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 25, 1906: Judge Frater is in Very Small Business


Seattle Daily Times 9/25/1906 p1

Judge Frater is in Very Small Business

Governor of Oregon Denounces King County Jurist for His Action in the Mitchell-Creffield Insanity Case

Executive Says Order Is Illogical.

District Attorney Manning Joins in Criticism of Proceeding and Southern State Can Easily Retaliate.


The Times Special Service.


PORTLAND, Tuesday, September. 25.--The Oregonian says:


When Judge Frater, of the superior court of King County, Wash., flew off on a tangent the other day and ordered Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield, the Holy Rollers, deported to Oregon because a local insanity commission had pronounced them insane he little realized what a hornet’s nest he was about to bring about his head or how ridiculous he was making himself in the eyes of the Oregon authorities.


Even the people of Seattle recognized the weakness of his logic, and were loud in their protests against an order that could not fail to inflict an injury upon the community.


The prosecuting attorney went a step further and took an appeal to the state Supreme Court, while some of the Seattle newspapers overlooked the probable expense of a murder trial and condemned Judge Frater’s action.


Gov. Chamberlain was outspoken in his denunciation of Judge Frater’s attitude in the matter. He feels certain that Judge Frater’s ruling will not be sustained by the higher court. The chief executive of Oregon was on the point of departure for Salem yesterday afternoon, and was seen at the Union Depot.




“I am not advised to the (illegible) status of the case pending at Seattle against Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell for the murder of the latter’s brother, said the governor, but I am informed that a committee of experts has found that they are paranoiacs, hence not responsible for the crime committed by them, and that the judge before whom the case is pending will order their deportation to Oregon.


“If it is true that the judge has made such an unusual order, he has committed a judicial outrage that ought to subject him to impeachment. These defendants were at one time residents of Oregon. They left here, intending to remain away, and took up their residence in Washington, and were residents of the latter state at the time of the commission of the crime charged against them. If they should not be prosecuted because at the time of the Mitchell killing they were insane, they should be committed to an asylum in Washington.


“The court has no power to deport resident criminals or insane, and if these people are brought here and turned loose by officers of Washington, they can return there whenever they please, as the order of the court at Seattle would not justify the superintendent of our asylum in committing them here.


“In other words, the order of the Washington court would have no extra territorial force.




“If the judge has made, or intends to make the order referred to, he is engaged in exceedingly small business. He would only attempt to do so on the theory that the defendants are residents of Oregon, and in order to avoid the expense of their maintenance in Washington. If the authorities here wanted to retaliate, they could do so easily. Residents of Washington have been committed to the asylum here from counties bordering on the two states. At least one, and possibly more, patients are now confined here who were released from Washington asylums. If retaliation were resorted to, the Oregon authorities could easily even up, but there is no disposition to do it here.


“There is an unwritten law regulating these matters--a comity between the states. When a citizen of an adjoining state is committed to the asylum while in good faith sojourning her, our authorities care for him. Other states generally do the same thing, and the accounts will usually about balance each other.


“I do not believe the Supreme Court of Washington would sustain any such order as that charged to have been made by the judge before whom the cases of Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell are pending.




County Judge Webster was equally positive in his opinions on the subject. He has the handling of all the insanity cases arising in Multnomah County, and is frequently called upon to pass judgment on patients that are brought here form other states. Only the other day he ordered a woman who was brought here from Walla Walla committed to the Oregon State Asylum, and the only reason why she was not sent there was because of her unexpected death. In an interview yesterday, Judge Webster said:

I am not entirely familiar with the statutes of Washington bearing on the subject, but it seems to me that the idea of a court commission taking from the hands of the criminal authorities persons charged with capital offenses is an unheard of proposition, and I have no doubt the Supreme Court of the state will take the same view of the matter.


“It strikes me that there ought to be some sort of interstate reciprocity on questions of this kind, and so far as Multnomah County is concerned, I am not aware of a single instance where we have attempted to foist an insane person upon some other state merely because he did not happen to be a resident of Oregon.




