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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.

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

 

O.V. Hurt FamilyCorvallis Gazette 10/30/1903 p3

O. V. Hurt who has held a position in S. L. Kline’s store for a number of years sent in his resignation on Wednesday of this week.

 

 

Corvallis Times 10/31/1903 p2

Their Queer Acts

Zealot Worshipers Burn Furniture, Dogs and Other Things--Town is Stirred.

 

“Positively no admittance excepts on God’s business”

That is the wording on a sign that hangs conspicuously displayed at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. O. V. Hurt. The same legend is also displayed prominently on the porch at the entrance to the house. The signs and the numerous prevalent conditions about the premises have been the talk of Corvallis for the past two days. Certain caprices of religions fanaticism have been manifested at the house that are so unusual as to suggest a condition of bordering insanity. Walks about the house have been torn away. Much of the furniture in the house has been reduced to ashes on a theory that God wills it. The shrubbery and fruit trees about the yard, and all the flowers have been digged up and destroyed. Kitchen utensils have been beaten to pieces and buried. An incident that has added unusual impetus to the sensational character of the conditions is that O. V. Hurt, a well known business man, former chairman of the Republican central committee and at present state committeeman, has joined the sect, and is now one of its most devoted members. Wednesday morning he failed to appear at Klines store where he has been employed for a long time. He sent instead his keys to the establishment along with a message to the effect that he had been living in sin and that hereafter he intended to devote himself to the work of God.

 

DOINGS OF THE SECT

 

Members of the Hurt family have long been leading lights in the sect in Corvallis. Formerly they were members of the Salvation Army. One time after joining the new sect they carried their devotions in a house on Main St. Their nightly incantations so much disturbed the people living in the locality that complaint was made and the authorities ordered the noise stopped. After that, a sort of camp meeting was held in a tent on an island in the Willamette south of town. Recently the worshipers moved to the Hurt house and there a daily and nightly manifestation of the peculiar bent of the membership has been kept up much to the annoyance of the neighborhood. During their devotions the worshipers roll on the floor, groan, scream, pray, shout and otherwise give evidence of the great bodily and mental agitation. There are in all about 20 members of the sect. Among them are Mr. and Mrs. Hurt, Frank Hurt and his wife and sister-in-law, Miss Maud Hurt, Creffield, a Swede with light hair, Brooks, ex-captain of the Salvation Army at Corvallis, Mrs. Hartley and daughter. All of the above persons are most of the time at the Hurt house. There are a number of families and others, some of whom engage in their peculiar form of worship in houses in various parts of town. Of the latter, none have been so demonstrative as those at the Hurt house.

 

THE TOWN ELECTRIFIED

 

It has been a long time since interest has been awakened to so high a pitch as that occasioned by the developments at the Hurt house. The doings of Wednesday night about the place, and the tearing up of walks and destruction of furniture Thursday forenoon, flew over town like wild fire, and everybody became interested. It was told about that a number of dogs and cats had been thrown into a sacrificial fire as part of the manifestation of the sect’s faith. The report which was accepted as a religious infestation not far removed from the doings of barbarous ancients sent peoples imaginations to work, and everybody discussed the sect and its antics. Everybody also was seized with curious desire to see something that was going on. Accordingly the walk in front of the Hurt house was lined with people most of the afternoon, the crowds of onlookers sometimes numbering 75 to 100. It was in the evening, however, that the visits by Corvallisites to the Hurt house really began. The walks leading to Mary’s river bridge and beyond were lined with excursionists, either going or coming from the seven o’clock or earlier to a very late hour. The walks in front of the house and to either side were not only filled with onlookers but many occupied places in the street. All seemed impressed with the idea that something of an extraordinary character was going to happen, but in this respect they were disappointed. The house in the early part of the evening was lighted up, but half past eight all the lights were out and everything inside was quiet. The crowd began to dwindle after nine o’clock, and by 11 the place was practically deserted.

