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 18, 1906: Maud Creffield Anxious to Hang
HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE
Seattle Daily Times 9/18/1906 p1
Maud Creffield Anxious to Hang
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 9/18/1906 p10
Glad Mitchell is Murdered
Mrs. Creffield Tells Insanity Experts That God Ordered the Crime. Perfectly Willing to Suffer Extreme Penalty. States The Lord Appeared to Her Twice as Did Her Slain Spouse Who Wanted His Death to Be Avenged.
(Special Dispatch to The Journal)
[Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) In answer to the question as to whether or not she was willing to undergo punishment for the murder of George Mitchell, Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield made the following reply to the alienist examining her this morning:]
“I am anxious to pay the penalty of the law. I would be glad to give up my life for taking George Mitchell’s life. I have fulfilled the purpose for which God place me in this world and I care not what happens to me.”
This is the statement made by Mrs. Maud Creffield this morning to the medical commission that is inquiring into her sanity. The statement was in answer to a question as to whether she was willing to undergo capital punishment for her crime. The examination of Mrs. Creffield this morning was searching and exhaustive and related to her reasons for committing the crime.
Although brought into court in a weak condition that necessitated her being revived by food before the examination could begin the woman bore up well through it all. All of the questions put to her were answered in clear, concise language in a most intelligent manner and with much force. Frequent quotations from the Bible were used by several woman to illustrate her meaning. Several times she refused to answer questions concerning her religious experiences. Her refusals were always made in the most polite manner, the witness simply saying: “I have said all I care to say about that matter.”
A DIVINE COMMAND
Mrs. Creffield testified that after the killing of her husband she was so disturbed that she could not receive a message from God and entered into a state of prayer that God might tell her what to do. “When I became composed,” she said, “it was witnesseth through my spirit that it was the will of God that I should kill George Mitchell. I feared that my desire and not the will of God was speaking to me, so I again entered into a state of prayer. Again God’s word came to me that I should kill George Mitchell. There could be no mistake that it was God’s will.
“My husband’s spirit also spoke to me telling me that it was his wish as well as that of God that I should avenge his death. I knew that if I were to fulfill the word of God that I would be subjected to the penalty of man’s law. But then I never considered the laws of men when the will of God has been made known to me.”
After this statement the medical commission inquired if she had been commanded by God to kill George Mitchell, why she let Esther Mitchell do the slaying. She said: “Until two days before the killing I intended to do it, knowing it was God’s will that I should do so. At that time Esther came to me and said that God had made known to her that it was his will that she should kill her brother, George. Both of us had been in a state of prayer. I did not believe her. I was certain that it was God’s will that I should do the killing. However, both of us again entered into a state of prayer and it was witnesseth to me that Esther was correct and that it was God’s will that she should do the killing.”
WOMEN AGREE ON STORY
When Dr. Turner pointed out to her that the statements she was making to the commission were quite at variance with those made at police headquarters after her arrest she admitted that it was so. She was handed a stenographic report of her confession to the police, but refused to read it saying: “I know what is there.” She said that before the killing she and Esther Mitchell had agreed to make the statement taken down by the police. She declared her reason for this was because she was satisfied that the public would laugh at her religious motive and “mock and scoff at it.”
Since her incarceration she declared that God had made it known to her that she should make public the true motives of her act regardless of consequences. Mrs. Creffield stated that if she had not been a party to the killing that her life would have been a failure and that she would be unhappy at not having fulfilled her divine mission on earth.
When asked whether the killing of Mitchell had made her happy she said: “I am satisfied; I am certain that I have fulfilled God’s will. I was not happy. I am never happy. I care nothing for happiness on earth. I simply wish to do God’s will.”
ESTHER MITCHELL CHOSEN
Mrs. Creffield, speaking of Esther’s desire to commit the crime, said: “Esther told me that God had made it known to her that the reason she had been spared was to do the killing. She said that she had never suffered the persecutions that the others of the flock had suffered for the sake of the religion, and that God had made it known to her that the time had arrived for her to do her part.
The examination of Mrs. Creffield closed at noon. Esther Mitchell is being examined this afternoon. The medical commission are in hopes of closing their labors by night and making a report to the court in the morning.
Seattle Star 9/18/1906 p7
Did Only What the Spirits Commanded
Mrs. Creffield Says She But Obeyed the Will of Her Heavenly Father in Allowing Esther Mitchell to Kill Her Brother.
