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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.

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


Frank & Mollie Hurt
Sara Robbin & Jon Ashley Hall
as Mollie & Frank Hurt

Corvallis Times 6/10/1903 p3

Desertion From The Ranks

Major Brooks Forsakes the Salvation Army and Joins the Comeouters


Major Charles Edward Brooks who has had charge of the Salvation Army work in this locality for some months has a charge of desertion laid against him by his former associate and ex-comrade who so long marched by the major’s side in pursuance of his duty as a lieutenant of the Corvallis corps. “Yes,” said Lt. Mannes to a Times writer, “the major has deserted us. In his talks on the street you no doubt have heard him declare how certain he was that was saved in the army. At last he concluded that he was not saved and affected to believe that he could be saved only through the Comeouters. He pretends to know now that he is saved and affected to believe that he could be saved only through the Comeouters. He pretends to know now that he is saved, but whether he was lying before or now I can not tell. Ever since months ago so many members of the army here went over to the Comeouters, or Holy Rollers as they are sometimes designated, the work of the army has been very difficult because that organization seems to make a greater effort to win members of other churches than it does to win sinners.” These were the words of Lt. Mannes, spoken in a dejected manner, and he was doubtless much affected by conditions of affairs. Ensign Brown, who has charge of the social work of the army in Portland was here Monday to wind up the affairs of the organization in Corvallis. He gave up the building in which meetings have been held, and the furniture and fixtures were stored for the present in rooms near by. The Salvation Army is to withdraw from Corvallis for an indefinite time. The boom of the bass drum is hushed, and the notes of “Down Where the Living Waters Flow” is silent, possibly forever in Corvallis.


At one time membership of the Salvation Army here numbered about 25, but some months ago they went over almost in a body to a sect established here denominated Comeouters. This new order is apparently very devout, but their customs, rites and formalities are so queer and unusual that the organization has been the subject of much comment from those who do not enter fully into the idea of allowing persons to worship God in the manner that seems to them best. At present the Comeouters are holding a protracted camp meeting on the Kiger Island, and here it was that Major Brooks was converted to their belief. It is said that the conversion of Brooks was quite spectacular; that in his spiritual excitement he saw and described the devil approaching enwrapped in a network of snakes, and having frogs, lizards and other hideous reptiles clinging to his body; that as a means of placating his devilish majesty he tore off his Salvation Army cap and coat and hurled them into the fire. Then he swooned and became oblivious to his surroundings, and incident common to the rites of the sect.

Access to the camp ground and to the services is not enjoyed by the public, presumably for the reason that many wish to attend through curiosity mainly.


Holy RollersCorvallis Times 6/20/1903 p3

James Berry was not able to be on hand for business yesterday morning. Late Thursday evening he started south on the state road on his motor bicycle. He rode swiftly. Out a short distance south of the Smith school house the front fork of his machine broke. A traveler came along afterward and picked James up. There were scratches and bruises about his face, and James was so shaken up that he didn’t quite know what was going on. He was brought to his home at Victor Hurt’s where a good night’s sleep restored him sufficiently to realize everything, save what happened when the wheel broke and for a few hours thereafter.


Dalles Weekly Chronicle 6/24/1903 p3

After raving for several days in the city jail, the young man by the name of Phillips, who was arrested Monday night for running about the streets yelling and disturbing the peace, quieted down and was discharged last night. It was not thought necessary to examine him as to his sanity as it was supposed undue excitement at a holiness meeting caused the temporary unbalancing of his mind.


Corvallis Times 6/27/1903 p4

J. K. Berry--Bicycles


The bicycle has become such an important means of conveyance that the city has not an agency or repair shop for this 20th century vehicle is indeed and exception. Mr. J. K. Berry conducts an up-to-date bicycle store and repair shop and is prepared to give entire satisfaction either in the way of a new wheel, skillful repairing, or in supplying any of its parts. He is the agent for Rambler, Raycycle and Tribune wheels and conducts a bicycle livery in connection. He also handles the California motorcycle and the Fairbanks-Morse gasoline engine, and carries a full line of fishing tackle. In the repair department he does brazing, enameling, and is fully equipped for doing any kind of repairing promptly and skillfully. He also handles guns and ammunition and loads shells to order. Mr. Berry has been in business here for two years and his prices are reasonable and all his work guaranteed. Give him a call.


Corvallis Times 6/27/1903 p3

May Hurt and Grace Starr went to Portland Monday for a visit with relatives.


Corvallis Times 7/22/1903 p3

Frank Hurt and Miss Molile Sandell were married Monday. The ceremony took place at the Hurt home, and was witnessed only by relatives. The knot was tied by Justice Holgate.


Corvallis Gazette 7/24/1903 p3

The marriage of Mr. Frank Hurt and Miss Mollie Sandell was solemnized at the home of the groom’s parents of this city last Monday afternoon. The ceremony was performed by Justice Holgate in the presence of relatives and a few invited guests. The groom is a well known young man of this city. His bride came here from Seattle, where her parents reside, for a visit last March. With another young lady, she had charge of the work of the Salvation Army here about three years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Hurt will remain in Corvallis until fall when they will go to Seattle to reside.


