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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.

1893-1899: Local Lore, News Of Corvallis and Vicinity Told in Brief B. C. (Before Creffield)

Most of these earliest articles are from the Corvallis Gazette and Corvallis Times, the latter of which had a regular feature titled, Local Lore, News Of Corvallis and Vicinity Told in Brief, The comings and Goings of People, Social Gossip, Personal Mention and Other Items of Public Interest. While not as juicy as the later stuff (the sex scandals, the mass insanity, the murders, etc.) they do give one a glimpse into what life in Oregon was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

 

Corvallis Times 12/28/1893 p3

The Salvation Army captured nine prisoners last week.Brigadier-General Mary Stillwell

 

Corvallis Times 6/31/1894 p1

The Salvation Army occasionally gets a new recruit. The other day a little lassie came into our midst being very poorly clad; no shoes, not bonnet, no wrap, a Mrs. Sam Dixon took her in and gave her a home. Sam says she is looking for more soon.

 

Yamhill County Reporter (McMinnville) 12/14/1894 p3

Sometime during the last winter Alfred Moore put an apple away in his trunk to see if it would keep until the 4th of July. The apple was forgotten until one day this week when it was found to still be sound, but on being exposed to light and air it soon turned black.

 

Yamhill County Reporter (McMinnville) 12/14/1894 p3

Mrs. Mitchell, the wife of Chas. Mitchell who resides a mile northwest of Newberg, died suddenly Wednesday night at two o’clock. The deceased has a spell of sickness two weeks ago, but seemingly had about recovered. On Wednesday she felt rather badly, but no alarm was felt in the family until in the night, when she was taken worse suddenly and died in a few minutes.

 

1899 whiskey advertisementCorvallis Times 1/7/1897 p3

A PIECE OF HOODLUMISM

 

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.

 

 

Corvallis Times 8/7/1897 p1

The Salvation Army of Corvallis attacked Philomath last Tuesday night in force under the leadership of Ensign Leigh with his kintograph, assisted by Capt. Duthie and Lieut. Spencer. The meeting was held in the brick college chapel. Ensign Leigh explained the social work of the Salvation Army and what has been done to relieve the poor and destitute in this division known as the North Pacific Chief division.

 

1899 Cures W/O Medicine  advertisementCorvallis Times 12/8/1897 p3

MANY ARE PROSTRATED

There was Poison in the Food -- Head Cheese and Sausage that made People sick.

 

Forty-six Corvallis people prostrated, all seriously and some dangerously ill, with all the physicians in town on the jump in caring for them is the unfortunate condition brought about as a result of the consumption of poisonous food the latter part of the week. So far no fatalities have resulted, and it is believed by physicians in charge that the danger point is passed; but some of the victims are still in a bad state of prostration, with the deadly poison thoroughly distributed through the physical system.

 

The food eater was head cheese and sausage, made last week on the farm of John Hurlburt who resides several miles south of Corvallis. A quantity of the product was brought to town and distributed as a delicacy among a circle of relatives and friends, many of them, being members of the Salvation Army. In every instance, according to the best information obtainable, where one ate either the head cheese or sausage, serious illness has resulted. The symptoms are invariably the same, and include violent vomiting and purging, accompanied by terrible pains in the stomach and bowels. The physicians have in each case diagnosed the illness as poison, and the antidotes applied have usually had the desired effect in reducing the pain and arresting the further progress of the disease toward an alarming stage. The affected food has not only been fatal to persons but also to domestic animals. A friend took a small slice of the head cheese to Mrs. Horton, who suffers with the illness. She declined to eat it, and her daughter Addie ate a small portion and laid the remainder of the slice on the table. The house cat came along, ate the remainder and has ever since been the sickest cat in town. A pet dog on the premises of O.V. Hurt ate a small quantity of the stuff and its health has since been similar to that of the cat.

 

1899 Pilsbury Wheat Food advertisementSo far as known those ill as a result of eating the food are: O.V. Hurt, wife and four children, besides Burt Sharp and Miss Whiteman residing in the same family; Captain Plumstead, wife and child, and Marion Woods, all residing at the Salvation Army barracks, Plutarch Lewis, wife and three children, ... Mr. Starr, a brother of Mrs. O.V. Hurt; ...

