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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.

1901: 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.

1899 turkish bath advertisementCorvallis Times 1/23/1901 p3

O V Hurt went to Salem Monday.


Corvallis Times 1/30/01 p3

At the Salvation Army Hall next Saturday evening the children provide the entertainment. Refreshments will be served at the close. Admission free. A grand rally of the army forces is also announced for Tuesday night. The hall is in charge of officers recently from the East, and they seem disposed to make considerable stir.


Corvallis Times 2/6/1901 p3

O V Hurt has accepted a position as salesman in the store of S L Kline.


Corvallis Times 2/13/01 p3

Clarence Starr has accepted a position as salesman in the Berman grocery store, and began his duties Monday morning.


Corvallis Gazette 2/15/1901

Salvation Army News


Captain Haleton, who has labored in the Salvation Army in Corvallis for some time past, will preach his farewell sermon in this city next Sunday. Numerous conversions have been made as a result of his efforts here, but home duties call him away at this time.


Tomorrow night a swearing in of soldiers will occur at the army hall to which all are invited.


General Willaim BoothCorvallis Gazette 3/6/1901 p3

The Salvation Army


General Booth sailed from America last Wednesday, after five months spent in this country in the interest of the Salvation Army. A special number of the War Cry is to be issued in commemoration of his visit here.


The front page will consist of a central picture of Gen. Booth, surrounded by twelve or thirteen of the nation’s most prominent men. These will include President Roosevelt, the governors of Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, Utah, and Massachusetts, and United States senators and mayors of leading cities.

We hope the people of Corvallis and surrounding county will be interest in this special issue dated March 7th.

Yours Fraternally,

C. E. Brooks



Corvallis Times 3/30/1901 p1

Mrs. Starr, mother of Mrs. Victor Hurt, was stricken with paralysis Wednesday, but at last accounts was much improved.


Corvallis Times 4/24//1901 p3

O V Hurt went to Salem Monday.


1898 Cleveland Bicycle advertisementCorvallis Gazette 4/26/1901 p3

J. D. and J. K. Berry will open a bicycle repair shop about the 15th of next month in the building formerly occupied by the Variety Store. A fine outfit of new tools has been sent for and when in place will make a well-equipped shop. The new proprietors have had ample experience in this line of work. They will also deal in second hand bikes.


Corvallis Gazette Fri 5/3/1901 p3

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 Times 5/15/1901 p3

A new bicycle repair shop is to be opened in town. James Berry is to be proprietor and the shop is to be three doors south of the store of J H Harris.


Corvallis Times 5/18/1901 p3

Among the Portland-bound passengers yesterday morning was Mrs. Hurt and daughter, Miss Maud.


Corvallis Times 5/18/1901 p3

A telegram to O V Hurt announces the death yesterday morning at Oakland City, Indiana, of his father J J Hurt. The deceased was aged 71 years and one day, having celebrated the anniversary of his birth the day before his death. He had been nearly all his life a resident of the state of Indiana, having been born in Kentucky just across the river from the Indiana border. He was visited by Mr. Hurt two years ago.


1899 cigar advertisementCorvallis Times 5/29/1901 p3

It was not a cyclone or a cattle stampede, though not many of the symptoms were lacking. It happened in Kline’s store Saturday evening. The employees were boxing eggs for shipment. Victor Hurt stooped over an egg case and rummaged in the bottom, when a big rat ran up his arm on his shoulder, brandishing his tail in his face. Hurt, convinced that it was the panther reported at large west of town, fell over him self in terror and set upon a commotion that brought all employees to the scene. Armed with brooms, pocket shears and bars of soap the boys began a chase that finally ended with the death of the rat just outside the front door. The only hurt sustained in the incident was by Hurt, whose nerves were so hurt that he still sees rats in every old box about the store.


Corvallis Times 6/12/1901 p3

L Hartley and family are to leave this morning for Wildwood to engage in mining for the next three months in the Bohemia district.


Corvallis Times 6/17/01 p3

The Salvation Army has a new commander at Corvallis. He is Captain Weber who, with his wife, arrived from California and assumed command yesterday.


Corvallis Gazette 7/19/1901 p3

O.V. Hurt has rented the farm of Mrs. Agnes Thompson as short distance south of town. He expects to move his family onto the place some time in October.


Corvallis Times 9/4/1901 p2

Those Who Graduated


  ... Under the regular work of state course for the past year a large number of Benton county pupils enjoyed its beneficial results. No less than 130 pupils took the examination for eighth grade graduation diplomas. Of this number, 60 successfully passed the examination. R V Williamson of Wells School made the highest general average, which was 97 per cent. The other successful applicants were ... May Hurt ...


Corvallis Times 9/11/1901 p3

The Salvation Army is preparing for its annual Harvest festival to be held from Saturday, September 21st to Tuesday the 24th inclusive. Gifts of any articles of salable character will be thankfully received at the local barracks.


1899 kola plant  advertisementCorvallis Times 9/14/1901 p3

Dead Soldier

He Served in the Philippines--John Berry--

His Burial at Fossil, Oregon


John Berry of Corvallis died at the home of his sister, Mrs. Prindle at Fossil at four o’clock Sunday morning. He went there three weeks ago, and on Friday of last week wired his relatives in this city to come. His mother and his brother James left at once, and in Portland received news that John was better. They proceeded on their journey, however, but arrived at Fossil Sunday evening to find that son and brother was no more. The internment was at Fossil on Monday.


There was no embalmer at Fossil and it was not deemed best to attempt to transport the body to Corvallis. James Berry is expected to arrive home tomorrow. Mrs. Berry will remain at Fossil for a time to visit with her daughter.


