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.

October 1, 1906: Holy Roller Woman Dies While in Trance


Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 10/1/1906 p2

Holy Roller Woman Dies While in Trance

Religious Fanatic Is Killed by Neglect of Disciples of Her Faith.


(Journal Special Service.)


Whittier, Cal., Oct. 1-- Mrs. See, a member of the Holy Rollers congregation, who lay in an unconscious condition since last Sunday, while engaged in one of the Holy Roller fanatic meetings, died last night. Shortly after Mrs. See was discovered by members of her family she was surrounded by a number of Holy Roller disciples, who declared she was about to receive divine dispensation which would enable her to speak in unknown tongues. Not until her sister, Mrs. May, interfered was a physician called and he pronounced her dangerously ill.



Seattle Daily Times 10/2/1906 p1

Murder Epidemic as Result of ‘Insanity’ Folly Predicted by Times


“Emotional Insanity” has placed in jeopardy the life of another man in Seattle this morning. The price of human life has fallen so low that King County now seems to enjoy a perpetual bargain day. It is an old police adage that crime runs in sets of threes, but in the case of murders in this county it seems to be running by dozens, and the men who have to deal with them shake their heads and wonder what the end will be. The epidemic of murder predicted by The Times seems at hand.


George Mitchell killed “Joshua” Creffield last May, perhaps with as much justification as an unmarried man can have. His defense was insanity. He was acquitted.


Esther Mitchell killed her brother with a revolver purchased by Mrs. Creffield. A judge appointed a commission which declared the two women to be insane and ordered them taken to the boundary of the state where they must be released unless Oregon is willing to receive them and try them for their sanity.


Chester Thompson killed Judge G. Meade Emory in his own house because of a boyish infatuation. It has been repeatedly stated that the defense in his case will be insanity.




There has been much talk of these cases and especially of the methods employed in the defense which are practically new to this community. The result has been an insidious planting of the impression in weaker minds that murder may be committed with immunity. Chester Thompson had read the accounts of the George Mitchell trial and had talked of it. It is not probable that he expected to be hanged when he ran into Judge Emory’s home with a revolver in his hand. In fact, he called for his father to protect him from being lynched, which is probably only a trifle more painful than legal execution.


It is more than probable that when William Constantine Shot his son--law this morning, he had in view the insanity plea and liberty after a few weeks of fancied martyrdom. It is practically certain that in the mind of this man this idea had found lodgement.


Men sometimes commit murder in the sudden heat of passion without thought of what the consequences may be, but the law rates such crimes lower than the deeds of those who deliberately go about taking the lives of their chosen victims. It is not probable that any man or woman will deliberately kill another with the certainty of death by hanging as the penalty. Scarcely any grievance is great enough to demand redress at such a cost. Yet these four crimes have all been committed with the utmost deliberation. The law terms them murders in the first degree and prescribes hanging as the penalty. did any one of these expect to hang?




It would seem that the impression has been allowed to go abroad that hanging has gone out of fashion and that the worst thing a murderer has to fear is a few months or a year in the insane asylum to recover his sanity.


It cannot be said that the prosecuting attorney’s office is responsible for the existence of this impression. Mr. Mackintosh and Mr. Miller have worked day and night, determinedly and aggressively. They have worked with the firm belief that these prisoners were guilty of cowardly, cold-blooded murder, that likely they were sane and that life imprisonment would be a merciful punishment for them.


In the Mitchell case they failed, as they knew in their hearts they would, because in that defense there was introduced a class of evidence which would impress the minds of any twelve men who would be accepted by attorneys for a defense.


In the case of the two women, they have now been forced to fight for the very right to try them for their crime and to appeal to the Supreme Court for the very privilege of presenting the evidence against them for judgment.


In the Thompson case, they have been met with vexatious delays and will probably find it necessary to take the case to some other county for trial.




Aside from these four unusual cases, there has been a flood of simpler homicides. There was the murder of little Elsie Milhuff, near Reston--a mystery which has never been solved. There was the Corcoran shooting which was settled practically out of court yesterday. There was the shooting by a trap gun of Mrs. Dailey, for which Julius Marfaudilli will be placed on trial next week. Two men were killed on board ships in the harbor. One case resulted in an acquittal, the other in a penitentiary sentence. Both of these were crimes committed in the progress of fights. And there have been other shooting affairs of a minor nature.


