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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Murdering Holiness

The Trials of Franz Creffield and George Mitchell

Murdering Holiness explores the story of the "Holy Roller" sect led by Franz Creffield in the early years of the twentieth century. In the opening chapters, the authors introduce us to the community of Corvallis, Oregon, where Creffield, a charismatic, self-styled messiah, taught his followers to forsake their families and worldly possessions and to seek salvation through him. As his teachings became more extreme, the local community reacted: Creffield was tarred and feathered and his followers were incarcerated in the state asylum. Creffield himself was later imprisoned for adultery, but shortly after his release he revived the sect. This proved too much for some of the adherents' families, and in May 1906 George Mitchell, the brother of two women in the sect, pursued Creffield to Seattle and shot him dead.

360 pages

Law and Society

Table of Contents


Cast of Principal Characters

1. Introduction

2. The Creffield Sect in Corvallis, 1903

3. Driving Out the Sect: The Triumph of the White Caps, 1903-4

4. "Sensualist Practices Prescribed and Ordained as Coming from Heaven": Sex and the Creffield Sect

5. Disciplining the Sect: Invoking Insanity Law, 1904

6. Revival and Revenge, January to May 1906

7. Seattle Prepares for Trial, May and June 1906

8. Justifiable Homicide and the Unwritten Law: Seattle Debates the Mitchell Case

9. The Trial of George Mitchell, Part 1: Jury Selection and the Case for the Prosecution

10. The Trial of George Mitchell,

Part 2: The Unwritten Law

11. "And the Evil That Men Do Lives After Them": The Death of George Mitchell

12. The Law, Maud Creffield, and Esther Mitchell


Appendix: The Creffield Sect Membership




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