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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 17, 1904: Where is the Apostle?


Donna StarrEvening Telegram (Portland) 3/17/1904

Where Now Is The Apostle?

Creffield, of the Holy Rollers, Much Wanted by the Law. Thus Far Has Succeeded in Eluding Officers Vigilance.


Where is Joshua Creffield, the man of self-alleged favor on high, who says he enacts the role of a second lowly Nazarene?


An officer with a warrant in his pocket is looking for him--has been since yesterday--but thus far the man who was routed out of Corvallis in the glare of the twinkling stars with his “divine” form covered with tar and feathers, has managed, either by accident or design, to keep under cover. Officer Hawley, in whose hands the warrant was placed, has looked high and low for him, but the former Corvallis “apostle” has nowhere been found.


In the meantime, the state’s case against him has been materially strengthened by evidence collected by District Attorney John Manning today, and offered the opinion that there is no in the hands of his office facts of a sufficiently damaging character to send Creffield to the State Penitentiary.


This morning Mrs. Donna Starr, wife of B. E. Starr, who swore to the warrant for the arrest of the “apostle,” affixed her signature to a signed statement that there were improper relations between her and Creffield at the Worrell home in Fulton.

b. E. Starr, the complainant against Creffield declares that he will have justice if he has to take the law into his own hands. In the meantime, says he, he will do all that in his power to prosecute the man whom he charges with ruining his home, but it that fails, he will attend to him personally. He spoke feelingly of the matter today, and said that if he could only find the “cur” he would do all that he could to send him to the penitentiary.


Starr, who resides at 349 East Yamhill Street, says that the affections of his wife have been attained by the vicious teachings of the Corvallis fanatic. Starr says that his wife met Creffield and his crowd while on a visit to Corvallis during the recent rampage of the fanatical sect. She was won over into the rank of sisters he says and there her mind was poisoned against him by the teachings there meted out.


Of such a character were these instructions, says Mr. Starr, that his wife refused to shake hands with him when he went to Corvallis to see her because she had been taught to have nothing to do with him on account of his relations with the wicked world. Starr says he brought his wife to Portland by force in order to get her away from the influence of Creffield.


Their relations had about been readjusted, he says, when Creffield, routed out of Corvallis, came to Portland about a month ago, and then his wife went back to him again. Now, he says, she will not kiss him because he belongs to the world and is outside the pale of the select sect of the Creffield contingency. Creffield’s wife says Starr went to his wife upon their arrival in Portland, and persuaded her to go back into the ranks.


Creffield, according to Starr, has advanced in his relations with the ethereal realm since his enforced nocturnal exodus from Corvallis, for while he was there nothing more than “Chief Apostle” he has now been advanced to the rank of the second Savior, and teaches the day of Pentecost, with the end of the world in immediate view. They were all going to foreign lands, pending the annihilation of material things, says he and his wife was to go to china as a missionary. She still clings to Creffield, says Starr, although he is informed that the Worrells have renounced him and refused to have anything more to do with him.


Where Creffield is, Mr. Starr says, is something he would like to know. He did not begin to look for him until last Monday and then found that he had gone from the Worrell home. He went to Corvallis, and nothing could be learned of him there. His followers refuse to divulge anything. He believes the man to be in hiding somewhere, and says he thinks he is getting scared, and that if he isn’t, he thinks it is about time for him to begin feeling that way.


“Did you have a revolver when you went to Corvallis to look for Creffield?” was asked.

“I knew there was one there,” came the reply, but as to whether he would have used it in case he found Creffield, Mr. Starr said he would not like to say. He did remark just before that, however, that if he could see Creffield with a six-shooter it might be better.


Until last Monday Starr was employed at the Lehman meat market on the East Side. He has been employed at intervals with the Standard Oil Company in this city for the last five years. Mr. and Mrs. Starr have two children, both little girls.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/17/1904 p4

Roller” Prophet Is Still Missing


Joshua Creffield, the leader of the “Holy Rollers,” who is wanted on a serious charge, has not yet been located. The warrant was issued yesterday morning by District Attorney Manning, and was placed in the hands of Detective Hawley late in the afternoon. It was thought that Creffield was in Rainier, but the marshal made a search and failed to find the much-wanted man.


Further efforts are being made today to locate Creffield, but it is feared that he learned of the issuance of the warrants and that he has made his escape to some out-of-the-way place.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/17/1904 p4

Old Mount Rainier May Become Active


(Journal Special Service)

Seattle, March 17.--The directions of the undulations and indulations at different northwestern points where last night’s earthquake shock was felt show it was caused by some subterranean disturbance with Mt. Rainier as the center. The people fear Mt. Rainier may become an active volcano.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/18/1904 p4

Apostle Creffield Gets Out Of Country


It is the belief of the police that Joshua Creffield, leader of the “Holy Rollers,” now being sought on a criminal charge, has made his escape from this part of the country. He cannot be located, although great efforts have been made. It was at first thought that he was at Rainier, but he left there, if he ever was there.


B. E. Starr, who signed the complaint against Creffield, calls at the police station every few hours to seek news of the man who is said to have broken up his home, but each time he has been disappointed.


“I have an idea that Creffield has fled the country,” said Starr today. “He probably learned that a warrant was out for him, and took the first opportunity to make his escape. His wife is at Corvallis, I understand.”



Corvallis Times 3/19/1904 p3

Creffield, the Holy Roller apostle is wanted by Portland officers on a criminal charge that the Oregonian says will likely land him in the penitentiary. The charge is made by B. E. Starr whose wife is named in the complaint. The allegations seem to be that under the cloak of religion the scoundrel was a betrayer. The Times always held him up as a fraud, and was criticized for it. Its position is more than vindicated by the revelations in the Portland courts, where is the statement that he is liable to a dozen charges of the sort. The scamp is in hiding.

Holy Rollers

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And it's all true.

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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