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.
August 12, 1906: Esther Mitchell Close to Death from Typhoid
HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 8/12/1906 p1
Esther Mitchell Close to Death from Typhoid
Murderess Tossing on Prison Cot for Four Days Delirious--May Yet Escape Trial.
Corvallis Times 8/14/1906 p1
Near Death’s Door From Typhoid Fever.
Murderess Tossing on Prison Cot for Four Days--Reduced to a Shadow of Her Former Self.
(Special Dispatch to The Journal)
Seattle, Wash, Aug 11.--Esther Mitchell is lying close to death on a cot in the county jail and may, but the intervention of death, be saved from trial for murder in the first degree for slaying her brother George. for four days the girl has tossed delirious upon a fever-stricken bed, but not until yesterday afternoon did the jail physician decide that she has typhoid fever. Even now he refuses to state definitely that this is her ailment, but admits that all the symptoms of the disease are present.
Esther Mitchell since her confinement in the jail has enjoyed fairly good health until about a week ago. At that time she complained of the prison fare and of her inability to eat it.
Four days ago she took to her cot, and has not been able to rise from it since. The girl murderess is but a shadow of her former self. Always frail, the confinement has worn her down to a mere shadow. When she was first taken ill the jail physician thought that it was simply a case of indigestion, but when her temperature continued to climb the visits of the physician increased in frequency.
Now he visits the girl some six or seven times a day. The cell off the jailer’s office in which she is confined is fitted up as a sickroom and the girl is given the best of care. The jailers who see the most of her are candid in saying that they doubt if she will recover. The girl, however, laughs at their fears and declares that her sickness will all be over in a few days and that she will be ready for trial early in October, when the prosecuting attorney desires to try the case. The jailers, however, are not as hopeful as the girl. If she does not improve during the day the judge of the criminal court will be asked to order her sent to the county hospital, where she can be given better attention than at the county jail.
During her delirious moments, the girl does not make any reference to the killing of her brother or Creffield. Not once during her illness has she shown any disposition to discuss these matters. Several religious workers who visited the jail tried to ingratiate themselves with the girl, but they failed. She treated them as well as she does the most casual curiosity seeker and no better.
When told that she was ill and should now think of the wrongs that she had done, she declared that she was prepared to die, as she had never wronged anyone. Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh does not believe that the girl will be in condition to stand a long trial for several weeks. During her illness she has been visited by alienists in the employ of the prosecution, but they refuse to divulge the result of their investigations.
Seattle Daily Times 8/12/1906 p1
Esther Mitchell Ill
Girl Who Murdered Her Brother Stricken With Typhoid Fever and May Never Face Jury or Judge in This World.
Raves In Delirium, But Not Of Crime.
Court Will Be Asked to Permit Her Removal to a Hospital, but There Is Little Hope of Her Recovery.
Esther Mitchell may never face a jury or pay the penalty the law demands for the killing of another in cold blood and without excuse. This eighteen year-old girl, around whose existence two tragedies have centered, and who is charged with the murder of her own brother, is now lying on her cot in a little cell at the county jail tossing in the delirium of typhoid fever and the attending physician believes that she has little chance for recovery.
Although the girl has been ailing for some time it was not until four days ago that Dr. Snyder, the jail physician, considered her to be in danger, and it was not until Friday afternoon that her case was diagnosed as typhoid. She has been given every care possible in the confines of the jail and if she does not show some signs of recovery within a few hours the court will be asked to order her removal to a hospital.
TEMPERATURE IS HIGH
The girl’s temperature is very high and although there were a few hours yesterday when it was believed that she was better later in the afternoon her condition took a turn for the worse. Esther Mitchell has not stood her confinement well so far as her physical self is concerned and her condition at the time of the present attack was such as to make her particularly susceptible to the ravages of typhoid.
Not for one instant so far as her jailers have been able to determine, has this girl suffered the slightest compunction for her crime, and now in her delirium she maintains the same serene indifference to her rash act and its possible results to herself. Not once during the almost incessant ravings of her fever-tortured brain had she mentioned the brother she killed, nor the man Creffield whose life this brother took to protect the virtue of the sister who repaid his kindness by murdering him close upon the heels of an acquittal by a jury.
This is a surprise to the men who watch Esther Mitchell at the county jail, for these men who have seen the girl grew pale and thin since she was placed in their custody have felt that remorse and worry have caused her to fail.
SAYS NOTHING OF CRIME
Now, however, she is beyond any restraint which she might have exercised while in her right mind, but the events of a month ago have evidently left no impression. During her almost incoherent mutterings this girl has talked of her childhood and of other things so trivial as to cause wonder that they ever made any impression upon her, but of the thing which one would believe must have seared her memory beyond the power of an instant’s forgetting, she makes not a mention.
The physicians and jailers believe that this girl will be punished, if at all, by a sentence imposed by a higher power than human jury or judge. If, however, she does recover, it will probably be many weeks before she will be well enough to be taken into court and her illness will, it is believed, necessitate a change in the present plans of the prosecuting attorney for her trial. It has been intended to try her early in October, but Dr. Snyder believes that in the event of her recovery it will be at least two months before she will be able to leave her cell.
Seattle Daily Times 8/13/1906 p5
Esther Mitchell Very Ill
Fever of Girl Who Is Awaiting Trial for Murder Show No Sign of Abatement--Jailers Anxious as to Outcome.
Esther Mitchell, awaiting trial in the county jail for the murder of her brother, George Mitchell, is seriously ill. The fever that has racked her body for the last five days showed little signs of abatement today. Her temperature is still high, and the girl is unable to partake of the fare furnished the other prisoners.
The jailers are anxious as to the final outcome of the girl’s illness. Last night she became worse and Dr. Snyder made a visit to the girl at the jail. The girl murderess, although very ill, bears up well and declared to her attorney this morning that she thought she would soon be better.
If her condition is not improved by morning, her attorney will probably take up the matter of having her transferred to a hospital. Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh will not make any opposition to the girl being removed under proper guards.
Mrs. Creffield, who is jointly charged with murder in the first degree, is Esther Mitchell’s nurse. The woman who has played such an important part in the shaping of the girl’s life does not leave her companion’s bedside even for sleep. The night jailers declare that late at night upon their rounds they find her sitting by the girl’s bedside, ready to minister to her needs.
Mae Hurt, the sister of Mrs. Creffield, paid a visit to the women this morning. She spent much time conversing with her sister. She declares that she will be present at the trial and will testify for her sister.
Corvallis Gazette 8/14/1906 p1
Ill in Seattle
A dispatch from Seattle in Sunday’s Oregonian says,”
Esther Mitchell is seriously ill at the county jail, and unless her condition improves soon a request may be made that she be removed to the County Hospital. Dr. Snyder, the jail physician, who at first denied that her illness was serious, this afternoon diagnosed the case as one of typhoid fever. The girl’s temperature ranged near 101.
There is a feeling among jail officials that the girl’s condition may make it impossible to bring her to an early trial. It was expected that she could be brought up for a hearing next month, but this may be impossible.
It is said by jail officials that she is delirious much of the time, but her wandering mind has not run back to the murder of Creffield, or the shooting of her brother.