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Creffield Vs. Crefeld

Edmund CreffieldWhen writing Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult we had many a debate about how to spell the name of the book's protagonist. About the man's early life, like Jesus', little is known. No one even knows for certain what his parents named him.

January 1894 Philadelphia immigration records list him as Edmund Crefeld, a German disembarking from the Steamship Switzerland and Edmund Crefeld is also the bi-line he used when he wrote articles for the Salvation Army's War Cry and God's Revivalist and Bible Advocate.

He signed both his Oregon and Washington State Marriage Licenses as F. E. Crefeld.

Four agencies that kept records on the man list his name four other ways: the U. S. Census lists him as Edmond Crefeld; the Salvation Army lists him as Edmund Crefield: the Oregon State Penitentiary lists him as Edwin Creffield; and his Washington State Death Certificate lists him as Franz E. Crefield.

We chose, however, to refer to him as Edmund Creffield for that is the form most often found in newspaper accounts, articles in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer being notable exceptions.

Whatever his name, Creffield never seemed to have corrected anyone about what people called him. Maybe it didn't matter to him. Perhaps he viewed these as temporal names and presumed history would remember him as God's Elect, Joshua the Prophet, the Second Savior, or Elijah.

No one knows for certain where Creffield was born. O. V. Hurt, his father-in-law, said that Creffield was "a very highly educated man, having been trained in Germany for priesthood in the Catholic church." Perhaps he came from Krefeld, a city northwest of Düsseldorf that is in a predominantly Catholic enclave within Protestant dominated northern Germany. In Creffield's time it was common for Germans to spell the city and family name as either as Crefeld or Krefeld.

No one knows for certain when Creffield was born. The 1900 Census lists him as being born in May, 1864, but his death certificate lists him as being thirty-three when he died in 1906 which would mean he was born in 1873.

Perhaps he left Germany before his twentieth birthday in order to avoid being conscripted for two years military service. Or perhaps what Burgess Starr, O. V. Hurt's brother-in-law, said is true: "Creffield was a deserter from the German army."

If Creffield was thirty-three when he died, he died at the age Christ was when he was crucified. Such symmetry would have pleased Creffield. That, you can be certain of.


Edmund CreffieldThe Twelfth Census of the United States (1900) ( (3rd Precinct of the City of Seattle, King County, Washington; Enumeration District 82, Sheet Number 9B, line 59) reads:

Crefeld, Edmond, Lodger,
White, Male,
born May, 1864, age at last birthday: 36;
born in Germany;
birthplace of father: Germany; birthplace of mother: Germany;
year of emigration to United States: 1884;
number of years
in United States: 16;
Naturalization: alien;
occupation: laborer;
months not employed: 0;
can read: yes; can write: yes;
can speak English: yes.

Edmund Crefield's Salvation Army Records reads:

Edmund Crefield
From: Seattle, WA
German, age 26 in 1899, spoke English and German,
November 1, 1899 Grant's Pass, OR
April 29, 1900 Corvallis, OR
August 1, 1900 The Dalles, OR
November 11, 1900 Oregon City, OR
February 5, 1901 McMinnville, OR
February 14, 1901 CAPTAIN
February 14, 1901 Heppner, OR
June 26, 1901 Resigned



Edwin Creffield's Oregon State Penitentiary Convict Record (the Great Register, 1894-1910) reads:

Edmund CreffieldName: Edwin Creffield
No: 4941
Received: Sept. 17th, 1904
Released: Dec 13, 1905
Manner of release: Discharge
Charge: Adultery
County: Multnomah
Time: (2) Two Years
Age: 31
Nativity: Germany
Height: 5 ft-2 1/2 inches
Weight: 133 Abs.
Complexion: Light
Hair: Light
Eyes: Blue
Occupation: Minister of the Gospel
Read and Write: Yes
Name of Relatives: Mrs. Edwin Creffield
Address of Relatives: Corvallis, Ore.
Married or Single: Married
Creed: Apostle of Jesus Christ
Breast: 36 1/2
Arm: 30
Waist: 30 1/2
Hips: 34
Leg: 29
Foot: 5 1/2
Neck: 14 1/2
Head 22 1/2
Cut scar left side back of head; cut scar back of head; pit scar and lump left cheek; pit scar right side of forehead; 2 pit scars below right temple; pit scar outside right upper arm; number of cut scars 2nd joint 1st and 2nd fingers right hand; large cut scar inside left hand; cut scar 3rd large cut scar inside left hand; cut scar 3rd joint index finger left hand; small cut scar right buttock, pit scar left side of back just above buttock; cut scar back of right knee; large cut scar right knee, good teeth.
Conduct: Days Awarded for extra labor 127 days Road Work 9/27/05
20 days Road Work Oct./05
13 days Road Work Nov./05
42 days Road Work Dec/05

Franz E. Crefield's Washington State Death Certificate (Volume No: 1906, Register No: 16307) reads:

Edmund CreffieldPlace of Death: County of: King, City of:
Registration Dist. No:
2) FULL NAME: Franz E. Crefield
Personal and Statistical Particulars
3) Sex: Male
4) Color or Race: White
5) Single, Married, Widowed or Divorced: Married
6) If Married, Widowed or Divorced, Husband of or Wife of:
7) Date of Birth:
Age: 33
8) Occupation of deceased: Holy Roller (a) trade or particular kind of work:
(b) General nature of Industry, business establishment in which employed (or employer):
(c) Name of Employer:
9) Birthplace (City or Town) (State or Country): Germany
10) Name of Father: Franz Crefield
11) Birthplace of Father (City or Town) (State or Country): Germany
12) Maiden Name of Mother:-------
13) Birthplace of mother (City or Town) (State or Country: Germany
14) Informant:___________Address:
15) Filed: 5 MAY 1906 W. L. Ludlow
Medical Certificate of Death
16) Date of Death: May 7 1906
17) I HEREBY CERTIFY, That I attended the deceased from:________ to:
that I last say h___ alive on:_____and that death occurred on the date stated above at:
(State the disease causing death or, in deaths from violent causes, sate (1) Means and nature of injury; and (2) whether ACCIDENTAL, SUICIDAL or HOMICIDAL.
The CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows:
(Primary): External Violence
18) Where was disease contracted if not at the place of death:
(a) Did an operation precede death?:
(b) Was there an autopsy?:
(c) What test confirmed diagnosis?:
(Signed) F. M. Carroll M. D.
19)Place of Burial, Cremation or removal:
Date of Burial:
20) Undertaker: Address:
We have been trying to locate long lost relatives of Edmund Creffield. If you believe you might be related, please e-mail us.

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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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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