 

Klines AdvertisementBURNING THE DOG

 

The reported burning of the cats and dogs had a powerful effect in exciting public interest. The visit of crowds to the Hurt house was not the only manifestation of public excitement. On the streets throughout Thursday no other topic was discussed. Men stood in groups on the pavements and related incidents concerning the sect or expressed opinions of what should be done. Many said that the officers ought to interfere, and others asked what could the officers do. It was generally conceded that Creffield and Brooks, the acknowledged high priests of the sect should be required to quit the community. It is the universal opinion that they are fanatical to a degree bordering on mental unsoundness.

 

The general reason assigned for the alleged burning of the cats and dogs was that the act was an outer manifestation of something in the creed of the sect. This is however denied by the members. During the afternoon of Thursday, Mr. Hurt told the officers that no cats were burned and that but one dog was sacrificed. He said with reference to the latter, that the dog was not wanted at the house, and that it could not be driven away. He added that the dog was killed in a humane way, and that its body was subsequently thrown into the fire. The story that more than one dog was burned and that several cats were thrown into the flames comes from the neighbors and some of them insist that the story is true.

 

TWO ARRESTED

 

A development in the situation was the arrest yesterday of Creffield and Brooks, the leaders in the movement. Creffield is a Swede of small stature, with light hair. He came to Corvallis about a year ago and it has been frequently reported that he was driven out of McMinnville. He is the master of ceremonies at the Hurt house, and is the person with whom people who apply there to see any of the inmates, come in contact. Brooks is the ex-captain of the Salvation Army. He came to town a year or more ago and after his retirement from the army he joined the new sect in which he has been a very active apostle.

 

Complaints from various sources were made during Thursday to the authorities, and in the afternoon. Sheriff Burnett and Deputy Attorney Bryson visited the Hurt House to investigate. The front gate is securely wired and approach from that direction is barred. The officers however climbed the fence and passing on the porch knocked loudly at the front door. A crowd of fifty to seventy five curious persons hung round in front of the premises, and gazed on the temple with curious interest, waiting, and doubtless hoping for developments. The knock of the officers brought one of the inmates to the door. He was Creffield. He denied the request of the officers to be admitted and the three engaged in a parley.

 

OV HurtCALL THEM “HOLLY ROLLERS”

 

The officer asked for Mr. Hurt and Creffield said that Mr. Hurt was seeking God and could not be seen. Presently the officers passed round the house where resistance again met their proposal to enter. Finally they met Mr. Hurt in the yard and by him were invited inside. They saw however that but a portion of the house. Their visit resulted yesterday in the arrest of Creffield and Brooks on a charge of insanity and both had a hearing at one o’clock yesterday afternoon before the county judge.

 

The members of the sect call themselves “God’s Anointed.” The sinners call them “The Holly Rollers” The members claim to have direct communication with the Almighty. When the officers called at the house and demanded to see Mr. Hurt, one of the high priests denied them admittance. The officers protested reminding the priests that they were the arms of the law and authority in the land and insisted upon having their request granted. “Well I will consult God about it,” replied the vice regent of Heaven, and thereupon he began to walk backward and forward across the porch with a faraway look in his eye and his face turned to the sky, as though he were penetrating the mysteries beyond. About that time the crowd in front called out to the officers that Mr. Hurt was in the yard on the other side of the house, and the new disciple was at once communicated with by the officers without the interposition of Providence or the assistance of the man on the porch.

 

WHY THEY BURN FURNITURE

 

A feature of the doings of the holy Rollers, as sinners call them, is the burning of furniture, the destruction of kitchen utensils, musical instruments and other house hold conveniences. Guitars, mandolins, chairs, window curtains, clothing, carpets and many other articles of use and comfort, without regard to value or cost have been freely consigned to the flames. A large amount of the conveniences of the Hurt house were so destroyed and a considerable quantity of goods from the Hartley house was similarly disposed of. This, with the tearing up of the sidewalk and digging of flowers and shrubbery at the Hurt place have attracted wide attention and comment. The reason assigned by the members for the destruction is that it is the will of God. They say they do what he directs, and they claim to be in constant communication with Him. A Times man was a supplicant at the door of the Hurt house Thursday forenoon and one of the high priests barred the entrance. The priest excused himself to the reporter saying that a message was about to be received inside from the Almighty and that he must go in, which he did, leaving the newspaperman alone on the stoop.