Corvallis Gazette 7/31/1903 p3

The marriage of Mr. a. H. Sharp and Mrs. Sarah E. Dennis was solemnized at the home of the bride’s daughter, Mrs. Oscar Starr, in this city yesterday morning at 10 o’clock. Rev. Nobel officiated. The happy pair took the morning train for Albany, from which point they will proceed to Portland. After a few days at the metropolis they will return to Corvallis to make their home.


Corvallis Gazette Fri 7/31/1903 p3

J. K. Berry went to Portland Tuesday to secure an Oldsmobile, which will be placed on exhibition at his bicycle factory. He is expected home tomorrow.


Corvallis Times 8/1/1903 p3

A marriage license was granted Wednesday to A. H. Sharp and Sarah E. Dennis.

The Marriage of Bert Sharp and Mrs. Dennis occurred at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Starr Thursday. The ceremony occurred at 10 o'clock and Rev. Noble of the Baptist church officiated. Mr. and Mrs. Sharp left on the 11 o’clock train for Albany where the bride has relatives.


1907 Murine for driving advertisementCorvallis Times 8/5/1903 p3

The automobile that has been spinning about town the past two days is the property of James Berry. He brought it from Portland, arriving here Saturday evening. It is an Oldsmobile, which is one of the handsomest styles manufactured in that it exhibits no ungainly housing. All machinery is encased in what might be an ordinary jump-seat buggy box arranged for two persons. Its speed capacity is 30 miles per hour under favorable conditions. It is claimed that it can be propelled up any hill road which wagons ordinarily traverse. The price of this machine in Corvallis is $690.


Corvallis Gazette 8/7/1903 p3

Early peaches are ripe in the Kiger orchard. Mr. Kiger has kindly remembered the Gazette man with a box of this luscious fruit, and our thanks are hereby expressed.


Corvallis Gazette 8/7/1903 p3

The Gazette man is indebted to J. K. Berry for his first spin in an automobile. He didn’t ride far. The ethics of his profession do not permit of enjoyment to the point of satiety. But the exhilaration; the pulse quickening strange sensation of even a short excursion on an Oldsmobile machine beats the tintinnabulation of the sleigh bells and the--see how easy it is to lapse into poetry when there’s inspiration. This machine is the one referred to in this paper a week ago. It is a handsome vehicle capable of making 30 miles an hour and is propelled by a four-horse motor. It is valued at $690.


Corvallis Times 8/8/1903 p3

J. M. Ingle took a ride on an auto the other day, but not without temporary and preliminary difficulties. He climbed into the Berry machine on the apron in front of the brick livery stable. He sat down with an air of satisfaction with the world and expectation of a delightful ride. From some cause the machine seemed to start off so briskly that John lost his balance. His feet flew up, and the late candidate for congress rolled out over the cushioned seat and dropped all heels up on the walk a couple of feet below. He was not hurt, and gathering up his hat Mr. Ingle climbed in again and with the wisdom of experience braced for the start, and the outfit glided away with speed and grace  ...


The speed, ease and grace with which the Berry and Fisher autos glide through the streets and out into the country make on-lookers sigh for a ride, or for the wherewithal to own a machine. Prevailing opinion is that the auto is to be largely the conveyance of the future, and in time the buggies, even for general use will be largely superseded. Even then, however there will have to be lower priced machines so that the man with the hoe can take his turn at ownership. Even on Benton county roads the local machines make a speed of fifteen or twenty miles an hour without sensibly shaking up the rider.


Corvallis Times 8/12/1903 p3

Last Sunday Wm. Hartley and a friend strolled out on Mary’s river flat and the former approached a pony which was staked there. Mr. Hartley liked the looks of the animal and began caressing him. “I like the looks of this little fellow very much” said Mr. Hartley. “I should like to buy him. He appears so kind and gentle.” Mr. Hartley passed his hand down the pony’s hind leg to discover any blemishes. Like a flash the animal smote the hand that caressed him, and wheeled and kicked viciously with both hind feet sending Mr. Hartley’s hat high in the air. The gentleman essayed to retaliate in kind, but he was soon compelled to retreat the length of the stake rope only saving him from utter annihilation. Since the encounter Mr. Hartley has not been able to work on account of a lacerated hand and probably a number of in apparent injuries which he does not care to disclose. He is endeavoring to find the owner of the pony, not for the purpose of buying the animal, but with the intention of presenting a claim for damages.


Corvallis Times 8/22/1903 p3

J. K. Berry thinks he knows who is digging potatoes in his garden on Second Street between Adams and Washington, but he offers $5 reward for conclusive evidence. Somebody better “look a little out.”


Corvallis Gazette Fri 9/4/1903 p3

J. K. Berry has sold his interest in the bicycle business heretofore known as Berry Bros., and will leave shortly for the East. The business will be carried on by Berry and Carl, both young men expert in the business.


Corvallis Gazette 10/2/1903 p3

Warren B. Hartley came down from Bohemia Tuesday and will remain several days.


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

(541) 563-3112


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Theresa (T-) McCracken