Even the number of these ordinary crimes is remarkable, but when capped with the quartet of unusual homicides it becomes stupendous. What is the cause of it, is asked. Is there not some psychological reason underlying it?




The courts have been lenient. The plea of insanity has not only been toward (rest of the article cut off.)



Corvallis Times 10/19/1906 p3


-- A week from tomorrow, in Seattle, occurs the hearing of the case in which the proposed deportation of Esther Mitchell and Maud Hurt Creffield is involved. The women were ordered by the superior court of Seattle to be released from jail and be sent to Oregon. The action was taken after a sanity hearing had pronounced both of them as affected with a species of insanity. After Judge Frater had ordered them deported the district attorney carried the matter to the Supreme Court, where a stay of proceedings was ordered and Judge Frater cited to appear and show why he appointed an insanity commission and why he had ordered the women deported. Several big legal firms will participate in the proceedings. It is the guess generally that the action of Judge Frater will be sustained, and that the women will be sent to Oregon.




Seattle Post Intelligencer 10/21/1906 p5

Monday Was Time For Creffield

Daily Life of Woman Without Religious Demonstration of Any Kind


Corvallis Times Fri 10/26/1906 p1


Had it not been for the appointment of an insanity commission to investigate the mental condition of Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell, the older woman would have been tomorrow called into court to answer to a charge of murder. As is it, on October 26, Judge Frater and the defendants’ attorneys will appear in the Supreme Court to uphold their positions and the legality of the action of the commission in regard to Mrs. Creffield and Esther Mitchell, at whose hands George Mitchell was killed.


After the examination of the women had been made and the report filed to the effect that they were insane, Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh stated that he would ask the Supreme Court to declare the action illegal on the ground that the commission was not properly conducted, and on other grounds. The matter is set for hearing in the Supreme Court this week. The attorneys for the state, as well as those for the defense are satisfied that their positions are right. Until the settlement of the controversy in the higher court, no action will be taken towards the trial of the women, as Judge Frater has ordered the cases stricken from the calendar. Should the commission be upheld, the women will be sent to Oregon, where they hold residence. If the state’s attorney is upheld in his contention, they may be tried or another commission may be appointed to examine into their sanity.


The daily life of the two women in the county jail is very ordinary. They are neat and clean and spend considerable of their time in caring for the two dingy cells which they have called their homes for so many weeks. They spend much time reading, and often devote some hours to playing cards with the other women prisoners in the women’s ward. Since their incarceration the jailers declare no evidence of any religious exercises participated in by the women confined in the jail, assert that they are never bothered by religious talks or lectures.


Aside from the physical condition of the two prisoners, there is little or no change in their bearing. They appear to be just as they have said they are, perfectly satisfied with what they have done and unmindful of the future. They refuse to discuss their cases and receive little company except an occasional visit from their attorneys. If visitors make application for admission to their apartments they are given a welcome which is neither cold nor cordial and sympathy or kindness are not well received. Gifts are welcome and deeds more than words are appreciated.



Corvallis Times 10/23/1906 p3


-- The Seattle judge who ordered Esther Mitchell and Maud Creffield deported to Oregon, and whose order to that effect was countermanded by the Supreme Court of the state of Washington, has hired a lawyer to present his interests before the latter court. The matter comes up for hearing at Olympia Friday, and will be a legal battle with lots of big guns in it. One firm representing Esther Mitchell, another representing Maud Creffield, as well as the firm representing Judge Frater, will take part on one side of the case, while the district attorney’s office will do the fighting on the other side. The district attorney’s office holds that the women ought to be tried in Washington for the murder of Geo. Mitchell without the intervention of the sanity commission which pronounced them both insane and irresponsible for the murder of Miss Mitchell’s brother.



Corvallis Times 9/23/1906 p4


-- The house and residence property of O. V. Hurt was purchased Saturday by A. E. Wilkins. The property comprises a house and two acres of ground and is desirable. Possession is not to be given until later on.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 10/26/1906 p13

Insanity Matter In Supreme Court

May Be Referred Back for Decision on Statement of Facts.


