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 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Not Seriously Ill
Seattle Post Intelligencer 8/13/1906 p4
Esther Mitchell Not Seriously Ill
Jail Physician Says Girl Prisoner Is Only Slightly Indisposed
“Esther Mitchell is suffering from a slight attack of summer complaint, the same thing that is troubling half of the people in the city at this time.”
This is the statement made yesterday by Dr. J. C. Snyder, jail physician, when asked concerning the young woman prisoner’s condition.
“As I stated on Saturday the woman has been troubled during the last day or two with a slight indisposition, but at no time has she had any of the symptoms of typhoid or even the slightest fever. She has perhaps eaten more than is good for one who is confined and who is not allowed to take all the exercise she needs. Her condition is such that I did not consider it necessary to call on her today.”
Esther Mitchell was lying on the bed in her cell yesterday afternoon, dressed in a wrapper. She showed no signs of fever or illness, but stated that she was tired.
“I am a long way from the morgue,” she said with a smile, “and will live a long time yet. Since being allowed in the women’s ward with Mrs. Creffield I have had her to wait on me, and she has been very kind. Before that I waited on myself all the time, without any inconvenience. If I were to eat everything that is brought to me, I might be ill.”
About the postponement of their trial until after the Thompson murder case Mrs. Creffield said:
It is just what we have expected, and it makes no difference. We are in no hurry for the hearing, but are ready for it at any time.”
The women expressed great satisfaction at being again allowed to be together.
Seattle Star 8/13/1906 p1
Esther Mitchell is Far From Death
Times Deliberately Fakes Story That Young Woman Is Dying of Typhoid Fever---It Is a Weepy Story But It Makes Esther Laugh.
(In a box)
DROP A TEAR OR TWO HERE
“This 18-year old girl, about 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 in the county jail, tossing in the delirium of typhoid fever, and the attending physician believes she has little chance of recovery.”
Tragic, isn’t it?
It is the story of Esther Mitchell as told in the Sunday Times of yesterday.
Esther Mitchell, awaiting trial on the charge of murder, dying in a cell in the county jail, while high above her, on the dome of the county building, justice stands holding in one hand the scale, and weeps that she is to be cheated of her prey by this white robed angel of death, whose coming is chronicled in the only really true “Seattle made” article.
INTERESTING, BUT NOT TRUE
If the story hadn’t been entirely false, it would have been a very good one.
Esther Mitchell hasn’t got typhoid fever, never had typhoid fever, and doesn’t expect to have.
True, she spends much time lying on her cot in the little cell in the county jail.
But she doesn't toss any. Neither has she been delirious--at least, if she has been she has kept it very quiet.
HAD STOMACH ACHE
Saturday she partook of something that didn’t agree with her, and as a consequence, she was troubled slightly with a stomach ache.
To a Star Reporter this morning she laughingly denied that she had tossed any on her cot or in her delirium.
“I don’t know where such a story could have come from,” she said. “It is so silly. I haven’t been sick at all to speak of.”
FORGETS TO RAVE
And she didn’t look sick this morning. She also refrained from tossing and raving while talking with the reporter.
“Esther Mitchell has not at any time since her confinement in the jail had even the slightest symptom of typhoid fever,” said Jail Physician Snyder. “If she was indisposed at all, it was a slight attack of indigestion caused from eating too much fruit.”
But it was a good story and was “Made in Seattle.”
Evening Telegram (Portland) 8/13/1906 p4
Esther Mitchell Shows Signs of Improvement
[Telegram Coast Special.]
SEATTLE, Wash., Aug 13.--It is the opinion of Dr. Snyder, the jail physician, that Esther Mitchell will recover within a short time unless complications arise. The diagnosis indicated typhoid fever, but it is now believed the ailment is less serious. Mrs. Creffield is admitted to the girl’s cell to minister to her wants and her visits are considered beneficial by the physician. Should Miss Mitchell recover she will go to trial next month for the murder of her brother. If her illness continues, a later date will be set.
Seattle Star 8/14/1906 p1
Terrible Tale of Illness of Esther Mitchell
“This 18-year old girl, about 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 in the county jail, tossing in the delirium of typhoid fever, and the attending physician believes she has little chance of recovery.”--From the Times of Sunday last.
“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 sign 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 paid a visit to the girl at the jail.”--From the Times of yesterday.
SEATTLE, Wash., July 14, 1906.
Editor of Star, Seattle, Wash., Dear Sir: In reply to your request for information in regard to Esther Mitchell’s condition, I can briefly state that she was indisposed from an ordinary attack of summer complaint on Friday and Saturday of last week. She is at the present time a little weak, but is otherwise perfectly well. She has had at no time any typhoid fever or any delirium from any other cause. Respectfully,
J. C. SNYDER, M. D.
“I never felt better in my life than I do today. I ate a hearty breakfast this morning and enjoyed it. I don’t know where this story about my having typhoid fever could have come from.”--Esther Mitchell’s statement to The Star this morning.
Corvallis Times 8/14/1906
--Esther Mitchell, who killed her brother at Seattle is sick. At first it was believed that her malady was typhoid fever, but yesterday’s dispatches state that she is better and that the former typhoid fever theory is probably wrong. Maud Hurt Creffield has been put in the same cell with her during Miss Mitchell’s illness. A dispatch announces that the women will be brought to trial next month for the shooting of George Mitchell.
Corvallis Gazette 8/14/1906 p1
Day ‘Juice’ Now
Corvallis has taken another step in the line of progress, and has electricity now for power purposes, day and night. The day current was turned on Friday by Willamette Valley Company and a twenty-four hour service will hereafter be maintained.
Corvallis Gazette 8/14/1906
The date of the trial of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell on the charge of murder has not been set, and the two young women are growing pale and thin as they idle away the time in a Seattle prison, awaiting their fate. Information from there to O. V. Hurt is that it is hoped an insanity commission may yet be established and that the women may be committed to the asylum, but there is nothing certain about it. The trial, his informant says, may be set for an early date, or it may not come up for weeks; so the only thing that can be done is for those concerned to wait with what patience they can command.
Corvallis Gazette 8/24/1906 p3
Miss Esther Mitchell is recovering from her attack of typhoid fever in the Seattle jail, and is able to sit up part of the time. Maud Hurt-Creffield, however, is very ill and is looking very bad. She had not partaken of food for several days when last heard from. Meanwhile, the work goes on in the murder case, preparatory to the trial that is to come.
Corvallis Gazette 8/31/1906 p3
Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield who has been seriously ill in the Seattle jail, where she is awaiting trial, is somewhat better, according to a letter received from Esther Mitchell by O. V. Hurt (sic), in this city, Wednesday. The letter tells Mr. Hurt not to worry about Mrs. Creffield and the writer, and states that the two women are given the best of treatment by the jail officials. “Of course,” so the letter runs, “the air in the jail is not the best, and it is not a very quiet place for any one who is ill, but we are treated as well as we can be under the circumstances.”