 

STONED THE HURT HOUSE

 

A contemptible outrage was committed Thursday evening by unknown persons who stoned the Hurt house. A large crowd was assembled in front and in the darkness it was impossible to see who did the stoning. Rocks rattled frequently on the roof or crashed through window-panes, scattering broken glass right and left. Two men appeared on the porch, knocking loudly at the door and when there was no answer one of them knocked the glass out of the front door. All the acts were wanton, excuseless and brutal, and the perpetrators should be sought out and punished. No response or outcry came from within the house while the stoning was in progress, and by half past eight all the lights about the building were extinguished.

 

The examination of Creffield and Brooks was in progress yesterday afternoon, but no result had been reached when the Times went to press. The examining physicians were Drs. Pernot and Cathey with Judge Watters and Deputy Attorney Bryson in Attendance.

 

A popular belief is that Creffield is a hypnotist, and that it is to his hypnotic influence that most of the conditions are due. When Brooks and Creffield were taken in custody the officers found most of the worshipers lying about on the floor on mats, blankets and other places of rest. In the center was a young girl with a cloth over her face apparently in a trance. She was at the moment receiving a message from on high which others about the room were taking down. The head of Creffield was close beside that of the youthful message taker.

 

 

Morning Oregonian (Portland) 10/31/1903 p1

Burn Up Goods

Fanatics’ Antics Excite Corvallis. Cats and Dogs In Flames. Holy Rollers Destroy Everything in “Carnal” Hands. Terrible Noise At Worship. Rolling on the Floor, Adherents Give Way to Shrieks, Shouts and Groans, Indicating Great Mental Anguish.

 

Led by an ex-Salvation Army captain, a number of Corvallisites have banded themselves together into an organization called “God’s Anointed.” From their peculiar form of worship, in rolling on the floor of the meeting place and giving vent to shrieks and groans, they have been dubbed the “Holy Rollers.” Driven by the authorities from the city’s center, the religious enthusiasts have been camped at the home of O. V. Hurt, a prominent citizen, in the outskirts, where nearly everything in and about the house has been put in the fire. Hurt’s friends are not admitted to the house. A son telegraphs to his father after fruitless endeavor to induce his mother and sister to return from the religionists’ rendezvous. These women had already destroyed much of the family furniture.

 

CORVALLIS, Or., Oct. 30 -- (Special) -- This town has been agog for 24 hours with the doings of members of a religious sect who call themselves “God’s Anointed,” but whom sinners call “The Holy Rollers.” In the fanaticism of their devotions, the enthusiasts have burned furniture, carpets, clothing and many other articles, and have destroyed or buried cooking utensils. Musical instruments of all kinds, without regard to value or cost, have been delivered to the flames.

 

The scene of their devotions is the house of Mr. and Mrs. O. V. Hurt, in the south end of town. There yesterday the sidewalks about the premises were torn up and burned, the flowers, shrubbery and fruit trees were dug up and destroyed. During the day reports in circulation averred that dogs and cats had been burned on a sacrificial fire.

 

Members of the sect deny the case of the cats, but admit a dog was burned. They say, however, that it was a dog that was not wanted about the house, that it would not go away, and that it was first killed in a humane manner and then burned. Neighbors insist that both cats and dogs to a considerable number were consigned to the flames, as a manifestation of the creed of the sect.

A feature that has added materially to the public interest in prevailing conditions is that O. V. Hurt, ex-chairman of the Republican County Central Committee, and at present state committeeman, has joined the sect. Members of his family, former members of the Salvation Army, have for several months been devoted worshipers in the new sect.

