


“I did not realize the danger to me in the killing of Judge Emory until the attorneys spoke of it in court. I was in the tank when young Thompson was brought in, and I caught a glimpse of a paper that told of the shooting. But that seemed so different from my case that I did not think much of it. Thompson did not speak much to any one and kept away from the rest pretty much.




“It was a long wait this afternoon while the jury was out. They were only gone a short time, but it seemed an age to me. My father and brother were with me in the tank. They and the prisoners all spoke hopefully, but we did not discuss the case much. Finally, when word that the jury was in, the prisoners all called ‘good luck’ to me. When I went back for my belongings they cheered the news of my acquittal. It did me good to know they sympathized with me.


“I don’t know what I can say to Mr. Hurt and the others who aided me from Oregon. But they know I am grateful. I don’t think my sister Esther will go back to Portland with us. My father is going to try to induce her to go home with him, and I hope she will. We all think it is better.”




Mrs. Maud Creffield heard tonight of the acquittal of George Mitchell, but she would not discuss it even with Mrs. Kelly, the matron of the police, with whom she has lived ever since the killing of her husband. Last night Mrs. Kelly was given and order for the release of both Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell. They were needed no longer as witnesses and she was directed to turn them loose. The two women disappeared, seeking a private room somewhere in the city.


Late this afternoon Mrs. Creffield reappeared at the police matron’s home for some of her belongings, but she did not tell her address and would not discuss the case. Tomorrow morning the couple agreed to return to receive their warrants for witness fees.


Mrs. Kelly stated tonight that the two women were apparently evenly balanced in mind on all topics save that of Creffieldism. They were “peculiar,” Mrs. Kelly said, on that issue. But the police matron believed both women are sane, though she is anxious that each return to her parents. She will counsel that action tomorrow.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 7/11/1906

George Mitchell Acquitted by Jury

Young Man Who Killed Holy Roller Creffield Found “Not Guilty” after Hour and Twenty-five Minutes Deliberation---Verdict Is Greeted by Applause From Audience in Court Room---Defendant Receives Ovation.


SEATTLE, July 10.--It took the jury in the trial of George Mitchell just an hour and twenty-five minutes to determine the youth not guilty or murder in killing Holy Roller Creffield in Seattle on May 7. The verdict was read at a quarter to five this afternoon and was greeted with rounds of applause from the excited audience. Every face assumed a happy expression and many women were hysterically weeping through their smile when the verdict was being read. A few minutes later the prisoner was discharged from custody. He shook hands with the jurors and was then treated to a general ovation. Men and women crowded up close to the rail to shake hands with the youth, who was clearly the hero of the house.


As he went down stairs to the jail to gather up a few of his effects and told farewell to the jailers and his fellow prisoners of the past few weeks, his was blocked by people eagerly crowding over the banisters to catch a glimpse of the acquitted youth.


Asked as to his feelings with regard to the killing and as to the ordeal which had thus suddenly terminated, the young man replied that when he killed Creffield he hardly knew what he was doing, so worked up had he become by the wrongs of his sisters had suffered. He stated that he could not regret that he removed the man from the possibility of harming his family.


Mitchell will leave tomorrow for Portland where he will probably resume his position in the mill, which he held previous to killing Creffield.



Seattle Daily Times 7/11/1906 p1

Audience Shouts Approval of Verdict

Orders of Court Forgotten in Enthusiasm Aroused by Result of Trial of Mitchell and Demonstration Follows.

Man Whose Fate Was Being Determined Most Self-Possessed of Anyone Connected With Case.

Declares He Has Never Felt Fear of Result and Says He Will Go to Work After a Day or So Spent in Seattle.


by E. O. Kelsey


George Mitchell, killer of Franz Edmund Creffield, the man who posing as God, had as his avowed object the ruin of the former’s sister, Esther, walked from the iron barred cell in the county jail which has been his home for the past two months, yesterday evening, a free man. Twelve citizens of King County, sworn to uphold the law, after listening for two weeks to the details of the killing and the circumstances leading to the act of the farmer boy which, on the morning of May 7, ended the temporal existence of the self-styled Joshua, had a few moments before declared him innocent of any legal crime.


If Mitchell felt any elation, if any burden of fear had suddenly slipped, from his mind he did not give any evidence of the fact by his demeanor. While a crowded courtroom voiced its approval of the verdict by a noisy demonstration and shoved and struggled to get within hand clasp distance, the man who was the cause of it all sat quietly, displaying no more interest than has marked his attitude during the progress of the trial.




Later, sitting in the office of Morris & Shipley, the men who fought hard and long to give him his freedom, Mitchell listened smilingly while his brother Perry talked enthusiastically of what the future had in store for the two. “George and I are going to stay in Seattle for a few days. He has not seen anything of the city as yet, you know, and then we are going to Portland, where he already has a job at $3 a day offered him.” Thus, and at greater length, Perry Mitchell, who was the first to grasp his brother’s hand after the jury had returned its verdict, talked with poor success to conceal his emotion.


