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 17, 1906: Sad Christmas For Holy Roller


1906 Heinz 57 Varieties Pickle advertisementHEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE


Evening Telegram (Portland) 12/17/1906 p4

Sad Christmas For Holy Roller

Sits Gloomily in Cell, Perhaps Remembering Those Other Christmas Days.


Benton County Republican 1/3/1907 p4

Has Sad Christmas


[Telegram Coast Special.]


SEATTLE, Wash., Dec. 27.--The Christmas holidays of Esther Mitchell, the Holy Roller girl, were not happy ones. One of the most pathetic figures in the women’s ward was that of the slim, youthful, melancholy fratricide. Sitting in the far corner of her cell, she gazed blankly at the little groups of inmates. She was gloomily, dejected and morose, and declared she wanted to be away fro the noise.


Occasionally a tear would slowly trickle down her face when the stories of cheer coming from the lips of other inmates of the jail would break upon her and recall the happy Christmas days of her childhood. At times she struggled hard to suppress her emotions, but occasionally a tear would be hastily brushed away.



Corvallis Times 12/21/1906

Fined For Fishing

Fischer Was--And so Got Hurt--And Hurt Got fined as a Fisher Too.


Fishing is an expensive business at this time of year. It is the closed season, and the deputy game wardens are thicker than flies around a lump of sugar. That is the most likely opinion of the two Corvallis boys who paid fines of $15 each for taking trout from Mary’s River. They are Fred Fisher and Roy hurt. They had a famous scheme of capturing speckled beauties. They placed a dip net at the foot of the ladder recently installed at the dam at the head of the race on Mary’s River. A trout starting up the ladder is often carried back by the current and the way the boys had their net rigged all such dropped into it and were snugly and safely held until the boys had time and inclination to remove their catch. In that way they captured fifteen fine handsome trout Wednesday and began yesterday with a catch of seven when a deputy game warden butted in and spoiled the fun. In the lot of seven was one big speckled chap of more than sixteen inches in length.


The deputy game warden was ex-sheriff Al Munkers, of Linn county. He and game warden Baker happened to be in town Wednesday, and heard of the fishing operations. Munkers was on hand yesterday morning and from ambush saw the boys locate their net, saw them take out fish and watched them until tired of the sport.


When taken before Justice Holgate, both boys pleaded guilty and were fined $15 each, which was promptly paid.



1906 Edison phonograph advertisementHEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE


Evening Telegram (Portland) 1/2/1907 p5

Says Esther Mitchell Seems Sane Enough


Corvallis Gazette 1/4/1907 p4

Esther Mitchell


“I wonder how the people of Portland would like to have Esther Mitchell return to this city?” inquired Sheriff R. L. Smith, who was in Portland yesterday to witness the football game between Multnomah and Seattle.


“Esther Mitchell is a model prisoner,” said sheriff Mitchell (sic). “She never makes any trouble or creates disturbances of any nature. She refrains from discussing Creffield or his religion and never mentions the name of Maud Creffield, who poisoned herself while in prison awaiting the disposition of the charge brought against her for complicity in the murder of George Mitchell. The religious frenzy to which she was subject when she entered the jail has entirely disappeared, and she appears as sane as anybody. she does not appear to worry whatever over the charge of murder which is hanging over her.”



Evening Telegram (Portland) 1/9/1907 p14

Just as Soon Be in Asylum

Esther Mitchell Doesn’t Seem to Care Where She Goes for Rest of Life.


[Telegram Coast Special.]


SEATTLE, Wash., Jan. 9.--Esther Mitchell’s attorney announces that within a few days her will ask Judge Frater for commitment to Steilacoom Asylum for Esther Mitchell. Under the decision of the Supreme Court, the next step in the proceedings will be the Judge’s issuance of an order of commitment. The fund for temporary maintenance is only accessible for keeping insane persons from another state. Where will she go when this fund is exhausted? This question will likely be raised when proceedings are begun to commit her to the asylum at Steilacoom.


Esther Mitchell had a long conference with her attorney yesterday and expressed to him her unconcern where she was to spend the remainder of her life. She is looking pale and careworn. There is no light in her eyes, he form is fragile and she seems unconcerned what transpires about her. When asked if she would rather go to an asylum than stay in jail, she said:

I don’t care where I go. I would as soon be in an insane asylum as here--perhaps little rather.”


The only thing she seems to take any interest in is looking at Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains.



Corvallis Gazette 1/11/1907 p3

In Esther Mitchell Case--What some People Think


“If Esther Mitchell is insane now and so adjudged and sentenced to the Washington asylum it does not signify that she will remain there for any length of time. She may improve in a few months and be released, and what will be the next chapter of the affair?”


These were the questions and comments of a Corvallis man in discussing the case of Esther Mitchell, this week.


In fact, the case has aroused much comment here, when the young woman is so well known, and the fact of her being sent to the asylum while causing no surprise does bring forth an occasional query as to the probable length of time she will be confined in such an institution. Speaking of the case, Monday’s Capital Journal says:


Esther Mitchell, the Oregon girl now in the King county jail, charged with murder in the first degree for the killing of her brother, George Mitchell, last July, will never be tried for the crime, but will probably end her days in a Washington state asylum. She may not be deported to another state. Four justices of the Supreme Court of the state have decided that the act of lunacy commission called by Superior Judge A. w. Frater was legal when it pronounced the Mitchell girl and her companion in crime, Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield, insane. Mrs. Creffield is dead, presumably by her own hand, and under the ruling of the Supreme Court, Esther Mitchell will spend the rest of her life at Steilacoom.


Crow, Dunbar, Hadley and Rudkin are the justices who brought in the majority report and while sustaining Judge Frater in calling the lunacy commission, they declare that Esther Mitchell may not be sent to Oregon, holding that the state under which this order was made is invalid, for the reason that it cannot be legally enforced.



Corvallis Gazette 1/11/1907 p3

--Mrs. O. V. Hurt expects to leave tomorrow for a visit with her son and daughter, Frank and Mae Hurt, in Seattle.


--Miss Sophia Hartley is seriously ill with appendicitis, at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Hartley, in this city.



Corvallis Times 1/15/1907

--Mrs. O. V. has gone to Seattle for a visit with her son and daughter who are both employed in a large retail store. She was accompanied as far as Portland by Mr. Hurt who returned Sunday night.



Corvallis Gazette 1/25/1907 p3

O. V. Hurt spent Tuesday in Salem, having gone down to witness the election of the two United States Senators. “I never say anything like it,” declared Mr. Hurt since his return. “Why, except at the very hour when the balloting was done, there were not more than 25 or 25 people in the outside lobbies. I have been in Salem before, once when the Dolph fight was on, again when Mitchell and Joe Simon were the objects of discussion, and the hotels in the city could not furnish accommodations for the people. But it was vastly different this time.” It may be remarked that this “difference” is a great relief to the general public.



Corvallis Gazette 1/29/1907 p3

--Miss Sophia Hartley, who has been suffering from catarrhal appendicitis for several weeks, was taken to a Portland hospital Saturday for treatment.



Corvallis Gazette 2/5/1907 p3

--O. V. Hurt went to Portland Saturday to meet his wife who was returning from a visit to her son Frank and daughter Mae in Seattle. Mr. and Mrs. Hurt arrived home Sunday.


--Miss Sophia Hartley, who went to Portland a week ago for treatment for appendicitis, is improving and it is not likely that an operation will be necessary.



Corvallis Gazette 2/15/1907 p1

--News from the bedside of Sophia Hartley received in the afternoon of the day on which the operation was performed, stated that she had rallied from the anesthetic and that everything seemed favorable for her recovery.

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