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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 23, 1904: Fugitive Creffield

 

Edmund CreffieldCorvallis Times 3/23/1904 p3

Fugitive Creffield

Disappearance of his Wife and her Return--His Treachery.

 

There has been a hunt in Corvallis and vicinity for Apostle Creffield for a day or two. Reports have been in circulation that he was in hiding in the vicinity. A young man who had never seen him reported that he had walked from the northward toward Corvallis with the fugitive, and that the latter as town was approached suddenly quit his company and run away. There is also an unconfirmed rumor afloat that a certain young woman of the Roller faith admitted to another Roller that she had seen the bogus saint. A belief that he was in hiding in the vicinity resulted in a search of vacant house as well as the Roller headquarters across the Willamette, but no trace was found. A day or two ago it developed that Mrs. Creffield had disappeared from the family home across Mary’s river and this increased belief that Creffield had stealthily visited Corvallis in his flight from the vengeance that awaits him in Portland. Nothing can be learned of where she went, or the means of her going, and the supposition is that she has joined Creffield.

 

A reward of $100 is offered for the capture of the outlawed apostle. Lewis Hartley circulated a subscription paper for contributions for the reward. Heading the list was a donation of $40. O. V. Hurt contributed $20 and Mr. Starr $10. Nearly the whole of the sum was contributed by husbands whose families are or have been identified with the rollers.

 

The Portland Welcome tells in plain language the revolting story of Creffield’s treachery. The charge for which he is wanted is adultery, preferred by B. E. Starr, an injured husband. The paper says that the day the warrant was issued, 12 other Portland husbands whose families had been betrayed appeared in turn at the district attorneys office and asked permission to lodge a charge of the same nature against Creffield.

 

A development as the TIMES goes to press is the return of Mrs. Creffield. She appeared at the family home between 9 and 10 yesterday, coming from, nobody knows where. Sheriff Burnett and Chief Lane visited her at three o’clock, but were unable to get admissions from her. She absolutely refused to talk on the subject of Creffield’s whereabouts.

 

 

Corvallis Times 3/23/1904 p4

It is probable that the smart editor of the Lebanon Criterion would like to crawl into a hole and pull the hole in after him. It was he who with assumption of superior knowledge said that religious reformers in all ages had been the objects of persecution. He held Josh Creffield up as a persecuted and much abused man. He said there were things in Corvallis beside which Creffield and Brooks were as pure gold to sounding brass, or words to that effect. It now develops that Creffield, under the cloak of religion, pursued a life of lust. Thirteen husbands in Portland are clamoring for vengeance and the bogus apostle is a hunted criminal with certain knowledge that he will go straight to the penitentiary for many a year if he is caught. His crimes are worse that that of the rapist Negroes, who are lynched and burned for their villainy. Beside him, Outlaw Tracy is a gentleman. Yet this Criterion man is Josh Creffield’s apologist and defender. Since it is his taste, let him continue to hug Josh Creffield to his bosom and to criticize Corvallis people for disliking the bogus saint. A new department in the Criterion, entitled the “Ethics of Free Love” and presided over by Josh Creffield, would be a fitting arrangement under the circumstances.

 

 

Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/24/1904 p4

No Trace Of Creffield

Much Wanted ‘Apostle’ Manages To Elude Officers And Posse

(Article is illegible)

 

 

HEADLINES IN DIFFERENT PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE 

 

Sheriff Burnett
Jeffree Newman as Sheriff Burnett

Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/28/1904 p4

Reward Is Offered

 

Brownsville Times 4/1/ p1

Reward Is Offered

 

[Telegram Coast Special]

CORVALLIS, March 28.--Circulars issued by Sheriff Burnett, of Benton county, offering $100 reward for the arrest of Edmund Creffield are being sent to all county officials and railroad towns in the state. Creffield’s given name is Edmund instead of Joshua, which latter he adopted when pronouncing himself a Holy Roller. Edmund Creffield is described as being about 30 years old, very light complexion, white hair, white whiskers, unless smooth shaven, which he is very likely to be at present; weight about 135 pounds, height 5 feet 6 inches, wears No. 5 1/2 shoe; has good black suit, but may be wearing blue-colored blouse with belt run through it; also wears brown leggins. He is sure to have a Bible under his arm on in his pockets.