Into the office of the attorneys also came Charles Mitchell, the father, who during the day had been present in the courtroom, a figure made conspicuous by the blue uniform and red jersey of the Salvation Army.


“How long are you going to be here, boys?” he asked and then, when told that his sons would be down town in a few minutes, “All right, boys, I’ll see you after a bit.”




“I am glad to get out of door once more. It is good to breathe fresh air once again. No I did not worry much during the trial for I felt that my attorneys would see that I got out of it all right. I did not believe any one would punish me for what I did. I did not have such a bad time while in jail and the men in the cell with me have always said I would be set free in the end. Those fellows treated me pretty well while I was locked up and said they were glad when I told them of the result.”


Haltingly, having to be urged at every step, and the while bashfully twisting his cap between his fingers, Mitchell in this wise answered the various questions put to him as he sat in the attorney’s office.


It was 3:14 yesterday afternoon when Judge Frater finished reading his instructions to the jury. These instructions were brief and special stress was laid upon the necessity of the jurors satisfying themselves that the insanity claim of the defense had been proven if a verdict of not guilty was rendered. The jury was further instructed that a verdict of manslaughter would not be accepted and that if guilty at all the defendant was guilty of murder in either the first or second degree.




After the jury returned to the secrecy of the jury room, the defendant was taken back to the jail. He says that while he was waiting he was not nervous and that he spent the time talking with his cell mates. If this is true he, the man most vitally interested, was the most self-possessed of any one immediately connected with the case.


It was an hour and twenty-five minutes before the jury arrived at a verdict and during this time the people who have crowded the courtroom during the progress of the trial remained in their seats nervously and in low tones discussing the possibilities of the deliberations which were going on behind the door which hid the jurors.


Finally there came a rap which informed the bailiff that the twelve men desired to enter the courtroom. Judge Frater, his face blanched by an excess of emotion, mounted the bench and told the audience that whatever the verdict he positively forbade any expression of feeling. Then the jury was brought in, and after the preliminary formalities had been gone through with M. H. Ring, the foreman, handed the verdict to Clerk Dell Case, who read “Not Guilty.”


For a second there was not a sound and then, forgetful of the court’s orders, the audience sprang to its feet and voiced its approval with hand clapping and cries of “Good.” Bailiff Gallagher pounded his gavel in a vain attempt to put a stop to the demonstration, and Judge Frater sharply remanded the defendant to the custody of the sheriff.




“What is that, your honor?” exclaimed (illegible) Mr. Morris, who had caught the words of the court. “This man is innocent, and I want him to be free. If you are going to giver him into the custody of the sheriff I want to begin habeas corpus immediately.” Judge Frater stated that he wanted to clear the courtroom and wanted Mitchell taken back to jail, but Mr. Morris objected, and after a moment the court ordered the sheriff to release Mitchell, which was done.


Mitchell, however, went back to the jail for a few moments, to leave it again, followed by the good wishes of the men with whom he had been confined so long and accompany his attorneys down town.


And thus ends the case which is without parallel in the court annals of the Pacific Northwest. Confronted with the undisputed fact of a deliberate killing, the jury, judging from the verdict, believed that Mitchell was suffering from an insane delusion when he fired the fatal bullet. Medical experts had testified to this effect, but more potent than the medical testimony was the testimony of the men who had personal knowledge of the unspeakable practices of the Holy Rollers of which body this boy’s sisters were members.


It was this evidence which caused even the officers of the state to admit, even while they tried hard to secure a conviction, that the world was better because of Creffield’s death.



Will H. MorrisSeattle Star 7/11/1906 p1

George Mitchell is Now a Free Man

Jury Quickly Returns a Verdict of Not Guilty and Slayer of Creffield Is Given His Liberty

---Rejoicing in Court Room.


“We the jury find the defendant not guilty.”


Biting his lower lip till it seemed that he must bruise it and breathing so heavily that the heaving of his chest was apparent to those in the furthermost corner of the crowded court room, George Mitchell sat yesterday afternoon and waited through what must have seemed to him an age of formalities for the fateful words that meant so much to him.




For a moment after the reading of the verdict that was to send him out into the world a free man he sat in his chair motionless, staring straight ahead of him. Then there came to him the cheering and the hand clapping of the throng gathered in the room and he reached out and grasped the hand of “Big Bill” Morris, his senior counsel.


During the confusion of the demonstration Judge Frater succeeded in making known to the jurors that they were excused from further duty and as they arose from their seats in the jury box, Mitchell made his way to the entrance to the jury room and as the 12 men passed him he shook each by the hand.




When, by these handclasps, he had expressed his thanks to all of the jurors, he stepped over to the railing separating the public and private portions of the court room and there for several minutes received the congratulations of men and women, most of them from Oregon who had sat through the more than two weeks of trial and waited for what they all seemed so certain of a verdict of “not guilty.”




Perry Mitchell, the brother of the slayer of Creffield, was the happiest man in the crowd. He followed with eyes all aglow every movement made by George and smiled and laughed and patted him upon the back until he became almost hysterical.