The deceased was a member of the 2nd Oregon, and was in all of the campaigns of the regiment in the Philippines. He was in the same company with a number of the Corvallis boys. He returned from the islands more or less broken in health. For a time he engaged in the truck business in Corvallis but had to retire from it on account of his health. In recent weeks he failed rapidly under the ravages of consumption, which caused his death.


Mr. Berry was about 25 years of age. He was a native of Minnesota, but had resided from early boyhood in Benton county and Corvallis. His father was a United Brethren minister in Philomath and died many years ago.


Corvallis Times 9/21/1901 p2

Lewis Hartley and family returned to Corvallis Wednesday from the Bohemia mines where Mr. H. has interests in a number of claims, and where the family spent the school vacation. A son and daughter of the family enter the college sophomore year. Mr. Hartley returns in a few days to the mines.


Corvallis Times 9/28/1901 p3

Warren B. Hartley has returned to Corvallis to enter OAC. He has been in the Bohemia mining district during the summer, assisting his father in the development of an excellent mining claim. The young man is in the mining course at the college and gets practice along with theory.


1903 thresher advertisementCorvallis Times 9/28/1901 p3

O V Hurt and family are moving to the Thompson farm south of Corvallis where they are to reside the coming year.


Corvallis Gazette 10/4/1901 p3

Warren B. Hartley, not having accomplished his reinstatement at the OAC, to the disappointment of many friends, left Wednesday for his home in Bohemia, Lane county.


Corvallis Times 10/26/1901 p3

A swift journey on a bicycle was made Saturday by Frank Hurt. He went from Corvallis to Oregon City in six hours. It is not likely that the trip was ever made by wheel in so short a time. He rode a Cleveland. It ought to be added that he had a sharp south wind at his back most of the way.


Corvallis Gazette 10/29/1901 p3

Meeting Schedule


Daily at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday and Friday, 3 p.m.

Saturday at 2:30 p.m.


Circle meetings at 8:30 a.m. as follows:

Mrs. J. D. Mann’s

Mrs. M. Swich’s

Mrs. Campbell’s

Mrs. Herbert’s

Mrs. Hartley’s

At the church

General gathering at the church at 9:30 a.m.

A meeting for women only at 3 p.m. Admission by ticket.


Corvallis Gazette 11/1/1901 p3

O. V. Hurt returned home Tuesday from Portland where he had been a few days visiting his son Frank. Frank is employed as a checking clerk at Ainsworth dock for the O. R. & N. Co. He has a pretty good situation. Mr. Hurt says times are pretty lively in Portland and any laboring man can secure employment if he really cares to and a good wages.


Corvallis Gazette 11/1/01 p3

Fast Traveling


Clarence Starr returned home Tuesday from Seaside, Oregon where he had been employed for several months in a sawmill. He relates an amusing story at the expense of the little pumpkin vine railroad that runs from Warrenton to Seaside. While en route home, traveling over this line, the train slowed down, that is, it went slower than usual and the whistle was repeatedly blown in vain efforts to “shoo” a cow off the track. It seem impossible to make he give the right of way and a wearied passenger finally agreed to give her a start, which he did. She seemed quite alarmed at the demonstrations of the passenger and, throwing her tail to the breeze, continued her way on down the track at her liveliest gait. The passenger climbed back onto the “whole train” and the engine was turned loose to make up for the time lost. After about half an hour’s run the train again slowed down and the shrill whistle resounded along the coast. The passenger inquired what was the matter now. He was answered by the conductor who stated that they had caught up with the cow.


1899 electric hairbrush  advertisementCorvallis Times 11/2/1901 p3

O. V. Hurt returned Wednesday from a business trip to Portland.



Corvallis Times 11/2719/01 p3

Corvallis Men

They Are Operating in Mining Properties--Something About Them


One who knows says that Louis Hartley, of Corvallis, has a mighty good thing in the Bohemia mines. His operations there, this party says, promise to make him independent so far as dollars and cents are concerned. In the newspaper clipping bellow, taken from the Bohemia Nugget, something is said about mining, which Mr. Hartley is interested.


‘Louis Hartley was in town this week from Bohemia. He and friends have secured ownership to the claim known as the Hole in the Ground adjoining the six properties they now own. This acquisition will round out their holdings on Bohemia Creek. The parties mostly interested in this group of claims are businessmen of Corvallis. Trails have been built, cabins constructed and everything has been or will be put in shape for energetic and continuous work when spring opens.


‘This group of mines joins the group recently sold and transferred to P.J. Jennings by Hartley and Hughes. The new transfer shows that properties in that locality are on the move, and with new blood and money that section will before long, come well to the front.


Corvallis Gazette 12/3/1901 p3

Frank Hurt is reported to be doing exceedingly well in his position as shipping clerk at Ainsworth dock, Portland. A few days ago he checked a China steamer in and out. This is quite an undertaking and requires considerable knowledge and great accuracy. He is well spoken of by his employers.


1899 morphine advertisementCorvallis Times 12/11/1901 p3

Lewis Hartley arrived home from the Bohemia mines Sunday morning. He will spend a few days with his family before returning to his work. Mr. Hartley reports Bohemia as booming. A new telephone line has been constructed from Cottage Grove to the mines which shows the interest manifested in that part. Properties for sale are steadily advancing in prices.


Corvallis Times 12/14/1901 p3

Mrs. O V Hurt and Mrs. Starr arrived Thursday from a weeks visit to Portland. Mrs. Hurt was accompanied by her son Frank, who is employed with O R & N Company at Portland. He is to return to Portland tomorrow.

Holy Rollers

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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


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

(541) 563-3112


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Theresa (T-) McCracken