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.

December 4, 1906: Washing Dirty Linen


Seattle Star 12/4/1906 p1

Washing Dirty Linen

Creffield-Mitchell Insanity Commissioners Were Reputable Physicians,’ Says Judge Frater.

They Were Neither Reputable Nor Were They Honest Says Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh.



“The charges are entirely groundless and untrue. The members of the commission were selected by me without solicitation or suggestion on the part of anyone. No advice was offered and none would have been permitted. I selected the members of the commission because I knew them to be capable and reputable physicians, and for no other reason.”--Superior Judge A. W. Frater.



“I objected to the commission because there was not, to my knowledge, one reputable physician of ability in it. I knew at the time that I was being jobbed. I had no notice that a commission was to be appointed until I was called up by a physician ten minutes before the matter came up. I would have been satisfied with the commission had there been one reputable physician named. I am in full sympathy with the charges made by Dr. Sharples.”--Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh.



With the full approval of Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh, Dr. C. W. Sharples, charged in an address before the King County Medical association last night that there were ugly rumors aboard regarding the selection of the members of the insanity commission which passed upon the sanity of Esther Mitchell and the late Mrs. Edmund Creffield in this county several weeks ago. In substantiation of his charges Dr. Sharples read communications from Dr. H. M. Read and Dr. I. A. Parry in which those gentlemen stated that they had been approached and asked to accept appointment on the commission and bring in a verdict that the women are insane.


The members of the commission were appointed by Judge W. A. Frater on motion of Attorney Clark of Portland, who represented the women. the commission was composed of Dr. Kenneth Turner, Dr. J. H. Snively and Dr. R. M. Eames. At the time of their appointment Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh protested both against the proceeding and against the character of the men named, and before their finding was read in court he again protested, declaring that the commission had been “fixed.”


Judge Frater, when asked this morning regarding the charges made by Dr. Sharples, entered an indignant denial.




Last night’s meeting was held chiefly for the purpose of affording Dr. Sharples an opportunity to make public his charges. The scandal regarding the appointment of the insanity commission in the Mitchell-Creffield case has been the subject of much discussion among the members of the medical fraternity, and has contributed its share towards the movement among physicians for the enactment of better laws to govern the criminal insane. It was ostensibly for the furtherance of the movement towards the enactment of such legislation that the meeting was called, and Dr. Sharples had been assigned to discuss the subject of “The Relations of the State to Criminal Cases.


It was first planned to hold the meeting several weeks ago, but it was postponed on account of the fact that there was pending in the county another insanity case in the prospective trial trial of Chester Thompson. But when that case was transferred to Pierce county the members of the association proceeded with their arrangements for the meeting. In doing so they consulted with Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh, who approved of the meeting and its purpose.




In the course of his address Dr. Sharples discussed the rumors that the commission in question had been chosen with a view to brining in a report that the women were insane. In substantiation he read the statements of Drs. H. M. Read and I. a. Parry. Dr. Read in his statement said that he was called up over the telephone and asked to go on the commission and bring in the desired report. He does not know who the person was who called him up, but thinks that it was a physician. He refused to countenance the suggestion of fraud and was told he was not wanted.


Dr. Parry’s statement was more specific. He stated that he was called upon by Attorney Clark of Portland, who was defending the accused women, and asked to go on the commission and bring in a report of insanity.


He refused to do so, and Clark stated that Judge Frater desired the commission to declare the women insane.


At the conclusion of the meeting Dr. Sharples, in conversation with Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller asked Mr. Miller if he had gone too far in the matter, and Miller replied that he had not.


At the time of the appointment of the commission Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh declared that the members were both incompetent and partial, and that their report would be that the women were insane. The case is now on appeal in the Supreme Court from the decision of Judge Frater to deport them to Oregon.



Seattle Star 12/5/1906 p1

Say It Is Up To Judge Frater


Among the members of the local bar there is a feeling that it is now up to Judge Frater to take some action in the matter of the charges of collusion in the appointment and findings of the medical commission appointed to inquire into the mental condition of Maud Creffield and Esther Mitchell.


It is pointed out that the charge has been openly made that Judge Frater was desirous of appointing only medical men who could be relied upon to declare both women insane. Men who declared they spoke for Judge Frater are reported as having gone to them in an effort to secure their services on the commission, providing they, the physicians, could give some assurance beforehand that they would find the two prisoners to be insane.




This accusation is one Judge Frater’s brother lawyers say the jurist cannot allow to pass unchallenged. It is a charge of very grave nature and one that can be dispelled only after a thorough investigation. That Judge Frater would, within a very few days demand an inquiry into the affair seemed to be the general impression among lawyers this morning.


Members of the new Seattle Bar association express the opinion that the matter is one which would properly be a subject for investigation by that body, with a view of ascertaining the facts so far as they involve the methods pursued by the accused attorneys in the case, but for two reasons; one of these is that the attorney chiefly involved is Attorney Clark of Portland who is not practicing before the local courts, and the other is that the charges involve also the integrity of a member of the judiciary. Many members of the association feel that it might be taken by Judge Frater as a reflection upon his court should the matter be brought before the association for an investigation and action.