And in the meantime, not forgotten in this shower of congratulations, Messrs. Morris and Shipley held a reception of their own and accepted in as modest a manner as possible the thanks and congratulations of a host of friends of Mitchell and of their own.




It was 3:14 o’clock when the jury retired to its room to deliberate. At 4:40, in answer to a knock upon the door from inside of the jury room, the bailiff was informed that the jury had agreed upon a verdict. Judge Frater was at once notified and Mitchell was brought up from the jail, where he had been taken when the jury went out. At 4:45 Judge Frater ordered that the jury be brought in. a moment later, the verdict was handed to the court and then by him to the clerk, who read it in a clear, strong voice so that everyone in the crowded room could hear it.


When the words “not guilty” were reached, the crowd, disregarding the court’s previous instructions, broke into cheers and hand clapping.




Then began the handshaking and the congratulations, and this continued all the way down the stairs and through the corridors to the jail. Men and women crowded about the man who had just been freed from the charge of Murder and, despite his efforts to break away after leaving the court room, his journey to the jail occupied probably ten minutes.


In the jail Mitchell was greeted by the prisoners with whom he had been confined with shouts and cheers when the announcement came to them that he had been acquitted. He shook hands with them all and promised to come back and see them before he left the city. Then with Silas M. Shipley, one of his counsel, he walked down town and registered at the Stevens hotel, where he will remain until his departure from the city.




Mitchell intends to return at once to Portland, where he has secured employment. The father will go back to his home in Illinois and the brother, Perry will go to Portland.


Morris & Shipley, who so successfully defended Mitchell this morning, received a large number of telegrams from Oregon congratulating them upon their victory and thanking them for their efforts on behalf of Mitchell. They also received a letter which they declined to make public, in which the writer offered Mitchell a good position and also educational advantaged.




Esther Mitchell has been found. Immediately after the return of the jury’s verdict she joined Mrs. Creffield, and the pair engaged rooms in a down-town rooming house. Esther’s father is endeavoring to persuade her to return home with him, but this she flatly refuses to do, and insists upon staying with Mrs. Creffield


Another “Holy Roller,” Levins by name, is in a logging camp near Allavia B. C. and has written to the women in an endeavor to get them to join him there. The women are determined to go, and it is the fear of the Mitchell family that they will follow their determination.




The police have been called upon for aid, but state that they can do nothing towards holding the girl, and her father feels that it would not be right to force her to return, preferring rather to let her go with Mrs. Creffield if she is determined to follow that course. The women have been supplied with money by Frank Hurt, according to Mr. Mitchell, and it is his belief that Hurt is willing to furnish the funds with which to join Levins in British Columbia.



Evening Telegram (Portland) 7/11/1906 p1

Says Brother Is Murderer

Mrs. Starr Disappointed By Acquittal Of Mitchell.

Declares Him Guilty

Declares Taking Off Of Holy Roller Prophet A Cold-Blooded Crime.

Sister Of Avenger Says Trial Was Farce And Travesty On Justice.


“I certainly am disappointed in the verdict of the jury which tried my brother for the cold-blooded murder of Edmund Creffield. George Mitchell is no better than any other criminal who commits murder, and he should have been punished just like any other man. The trial was a farce, the verdict a travesty on justice. The witnesses for the other side all lied. The newspapers lied, so what could you expect?” Mrs. Burgess E. Starr, sister of George Mitchell who was yesterday acquitted of murder of “Holy Roller” Creffield.


An impressive example of the mysterious and baleful power which Edmund Creffield, the late high priest of the “Holy Rollers,” had over the minds of the victims of the infamous doctrines of religions appears in the vehement arraignment of the Seattle jury which yesterday acquitted George Mitchell of first degree murder in slaying of the self-styled Joshua by Mrs. Burgess E. Starr, of this city, a sister of the avenging youth.


While she does not say in so many words that her brother ought to be hanged for his crime, the inference is plain from her statement regarding the outcome of the trial, made to a representative of the Telegram, at her home, 429 East Main Street, this morning.


As soon as the reporter made known his mission, tears welled up in the eyes of the woman whose home Creffield is supposed to have broken up; her lips trembled and her fingers clutched nervously at the doorpost against which she leaned heavily. Her two children, big eyed, curly-haired little girls, clung to her skirts, and looked up into her face evidently wondering why there should be tears in their mother’s eyes.




“They’ve all lied about Creffield,” she burst out bitterly. “Only one side of the story has been told. Creffield and his friends kept silent under all the infamy and charges heaped upon him. He was too good and great a man even to answer his accusers. He did not make me leave my home. That’s all a lie. One time I told him that I was unhappy and that I thought of going away, but he persuaded me to remain with my husband and children, and when I did go I left of my own free will and went to the coast to become a follower of Mr. Creffield.


“They just hounded him to death. George Mitchell and his friends had it all fixed up to kill Creffield. He knew it and he made no attempt to escape them. Oh how they lied and lied about him! He never did the things they said he did, and he was vilified because people didn’t know him, didn’t understand him.”


“What do you think of the verdict of the jury?” she was asked.


For a moment she did not speak, using all her will power to restrain her tears.


