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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 21, 1904: Reward For Creffield's Capture


Donna Starr
Ben Decampo, Rachael Perreli & Jeffree Newman
as Burgess & Donna Starr & Sheriff Burnett

Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/21/1904 p1

Reward For His Capture

Corvallis Police and Posse Take Up Chase After Joshua Creffield. Self-Appointed Apostle of the Holy Rollers in Bad Position. Mob Violence is Feared Should He Fall Into Trap of Pursuers.”


[Telegram Coast Special]

CORVALLIS. Or., March 21. -- Where is Joshua Creffield? This is the problem that is now exercising the minds of the local police force, and also a posse of private citizens which has been close on his tracks since his presence in this vicinity was made known. Early yesterday morning the home of Frank Hurt, across the river in Linn County, was thoroughly searched, as were also the barns and out-buildings, but no trace was found of the slippery apostle and his young wife whom he persuaded to quit the comfortable home of her parents t accompany him in his flight from justice.


The search for Creffield has been considerably stimulated by a subscription which was circulated here this morning by Lewis Hartley, the well-known mining man, to secure a reward for the apostle’s capture. Mr. Hartley headed the list with $40 and Warren Hartley followed with $10, and is believed that before night at least $100 will be raised.


It is now a race between the officers and the posse, the former are after the $100, but the latter are after Creffield and if they get him in their hands he will undoubtedly receive pretty rough treatment.



Evening Telegram (Portland) Mon 3/21/1904 p1

Called For His Wife. Much Wanted Character Is Believed To Be Hiding In Corvallis.


CORVALLIS, Or., March 21.--Since the appearance of the article in Friday’s Telegram stating that a warrant was out for the arrest of the Apostle Creffield, the Corvallis authorities have been expecting a request from Portland officials to keep a look out here for this smooth-tongued fanatic. Mrs. Creffield, nee Hurt, has been visiting for about a week with her parents in this city, and if Creffield had disappeared from Portland the chances were that he had headed this way, and late development have proved that he was here Saturday.


About 2 p.m. Saturday O. V. Hurt and Mr. Hartley called on Sheriff Burnett and asked him if he had received any notification that a warrant had been issued for the Apostles arrest. The Sheriff stated that he had not. Both gentlemen then urged him to telephone to Portland in regard to the matter stating that Creffield was somewhere in town. Mr. Hurt said “he came and stole Maude away this forenoon while I was away from home, and I want to see him sent over the road. I have had a number of serious talks with my daughter since she returned home, and she had about made up her mind to have nothing more to do with him, but he sneaked around and has gotten her under his influence again. Mr. Hurt was very bitter against Creffield, whom he said had turned one member of his family against him, and had made threats that he would ruin the others. When he found Mrs. Creffield was gone yesterday, he questioned his wife and younger daughter as to her whereabouts, etc., but all they would say was that she was gone, no matter where, and would return Saturday night.


Mr. Hartley, whose family was also under Creffield’s influence and took a prominent part in the actions some time ago that attracted the attention of the reading public to the Holy Rollers of Corvallis, was also very anxious that the fugitive apostle be turned over to the officers looking for him. Yesterday afternoon Chief of Police Lane telephoned to Portland asking if Creffield was really wanted and the answer came back. “Yes we want him and we want him bad.” But the slippery rascal has so far successfully eluded the officers.


The Sheriff and deputies assisted by the police force searched every house last night where Creffield and wife might have hidden, and it was not till after midnight that they gave it up. They still think the fugitive is being harbored some where in this vicinity, and all the roads leading from town are guarded. Last night a fearful storm of rain and snow was raging here and it is not believed that, hampered as he was by the presence of his wife, Creffield could have gone very far.


Frank Hurt and wife are still living in the Beach cottage just across the river in Linn County, but it is believed that the ones sought for are not there as neither Creffield nor his wife crossed the ferry yesterday, and it would be almost impossible to cross the river in a small boat at its present stage.