 

Wednesday morning, Mr. Hurt, who has been employed for a long time in a leading mercantile establishment, sent his keys to the store with the announcement that he was hereafter to devote himself to the work of God. Mr. Hurt took part in the destruction of furniture and other household effects, and in digging up and destroying the walks and shrubbery about his house.

All day yesterday about 20 of the sect were in the house. The destruction of the furniture is done, the members say, because God wills it. They claim to have direct communication with the Almighty at all times, and they say He directs them what to destroy and what to preserve.

 

It is such things as they receive from carnal hands that are given to the flames. Guitars, mandolins, and other musical instruments were among the articles burned yesterday.

 

Klines AdvertisementEXAMINED AS TO SANITY

 

This afternoon two of the high priests of the sect were tried before the County Judge for insanity. They were arrested this morning, and spent the forenoon in jail. Their hearing occurred at 1 o’clock and after a rigid examination, lasting until 6, they were released. The men are J. Creffield, a Swede, who came here about a year ago, and Captain Brooks, formerly of the Salvation Army. Both men are leaders in the movement, and the common opinion is that if they were out of the community, the movement would either collapse or be confined within reasonable bounds.

 

Yesterday and last night until a late hour, the Hurt house was the scene of much interest. It is probably that during the afternoon and evening 1500 or 2000 people visited the place, and in the evening the attendance was much multiplied. Last night, boys and others stoned the house, throwing rocks on the roof or through the windows. Nearly all the window lights in the building were broken out in this way. In the early part of the evening, the place was lighted up; and by 9 o’clock the lights were all out and everything quiet.

 

GROAN, SCREAM AND SHOUT

 

During worship the members roll about on the floor and groan, scream, shout and in various other ways give vent to bodily and mental agitation. The noise is such that neighbors complain to the authorities and ask for abatement of the nuisance.

At one time the place of worship was in the city limits, but the authorities took the matter up and required a removal

At the Hurt house, admission is denied to all callers. Many of his friends applied there yesterday to see Mr. Hurt, but in every instance but one, he was inaccessible. Either Creffield or Brooks met callers at the door and refused to call Mr. Hurt. With respect to the latter the invariable answer was that Mr. Hurt was seeking God and could not be disturbed.

 

When a reporter inquired why the worship was conducted with such secrecy, Brooks referred him to a passage in Psalms which says: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” He added that if the reporter desired to know the secrets of their worship, he should seek to learn of the Lord.

 

HAS AN IMPORTANT ENGAGEMENT

 

Later Brooks excused himself to the reporter saying that, “They were about to receive a message from the Holy Ghost inside, and that he had to be present.” He retired, closing the door behind him, and leaving the reporter standing on the stoop. They claim that the world is coming to an end in the immediate future.

When Officer Henderson made the arrest of Creffield and Brooks this morning, no resistance was offered when the inmates were told that persons inside were wanted by the law. He was ushered into a room where a number of persons were lying about on the floor, on mats, blankets and other rude places of rest. The room was wholly bare of furniture, and the worshipers reclined in various positions.

 

One young girl was apparently in a spasm. There was a cloth over her face and the officer stepped up to remove the cloth. When several of the worshipers shouted, “Don’t touch her.”

 

He removed the cloth, however, in spite of the resistance offered.

A sister and mother in a Corvallis family are among those at the Hurt house. A son in the family is at the home. The former are enthusiastic worshipers, and yesterday afternoon the son went to the Hurt house in an endeavor to persuade them to return home. He failed in his purpose, and at once wired his father who is in the Bohemia mines.

 

As a result of the devotion of the mother and daughter to the sect, much of the family furniture and other effects has been burned.

Corvallis has not been so stirred in years as it has been by the incidents related above.

 

 

Martha HurtOregon Daily Journal (Portland) 10/31/1903 p2

Holy Rollers Are Still In Possession

 

(Journal Special Service)

Corvallis, Or., Oct. 31--The Hurt house, just outside the city limits, is the center of attention today. A steady stream of people have been coming and going since early morning. Although the place was battered with all sorts of missiles last night, the residence is still intact with the exception of its windows, which are broken, fences torn down, garden beds demolished, sidewalks torn up and outhouses thrown over.