“Do you approve of it?” was the next question.


She shook her head vigorously.


“No, no; I don’t.” she exclaimed emphatically. “George Mitchell is no better than any other criminal who has committed murder. He should have been punished the same as any other man.”


“Then you think he ought to be hanged, even if he is your brother?”


“There is no brotherly or sisterly feeling between us any more. I say he should be punished just like any other man. There was no justification for the cold-blooded crime which he committed. He had no wrongs to avenge. My sister and I were fully responsible for our own acts, and it was none of George Mitchell’s business (she always referred to her brother as George Mitchell--never as brother) what we did. I know that a lot of Creffield’s enemies got together and decided to kill him, and Mitchell was selected to put him out of the way. They why should he escape punishment? It was the premeditated and cold-blooded murder of a good and a harmless man. The murderer’s lawyers worked day and night to fix up lies for the witness to swear to, and then the newspapers kept lying about Creffield, and all his friends and the jury believed these falsehoods.”


“Do you expect Creffield to rise again?”


Mrs. Starr did not answer.


“Will ‘Holy Rollerism’ flourish without him as a leader and prophet?”


No answer.


“Is there any one to take up the work where he left off.”




Shaking her head sadly, she murmured in a husky whisper:

No man living can take Creffield’s place.”


“Do you still continue the practices and believe in the doctrines that he taught?”


This she did not answer directly, but went into a strong defense of his beliefs, saying that his doctrines and teachings furnished all his followers with a comfort, faith and hope that no other religion could.


It was the relationship existing between Creffield and Mrs. Starr, revealed by the latter in a confession to her husband, that led to Creffield’s conviction and confinement for two years in the Salem penitentiary. It was Creffield’s influence over her and her sister, Esther Mitchell, that furnished the motive for their brother George’s crime.



Seattle Daily Times 7/11/1906 p1

Much Credit Due Prosecuting Attorney

Attitude of Kenneth Mackintosh in Mitchell Case Was That of an Able and Conscientious Officer of Law.

Case of the State Presented Succinctly and Vigorously, as Was the Sworn Duty Entailed Upon Office.

Lawyer for the People Brilliantly Assisted by John F. Miller and Every Line of Clever Defense Fought.


The hard fight which Kenneth Mackintosh, prosecuting attorney of King County, ably assisted by his chief deputy, John F. Miller, waged against one of the strongest moral defense ever introduced into a murder trial is ended. The claim of the stat that George Mitchell committed murder in the first degree when he shot Franz Edmund Creffield near the corner of First Avenue and Cherry Street on the morning of May 7 was tamped into the minds of the jury as consummate skill as any pair of lawyers could muster.


While Mr. Miller has been in charge of the details of the fight, Mr. Mackintosh, in his official position as chief, has been a living exemplar of the stern dignity of the law which forbids the slaying of one man by another save in the defense of his very life. His tone all through this sensational trial has been cold, incisive, and sternly compelling. He has been fighting for the law of the land, which it was his sworn duty to do.


He has sought in every way within his power to rob the case of any emotion. His examinations and address to the jury have been splendid examples of the duties of a prosecuting attorney. There was no oratory--no sensationalism in his conduct of the case. He was there as a representative of the law-abiding people of this community, to protest against any man taking the law into his own hands, no matter what the provocation, and to demand in the name of law and order, which the society of modern times has set up, that a man who does such a thing should be punished according to the letter of the law which he is sworn to enforce.


It has been a hard, wearing, at times, an unpopular task. Just across the Columbia River, in Oregon, there was a public sentiment which in the words of John Manning, prosecuting attorney of Multnomah County, would have prevented a man in Mr. Mackintosh’s position from being elected dog-catcher had he even dared to pretend to prosecute this case. This public sentiment was reflected in King County. The stories of the disgraceful rites which this “Holy Roller” inflicted upon his women victims affected the minds of the men and women of this community, and it was practically a stone wall which Mr. Mackintosh found it his duty to face.


In his official conduct, however, there was not a trace of weakness. The “Unwritten Law” had no effect upon his conduct. It is not contained in the statues of the State of Washington which he had made an oath to sustain. He ignored sentiment. He spurned the weakness of pity. He prosecuted the case relentlessly, vigorously, resourcefully and diligently and performed his duty to the whole public regardless of the ideas off any man or community of men.


In much of this work John F. Miller was his mouthpiece and his right hand, but the responsibility and the burden were those of Mr. Mackintosh. It did not matter to him whether the reward be the political oblivion of the dog catcher’s wagon or the honor of a seat upon the bench of the superior court which he was addressing. He performed his duty as he saw it with the law of the land behind him and a conviction that he was doing his full duty in his heart.




To many, his work in Judge Frater’s courtroom was a revelation. He had been charged with the crime of youthfulness and he had been said to be inexperienced in the criminal law. The trial of this case has failed to prove either. On the contrary, his examination of talesmen and witnesses is a worthy example for many more exploited practitioners of the law. He has been brisk, businesslike and has evinced a praiseworthy inclination to throw aside much of the burdensome litter of the technical formalities, not in the manner of a man ignorant of the law, but in the style of one able to sift the wheat from the chaff and to save the county and community the money and the time consumed by useless and stereotyped phrases.


