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.
November 22, 1906: Esther Says Maud Did Not Kill Herself
Seattle Post Intelligencer 11/22/1906 p4
Says Friend Did Not Kill Herself
Esther Mitchell Refuses to Believe the Report of the Coroner.
Despite the findings of the chemists and the resultant declaration that Mrs. Maud Creffield died from strychnine administered by herself, Esther Mitchell still emphatically says that it is impossible and there is no truth in the report of the coroner.
“If she had been intending to commit suicide,” said the girl prisoner yesterday, “I would have been told of it and would have gone out of this world with her. Only one thing could have induced her to have done such a thing and that would be a command from above. Had such a command come she would have communicated it to me for she told me everything, and more especially she would have told me of any such a message as that. It was our wish that we should die together if we passed from this world. She would not have left me of her own will without a word about her plan. Another thing that makes it impossible that she committed suicide is, that she looked forward to the time when she would be sent to Oregon. She did not care for her own sake what became of her, but her father and mother were so anxious to have her near them, and they have suffered so much for her sake that she was anxious to have this come about.
“Both of us have been certain that we would be sent either to Steilacoom or to Oregon, and she was too anxious to relieve the sufferings of her father an mother to have killed herself. On the night of her death I was with her almost continually until late. Just a few minutes before she died she went into the bathroom and took a cold foot bath. This was the only time she was away from me during the night. I will never be brought to believe that she took her own life.”
Esther Mitchell is still in a very nervous condition, but she seemed to be improved yesterday, when seen by a reporter for the Post-Intelligencer. There is more color in her face, and she seemed to be stronger than any time since the death of her friend. A thorough search was made of her cell during the day, but not a sign of anything in the way of poison could be found. To make doubly sure that nothing could be secreted in the room everything was removed. The bedding was changed entirely, she was asked to change her clothes and not an article was left in the room that had been there before. In all that transpired the girl aided the officers and often called their attention to articles or packages which they had failed to examine.
Esther believes that the Supreme Court will rule in her favor and declare the action and findings of the insanity commission legal and proper. She appeared to take more interest in her case yesterday than any time since it began.
Corvallis Gazette 11/23/1906 p3
O. V. Hurt and J. F. Yates arrived home Wednesday morning from Seattle.
Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 11/25/1906 p2
Will They Follow Creffield
SALEM, Or., Nov. 24, 1906--Editor Statesman: You invite a discussion in your columns of the way things are going on at the Mission on 12th street, and I would like to add a few word to what has already been said on this question.
I visited this place not long ago, and I can’t say that I was very favorably impressed with the things I saw.
There seemed to be two classed of people there; one out of idle curiosity and the other the saints and those who were going through the different degrees approaching that condition.
The efforts of the workers and those who had charge seemed to be to work up the emotions of the victims to such a pitch that they would lose all self control and roll on the floor and show other signs that they were striving with the spirit. The best definition that I can find for this kind of condition is religious intoxication, and if carried on day after day will have results as bad as the continual use of whisky or any other drug that puts one in an unnatural condition.
I believe there can be as much harm done to the rational mind from a continued use of these doctrines as the excessive use of alcohol.
I believe if a poll of the inmates of the asylum were made that there would be found almost as many unfortunates who had lost their reason from as continued excessive religious frenzy as from the use of alcohol.
I believe the Bible teaches moderation in all things, and wish some way could be found to make these people worship their Master in a more rational way. The last time I attended their services (before the present building was built, and they were having their services in a tent,) one man in particular was making a big fuss and jumping up in the air and going through all kinds of antics. This man was Edmund Creffield, and any one who knows what happened after he left here, and the present meetings are just as liable to graduate some more candidates to blacken the history of this sect and bring misery and suffering to their unfortunate families. This sect ought to be watched by the authorities, and some restraint put on their actions before it is too late.
--G. H. Deacon
Corvallis Gazette 11/30/1906 p1
A Word for Her
Maud Hurt-Creffield was from childhood intensely religious. Her convictions were strong and once convinced that she was right, nothing could turn her from her purpose. Her likes and dislikes were pronounced, and hard to change.
When about the age of eight years of age she was an energetic worker at revival meetings, going among the congregations and pleading with friends and acquaintances to seek the salvation so freely offered. She was in fact considered a child wonder in religious work. Her early life was spent for others and her chief aim was to become as nearly perfect as a Christian could be. Often has gone to the home of someone who was ill, and with true unselfishness has cared for the children, done the washing, and done the other work freely, and without price. Many a time has she spent her last penny for some gift for a little child.
All her life Maud Hurt was kindly and generous, with an even temper and a good disposition, and not until an evil influence led her into a by-path did she cause her parents sorrow .
She was 26 years of age September 29th, ‘06, having been born and reared in Benton county.
May charity, like a mantle, fall gently over her memory, and only her kind acts be remembered by those who knew her as a happy, innocent child.
Corvallis Gazette 11/30/1906 p3
O. V. Hurt received a few days ago a copy of the “Seattle Star,” which contained quite an exhaustive article on the story of Mrs. Creffield having died from strychnine poisoning. This paper declares that the jail attendants doubt the idea of suicide and state that it was impossible for her to have come to her death in that manner. In a letter to his father, Frank Hurt also declares that comparatively few people in Seattle believe the story of suicide. The general supposition is that death came from neuralgia of the heart. To guard against any further possible trouble, Esther Mitchell has been clothed throughout with newly bought clothes. She too, asserts that Mrs. Creffield could not and did not suicide.