 

Of all the victims probably O.V. Hurt, Mrs. Plutarch Lewis, Miss Whiteman, and Mrs. Gardner have been the most seriously affected. Mr. Hurt ate of the head cheese Friday evening at supper. Before daylight the next morning he was taken sick, but was at his place at Kline's store during the forenoon Saturday. Pains in the stomach and bowels and during the succeeding night violent purging and vomiting made his case alarming. Dr. Farra was summoned and the case was at once pronounced as a result of poison. By this time, which was early Sunday morning, all the rest of the household was similarly ill. Up to yesterday all in the house were still confined to bed, with the exception of Mr. Hurt their condition was considered improved. Mr. Hurt himself was in a serious condition of prostration, still suffering more or less pain, and very much exhausted.

 

Corvallis Gazette 12/31/1897 p3

The debut of the Corvallis Salvation Army Brass Band is to shortly occur.

 

Corvallis Times 1/5/1898 p2

Salvation Army Affairs

 

A ten days session of the annual camp meeting of the Salvation Army was concluded on Monday evening last. The services were largely attended and to the ranks there was an accession of four recruits. Major Marshal, chief division officer for the Northwest and Staff Captain, sectional officer with headquarters at Salem were present Monday evening, the former commissioning a number of minor officers. Among them were members of a band recently organized. The work here under the direction of Captain Plumstead and Lieut. Pearson is being prosecuted energetically and successfully. The soldiers now enrolled in the Corvallis corps number thirty-three.

 

1894 Bathrobe Wrap advertisementCorvallis Gazette 4/8/1898 p3

May (sic) Hurt, listed an excellent Young Soldier boomer for the Salvation Army newspaper [The War Cry], and receives second prize nationwide for greatest amount of papers sold. This enterprising Salvation Army lassie wins a fine guitar.

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Newspaper Articles about Creffield & the Holy Rollers

1897-1899:Local Lore, News Of Corvallis and Vicinity Told in Brief B. C. (Before Creffield)

1900:Holy Rollers' Lives Before Creffield

1901:Holy Rollers' Lives Before Creffield

1902:Holy Rollers' Lives Creffield

January 18, 1903: Fred Mitchell Attempts Suicide

June 10, 1903: Salvation Army Major Deserts and Joins the Holy Rollers

October 31, 1903: Zealot Worshipers Burn Furniture, Dogs & Other Things

November 2, 1903: Fanatics In Court

November 3, 1903: Had Promise of Tar and Feathers

November 4, 1903: Flight of The Apostles

November 5, 1903: Once-Esteemed Family No Longer Has the Sympathy of the Community

November 6, 1903: Rollers Take On New Life

November 7, 1903: Is Creffield Back?

November 11, 1903: “Apostle” Creffield Still Under Cover

November 24, 1903: Girl of Sixteen Almost Insane

November 25, 1903: In Pursuit of Creffield

November 27, 1903: The Lord May Starve Them

November 28, 1903: Holy Rollers Receive Unwilling Baptism

December 7, 1903: Demented Woman Suffers

December 8, 1903: Hurt Seen In Portland

December 11, 1903:Holy Rollers Roll Into Eugene Church

December 21, 1903:Holy Roller Victim Worse

December 22, 1903: Linn County Holy Rollers

December 23, 1903: Is Crazy Now

December 29, 1903: Holy Rollers’ Not Liked at the Dalles

December 30, 1903: Owner of Property Refuses to Permit Séances

January 6, 1904: Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered

January 9, 1904: Their Welcome Departure

January 12, 1904: Editorial Comment: “Put yourselves in our place!”

January 13, 1904: Where Brooks Went

January 19, 1904: Our Brainy Contemporaries

January 25: Holy Rollers’ in Hobo Camp Life

February 1, 1904: Camp In Linn County Is Broken Up By Officers

February 6, 1904: How They Tell The Holy Roller Story In Far Off Scotland

February 11, 1904: Medium Mystify Corvallis People

March 1, 1904: The “Holy Rollers” Offend Humanity

March 16, 1904: Holy Rollers to Be Arrested on Serious Charge

March 17, 1904: Where is the Apostle?