To Mr. Miller was given the task of combating the cleverly presented prosecution of Will H. Morris and Silas M. Shipley. He watched this pair of attorneys like a mother wolf and fought doggedly and resourcefully against the evidence showing the character of this man Creffield, which he knew and Mr. Mackintosh knew they would succeed in some way in getting before the jury.


His vivid personality impressed the jury from the start, and his mastery of the law was a feature of the case to the end. He was, what his duty called upon him to be, an able assistant to his chief in a case which the law called upon them to prosecute as a case of murder, and prosecute they did in the face of hard, bitter odds, bravely, gamely and cleverly.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/11/1906 p1

Mitchell Freed By Jury’s Verdict

Youth Who Shot Crefeld Is Declared “Not Guilty” Of Murder

Auditors Show Approval

Oration Given Mitchell When Verdict Closing Long Trial Is Announced


After a trial which lasted two weeks and two days, it took the jury in the George Mitchell case just one hour and twenty-five minutes to determine that the youth was not guilty of murder in killing Franz Edmund Crefeld on the streets of Seattle, May 7, last. The verdict was read at a quarter to five o’clock yesterday afternoon, and was greeted with rounds of applause from the audience.


The courtroom was crowded yesterday afternoon, as it became apparent that the end of the trial was near. The audience was composed largely of members of the bar of King County, women and personal friends of the accused man. Few left the courtroom when the jury retired at 3:14 o’clock, and the general opinion was that the jury would return the verdict in a few minutes. It was not until 4:40 o’clock, however, that the rap on the door of the jury room announced that an agreement had been reached.


In the meantime, the prisoner had been taken down stairs to the jailer’s room. There was a pause while he was brought up and the court took his seat. The judge addressed a few words of warning against any demonstration, whatever the verdict. The audience listened with bated breath to the proceedings of the court, the polling of the jury, the question by the judge, and the handing over of the verdict to the judge.


When the words “not guilty” were pronounced, however, the feelings of the audience were not to be restrained. Despite the court’s orders, the spectators began enthusiastically to clap hands in applause. An expression of happy sympathy spread over almost every face in the courtroom.




The jury was dismissed and the prisoner temporarily remanded into the custody of the sheriff. As the jurors stood up to go, Mitchell seemed one of the most self possessed figured in the courtroom. People began to crowd up to the rail to shake hands with the young man and to offer a word of congratulations. It was to avoid such a scene that the court had remanded the prisoner. At the requests of his attorneys Mitchell was at once dismissed, and left the room a free man.


His way down the stairs was blocked by people eager to shake hands with him, and it was not until he was again behind jail doors that he was free from these eager attentions.


“Good bye, boys, I’ll see you tomorrow,” was his farewell to his fellow prisoners of the past two months. He intended to come back later for his possessions and accompanied his attorneys down town.


George Mitchell had little to say regarding the outcome of the trial and his present prospects. That he was overjoyed at the removal of all doubt as to the outcome of his trial was plainly evident. Yet his conversation was chiefly about such commonplaces as the way in which the walk down the steep hill tired the muscles of his legs, unaccustomed to such exercise, or about how good it felt to be out in the fresh air again. “It was a pretty stiff time,” he said regarding the term in prison and the trial, “but I trusted Mr. Morris and Mr. Shipley to get me out. I never could really feel that I would be convicted for such an act.




“I suppose I had brooded over the wrongs the man had done so much that I hardly knew what I was doing,” he stated and when asked a leading question as to whether he felt any regret at killing Crefeld he replied in the negative.


Of all the crowd at the courthouse yesterday, Mitchell’s brother, Perry, was perhaps the most frankly and openly happy. He was the first to congratulate George. When the verdict was read, and he wrung his hand with the vigorous shake of true feeling. Mitchell’s father also was present throughout the day.


Today Mitchell expects to leave for Portland to resume a position he formerly held in a mill there. Perry will accompany him while their father will go east to his Illinois home.




Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh was the only one who addressed the jury yesterday, and his talk lasted about half an hour. Judge Frater’s charge to the jury lasted about an equal length of time. The remainder of the day was occupied by the attorneys on either side seeking vantage ground with reference to their addresses to the jury.


Under an agreement between the attorneys, to which the court refused to become a party, in the morning the time for each side was to be limited to two hours. When Mr. Mackintosh had spoken, the defense waived its right for argument, claiming that by so doing it ought to prevent Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller from making his closing statement.


Judge Frater withheld final decision on the ruling until the afternoon session, when authorities might be brought. Court adjourned at 11 o’clock, the judge stating that he had not yet completed his preparation of instructions to the jury. At 1:30 p. m. the question between the attorneys was again argued, wit the result that the court decided that the matter was entirely within its discretion. He ruled that Miller might have the last say, and that the attorneys for the defense would have the right to speak as long as they wished.


Mr. Miller at once stated that he was willing to waive the argument, on condition that the court would state to the jury that this had been done by mutual agreement between the attorneys. The defense was willing.