Mrs. Maud Creffield, who with Esther Mitchell is being examined before an insanity commission, the verdict of which will determined whether or not the two women will be tried for the murder of George Mitchell, was again placed on the stand this morning.
Mrs. Creffield stated that she had communications with her husband through the spirits, and acted according to the instructions given her by those spirits in the Mitchell case.
The morning before the murder of Creffield by George Mitchell, Mrs. Creffield said Creffield told her that his blood would soon flow at the hands of the enemy. He also stated that his death would be avenged, but did not state by whom.
HAD PLANNED STORY
Mrs. Creffield said this morning that she and Esther had planned on what to say when they were arrested and that they would stick to the story, and would take the penalty for the deed rather than to feel that their lives had been failures.
When asked if she would do the same thing again she said:
It was the will of our Heavenly Father that George should die, and I did as I was told to do by the spirits. I had no personal feeling against George Mitchell, and I intended to take his life myself, but Esther said that she felt it her duty to kill him, so I let her do it.”
Mrs. Creffield was then asked why she did not kill Messes. Morris and Shipley, the attorneys who defended George Mitchell. She said: “I would have killed them if the spirits had told me to.”
HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE
Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/18/1906
New Evidence in Sanity Hearing
Corvallis Gazette 9/21/1906 p1
What Has Been Done In Mitchell Creffield Case.
Attorney Will H. Morris Gives Information in the Mitchell-Creffield Case. Mrs. Creffield on Stand. Witness Tells of Her Religious Belief--Hearing Continued Today.”
The conclusion of the hearing of Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Creffield on charges of insanity was yesterday put off one more day by the commission on account of the discovery of a new witness who occupied much of the time of the physicians and gave some new information that heretofore had not been heard. This witness was Will H. Morris, the attorney who defended George Mitchell when charged with the murder of Franz Edmund Creffield. Mr. Morris was not called by the commission but volunteered to place the facts at hand before the board.
He made the statement that from the first time he had been thrown with the two women in a professional way he has considered both of them insane and declared that he was so thoroughly convinced of this that after Mitchell had been released he warned the authorities to watch the women very closely so that there could be no chance for them to do violence to anyone. He said further that during the trial of the case he watched those interested in the Creffield affair very closely and as soon as possible swore many of them in as witnesses when he had no intention of using them merely to get them out of the court room and save any demonstration that he felt might be made at any time.
Mr. Morris related his experiences with Esther Mitchell since the first time he saw her as she alighted from the train shortly after the shooting of Creffield. [(Corvallis Gazette) He said that when he introduced himself as the attorney for her brother, she refused to have anything to do with him.] He said at the time Esther Mitchell refused to have anything to do with her brother and would have no conversation with the witness relative to the case, saying that she and her brother had nothing in common. She expressed no sympathy for the man, said Mr. Morris, more than to say she hoped he would not be killed until he had had time to get right with his creator.
Mr. Morris said that not only himself, but the other attorneys interested in the George Mitchell trial, including Deputy Prosecuting Miller, were all of the same opinion regarding the mental condition of the women.
“I believe these women have such a weak mentality,” said Mr. Morris, “that it will be impossible to convict them before a jury of twelve men and do not think the county should be put to the expense of trying it. I do not think they will ever become normal and think the place for them is an asylum.”
[(Corvallis Gazette) He said that he thought the girl had done the shooting because of a plan which had been arranged for a new “Christ,” to which she was to have been a party, and which was stopped by the death of Creffield.]
Mrs. Creffield was placed on the stand again during the morning and questioned closely regarding her religion and its practices. Then she recited her meeting with Creffield and later of her marriage to him. She explained in detail the relation of Creffield, herself and Esther Mitchell in a religious way.
Dr. Snyder, the county jail physician, was called by the commission and he told of the jail life of the women.
Early in the afternoon the commission adjourned, much to the surprise of those interested for it was understood that the hearing was to be closed yesterday. This morning at 9:30 o’clock another session will be had and at that time Esther Mitchell will be examined.
It is impossible to say whether or not the commission will end its labors today, for new witnesses have appeared almost daily.
Corvallis Gazette 9/18/1906
--Frank Francisco is clerking at S. L. Kline’s during the absence in Seattle of O. V. Hurt.