March 21, 1904: Reward For Creffield's Capture

March 23, 1904: Fugitive Creffield

March 28, 1904: Reward is Offered

April 1, 1904: “Holy Roller” Chief Very Badly Wanted

April 18, 1904: Holy Roller High Priest Is Seen

April 29, 1904: Urania Seeley is Arrested

May 2, 1904: Frank & Mollie Hurt are Committed to the Asylum

May 4, 1904: Maud Hurt-Creffield & Sophia Hartley are Committed

May 7, 1904: Attie Bray &Rose Seeley are Committed

June 11, 1904: Attie Bray Escapes

June 17, 1904: Mae Hurt is Committed

June 29, 1904: Sarah Hurt is Committed

July 22, 1904: Holy Roller on Death Row

July 29, 1904: Creffield Found Half Dead Under Hurt’s House

July, 30 1904: Armed Guards Protect Creffield

July, 31 1904: Corvallis Could Not Raise a Mob

August 1, 1904: Creffield says, "I am Elijah"

August 2, 1904: Creffield Does Not Dislike Prison

August 4, 1904: Creffield Says He Is Entirely Purified

August 5, 1904: He Does Nothing Unless Directed by God

August 6, 1904: Creffield Believes in Satan and Eternal Punishment

August 9, 1904: No Flowers For Creffield

August 13, 1904; The Holy Rollers And The Man Who Made Them

August 16, 1904; Creffield Reward Will Be Returned

August 19, 1904: Followers in Asylum Stick To Faith

August 23, 1904: Creffield Will Fight His Own Case

August 28, 1904: Creffield Destroys His Revelations

September 16, 1904: Creffield is Guilty

September 21, 1904: Holy Rollers go in and Out of the Asylum

March 22, 1905: Prison Life Of Joshua Creffield>

April 8, 1905: Life In Corvallis Returns to Normal

December 12, 1905: Frank & Mollie Hurt Have a Baby Girl

April 24, 1906: Creffield Establishes a Camp Near Waldport

April 30, 1906: Donna Starr Leaves Children to go to Her Spiritual Love, Joshua Creffield