One reason advanced by the attorneys for the haste in finishing the trial was the sickness of H. E. Start, of Vashon Island, one of the jurors. A physician during the morning declared the juror had cholera morbus, and advised that he should not attempt to take up the work of juror that day. Start, himself, however, was willing to make the attempt, and though evidently ill, got through the day without mishap.


The judge’s instructions were brief, and among other things, he laid special stress on the necessity of the defendant who pleads insanity establishing his case, is a verdict of not guilty is to be rendered. The jurors were instructed that they might return any one of three verdicts, murder in the first or second degrees, or not guilty. The verdict of manslaughter was debarred.


M. H. Ring, of the Seattle postal service, was foreman of the jury.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/11/1906 p3

George Mitchell Is Acquitted

Slayer Of Franz Edmund Creffield, Holy Roller Apostle, Is Freed By Jury.

Crowd Roars Applause Despite Court’s Order

Defendant Will Return To Portland Tonight And Resume His Former Position In Lath Mill Belonging To Peter View.


(Special Dispatch to The Journal)


Seattle, July 11--Less than two hours deliberation was required by the jury last evening in the case of George H. Mitchell, to decide that the defendant was innocent of murder for killing Franz Edmund Creffield, the holy roller apostle, on the streets of this city May 7. After being out about an hour and a half the jury men returned with the verdict of “not guilty,” which they presented to the court.


The verdict of the jury was received by a thunderous outburst of applause which it was impossible for the court officials to suppress, although Judge Frater had warned the crowd that no demonstration would be permitted, whatever the verdict might be, before the jury came in.




In order that he might get rid of the boisterous crowd, as he explained afterward, Judge Frater ordered the prisoner remanded into the custody of the sheriff. Mitchell’s attorneys realizing the import of this order immediately objected, threatening habeas corpus proceedings, and the court admitting his error, ordered the sheriff to release the prisoner.


Delighted with the freedom of the youth, who has had such a hard fight for his life, the crowd of spectators rushed upon him when he was pronounced a free man and overwhelmed him with congratulations. Men, women and children, hysterical with joy, followed Mitchell all the way from the courthouse to his attorneys’ offices, into which, to his expressed relief, he escaped at last.




Late yesterday afternoon the case was presented to the jury and the instructions given by the court. The instructions were to the effect that the verdict must be acquittal or murder in either the first or second degree. Manslaughter, according to the court, did not enter into the case as a possibility.


This evening Mitchell will start for Portland, where he will resume his former position in the lath mill of Peter View, who has offered him reemployment. his brother Perry will accompany him. Mitchell’s father will return to his home in Vernon, Illinois, and will be accompanied by his daughter, Esther, if he can prevail upon her to go with him.


Neither Esther Mitchell nor Maud Hurt Creffield, widow of the Holy Roller leader, can be induced to make and expression as to their view of the outcome of the trial.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/11/1906 p8

Manning Says Mitchell Did Just Right

Declares Any Right-Minded Man Would Have Slain Creffield as Did Mitchell.


“Mitchell did the only thing he could have done, and it was just what any right-minded sane man whose home had been destroyed as Mitchell’s was would have done in the same circumstances. The jury did just right in acquitting him,” said District Attorney John Manning this morning. Mr. Manning returned from Seattle last night, where he had gone to testify on behalf of Mitchell at his trial for the murder of “Holy Roller” Edmund Creffield.


“They would not admit my evidence,” continued Mr. Manning, “and the objection of the prosecuting attorney to it was well taken. I knew it could not be admitted unless the judge strained a point, but I wanted to do all I could to help Mitchell, for I think he did no wrong. What I would have testified to was the mental condition of the Mitchell girls when they were under the care of the district attorney here. My evidence was not needed, as it developed.


“There is just as strong a popular sentiment for Mitchell and against Creffield in Seattle as there is here, and the people took a keen interest in the trial, and expressed their satisfaction over the verdict of acquittal in no uncertain manner.


“I am glad that Mitchell was acquitted.”



Corvallis Times 7/13/1906 p2

The Acquittal And Trial--New Facts Brought out by the Testimony.


The acquittal of George Mitchell by the Seattle jury, which took place last Tuesday afternoon gave profound satisfaction in Corvallis and vicinity. The first news of the result was received by Victor Hurt shortly before six o’clock, less than an hour after the jury came in with the verdict, and the welcome news was passed from person to person by all who heard it. In every case there were expressions of approval to the effect that the slayer of the Roller reptile had been set free. The jury seems to have been out only a short time and to have reached a verdict with perfect unanimity.