 

Inside the house there are said to be a score of Fanatical “Holy Rollers,” as they are called, and at noon today their lamentations could be heard a quarter of a mile distant from the habitation.

 

Capt. Brooks, the former leader of the Salvation Army here, has announced himself a prophet. He came out upon the steps of the Hurt house this noon and addressed the curious people who had gathered in the yard, and told them that the end of the earth was near and that the holy ones within were prepared for glory. While he was talking, J. Creffield, another ex-Salvationist, came from the door and in a loud voice said that the Holy Ghost had again appeared and was calling for Brooks. They re-entered the house and soon shrieks of women’s voices were heard, and tumbling about of furniture.

 

“GOD’S ANOINTED.”

 

The fanatics call themselves “God’s Anointed.” The sect was established here about two months ago by Brooks and his meetings were held in a hall on the main street of the city. Then meetings would be announced at private residences of the followers of the new belief, but so great a noise would be made during the alleged devotional services that neighbors complained and the authorities forbade further gatherings within the city limits.

Mrs. O. V. Hurt became a convert and was a constant attendant at the strange meetings. Her husband, who is ex-chairman of the Republican county central committee, also joined the sect. When notice was served last week that no more meetings could be held in the city, Hurt invited the leaders to take up their abode at his house, where they have been ever since. Hurt has given up his position in a leading store here, saying that he had been called to do the Lord’s work until the end of the world, which is near.

 

ALL INSANE

 

That the 20 odd followers of Brooks are insane is clearly evident to those who are familiar with their tactics. One of their stranger beliefs is that all things carnal should be destroyed, as it is God’s will, consequently furniture, pictures, bric-a-brac and even stoves have been destroyed in the Hurt house. Wednesday and yesterday a dozen persons were observed on the Hurt premises tearing up board walks and demolishing the fences. A score of chickens were killed and burned in the back yard. A dog also lost his life in the same manner. The fanatics say that sacrifices are needed.

 

Their services of devotion consists mostly of rolling on the floor and tearing each other’s clothing, and while this is in progress unearthly yells are continually emitted.

 

The county judge says this morning that he will investigate the case today by visiting the Hurt residence, and if he finds matters so serious as reported, he will order every follower of the sect before him and then appoint a lunacy commission to determine their state of mind.

 

ARRESTED AND RELEASED

 

Yesterday Creffield and Capt. Brooks were brought before him, but their examination developed no insanity. They were released and at once returned to the Hurt place and began a series of services that outranked anything ever heard for noise and commotion.

When taken into custody the two high priests were at the Hurt house, and mad no resistance. Officer Henderson and a deputy made the arrest, and going into the front room, they found at least a dozen women and girls lying about on the bare floor. All furniture and carpets had been burned as sacrifices.

Hurt cannot be seen today. Visitors are not allowed in the house, and when asking for either Hurt or his wife, they are told by Brooks that they are holding communion with the Holy Ghost.

 

The only means of sustenance the unfortunates have is dry bread and water. Eighteen people have been in the house nearly a week.

 

ADMITS KILLING ANIMALS

 

Brooks admitted today that both dogs and cats about the house were first killed and then thrown into the flames. Creffield, a Swede that came here about a year ago and has since subsisted mainly by his labor in the religious lines, is the acknowledged chief among them, and at meals he sanctifies all food by touching it with his hands. He is declared to be a new apostle and the rise of the sect a return of the old order that prevailed in Christ’s time. no one is admitted to the Hurt house. Creffield excused himself to a caller today, saying that a message from God was being received inside and the he must be present. The stoning of the house by hoodlums is generally condemned by Corvallis people.

 

 

Edmund CreffieldHEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

 

Sunday Oregonian (Portland) 11/1/1903 p7

Anxiety For Infant

Holy Rollers Suspected of Human Sacrifice. Babe is Found Unharmed. When Questioned Leader of Groaning Fanatics Says He Has Not Yet Received Orders From Heaven to Burn Infants.