May 1, 1906: Creffield Takes Credit for The San Francisco Earthquake

May 3, 1906: Creffield In Fear Of His Life

May 7, 1906: Holy Roller Shot Down Like A Dog

May 8, 1906: Medal to Be Given Mitchell in Recognition of His Killing

May 9, 1906: Oregon Prosecutor Would Aid Mitchell

May 10, 1906: Shows No Emotion At Husband’s Grave

May 11, 1906: Bail Is All Ready

May 12, 1906: Mitchell Denied Bail

May 13, 1906: Creffield is Due To Rise Today

May 14, 1906: Creffield’s Widow Watches At Grave

May 15, 1906: Corvallis Starts Fund for Defense of Mitchell

May 16, 1906: Holy Rollers Starving Near Heceta Head

May 17, 1906: Public Sentiment Favors Mitchell

May 18, 1906: Creffield Railed in Vermont

May 19, 1906: Mitchell to Enter Plea of Not Guilty

May 27, 1906: Joshua Says Not to Worry

June 1, 1906: Morris Claims Mitchell Rid World of a Fiend

June 16, 1906: Prosecution and Defense are Making Last Preparations

June 19, 1906: Many Witnesses For Mitchell

June 24, 1906: Trial Will Cost Taxpayers Ten Thousand Dollars

June 25, 1906: George Mitchell on Trial For His Life

June 26, 1906: Mitchell Jury is Selected With Care

June 27, 1906: Mitchell Trial Held Up By Squabble

June 28, 1906:  Jury is Secured to Try Mitchell

June 29, 1906: Trial is Now on in Earnest

June 30, 1906: Mrs. Creffield's Testimony

July 1, 1906: Creffield’s Ghost Controls His Flock

July 2, 1906:  Esther Mitchell on Stand Refuses To Aid Brother

July 3, 1906: Hurt Tells of Debauched Wife and Debased Sisters

July 4, 1906: Creffield’s Unsavory Record Presented to the Jury

July 5, 1906: Expected Admissibility of Evidence Will Arouse Controversy

July 6, 1906: Others Testify They Wished to Kill Creffield

July 7, 1906: Insanity Expert on the Witness Stand

July 8, 1906: Plan To Revive Holy Rollerism

July 9, 1906: Killing of Judge Emory May Effect Mitchell

July 10, 1906: Mitchell Case Goes To Jury

July 11, 1906: Not Guilty

July 12, 1906: General Rejoicing at Mitchell’s Acquittal

July 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Kills Her Brother!

July 14, 1906: Mitchell Boys Are Done With Esther

July 15, 1906: Hurt Will Come to Aid of His Daughter

July 16: 1906: Will Mortgage His Home for Daughter

July 17, 1906: Let’s Think When We Talk

July 18, 1906: Mrs. Starr’s Life Threatened

July 19, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Weeps in Jail

July 20, 1906: George Mitchell’s Attorney Offers Aid to Murderesses

July 21, 1906: Mitchell Boys to Stand by Esther

July 22, 1906: Hurt Thinks Both Women Are Insane

July 23, 1906: Frater Favors a Commission of Alienists

July 24, 1906: Mackintosh Will Oppose Calling Commission

July 26, 1906: Is Reconciled to Holy Roller Wife

July 27, 1906: Holy Rollers Seek Home in Wyoming

July 28, 1906: Mitchell Juror is Insane

July 30, 1906: Esther Will Deny Committing Murder In The 1st Degree

July 31 1906: Esther Mitchell Says Not Guilty

August 1, 1906: Relatives to Help Esther Mitchell

August 4, 1906: Creffield Greatly Hurt True Religion

August 6, 1906: Mitchell Boys in Drunken Row

August 8, 1906: St. Louis Woman Coming to Convert “Rollers”

August 12, 1906: Esther Mitchell Close to Death from Typhoid

August 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Not Seriously Ill

September 1, 1906: Four Charged with First Degree Now in County Jail

September 10 1906: To Examine Minds of Slayers

September 12, 1906: Hurt Thinks His Daughter Insane

September 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Objects to Help

September 14, 1906: Women Not Agitated

September 15, 1906: Mrs. Creffield’s Trial Set for Next Month

September 17, 1906: Mrs. Creffield on Stand

September 18, 1906:  Maud Creffield Anxious to Hang

September 19, 1906: Are They Sane of Insane?

September 21, 1906: Both Women May Go Scott Free

September 22, 1906: Where is This Thing to End!

September 23, 1906: Murders Must Be Tried

September 24, 1906: Must Not Deport

September 25, 1906: Judge Frater is in Very Small Business

September 28, 1906: Insanity Board Not Paid

October 1, 1906: Holy Roller Woman Dies While in Trance

November 9, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Said to Be in Very Nervous State

November 17, 1906: Maud Creffield Dies in the County Jail

November 18, 1906: Death May End a Hypnotic Spell

November 19, 1906: Reviews Findings in Examination of Brain

November 20, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Killed Herself with Poison!

November 21, 1906: Poison Is Found In The Stomach Of Mrs. Creffield

November 22, 1906: Esther Says Maud Did Not Kill Herself

December 4, 1906: Washing Dirty Linen

December 17, 1906: Sad Christmas For Holy Roller

February 21, 1907: Esther Mitchell Goes to Asylum

April 30, 1907: Esther Mitchell Still Believe in Creffield & His Return

April 6, 1909: Esther Mitchell Leaves Asylum

April 9, 1914: Esther Mitchell Marries James Berry

August 3, 1914: Esther Mitchell is Dead By Own Hand

1953 Stewart Holbrook's Murder Without Tears

1951 Startling Detective Magazine: Nemesis of the Nudist High Priest

A List of All the Articles

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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

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Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers

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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

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Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults

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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

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

(541) 563-3112

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