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 22, 1906: Hurt Thinks Both Women Are Insane


Seattle Sunday Times 7/22/1906 p44

Hurt Thinks Both Women Are Insane

Mrs. Creffield’s Father Believes She and Esther Mitchell Will Go to Asylum.


CORVALLIS, Ore., Saturday, July 21.-- O. V. Hurt is very much pleased at the news that Will H. Morris, of Seattle, will defend Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield in her trial for the murder of George Mitchell. He has nothing but the most enthusiastic words of praise for the Seattle officials and attorneys with whom he has had dealings. He said:

Seattle people have treated me splendidly, and I certainly appreciate their deep kindness.


“I think both women will be sent to the asylum. There is no doubt that they are both mentally deranged.


“Maud writes to me alone, and will have nothing to do with her mother or her sister in this city. Maud was always a very peculiar girl and hard to understand long before the days of Creffieldism. she has always been open and frank with me, even when I told her in Seattle that I was going to testify for Mitchell.


“Esther Mitchell also looks upon me as a friend in her hour of difficulty, although my evidence helped to clear the brother that she shot down.”



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/22/1906 p20

Esther Mitchell Sheds Tears

Kindness of Brothers in Promising Aid Touches Heart of Young Murderess.

Is Willing To Hang, But Is Not Repentant.

Girl Says Her Conscience Does Not Trouble Her for Killing Brother George, But Law Looks at It as Crime.


(Special Dispatch to The Journal)


Seattle, Wash., July 21.--Esther Mitchell shed the first tears today that she has since she has been incarcerated in the county jail for the killing of her brother George Mitchell. The tears came when she was told that her brothers, Fred and Perry, were going to aid her in her trial. She said:

I am glad of it. Fred and Perry were always good friends of mine. I always liked them.


“I knew that they would help me as much as they could.


“I would like to have seen them before they went away, but they would not come to see me. I asked the jailers to send for them and I knew they did because they have treated me well since I have been here.


“I am glad my brothers think well of me still, but I do not want their help.


“I am willing to hang. I killed my brother.


“I did right, but I know the law does not think that I did right. I might as well hang.


“My brother George ruined my reputation. When a girl’s reputation is gone she has nothing to live for.


“I never could get away from the stories he told after he shot Creffield.


“Creffield never did me any wrong and my brother had no right to say he did.


“He knew that I was not going back to Creffield when he shot him. That was a lie as was his story that he was insane.


“I never will lie and say I am insane. I never have been insane.


“When Mr. Gardner says I was insane in his place in Portland, he did not tell the truth. He told me the last time he saw me at the police matron’s house that I had been insane, but I told him that I never had been.


“I am willing to hang. I guess that is what they will do with me anyway, and really, I don’t care.


“I did right and I have no regret whatsoever. My conscience does not trouble me in the least.”


Mrs. Creffield takes her plight also calmly. She said today:

I am willing to go to the penitentiary for life. I am as happy here as I have been since my husband died. He’s dead and it does not make much difference what they do with me or where they send me.


“I am tired of living any more.


“My husband and I would have proved that we were all right if Mitchell had not killed him.”



Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/22/1906 p14

Says Creffield Was ‘Good Godly Man

Salvation Army Leader Writes Letter of Condolence to “Holy Roller’s Widow.


“Your husband was such a good and godly man,” is an extract from a sympathizing letter received yesterday by Mrs. Maud Creffield from Mrs. E. Plumstead, wife of the adjutant in command of the Salvation Army at Los Angeles, Cal. Mrs. Plumstead and her husband were formerly stationed at Portland, Or., and had there met Franz Edmund Creffield, the future holy roller. It appears from the letter, also, that she was personally acquainted with Maud Hurt, the future Mrs. Creffield, and with her father, O. V. Hurt of Corvallis.


Esther Mitchell, too, received a letter yesterday from an Oregon sympathizer, Viola Burr of Damascus, near Clackamas, Or. This woman sent Esther a check for $1, drawn on the First National bank, of Portland, to “help pay your expenses when you get ready to go home.”


Creffield, immediately after his release from the Oregon penitentiary, went to Los Angeles, but of that visit Mrs. Plumstead does not say anything in her letter. Mrs. Creffield did not say much when she received the letter, but simply tore it to pieces, with a smile.


Miss Burr, Esther Mitchell says, worked with Esther in the Oregon Woolen Mills at Portland. She will get the money back. The letters follow:

Los Angeles, Cal, July 15, 1906.


