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The Salvation Army Opening Fire in Portland, OR in 1886
Step one in starting a church: Convince someone God exists. Easier, capture the attention of someone who already believes God exists. Better yet, capture the attention of a whole lot of people who already believe God exists. That's what Franz Edmund Creffield did. In 1902 he captured the attention almost all of Corvallis, Oregon's garrison of Salvation Soldiers and lured them to his church.

Those not in his church, summed up their of opinions of Creffield and his creed by tapping a finger on their foreheads. That was a better reaction than the Salvation Army received when they "opened fire" in Portland sixteen years earlier.

Morning Oregonian September 30, 1934
Struggles of Army to Establish Work in Portland One of Stirring Chapters in Organization's History.
Joseph MacQueen
Brigadier-General MaryStillwellWhen the neighborhood of Fourth and Burnside was both a residential and business section the first services of the Salvation Army in this region were held October 3, 1886, in an old frame structure at 92 B Street, now known as Burnside, between Fourth and fifth avenues, according to The Oregonian of October 17 that year, and also the present Portland commanders of the Salvation Army unit, Major and Mrs. C. O. Taylor, who came here from San Diego, Cal.

A religious worker named Robinson, and employed here as a laborer, determined that the north end of this city, and especially its sailor population, required the ministry work of the Salvation Army, and he wrote voicing his entreaty to Captain Levins, stationed in San Francisco. Mrs. Stillwell came here and took charge of the work, assisted by Cadets Bernhardt and Whittaker.

When street parades began to be held here, street loungers greeted the Salvation workers with hostility and bad language and threw rocks and eggs.

An east side branch of the army was roughly treated for having broken the city ordinance which at that time forbade religious meetings in the streets and street parades without first having secured city permits.

Blood was Shed.
Salvationists were repeatedly cast into jail both in Portland and on the east side, and one east side justice of the peace was quite incensed at the army, so much so that he handed out severe jail sentences and rebukes from the bench because of what he called lawlessness. One Salvation Army worker in the crude east side jail painted salvation texts on the grimy walls, and the east side justice so far repented his actions and language that soon afterward he became a member of the army.
The early Salvation Army hall on the west side had room for about 400 persons and had sawdust on the floor, says an account left by Captain R. Stubbs. a reporter of the Oregonian of those days wrote that he attended a service of the "band of itinerant religious enthusiasts known as the Salvation Army" at first and Washington streets and heard the Salvationists sing the hymns "I've Been a Bad Boy; I'll Be so No More" and "We'll Battle for God or We'll Die."
Sailor boarding-house proprietors around 1886-87 disliked the army because so many sailors became converted and hurt their business. One of these bosses told an Oregonian reporter in October 1886: "We either have to give up our sailor houses or join the Salvation Army. If we don't we are ruined."

General Willaim BoothGradually public hostility against the army died down. Another and later army headquarters station was opened at Tenth and Taylor streets. Today the up-to-date Salvation Army citadel at 527 southwest Ankeny street and Sixth avenue cost about $60,000. Expenses connected with it are partly paid for by tithes of its congregation and public offerings. It is only partly paid for and additional funds are required.

William Booth, called General Booth and father of the Salvation Army was born in England in 1865 and died in 1912.
Even after gaining respectability, the Salvation Army was not immune to public hostility.
Corvallis Times January 7, 1897
While the Salvation army was busied with the usual nightly parade on Main street, the other night, some unknown person emptied on the floor of the barracks the contents of a bottle of skunk musk. The musk is supposed to be the same that Barber Case bought of a country lad, mention of which transaction was made in the TIMES last issue.
When the army with its congregation arrived at their headquarters to proceed with the usual nightly meeting, the stench inside the room was so vile that few people cared to brave it, even in the hope of securing salvation free. The odor, it is said, even hangs about and haunts the place to this day, in spite of the fact that every effort was made to remove it.
By the early 1900s the Salvation Army had about twenty-five soldiers in Corvallis and ran regular announcements in the city's papers trying to lure people to their meetings by promising something more lurid than a sermon on Salvation.
Corvallis Gazette January 5, 1900
Unearthed! Exposed! Made public! Terrible tragedy! Full details! Names given! A blood stained bag! Ghastly contents to be exposed Saturday night 8 o'clock at the Salvation Army hall, January 6th. Full particulars of the greatest crime ever made public. All are welcome.
Joe The TurkCorvallis Gazette May 5, 1901
There is to be a stereopticon entertainment at the Salvation Army hall next Tuesday evening. Views of the Galveston horror will be shown with explanatory notes by Chief Divisional Officer J. W. Cousins; also illustrated songs by Adjt. Smith of Portland. Major Harris will conduct services tomorrow and Sunday at the usual hours.
Corvallis Gazette June 20, 1902
Joe, the Turk, is to be the attraction at the Salvation Army Hall tonight. He has an international reputation, having traveled through England, France, Greece and all over the United States. He wears a full Turkish costume, and plays the coronet, clarinet and saxophone. He will exhibit some photographs of the Armenian massacres.
And then Edmund Creffield came to town.

Holy Rollers

Buy Holy Rollers: Murder & Madness in Oregon's Love Cult as an eBook for a measly $3.99 or get an autographed paperback for $15.

Holy Rollers is a story that has everything a good read should have: sex, religious fervor, mass insanity, the downfall of prominent families, murder and sensational court trials.

And it's all true.

John Terry, the Oregonian's 'Oregon's Trails' columnist says of the book: "A dandy piece of research and a good read. Lots more stuff than I was aware of. It deserves an audience"













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Theresa (T-) McCracken, 890 North Bayview, Loop Waldport, Oregon 97394 (541) 563-3112


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Sample Chapters from Holy Rollers:
Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult


The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers


Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers


Info for Book Groups

Book Reviews


1903 to 1907 Newspaper Articles About the Holy Rollers

1906 Editorial Calling for Gun Control
After Multiple Murders Involving the Holy Rollers

Stewart Holbrook Holy Rollers Article

Advertisements from 1893 to 1913


Oregon Insane Asylum
Where the Holy Rollers Were Committed

Creffield, Brainwashing & Thought Reform

Early Cases of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

1906 Autopsies Of Holy Rollers
Forensics Before CSI

Holy Roller Bizarre Divorce Decree
Hartley describes trying to kill his wife's lover


Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers


Life in Corvallis in the early 1900s

Life in Waldport, OR in early 1900s

Heaven's Gate

Facts & Stats about 1906
And How The Holy Rollers Measured Up

Oregon State Penitentiary
Where Creffield Was Incarcerated


Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults


Creffield's Preachings

Creffield Vs. Crefeld

The Salvation Army Opening Fire in 1886

Holy Roller Theology

Reverend Knapp's Bible Songs of Salvation & Victory
Songs Sung by the Holy Rollers


About the Authors

Theresa (T-) McCracken

Robert B. Blodgett

In addition to writing, McCracken is a cartoonist.

To see some of her 'toons, go to the Home of McHumor Cartoons mchumor.com

McCracken's Blog

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Snail Mail
Theresa (T-) McCracken
890 North Bayview Loop
Waldport, Oregon 97394

(541) 563-3112


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Theresa (T-) McCracken