- Franz Edmund Creffield was sentenced to two years in the Oregon State Penn in 1904. This articleThis article gives an indication of what his life was like there.
Daily Oregon Statesman January 1, 1907
THE STATE PENITENTIARY
LOCATED ON AN ATTRACTIVE SITE NEAR THE EASTERN BORDER OF SALEM
Many of Its Inmates Are Given Employment in a Foundry That Manufactures the Very Best Stoves--Other Useful Articles Produced.
In all prison work there are two objects, one to punish the offender for past misdeeds, the other to treat him in such a way that on his release he will become a law abiding citizen. As the one or the other of these two objects becomes paramount in the methods adopted by the prison authorities, so the prison becomes a place of punishment and degradation to the inmate or a place of reformation and renewed hope for the battle with the world in an endeavor to live a right life in the future.
In the city of Salem, county seat of Marion County, and capital of the state of Oregon, near the eastern border of the city and at the terminus of the State street electric-car line is situated the Oregon state penitentiary. The buildings themselves are of brick, and the yard is of ample dimensions for the number of prisoners usually confined in the institution.
Outside the walls of the prison property extends a farm of about 200 acres. The farm is operated by prisoners who have been advanced to the degree of trusties, men who have earned for themselves a better treatment and more of liberty, men whose time is almost expired and who are striving to obey the rules in order that their stay at the institution may be of as short duration as possible.
The Oregon penitentiary employs thirty-three people to care for the prisoners confined to its keeping. On October first this number was 349, and on December 22 it had increased to 373. The smallest number received is during the summer months, and there is generally an increase during the fall and winter. Of the prisoners in the prison on October 1, 106 came from Multnomah county, thirty-eight from Umatilla county, one from Curry county, and Tillamook and Lincoln were unrepresented. The other counties were represented by from two to eighteen men each. There are at the present time but two female prisoners.
The present management of the institution has been in charge for four years, and these four years have seen a great improvement in the handling of the prisons and the general conduct of the prison. When a prisoner is received at the office of the penitentiary he is receipted for by the warden, and then taken to the clothing room of the institution. Here he is given a prison suit of cadet gray, has his hair clipped close to the head, and is instructed in the rules of the prison. Up to within a short time ago, the prison uniform was a striped suit, the convict being compelled to wear the stripes at all times during his stay under guard. As a result of the change in uniform, the superintendent states that discipline is much easier to maintain, the men evidence much more self respect, hold their heads up, and have lost that hopeless look that is so often the mark on the man who is compelled to serve time. For punishment purposes, a first offender against the rules of the prison is put in a suit with a narrow stripe, and for continued disobedience the old style stripe is used. The effect of reducing a convict to the stripes generally brings quick repentance and earnest striving for restoration to the gray uniform. Men actually break down and cry when compelled to don the stripes. This change is probably the most important and beneficial that has been made in the conduct of the state penitentiary in recent years.
There have been during the past two years nine prisoners who have been able to escape from confinement, and one of these was caught and returned. But all of these escapes occurred while the prisoners were out on the roads working for the county and under county guards. The penitentiary guards have not lost a single man while under their care. Four deaths have occurred, one from brain fever and three from consumption, and seven are confined at the insane asylum. At the present time the prison hospital has but one patient.
During the past two years the finances of the penitentiary has been very satisfactory. The convicts have earned for the state the sum of $38,062.46 divided as follows; From board of United State prisoners, $3,163.34; from convict labor in Northwestern Stove Foundry, $28,299.25; from miscellaneous convict labor not paid in cash, $5,783.80; from convict labor paid for in cash, $816.07. The labor of the third item was performed on county roads for the various counties of the states. The total appropriations from the legislature were $110,264.10 and the unexpended balance is $17,174.35.
The larger number of prisoners are employed in the Northwestern Stove Foundry, which has leased the large shops of the penitentiary and conducts a large foundry at the institution. In addition to this and the farming, the men are also employed in tailoring, carpentry, shoemaking, harness making and other useful trades, supplying all the clothing, shoes, harnesses, repair work, etc., needed at the prison, and they also do the work in the kitchen. There is not an institution of a large hotel or restaurant in the state that has a better equipment for cooking than that to be found at the state prison.