“Mrs. Creffield, Seattle, Wash.-- My Dear Maud: I really do not know what to say to you after reading in the papers what has happened. I feel that I must write you. We cannot tell how sad we feel for we do not forget you, and do not forget what a happy home yours was when you were there as a girl. And dear Esther. I knew her so well and four or five years ago when we were in Portland. Such a good girl! It seems impossible that the events of the past few weeks could ever take place. We knew your husband well, and he was such a good, godly boy. It was too bad that he was induced to take the step that he did. but God forbid that we should judge him, or you, or anyone else. If we could only keep our spiritual eyes open and see the danger signals on every hand, which oft times warn us of the side path of duty. God has called us and chosen us, and he is not going to keep us in darkness for a number of years; but as soon as he calls and we obey that call he will show us the path that he wants us to walk in. But with some it takes them so long to find their place in life that their usefulness is destroyed before they find it. Dear Maud, forgive me if there is anything I have said in this letter that seems to be harsh at this time, for if ever there was a time in your life that you needed spiritual help and guidance, it is now. Oh! that I could be by your side and have a heart-to-heart talk with you.


“We thank God for the blessed experience he has given us during the past fourteen years. We found our place then, and I trust that we shall always stick to the path that God has chosen for us. We have been tempted many times, but God has always come to our aid and given us the victory. bless his name.


“May God bless you, dear Maud. Yours in Christ, yet sorrowing for you.




P. S. --Write to me if you have the opportunity. I do so want to hear from you.”


The letter to Esther Mitchell is as follows:


 “Damascus, Or., July 19, 1906.


“Miss Esther Mitchell: Enclosed is a check for $1 to help pay your expenses when you get ready to go home.


“I don’t belong to your church. I was going to send you $2, but thought I better keep the other one. The Bible says ‘know thyself.’ What you going to do with such fools. With regards.


“Viola Burr.



Seattle Daily Times 7/22/1906 p8

Esther Mitchell Receives $1

Friend From Oregon Writes to Her, and Mrs. Creffield Gets Letter From Salvation Army Women at Los Angeles.


Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Creffield had the gloomy hours of their confinement in the county jail, where they are awaiting trial for the murder of George Mitchell, illuminated yesterday by the receipt of letters from people, who, while not relatives, nevertheless sympathize with the women in their hour of trouble. The letters were handed to the women by Deputy Sheriff Tom Smith, and the recipients seemed much cheered at the evidences of the fact that they are not forsaken entirely by those who knew them in former days.


The letter to Esther Mitchell was signed Viola Burr, of Damascus, Oregon, and the writer evidently is unaware of the fact that the girl is charged with the murder of her brother, for the letter, while dated July 19, had enclosed a check for $1, which was said to be for the purpose of assisting the girl in reaching home. The writer states that it was the original intention to send $2, but says: “I thought I had better keep the other one.


After reading the letter, Esther Mitchell asked Deputy Sheriff Smith to return the money to the writer. She said she knew who it was who sent it, but offered no further information concerning the matter. Her request will be complied with.


The letter to Mrs. Creffield was from Mrs. E. Plumstead, wife of the adjutant in charge of the Salvation Army at Los Angeles. The writer started by saying that she hardly knew what to say in view of what she had read in the papers about the killing of George Mitchell. She then referred to the time when, at Portland, she had known both Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell, and also the husband of the former, who is referred to as a “Godlike boy.” The writer regrets the conditions leading up to the present trouble, in which Mrs. Creffield finds herself, and closes with words of sympathy and religious consolation.


Mrs. Creffield read the letter carefully and then tore it up. She made no comments.


It is the intention of Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh to have both women arraigned tomorrow if Superior Judge Frater is present.





Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 7/22/1906 p13

End to Troubles of Holy Roller Family


Corvallis Gazette 7/24/1906 p3

End to Troubles of Holy Roller Family


(Special dispatch to The Journal)


Corvallis, Or., July 21.-- A deed filed at the recorder’s office Saturday afternoon conveys the handsome residence property of the Hartleys, in this city, from the mother, Mrs. Lewis Hartley to the daughter, Miss Sophia. A bill of sale of the household effects is also given the daughter, thus making her sole possessor of the premises. Lewis Hartley is in town today, having been absent for several weeks. The report is on the street that the family is reconciled and will again settle down. They are former Holy Rollers and it has been suspected for the past week that the women were going to Washington to join the Holy Rollers there.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 7/22/1906 p10

Churches, Where One May Go and Worship This Morning and Evening


Pentecostal Mission--Fifteenth and Mill streets. Sunday school at 9:30. Preaching at 11 and 8. Fraternity meeting at 7. Prayer meeting on Friday evening. You will be welcomed.

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