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.

September 12, 1906: Hurt Thinks His Daughter Insane


Seattle Star 9/12/1906 p7

Hurt Thinks His Daughter Insane

Father of Mrs. Creffield Testifies Before Commission Appointed by Judge Frater--Girls Examined This Morning.


(In a box)


The greatest show of emotion by Esther Mitchell since she has been in the public limelight occurred this afternoon in the court room. When her two brothers, Perry and Fred entered she sprang quickly from her chair and threw both arms about the necks of the two boys and kissed them affectionately.



The commission appointed by Judge Frater last Monday to determine the sanity of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell, composed of Drs. R. M. Ames, J. H. Snyder and Kenneth Turner, which is to determine whether or not the two women are to be tried for the killing of George Mitchell, brother of Esther Mitchell, July 5, or be sent to an asylum for the insane, began.


Upon motion of Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller the examination is being conducted in open court. The two women were first questioned as to their ages and as to where they were born and how long they had lived in Seattle. These questions were answered readily.


Maud Creffield was born in Oregon and is 26 years old.


Esther Mitchell was born in Indiana and is 18 years old.


Both women appeared to be in good spirits and talked freely. Perry Mitchell came from Oregon to be present at his sister’s trial, but did not talk to his sister this morning.


O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield, who came from his home in Oregon to do all in his power for the defense of his daughter, was the first witness called.




Mr. Hurt testified that his daughter had always been of a very religious turn of mind and that whenever a new religion was presented she invariably put all her soul into the teaching.


At the age of 22 Mrs. Creffield began to show signs of insanity. When her belief of a certain religious teaching was not accepted by others she refused to speak to or recognize such persons. She gradually grew worse and finally only spoke of her father as “that old man Hurt,” because he would not accept her religious beliefs.


As her actions and slovenly appearance began to attract the attention of their neighbors in Oregon an insanity commission, composed of Drs. Cather and Farra, was appointed to determine her sanity and found that she was mentally unbalanced. She was committed to the insane asylum in Benton county, Oregon, where she remained for six months. She was taken sick at the asylum and upon the promise of her father to care for her, she was released upon parole. According to attorneys in the case, she is still a paroled patient of the Oregon insane asylum.




After Mrs. Creffield was taken home she again began to show signs of weakness and refused to eat meat, especially pork, as it was against her latest religion. she would then have melancholy, weeping spells and when over the effects of one of these spells would destroy her clothing and proclaim to all who knew her that “God will protect me.”


Shortly after he release from the asylum and over her sickness she met Franz Edmund Creffield. She then went with him, believed his teachings, and finally the two were married.


Creffield was with the Salvation Army at that time, but later organized the “Holy Rollers.”


Mr. Hurt declares his daughter has been partially insane for years, which he says may have been caused by typhoid or scarlet fever, both of which she has had in their worst forms.


W. A. Holzheimer and C. L. Baxter, attorneys for the two women, are firm in their belief that the two women will never be brought to trial for murder.


The report of the commission will probably not be ready until tomorrow morning.


This afternoon Mrs. Graham, matron of the Boys’ and Girls’ society at Portland, Ore., and W. F. Graham, superintendent of the same institution, testified for Esther Mitchell. Both stated that while Miss Mitchell was under the care of the officers she always appeared queer and would not associate with the other children. At no time did she appear exceptionally bright.


James Berry, of Corvallis, testified for Mrs. Creffield, saying that at one time he was engaged to be married to her, but upon “a command from God” she broke the engagement.


Perry and Fred Mitchell, it was stated this afternoon, will go on the stand and testify in their sister’s behalf.





Corvallis Gazette 9/14/1906 p3


Corvallis Times 9/14/1906 p14


Seattle, Wash, Sept 12.-- In the court room where she is being tried to determine her sanity Esther Mitchell was reconciled to her two brothers, Perry and Fred, this afternoon. As the two boys came into the room she sprang up from her seat and threw her arms about their necks, kissing each effusively.


The boys had come north to testify for their sister, and she recognized in their appearance an indication of their love for her. When they went away from Seattle, taking their brother George’s body to Oregon for burial, Esther was indifferent and almost brutal in her attitude toward the rest of her family. Either the imprisonment or the manifestation of her brothers’ interest has softened her, for this afternoon she was overjoyed at their coming.



Corvallis Times 9/14/1906 p4


Seattle, Sept. 12.-- The medical commission appointed by Superior Judge Frater to inquire into the alleged insanity of Esther Mitchell and Maud Hurt Creffield charged with murder in the first degree for slaying George Mitchell, commenced its hearing this morning with the interrogation of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Creffield. Only questions calling for the most general answers were asked the two women.


Esther Mitchell testified that she was 18 years old in January. She asserted that she had been in Seattle since April, coming here from Oregon, the state of her nativity. She asserted that her education consisted of a course in grammar school. The crime for which she is incarcerated and her mental condition was not inquired into at all.


Mrs. Creffield testified that she was 26 years old, a native of Indiana and that she had also completed a grammar school course. Her examination was as meager as that of Esther Mitchell.


O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield, testified that both his wife and Mrs. Creffield had been in the insane asylum in Oregon. Three years ago a medical commission at Corvallis ordered Mrs. Creffield confined in the asylum at Salem, Oregon.


While there she had frequently to be kept in the straight-jacket. Mr. Hurt testified that Mrs. Creffield had never been discharged from the insane asylum, that she had been released on parole in his care. His wife, and the mother of Mrs. Creffield were in the insane asylum, according to the witness at the same time.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 9/12/1906

Development of Bohemia

Great Activity Is Manifest in Thriving Gold Camp in Cascade Mountains.

Musick Electric Plant Short Of Water Power.

Tram From Mill to Mill Is Run Half Day Because of Low Stage of Steam--Quantities of Good Ore Taken Out.


(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)


Bohemia, Or., Sept 12.,-- Much development work is being performed in this mining section and everybody seems prosperous.


The 30-stamp mill at the Oregon Securities is steadily grinding away on Musick ore. The electric tram from the Musick mine to the mill is operated only half the day now, as the water is low at the power plant and electricity is not very plentiful.


The North Fairview Company is being rapidly developed, a good crew of men being at work under the management of Elzie Holderman. Much good ore has been opened up in the different drifts on this property and the day is near at hand when the North Fairview Company will require a mill to treat its ores.


O. P. Adams, an old-timer, is developing his property near the Musick and is working in the tunnel. He has a fine property, known as the Ophir group, that is waiting for capital to properly develop it.




The Royal Flush company, composed of local miners, is steadily developing it property and much good ore is exposed.


Lewis Hartley has a crew of men at work on the “Bohemia Seven” property and much progress is being made.


A contract has just bee finished on the Great Eastern property. This company has three groups of claims and owns valuable ground.


Work is progressing nicely on the cross-cut tunnel at the Twin Rocks property. The company has 1200 feet yet to drive before they strike their main ledge, in which they expect to show up some stuff of very fine grade. The ore is free milling on this property for a great depth.


Blackburn, Underwood and Farra of Corvallis and Albany have just finished some development work on their group of five claims west of the Great Eastern property. They run a short cross cut to the ledge and will drift on it when more work is done.



Corvallis Gazette 9/14/1906 p3

Local and Personal


--J. K. Berry and O. V. Hurt left Tuesday night for Seattle to appear as witnesses in the trial of Maud Hurt-Creffield, Wednesday.

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