Developments within the past 24 hours now indicate that at least five members of the medical fraternity were approached in one way or another by persons desiring to ascertain whether they would return a report of insanity in case they were appointed. In addition to Drs. Read and Parry, who were quoted by Dr. Sharples before the Medical association Monday night, it has developed that Dr. George Newlands, Dr. C. H. Thompson and Dr. J. B. Laughary were also approached, much in the same manned.


Attorney Clark of Portland, who is accused specifically by Dr. Parry with having approached the latter on the matter in an interview given out at Portland yesterday, indignantly denies that he had any such conversation with Dr. Perry as the latter recites in his letter to Dr. Sharples.


Dr. Kenneth Turner, who was a member of the insanity commission appointed by Judge Frater, has decided to ask for an investigation of the charges, and the charges will probably be investigated further by the King County Medical association.


(The headline of the article next to it is cut off, but may read Chester Thompson Guilty)



Seattle Daily Times 12/5/1906 p1

Bar Association Will Investigate Charges Against Frater!


“The report of Doctors Loughery and McLeish convinced me there was nothing in thrmental condition of the womn to warrant calling a commission. I so informed Judge Frater when he approached me and siad that the he believed the women should be examined as to their sanity, and if found insane sent to Oregon.” . . . .


“I do not believe Lawyer Clark made the statement that Dr. Parry attributes to him. I am certain of one thing, however, and that is that if Clark did make the statement he had no authority to do so. He nor any other man had any excuse whatsoever for connecting my name with any such proposition.


“I never men Clark until the morning the commission commenced its hearing. I was introduced to him in the room in which the commission was sitting in the presence of the commission. I never spoke or wrote a word to him in my life previous to the morning the commission commenced its labors. Attorney Clark had nothing to do with the selection of the commission. The fact that I did not know him is proof that he could not have influenced me in any way.


“I had no interest in the disposition of the Mitchell and Creffield cases. I believed, and believe now, that I had a legal right to appoint such a commission. My sole object was to see that the law was upheld. In open court when I held that I would call such a commission I told the attorneys that the matter belonged in Judge Griffin’s de- (sic) to appoint the members of the commission. Both the attorneys for the prosecution and the women requested that I appoint the commission and conduct the hearings, as the case had been before me. It was only upon the earnest solicitation of the attorneys for both sides that I consented to have the matter remain in my department. . . .


Dal Case, clerk in Judge Frater’s court, corroborated the story.



Seattle Daily Times 12/5/1906 p2

Strikes Blow at Insanity Plea Dodge



Seattle Star 12/6/1906 p1

Judge Frater Hits Back at Mackintosh


Considers it Beneath His Dignity to Notice in Any Way What He Terms the Malicious and Vilifying Attack of the Prosecuting Attorney.”


(In a box)


“I consider it beneath my dignity to take any notice of the absolutely false, malicious and vilifying charges made against me by Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh. I stand ready at any time to answer before any impartial tribunal any specific charges emanating from dignified sources attacking my official conduct.”--Superior Judge A. W. Frater.



“Judge Frater came to me shortly after these two women had been arrested and suggested that a commission be appointed to inquire into their sanity. I told him that in my opinion such a step would be useless, for I believed that it would be impossible to find a reputable physician who would find the women insane. To this Judge Frater declared that he would find a commission that would find the women insane.”--Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Mackintosh.



That judge Frater must in self protection move immediately against Prosecuting Attorney Mackintosh for the refutation of the charge made by the latter in connection with the Mitchell-Creffield insanity case is the opinion of the closest friends of the former among the legal profession of the city. Judge Frater declares that it would be beneath his dignity as a judge to take any notice of Mr. Mackintosh’s charges, characterizing them as false, malicious and vilifying. But despite this declaration on his part, prominent members of the bar are frank in declaring that the charges cannot be permitted by judge Frater to long go unchallenged.


Consultations on the subject of the charges made by Mr. Mackintosh have been held by other members of the superior bench of King county, but the position taken by the other judges is that Judge Frater should be the first to move in the matter. The same position is taken by many leading members of the bar, who however for obvious reasons, refrain from discussion for publication in a matter concerning the integrity of the court.




On behalf of Judge Frater, it is claimed by his friends that if the prosecuting attorney had any basis for his charges that the sanity commission in the Creffield case was fixed it was his duty to present the matter to the Supreme Court at the time it was argued before the tribunal. This was not done, the appeal being argued purely on abstract questions of law. George H. Walker, who represented Judge Frater before the Supreme Court, said this morning:

The only questions raised on the appeal of the case to the Supreme Court were purely questions of law. No suggestion was made by the representative of the prosecuting attorney’s office of any suspicion that there had been anything improper in the proceeding.


Dr. Kenneth Turner yesterday informed officers of the King County Medical Association that he desired the association to investigate the charges made before the association insofar as they involve his conduct in the matter, and this will be taken up at the meeting of the association a week from next Monday night.




Dr. Turner has been a member of the association for a little more than a year. He applied first for membership more than two years ago, but objection was urged to him on the ground of his ethical standing in the profession and the application was withdrawn. Last year the application was again presented and favorably passed upon, though in the face of some slight protest.


The Seattle Bar Association has called a meeting of its members for the evening of December 12, at which the relations of attorneys to the scandal will probably be taken up, though nothing of that nature is suggested in the invitation cards sent out yesterday.

FBI Anti Piracy SealThe unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment