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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.

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

Maud Hurt
Maren McGuire as Maud Hurt Creffield



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/1/1904 p1

The “Holy Rollers” Offend Humanity


Corvallis Times 3/5/1904 p1

The Holy Gang

From Helena Comes the Report that Montana

Is Afflicted with Sect of Idolatrous as Ignorant Seers of Tibet


(Special Dispatch to the Journal.)

An Evangelist Entertained by a Tar and Feather Party in Helena

Threaten to Burn Every Saloon in the City if Molested Again--Leaves City in a closed Carriage--Other News.


Helena, Mont., March 1,-- A special from Dillon says: This city has been simply agog with excitement over the “tar and feather” party given C. W. Bridewell, evangelist of the “Holiness People,” Sunday night by a mob of several hundred angry men. No other happening in recent years has caused as much talk, and public sentiment is almost unanimous in upholding the work of the “tar party.”


Many rumors have been circulated, one to the effect that if the “Holy Rollers” are subject to more attacks, they will retaliate and burn every saloon in the city. A wealthy woman of this city who has always been in a prominent member of the Holy people, and who is a relative of the gospel exhorter swore out warrants today for six well known young men of the city charging malicious mischief. She is quoted as saying that she will spend $10,000, if necessary, in prosecuting members of the mob, and confidentially hopes to fill the state prison with residents of bad Dillon.


The mob’s victim when seen this morning showed no ill effects of his trying experience, and he stated that he had reconsidered his promise given to the mob that he would leave town, as that promise was given under compulsion, and that many of the best people of Dillon promised him protection, and therefore he would not leave until another evangelist arrived to take up his work. Nevertheless he was seen leaving the city in a closed carriage this afternoon. His return will probably mean a repetition of Sunday night’s affair and will probably be accompanied by violence or even bloodshed.


Corvallis Times 3/2/1904 p4

The distinction of the name Holy Rollers has prompted a Portland confection factory to attach it to a special form of candy. Small has introduced it here. The candy denominated Holy Rollers is a very porous taffy veneered with chocolate.


Corvallis Times 3/2/1904 p3

The Twin Rock Gold Mining and Milling Company is the name of a new corporation which has filed articles at the county clerk’s office. The incorporators are Lewis Hartley, Wallace Hartley and W. B. Hartley, and the capital stock is $1,500,000. The principal business office is Corvallis, and it is the purpose of the company to do a general mining business.


Corvallis Gazette 3/4/1904 p4

Warren B. Hartley

Member Oregon Mining Stock Exchange, Chamber of Commerce Building, Portland Oregon

7,350 Shares of LeRoy at 70.

Cheap as dirt as this Company will soon pay dividends.

Write me if you want a safe investment.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 3/5/1904 p10

Mines, Mining, And Miners. Prominent Northwest Mining Men, No. 68


Lewis Hartley has been in Oregon in the mining business for the last 12 years. All of this time he has devoted to the Bohemia district of Lane and Douglas Counties. Mr. Hartley is a member of the Oregon’s Miner’s Association, and is a treasurer of the Bohemia Mineowners’ Association. He is manager of the Great Eastern properties and the Star Consolidated Mining Company. Mr. Hartley has much faith in Bohemia and believes the time is near at hand when all who are fortunate enough to hold property to this district will be wealthy men. He lives at Corvallis.



Corvallis Times 3/5/1904 p2

The Twin Rock Company. Has Mining Property in the Bohemian District--The Officers


Mention is made in Wednesday’s Times of the fact that the Twin Rock Mining and Milling Company had filed articles of incorporation with the county clerk. The officers of the company are S. R. May, of Mt. Zion, Illinois, president, Wallace Hartley of Corvallis, vice president, George B. Spitler, Mt. Zion, Illinois, secretary and treasurer. The home office is at Corvallis with branch offices at Mt. Zion, Illinois and in the Chamber of Commerce building Portland, Oregon. The board of directors is Lewis Hartley, Warren B. Hartley and Wallace Hartley, all of Oregon, and S. R. May and George B. Spitler of Mt. Zion, Illinois.


The company expects to begin development work as soon as the weather will permit. It has nine claims of 20 acres each in the Bohemian District in Douglas County. There are five distinct veins running through the property, and the owners claim that it will speedily become a dividend-payer.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/8/1904 p6

(Under a column, Oregon Sidelights)

The Holy Rollers seem to have rolled out of view, much to public satisfaction.


Dalles Weekly Chronicle 3/8/1904 p4

Not Creffieldites

The Holiness Mission in The Dalles Has no Sympathy With the Apostle’s Fanaticisms.


Apropos of the interest which has been revived in the movements of the Holy Rollers by the capture of their apostle, Creffield, a few days ago, and considering the fact that this same man who has become so noted in the state figured prominently among a class of religious people in The Dalles about two years, ago, causing them to withdraw from the churches which there were wont to attend and to form themselves into a mission, adhering to his teachings, the Chronicle reported this morning interviewed one of the leaders of the movement with a view to determine just how the emission in The Dalles now stands on the question. As is well known these people have since Creffield’s visit here been credited with being in sympathy with the apostle.


“Nothing can be farther from the truth,” said our informant this morning. “On the contrary, we are as desirous of seeing justice done in the matter as one can possibly be. When Creffield first visited The Dalles and taught the doctrines of holiness as set forth in the scriptures we adhered to his teachings. Soon he began to advocate strange doctrines, or decidedly fanatic ideas, insisting on extremes in fasting and praying and observing rules of conduct toward other Christians which we felt were not licensed by the Bible; also claiming to have Divine revelations. In many ways we discovered a fanaticism in his teachings and withdrew from his doctrines, retaining only the doctrine of holiness before God, which is still our one firm belief and was taught by others before his arrival in The Dalles, among them Brothers Van Zan and Frank Cooper. Fellow workers with him also noticed the change and observed a hypnotic power which he is now credited with.


Upon his return to the city we refused to have anything to do with him, and are not surprised that his fanaticism has led him thus far, though we can hardly credit him with certain forms of conduct which he is charged with.”


“Are we in anyway connected with his work or that of his Corvallis followers? Decidedly no. We are now working under the supervision of the Apostolic Holiness Union of Cincinnati known as the Knapp movement, which is accomplishing great things in the redemption of the world. Our work has been greatly retarded by the impression that we are in sympathy with this misguided man; but we have made no public denial, preferring to be known by our fruits.”


Morning Oregonian (Portland) 3/10/1904 p3

Like Oregon’s Holy Rollers

Strange Religious Belief of People Living on Maine Island.

Kill Animals and Would Sacrifice Baby on “God’s Command.”


BANGOR, Me., March 10. -- Maniacal proceedings are reported among the 500 members of a so-called religious sect living in a colony on Beal’s Island near Jonesport. One woman who tried to kill her children after announcing at a revival that God had ordered her to make the sacrifice, has been adjudged insane and brought to the hospital here. Jonesport deputy sheriffs and citizens have gone to the island to calm the excited inhabitants.


Persons just returned from the scene assert that during the revival the woman who was brought to the hospital called out that the voice of God had told her that a certain dog must be killed. An animal was brought into the meeting-house and slain. Then she announced that she had received another divine command that a cat in the village should be put to death. The execution was carried out, but when she arose a third time and declared she had been commanded to slay her baby, a furious discussion was precipitated which broke up the meeting. The authorities heard of the affair, and seized the woman before she could carry out the “command.”


The islanders are now destroying their watches, jewelry and other articles of ornament.

Holy Rollers

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Holy Rollers is a story that has everything a good read should have: sex, religious fervor, mass insanity, the downfall of prominent families, murder and sensational court trials.

And it's all true.

John Terry, the Oregonian's 'Oregon's Trails' columnist says of the book: "A dandy piece of research and a good read. Lots more stuff than I was aware of. It deserves an audience"













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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