The attorneys interested in the case of Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell will appear in the Supreme Court today to argue for a decision as to the legality of the action of the commission which declared the two women insane. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney F. Miller said yesterday that no agreed statement of facts has been signed by the contestants and no stipulation made, and for this reason holds that it is very probable the case will be referred back to the lower court for a decision as to the facts in the matter.


“I am bound that those women shall be tried for murder if there is any law on earth that will permit it,” said Mr. Miller yesterday. “If the Supreme Court refuses the petition made by the state to set aside the findings of the insanity commission I will institute new proceedings just as soon as I can find a stenographer to make the necessary notes.”


the matter went to the Supreme Court on petition made by the state’s attorney asking that the findings of the insanity commission be set aside and declared irregular. The reasons given for the action desired were many and included statements to the effect that since the investigation was not conducted in the presence of the court it was not legal; that the attorneys for the prosecution or defense of the women were allowed no hand in the proceedings; that the board acted arbitrarily and that the entire proceedings were irregular and illegal.


After the women were arrested for the murder of George Mitchell, a brother of Esther Mitchell, and the dates for their trials had been set, attorneys for the defense asked for the appointment of a commission to examine into the sanity of the prisoners. This was granted by the court and the examination was conducted with the result that the women were found insane.


It was anticipated that if such a finding resulted the court would order the women sent to Oregon, where they hold legal residence, and to prevent this the state’s attorney secured an order restraining the court from taking this action until the petition filed could be heard. When the prosecutor stated that he intended to file such a petition, Judge Frater declared he would give the state plenty of time to take action.


The point at issue is a new one and should it be decided that all examinations made by insanity commissions must be made in the presence of the court, a new precedent will be established. At this time it is the custom to conduct many of these examinations in the jailer’s quarters in the county jail in such cases the findings of the commission are presented to the court for his signature.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 10/27/1906 p8

Creffield-Mitchell Case is Submitted

Supreme Court Assigns a Justice to Write and Opinion


Special to the Post-Intelligencer.


OLYMPIA, Oct. 26.-- The constitutionality of the law of 1905 providing for the deportation of nonresident insane promises to be one of the chief points considered by the Supreme Court in reaching a decision on the application for a writ of prohibition directed against Superior Judge Frater to prevent further action looking to the deportation of Mrs. Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell as the next step following the insanity proceedings against them. Arguments on the writ were heard by the Supreme Court today. At the conclusion of the hearing the court retired for consultation and the case was assigned for a written opinion by one of the justices.


Before the attorneys left the city, notice was served upon them by the clerk of the court that the court desired briefs from both parties on the constitutionality of Chapter 138, laws of 1905, which provides for the deportation to the state or place where they belong of persons found insane in this state.




Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller appeared in support of the application for the writ, while George H. Walker appeared for the relater, having been requested to do so by Judge Frater. William A. Holzheimer, attorney for the women, was also present.


The arguments of Mr. Miller were based on his contention that the court in appointing a commission to take the testimony and pass upon the insanity of the two women, delegated a judicial function which, under the constitution, he could not do. Although the practice has been followed throughout the state, the point raised is a new one and Mr. Miller presented authorities and largely confined his argument to this feature of the case.


A motion to quash the writ was made by Mr. Walker on the ground that the application was instituted by petition instead of an affidavit. He also moved to strike from the files two affidavits of physicians attending the women, which affidavits were filed after the proceedings were begun. He also interposed a demurrer.




In his opening argument Mr. Miller contended that Judge Frater was without jurisdiction or in excess of his jurisdiction, as the statute under which the insanity proceedings were brought specifies that the affidavit must contain the statement that the person charged with insanity is “unsafe to be at large.” The Creffield women being in custody, that blank in the form of the affidavit had been marked out.


The arguments were begun at 11:30 and continued over the noon hour, being finished shortly after 2 o’clock.



Corvallis Gazette 11/6/1906 p3

-- Mrs. Warren Hartley of Cottage Grove left yesterday for home after a few days visit with Corvallis relatives.

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