 

San Francisco Chronicle 11/1/1903 p19

May Offer Up Human Sacrifice

 

CORVALLIS, Or., Oct., 31 -- (Special) -- The situation with reference to the “Holy Rollers” has been barren of developments today. Creffield and Brooks, after successfully establishing their sanity before the County Board yesterday afternoon, went last night to the Hurt house to resume their labors. The examination was behind closed doors, but some of the points in the proceedings have leaked out.

 

Brooks was asked if there was a conflict between the law of man and the law of God, which of the two statues he would follow. The question was the outcome of a report that was in circulation the day after the cats and dogs were burned. It was of sensational character, and had reference to an adopted infant in the family of one of the worshipers. It was to investigate that the officers first went to the house. The child was found to be alive and well, and with a smile on its face.

 

When asked if the law of God should direct that a human being should be destroyed as the case with the cats and dogs, what would you do? Brooks was silent for a moment, and then he quoted a passage of Scripture in which it was declared that the law of God must always be supreme. When pressed on the point, by a question if God was likely to command the destruction of any person, Brooks replied that God had never commanded him to do anything of that kind yet.

 

There was plain evasion of the question in the answer, and one of the examining physicians inquired if it were possible, according to Brooks’ belief, that God might command the destruction of a human being, and the answer declared that it was not considered as likely.

 

Many persons believe that Creffield has hypnotic poser, and that it is due to this influence that the other members of the sect are led into such strange manifestations. When the officers took him into custody yesterday, the girl with the cloth over her face was receiving a so-called message from the Almighty. Others about the room were taking it down. Close beside her, with his head almost touching hers on the pillow was Creffield.

 

Whether there is ground for it or not, this incident, together with something of the striking look in Creffield’s eyes, supplies a lot of people with material for the hypnotic theory as an explanation of the strange manifestations.

 

The truth concerning the destruction of the dogs and cats has been ascertained. More than one dog, and more than one cat were killed, and subsequently thrown into the fire. The reason for this, and for the destruction of the furniture, bedding, musical instruments and other things, is in order to fully sanctify the Hurt house and the premises within the enclosure. The things destroyed, Brooks says, acted as hindrances to the seekers after conversion, according to the methods of the sect in carrying out their purpose.

 

The item of loving the things more than they ought to, and the further fact of the worldly character of the appliances or articles prevented environments fully acceptable to God. The members claim they have withdrawn entirely from the world, and hold it out as their purpose to have nothing whatever to do with the world. An orthodox “Holy Roller” even objects to touching the hand of an ordinary sinner. They also claim that Creffield is an apostle, just like Christ’s apostles, and that the new scheme is a revival of the old order of religion as Christ taught it and practiced it in his time.

 

Their present sojourn at the Hurt house is merely a “tarrying,” as they call it, while they prepare for and await God’s final order to them to go out and preach. This order they say may carry their peculiar gospel to foreign lands, and so far as Creffield and Brooks are concerned, all Corvallis hopes this may be the final order.

 

In spite of the air of secrecy that pervades the Hurt house and the surveillance kept over Mr. Hurt, an old friend managed to gain an audience with him last night. The friend endeavored to show him the unreasonable character of the conditions with which he had surrounded himself, and pleaded with him to withdraw from it. With a stoical adhesion to his purpose, Mr. Hurt declared that he had withdrawn from the world for all time and that he should hereafter devote himself to the work according to the new faith. The latter’s prominence and his level-headed character as a businessman, is one of the things that have tended to add to the large interest in the sect’s doings. It is also a source of deep regret to his friends, of whom there are many.

 

The chief man at the Hurt house is Creffield. They say of him that he has the gifts of God. Before food is taken at the house, he sanctifies it by touching it with his hand. That makes it fit for diet for the company, whereas, before it was so touched, it was wholly unfit. Both Brooks and Creffield are without visible means of support, except such assets as they hold in reserve from on high.