The crime for which the warrant was sworn out against Creffield is no surprise to the citizens of Corvallis, as it is only a verification of what was all the time suspected to be his practices and teachings while here. It was this belief that activated the vigilance committee when they drove him from this community with a coat of tar and feathers.



Corvallis Gazette 3/22/1904 p3

Creffield A Fugitive

One Hundred Dollars Offered For His Capture.


“Apostle” Creffield, of Holy Roller fame, is a much-wanted man at present by the Portland police, where a warrant has been sworn out for his arrest. B. E. Starr, of Portland, is the complaining witness in the case and says that Creffield has broken up his home. The details of the case of this low-lived Gospel imitating rascal are revolting in the extreme and if he is captured, a career in the penitentiary will probably be his end for a few years at least.


It is suspected that the fugitive is receiving assistance and shelter in Corvallis, as it is known that he came here last Thursday night. He came to Albany and started to walk to Corvallis in company with a man named Breon. When within a few miles of this city, Creffield evidently suspected something wrong and suddenly jumped from the railroad track and took out across a field, and disappeared in the timber. This was the last his traveling companion saw of him. It is almost a certainty that Creffield reached Corvallis and sought shelter with some of his former subjects.


On Friday night Mrs. Creffield, who has been home for some time, slipped from her father’s house and disappeared and since then nothing has been seen of her by her folks or the city officers. She no doubt received word that her husband was in hiding in Corvallis and went to him and is probably with him some where in the city.


The citizens of Corvallis have offered $100 reward for Creffield’s capture and the authorities are making a diligent search for this so called expounder of the Gospel.


The “Apostle,” has been carrying on in Portland much after the style that he did in Corvallis, his religious subjects being mostly women. Starr, who made the complaint against Creffield, is only one of many who would like to see the Roller leader landed behind the state prison walls with a good long sentence to serve out. In fact the penitentiary is too good for a varmint of this caliber and the worst prisoner there would be degraded by having to associate with him. And yet, the newspapers throughout Oregon criticized the Corvallis people when they took upon themselves the duty of getting such a thing out of the community.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/22/1904 p3

Chase For Holy Rollers Still On

Rewards For Creffield’s Capture Now Amount to $100, Most Of Which Is Contributed By His Dupes--Was Seen Boarding South Bound Train.


(Special Dispatch to the Journal)

Corvallis, Or., March 22.--A reward of $100 is offered here today for the capture of the “Holy Roller” Creffield. About $70 of this amount is contributed by the local “Rollers” who were formerly followers of the rascally fugitive. Reports are current here that Creffield has been in Corvallis with the past week.


A man claims to have walked with Creffield on the Railroad track last Thursday evening, and declares that when they neared the city limits the apostle suddenly left the track and hurried away through the brush toward the Willamette. The person who tells this story, however, has never met Creffield and claims to have recognized the traveler from the descriptions of the religious crank, which belief was further strengthened by the fact that the fellow carried a Bible under his arm.


A fact that lends color to the report is the disappearance Friday night of Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield, who has been at the house of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. O. V. Hurt in South Corvallis. No one knows here whereabouts, but many believe that she left in company with her husband.


Three persons who know him by sight claim to have seen Creffield. Two of these assert that they saw the apostle board the 1:20 train from Portland yesterday afternoon.


Search of vacant houses about town and of the Frank Hurt house has been made without avail. No one believes Creffield to be hereabouts at present.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 3/22/1904 p6

Sharp Lookout For Creffield

Holy Roller Apostle Believed to Be in Hiding Near Corvallis.


CORVALLIS, Or., March 21. -- (Special.)--Officers and others here are on the alert for Joshua Creffield, wanted by Portland authorities. The theory is that he is in hiding in this vicinity, though there is no reliable information to that effect. He is reported to have been seen approaching the suburbs of Corvallis from the northward, but the man who saw him never saw the apostle before and only surmises it to have been Creffield, from the latter’s description.


A circumstance that lends interest to the matter is that Mrs. Creffield has disappeared from he father’s home, and all attempts to locate her or to unravel the method or means of her going have proved futile. If Creffield is in the vicinity, he is likely to be apprehended, for the watch for him is constant.

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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