The trial brought out information concerning the practices of Creffield that simply stagger belief. Facts were told on the witness stand that cannot be printed, and of a character that seem impossible to believe. Had they been known at the time Creffield was in Corvallis, there is not the slightest doubt that the trial of Mitchell would never have been in Seattle. Returning witnesses from the trial have repeated the stories to friends, until the naked truth with references to Creffield’s doings has become generally current. The result is that the public now knows that it was not religion but complete depravity that was the controlling motive in the life of the Roller viper, and that when young Mitchell stung him to death on the streets of Seattle, he ridded the world of one of the biggest devils in it. The wonder is that, doing such things, Creffield was suffered to lice so long. The tar and feather party, when they brought the villain from the house over the Willamette and did their stunt with him and Brooks had an opportunity that they did not understand, and in what they did to the scoundrel dell far short of what Creffield deserved. It is an enormous responsibility to take human life. Men, however, make the laws, and men are fallible creatures. The statutes of man do not cover hideous villainies of the kind of which Creffield was guilty. There was no way for a penalty half a thousandth part commensurate with his offense to fall on him save by the law of might and right. In seizing it, George Mitchell both removed the offender and provided for the full exposure of his unprintable and unbelievable practices.


When Deputy Attorney Miller was in Corvallis seeking information with which to prosecute Mitchell, he was told some of Creffield’s doings, referred to above. That was one thing that made his stay in Corvallis brief. He scouted at the idea that such things would be done, but lived to learn in the trial from which he has just emerged, badly beaten, that all of it was terrible, dreadful truth, and that there was even more than he had been told.


It is believed that the end of the trial marks the end of Rollerism. The exposure incident to the trial will doubtless make all former followers ashamed of the very name of Rollerism and of their connection with it. That influence alone should be sufficient to bury the cult in the same oblivion with the nasty body of Creffield.





Morning Oregonian (Portland) 7/12/1906 p5George Mitchell

Esther Declined to Be Reconciled.”


Corvallis Times 7/13/1906 p4

Esther Declined to Be Reconciled


Avenger Mitchell Fears His Sister May Join New Holy Roller Colony

Girl Turns From Father

Police Matron Takes Sides With Her And Chides Relatives For Publicity Given In The Search After Her Release.


SEATTLE, July 11.--(Special)--Esther Mitchell refuses to be reconciled to her family. Despite her father’s pleadings today, she would not agree to go east with him, and she would not turn completely away from her former companions. She still clings to Mrs. Maud Creffield and the Holy Roller faith. Her father believes she will eventually desert the fanatical creed, and, in the meantime, he has agreed with her, so far as possible, to shield her from further notoriety.


Both Esther Mitchell and the police matron with whom she stayed for several weeks showed a bitter resentment toward the Mitchells for discussing her attitude. She has taken a sudden aversion to notoriety, although apparently seeking it when she first came to Seattle.


The elder Mitchell was sent to his daughter today by Mrs. Kelly, the police matron. Mitchell called at the matron’s home and asked for information about Esther. Mrs. Kelly insisted the girl was willing to meet him and would not attempt to hide. She chided him for so much publicity in his search, and offered to assist him. While the two were talking Esther Mitchell called up the matron by telephone.


Esther was asked if she would see her father, and promptly agreed. The interview followed. Mrs. Creffield went with Mrs. Kelly to the County Clerk’s office to collect the witness fees for herself and Miss Mitchell. The two women were paid for the actual time they were in attendance at the trial. Mrs. Creffield has been held by the police matron since the shooting of her husband on May 7, being released only the night before the case went to the jury. Miss Mitchell has been in the police matron’s custody since she came to Seattle.


Edmund CreffieldA former custom provided for the payment of witness fees to persons detained in custody for the entire period they were held. But this has been upset by recent court decisions and the women were only paid for the time actually in court, or rather from the time the case opened until they testified and were dismissed. Police Matron Mrs. Kelley did not ask and the women did not tell where they are staying.


George Mitchell, her brother, and her father, have feared Miss Mitchell would attempt to return to the Holy Roller sect. The story that the sect was to be revived with a colony in British Columbia sent the men of the family on a hunt for Esther Mitchell early this morning. The father found her through the police matron’s efforts.


“I don’t know whether there is another as dangerous as Creffield living or not,” said Mr. Mitchell tonight. “They tell me there is a man in British Columbia and two in the East. Whether this is true or not I am convinced public sentiment will never permit another colony to spring up. The men will either be killed or promptly shut in jail.”


Mitchell Sr., will visit a son near Dayton, and his sister in Minneapolis, on his way East. George Mitchell and his brother return at once to Portland. Morris and Shipley, the attorneys who defended Mitchell, today received a large number of telegraphic congratulations. Among the senders were O. V. Hurt of Corvallis, who said:

Accept my thanks and congratulations for services performed.”


George Schnobel, former district attorney in Multnomah County, also telegraphed his congratulations. The attorneys for the defense only received $650 from the Corvallis fund. Out of this expenses were paid, leaving a small fee for the lawyers’ work.





Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/11/1906 p8

Holy Rollers To Go To Canada

George Mitchell Believes His Sister And Mrs. Creffield

Will Start Colony.

Two Young Women Have Eluded Their Friends

One Man And Some Of The Women Who Occupied A Waldport Camp Of “Apostle” Have Gone To British Columbia.


Seattle Daily Times 7/11/1906 p9

Mitchell Seeks His Sister

Spends First Day’s Freedom in Searching Lodging Houses of City for Esther--She is in Hiding.