“The humane view of the matter would be for us to care for them without considering where they might legally belong, and for other states to adopt the same Golden Rule doctrine.


“I do not think there would be much difference in the balance of accounts, and consider that there are not enough cases of this character arising to cut much figure, anyway.


“If we wanted to be that small, the boundary line between Oregon and Washington is not very far distant, and we could very easily dump all our crazy people upon them and save ourselves a whole lot of botheration and care, but there is not much likelihood of our resorting to any such narrow course.”


“It is a very unfortunate affair that the state of Washington has been put to a great deal of expense and trouble because of those deluded women having taken up their residence in the state,” said District Attorney Manning, “but just the same, I cannot see for the life his order in the matter as I gather it from the newspapers, can expect such an order to be binding on any of the courts or state institutions of Oregon.”




“I believe that if those women are brought into our state by the Sheriff of King County, they will be turned loose upon us unless the authorities of Multnomah County take the matter in hand and bring them before the board of insane to be examined there as to their sanity before the superintendent of the insane asylum of our state would have any right to accept them.


“However, I presume the authorities of our state will cross that bridge when they come to it. I believe those women are insane, and therefore should not be turned loose upon any community in their present mental condition. And therefore I believe it to be the duty of the officials here to take the matter in hand and do what is right with the women if they should be brought here.


“It is an unfortunate affair that Esther Mitchell should have killed her brother, because I believe he did a very laudable act in eliminating that miserable animal, Creffield, from the face of the earth.”



Seattle Post Intelligencer 9/25/1906 p1

Injunction Issued in Mitchell Case

Supreme Court Demands Cause for Making Insanity Order.

Deportation Prevented

October 26 Set as Day to Appear and Argue the Matter.


Special to the Post Intelligencer.


OLYMPIA, Sept. 24.-- The state Supreme Court this morning, on application of Kenneth Mackintosh, issued a writ prohibiting Superior Judge A. W. Frater, of King county, from issuing an order finding Esther Mitchell or Maud Creffield insane or from ordering their deportation to Oregon.


The order cites Judge Frater to appeal in the Supreme Court October 26 next at 10 a. m. and show cause why, if any, this injunction should not be made permanent.


In his application the king county prosecuting attorney contends that the court could not legally delegate to a commission the declaring the women named insane, nor was it proper to take the evidence in secret, nor should a jury have been denied to pass upon the sanity or insanity of the women. The show cause order is signed by Chief Justice Wallace Mount.




the petition filed with the Supreme Court and upon which the order was issued sets forth the history of the case since the shooting of George Mitchell. It then goes into the charge of insanity made against the women by Frank Hurt and the examination which followed.


The court and commission are attacked in the plea and it is alleged that Judge Frater failed to comply with the law in allowing the commission to usurp the judicial functions of the court. The entire plea made by the prosecutor was along the same lines argued before the report of the commission and practically the same charges of illegal measures are recited.



Seattle Star 9/25/1906 p6

Writ for Frater

Supreme Court Grants Junction Against Determination Of Esther Mitchell And Maud Creffield.


Within two or three days, Judge Frater of the Superior Court of King county will be served a writ of prohibition issued by the Supreme Court of the state ordering him not to deport Esther Mitchell and Mrs. Maud Creffield to Oregon under the recent findings of an insanity commission.


The writ was ordered (illegible) the Supreme Court on the petition (illegible) of Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller and is returnable October (illegible) 26 at Olympia.


“I believe that the (illegible) insanity proceedings in (illegible) (illegible) irregular, and can be shown to be so in the hearing in the superior court.” said Mr. Miller this morning upon his return from Olympia.


“I expect to be able to have to (illegible) set aside and the two (illegible) brought to trial for their (illegible).



Corvallis Gazette 9/25/1906 p3

Mrs. J. K. Berry, who attempted to commit suicide last Thursday at the Occidental hotel, by taking antiseptic tablets, is entirely recovered and is employed at the Occidental as waitress. Her rash act was due to melancholy resulting from domestic troubles.

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