When asked to prosecute those who stoned the Hurt house the other night, Brooks refused to do so saying that if a “man dragged him through the streets by the hair of the head, he would not prosecute him.”

A huge crowd of people hung around the place of worship until a late hour last night, but nothing occurred to interest or excite. In a large measure, interest in the doings of the sect is subsiding, although, but little else is talked about yet.

 

 

Eugene Morning Register 11/3/1903 p3

Holy Rollers At Corvallis.

New Religious Sect Invade the Agricultural City. Burned Up Old Heirlooms. Signs Put Up, ‘No Admittance Except Those Who Work for God’--Adjudged Crazy.

 

Corvallis, Oct. 30--Corvallis is the scene of one of the most startling displays of religious fanaticism in the history of Benton County. An order which styles itself “The Holy Rollers figures in the display. Several months ago a Swede by the name of Krafel (sic) made his appearance in Corvallis and secured a few followers and together they established headquarters on Second Street in the north end of town. Their services became so uproarious, lasting at time all night that they were driven by the authorities outside the city limits. Since that time they have had their headquarters at the home of O. V. Hurt, across Mary’s river, and immediately adjacent to Corvallis.

 

The Rollers have captured most of the members of the Salvation Army contingent and Captain Brooks of the latter organization recently attended the meeting of the Holy Rollers with a hope of regaining his lost followers. At the meeting Brooks was converted to the new faith, and in the presence of the congregation he stripped off his uniform and burned it.

 

The number of converts to the new faith aggregates about 20, including beside the Hurt family, Mrs. Louis Hartley and daughter, reputable ladies and former members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and two or three other families. A climax was reached when O. V. Hurt, the head of the family at whose house these meetings have been held, was converted. He telephoned his resignation to Kline’s store where he was head salesman.

 

The band holds continuous meetings and communion, as they claim, with the Lord. Wednesday night all the furniture, curtains and family heirlooms were burned. The sidewalks were torn up in front of the home, shrubbery and grapevines in the yard were destroyed and two cats killed and burned.

Yesterday a sign bearing the inscription, “Positively no admittance except those who work for God,” was placed upon the gate. Neighbors and other citizens were refused admittance to the house by the so called ministers in charge. Last night a stream of people from Corvallis were continually going and coming from the premises where the meeting was held inside the house without lights. Today both Krafel and Brooks are in custody awaiting examination as to their sanity. Most of the victims of this startling fanaticism, and especially the Hurt Family and the Hartleys, have been counted as Benton County’s most esteemed citizens. O. V. Hurt, the last victim of the faith, has been in the past a prominent factor in the affairs of Corvallis and the county.

 

 

HEADLINES IN PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

 

Evening Telegram (Portland) 10/30/1903 p4

Has Power To Convert

 

Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) Sat 10/31/1903

On A Charge Of Insanity

 

Eugene Morning Register 11/3/1903 p1

Holy Rollers Roll Out.

Religious Fanatics Organizes New Order Known as the Holy Rollers. Corvallis Seat of Operations for the Present--Followers Rush into Ranks. Salvation Army Contingent Falls in Line--Principal Placed Under Arrest.

 

Brownsville Times Fri 11/6/1903 p1

On A Charge Of Insanity

 

(By associated Press)

A band of Religious Fanatics at Corvallis Known as ‘Holly Rollers’ Prominent And Respectable People Go ‘Daffy’ Over The New Faith And Sacrifice Household Goods And Other Property On The Alter.

 

CORVALLIS, Or., Nov. 2--Creffield and Brooks, two apostles of “Holy Rollers” who have created a sensation here during the past few days, took flight last night. The community here was incensed at the men and it was thought they had worked on the week minded and caused demonstrations. This is supposed to be the reason for their sudden departure. It is thought that now the fanatical displays will cease.

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edmundcreffield.com

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

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The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers

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Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers

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Info for Book Groups

Book Reviews

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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

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

(541) 563-3112

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Theresa (T-) McCracken