Fearing that the killing of Creffield will fail to turn his sister away from Holy Rollerism if she is allowed to remain under the influence of and in the company of Mrs. Maude Hurt Creffield, the wife of the man he killed, George Mitchell spent the first day’s liberty he has enjoyed for two months in searching the lodging houses of Seattle for his sister Esther. The last seen of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield was yesterday afternoon when they told Mrs. Kelly, the police matron, that they were going to hire a room in some lodging house and seek employment in Seattle. This was only a few hours before the jury returned the verdict that made Mitchell a free man.


George Mitchell arose before 7 o'clock this morning, and after eating a hurried breakfast he left the Stevens Hotel in company with his father and his brother Perry to find his sister. The search for the sister proved unsuccessful this morning. The young girl and Mrs. Creffield, although short of funds, did not call at the county clerk’s office to get the witness fees awaiting them. That they will remain in hiding until he leaves the city is the opinion of the brother.


George Mitchell and his brother Perry will continue the search for several days. The girl’s father wishes her to go to his home in Illinois where he promises to care for her. This is also the desire of the two brothers.


George Mitchell is satisfied that an attempt will be made to form another Holy Roller camp in the wilds of British Columbia. One of the men who were in Creffield’s camp is at present in British Columbia. During the trial some of the women who were formerly members of Creffield’s Waldport camp passed through Seattle on their way to British Columbia, presumably to join this man. George Mitchell fears that Mrs. Creffield may induce his sister Esther also to go to British Columbia. The brother is convinced that his sister is not yet completely sane.


Esther Mitchell declared on Saturday that she would not go home with her father. She said she did not want to have anything to do with the rest of her family. Her father pleaded with her, but she declared that she was 18 years old and could do as she pleased.


W. T. Gardner, superintendent of the Girls’ and Boys’ Aid Society of Portland, who had charge of Esther Mitchell after she was taken from the Creffield camp, also urged her to go home with her father, but she refused. If the girl is found the father will use force to take her home.



Seattle Daily Times 7/11/1906 p6


(From a column of thoughts, for a lack of a better term for it)

When a man becomes violently angry is he “Insane?”


“The jury in the Mitchell case didn’t stay out any longer than the law would allow, after Judge Frater finished his charge. Mitchell was found “not guilty” by reason of insanity.”


“Now if Mitchell were really insane when he killed Creffield--is he not insane today?--and if he be insane today where are the officers who should cause his arrest and incarceration at Steilacoom? Such officers are sworn to do their duties--and here seems to be a very emphatic duty.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 7/11/1906 p4

Calls Him A Creffield

Centralia Man Says Wife’s Affections Were Stolen.

Accuses Fraternal Insurance Organizer Of Using Business To Cloak Free Love Propaganda.


CENTRALIA, Wash., July 10.--(Special.)-- Daniel M. Bedell, of this city, has commenced suit against one A. S. Briggs for alleged alienation of the affections of the former’s wife by the latter. The plaintiff asks for damages in the sum of $10,000. Mr. and Mrs. Bedell have only lived in Centralia a comparatively short time. Briggs is a promoter of an insurance company known as the “Fraternal Knights and Ladies,” and as such he has made Centralia his headquarters for over a year, although he claims residence at Puyallup.


Bedell, in the complaint filed in the Superior Court of this county, says that Briggs has formerly been a lecturer on what is commonly called “free love” and is still practicing “that unholy doctrine, and the same doctrines and teachings of the defendant being somewhat upon the order of the Holy rollers, as established by the late Elijah Creffield, who has just paid the penalty of his crime with his life and for the same kinds of wrongs and outrages that the defendant herein is practicing.” Briggs is also accused of writing loving and endearing letters to Mrs. Bedell and meeting her at home in the absence of her husband and making love to her.


The attorney for the plaintiff, Frank Burch, claims to have the letters in his possession and will introduce them into court at the proper time. The complaint also alleges that Briggs has persuaded Mrs. Bedell to threaten divorce proceedings against her husband as a result of his teachings. In conclusion the complaint says:

He (Briggs) is the organizer of what is known at the ‘Fraternal Knights and Ladies,” in order that he may get into the company of the acquaintances of girls, women and married women, in order that he may all the better ply his acts of villainy, sow his seeds of free love, and then ripen the same into his free love practices, and all of which the defendant has don in the home of the plaintiff.


Briggs has been a familiar figure on the streets of Centralia for over year. He is a quiet, elderly looking gentleman with a light mustache and gray hair, quiet of voice and a person who would make friends with women very easily. a very large chapter of the Fraternal Knights and Ladies shows that at least he has done that part of the work very well. Mrs. Bedell is a large, strong-minded young woman and a niece of Floyd A. Brittain, or Centralia, a well known citizen. She came to Centralia several months ago.


(Under this is an article Old Lady Shoots Man, Accused Of Murder Of Unwelcome Suitor Of Her Daughter. In Parkersburg, WV, and below that is an article Preacher Shoots To Kill, Fatally Wounds Brother-In-Law Then Cuts His Own Throat, In Mangum, Ok.)

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