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 14, 1906: Women Not Agitated


Charles WappensteinSeattle Star 9/14/1906 p1

Women Not Agitated

Testimony in Case of Mrs. Creffield and Esther Very Similar--Officers on Stand Today.


The commission named by Judge Frater of the superior court to examine into the sanity of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell, is in session today and in all probability will not conclude its examination until next week.


Fred Mitchell, a brother of Esther, was the only witness examined yesterday. He told of his sister’s strange actions during the past few years that he had been near her. He said he is convinced that his sister was under the influence of Mrs. Creffield.




Chief of Police Wappenstein was the first witness called this morning. The chief said he knew very little of the facts leading up to the two women’s arrest, but had a typewritten statement made by the women when taken to the city jail. He declared the women were cool and showed no signs of emotion when making their statements.


Frank Kennedy, who took the statement from the women, says Mrs. Creffield appeared somewhat excited, but that Esther Mitchell appeared very cool and seemed to take the matter as a mere circumstance.


Detective J. L. Barck, Patrolman George Power and Dr. Bories, all were called this morning, but their testimony was in substance the same as those previously examined.




Frank Hurt and his father, O. V. Hurt, are being examined behind closed doors. Mrs. O. V. Hurt, who was to have been here today, was unable to stand the excitement and upon receiving the telegram that she was wanted to testify in her daughter’s behalf, swooned and is now in a precarious condition. If found necessary she will be brought to Seattle on a stretcher.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/14/1906 p1

State to Oppose Insanity Charge

Rebuttal Evidence to Be Presented in the Mitchell-Creffield Hearing. Session is Extended. Commission Has Not Completed Examination of Women Charged With Murder.


Yesterday’s session of the commission named Judge Frater of the superior court to examine into the sanity of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell, charged with the murder of George Mitchell, developed the fact that the work of the physicians will still require a number of days more. The state, through Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller, will make a strong opposition to the women being declared insane and will introduce considerable evidence in rebuttal of that already taken in support of the insanity theory. Mr. Miller made this statement to the commission yesterday and said that when the testimony called in by the commission had been taken he intended to introduce witnesses for this purpose. These, he said, will include physicians who made examinations of the women immediately after their arrest following the murder of Mitchell and of others who have been in a position to see and study the women since their arrest.


It was thought that the commission might end its labors yesterday but only a short session was held and only one witness was examined.


Today a number of new witnesses will be called, among them will be Mrs. O. V. Hurt, mother of Mrs. Creffield, who arrived in the city last night, one of the physicians who made an examination of the women after the murder, and Dr. Snyder, the county jail physician, who has seen considerable of the women since their incarceration. It is probable that Police Matron Kelly, will also be recalled for further examination.




When all of the testimony has been taken that has been called in the commission will recall the prisoners and examine them carefully, going over every bit of evidence that has been presented.


The commission will convene at 9 o’clock this morning. The first witness to be called is Mrs. Hurt. From her the commission will endeavor to learn the performances that were gone through by the followers of the Creffield faith.


The only witness to be examined yesterday was Fred Mitchell, a brother of Esther Mitchell. His statements were to a great degree the same as those of his brother examined on the previous day. He told of the trip made by the sister to her father’s home in the East and of the change that was wrought in her by the separation from Creffield. He declared that in his opinion there is no question as to the mental condition of the girl and that for some time he has considered her insane. He was walking with her at the time she shot George Mitchell.


Following the shooting he told of her actions by reviewing conversations which he held with her and said that these showed beyond a doubt that the girl was under the influence of Mrs. Creffield. He said she never intimated that she had any plans to put her brother out of the world, but that she plainly showed and said that she did not think that justice had been done in allowing Creffield’s slayer to go unpunished. The witness states that his sister appeared to consider himself and his father enemies, and was not pleased with their efforts to take her away from Seattle and from the side of Creffield’s widow.




At the Union station, he said the girl acted perfectly natural and seemed to be in the best of spirits. She gave no sign of the plans that were in her mind.


Asked if he knew anything of the teachings of the Holy Rollers Mitchell said that he did not and that the proceedings were a mystery to him; but that he is satisfied that it was through the religion and by the exercise of its power through Mrs. Creffield that his sister had been influenced to commit the deed.


Mitchell was not pleased when the commission endeavored by questioning to secure an insight into his life and habits and intimated that the physicians were exercising a great deal of curiosity on subjects which he did not consider had anything to do with the case. At the close of his examination he demanded an explanation of the procedure of the commission in going into these details and the purpose was explained to him by Dr. Turner who stated that in dealing with such cases it is necessary to know the temperament and general mental and physical conditions of those nearest to the one alleged to be afflicted. After his dismissal the commission adjourned until today as stated.

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