In machinery equipment the state penitentiary is well supplied, especially in its pumping plant, which is a powerful one, and capable of considerable expansion. At the present time all the water used at the prison itself, the state house, the insane asylum and the state fair grounds, comes through the prison pumps, which are kept going day and night the year round. A strong movement is under way to have the entire group of state institutions supplied with electricity from a new plant to be located at the penitentiary. Were this done and credit given the prison for the electricity supplied to the other institutions, the increased income would make the penitentiary almost self supporting. Add five cents a day to the price charged for convict labor, and there would be a credit balance each year to go into the general fund of the state.
The personnel of the prison administration is of a high standard. The list which ends this article gives the names of all the employers and their positions on December 1. There is perfect harmony in the operations of the force in the conduct of the prison, and this as much as anything else makes for the great success that has attended the administration of prison affairs. The guards and those whose work requires continued watchfulness are on duty for twelve hours each day, while the superintendent, warden and other executive officers are never off duty. "Constant vigilance is the price of safety," and no where is this more completely demonstrated than in the conduct of a large prison. While the majority of the prisoners desire to shorten their time and when they get away from the institution desire to stay away through obedience to the law, there are always a greater or less number of desperate men who will hesitate at nothing if a chance is given them to make a break for liberty, and were it not for this continued care and watchfulness the lives, even of the prison officials would be in constant danger. If the new electric light plant now proposed should be installed it would give additional security, enabling the management to protect the tops of the walls with heavy charged wires, thus making it practically impossible for anyone to scale the wall from either side.
The Oregon State Penitentiary is doing good work in the care it throws around the men committed to its walls, and in the practical efforts at reform adopted. visitors wishing to go through the prison are admitted any day except Sundays and holidays, and will be courteously treated and the workings of the institution explained as they go from corridor to corridor, and see the men at their various occupations.
The following is a list of the employees of the institution: (Click here to see list)
Chapter 13: Calm Before the Storm
Prison Life Of Edmund Creffield
The Oregon Insane Asylum in 1907
Newspaper Articles about Creffield & the Holy Rollers
1897-1903: B.C. (Before Creffield)
October to December 1903:Holy Rollers Burn Furniture & Pets
January to March, 1904: Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered
April to June 1904: Holy Rollers are Committed to the Asylum
July 1904: Creffield is Found & Arrested
September 1904: Creffield's Trial
April 1906: Men are Gunning For Creffield
May 1906: Creffield is Murdered, Murderer is Considered a Hero
May 1906: Holy Rollers Found Starving Near Heceta Head
June 1906: George Mitchell's Trial Begins
July 1906: Hurt Testifies of Debauched Wife and Debased Sisters
July 1906: Esther Mitchell Kills Her Brother
August to October 1906: Seattle Prepares for another Big Trial
November 1906: Maud Hurt Creffield Commits Suicide
April 1909-August 1914: Esther Leaves the Asylum
1953 Stewart Holbrook's Murder Without Tears
1951Startling Detective Magazine, Nemesis of the Nudist High Priest
Holy Rollers: Murder & Madness in Oregon's Love Cult
Part 1: The Seduction
Chapter 1: Trust Me, Brothers And Sisters
(Life Before Creffield [B.C.])
Chapter 2: God, Save Us From Compromising Preachers
Chapter 3: The Flock
(Profiles of the Holy Rollers Were)
Chapter 4: The Holy Rollers
(Things Start to Get Wild on on Kiger Island)
Chapter 5: Housecleaning
(There's a Sacrificial Bonfire)
Chapter 6: Community Concerns
Chapter 7: Esther, The Chosen One
(Creffield Plans to Marry 16-Year- Old)
Chapter 8: Tar and Feathers
(The Men of Corvallis Act)
Chapter 9: Sane People Don’t Go Bareheaded
(Holy Rollers are Committed to the Asylum)
Chapter 10: More Beast Than Man
( Creffield is Arrested)
Chapter 11: God Will Plead Creffield's Case
(Creffield in Court)
Chapter 12: Scandal
(Shocking Testimony at the Trial)
Chapter 13: Calm Before the Storm
(The Holy Rollers Resume their Lives)
Chapter 14: Giving Up The Ghost
(Men are Gunning for Creffield)
Part Two: The People V. Creffield
Chapter 16: The Widow Creffield
Chapter 19: An Inherited Streak of Insanity
Part Three: The Madness
Chapter 23: Seeking Reconciliation
Chapter 24: Another Holy Roller Page One Murder
Chapter 25: What Can Papa Do For You?
Chapter 26: Human Life is Too Cheap In This Community
Chapter 30: The Final Chapter
(What Happened to Everyone Afterwards)