 

 

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/30/1904 p10

After the Holy Roller

 

Searchers for the Apostle Creffield have so far failed to bag their game. One hundred dollars was deposited with the sheriff of Benton County by irate victims of this notorious Holy Roller as an incentive to the man hunters, but “Josh” is proving as elusive as Pat Crowe. Rumor has it that he is sojourning at present in a little village just north of Salem.

 

 

Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/31/1904 p10

Careful Search For Holy Roller

Systematic Effort Being Made to Find “Joshua” Creffield.

 

Edmund Creffield, the Holy Roller wanted on a serious crime, is being hounded in every part of the state. Everything possible is being done to run him to earth at the earliest possible date.

 

The search, as in many cases, is by no means a “go as you please,” but is being conducted under a complete system. From reports that have reached the police, three men are now devoting their entire time to looking for the criminal who accomplished his ends by wearing a cloak of religion. These men are working in different parts of the state--one in the east, one in the vicinity of Corvallis, and one in Portland.

 

The officer detailed on the case in the city is at present working on the East Side. He is making a house-to-house canvass, and is inquiring at every lodging house. So far he has covered a large territory, but has secured no trace of Creffield whatever.

 

Some of the men making the search are directly interested in the arrest of the wrongdoer. They do not care for the reward, but are desperate in their determination to get him.

 

Creffield seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Since he was seen in Portland about two weeks ago, nothing has been heard of him. The officers believe that he could not have left the city, for every train and all public roads have been carefully guarded. He is in hiding.

Holy Rollers

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Newspaper Articles about Creffield & the Holy Rollers

1897-1899:Local Lore, News Of Corvallis and Vicinity Told in Brief B. C. (Before Creffield)

1900:Holy Rollers' Lives Before Creffield

1901:Holy Rollers' Lives Before Creffield

1902:Holy Rollers' Lives Creffield

January 18, 1903: Fred Mitchell Attempts Suicide

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

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

November 2, 1903: Fanatics In Court

November 3, 1903: Had Promise of Tar and Feathers

November 4, 1903: Flight of The Apostles

November 5, 1903: Once-Esteemed Family No Longer Has the Sympathy of the Community

November 6, 1903: Rollers Take On New Life

November 7, 1903: Is Creffield Back?

November 11, 1903: “Apostle” Creffield Still Under Cover

November 24, 1903: Girl of Sixteen Almost Insane

November 25, 1903: In Pursuit of Creffield

November 27, 1903: The Lord May Starve Them

November 28, 1903: Holy Rollers Receive Unwilling Baptism

December 7, 1903: Demented Woman Suffers

December 8, 1903: Hurt Seen In Portland

December 11, 1903:Holy Rollers Roll Into Eugene Church

December 21, 1903:Holy Roller Victim Worse

December 22, 1903: Linn County Holy Rollers

December 23, 1903: Is Crazy Now

December 29, 1903: Holy Rollers’ Not Liked at the Dalles

December 30, 1903: Owner of Property Refuses to Permit Séances

January 6, 1904: Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered

January 9, 1904: Their Welcome Departure

January 12, 1904: Editorial Comment: “Put yourselves in our place!”

January 13, 1904: Where Brooks Went

January 19, 1904: Our Brainy Contemporaries

January 25: Holy Rollers’ in Hobo Camp Life

February 1, 1904: Camp In Linn County Is Broken Up By Officers

February 6, 1904: How They Tell The Holy Roller Story In Far Off Scotland

February 11, 1904: Medium Mystify Corvallis People

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

March 16, 1904: Holy Rollers to Be Arrested on Serious Charge

March 17, 1904: Where is the Apostle?

March 21, 1904: Reward For Creffield's Capture

March 23, 1904: Fugitive Creffield

March 28, 1904: Reward is Offered

April 1, 1904: “Holy Roller” Chief Very Badly Wanted

April 18, 1904: Holy Roller High Priest Is Seen

April 29, 1904: Urania Seeley is Arrested

May 2, 1904: Frank & Mollie Hurt are Committed to the Asylum

May 4, 1904: Maud Hurt-Creffield & Sophia Hartley are Committed

May 7, 1904: Attie Bray &Rose Seeley are Committed

June 11, 1904: Attie Bray Escapes

June 17, 1904: Mae Hurt is Committed

June 29, 1904: Sarah Hurt is Committed

July 22, 1904: Holy Roller on Death Row

July 29, 1904: Creffield Found Half Dead Under Hurt’s House

July, 30 1904: Armed Guards Protect Creffield

July, 31 1904: Corvallis Could Not Raise a Mob

August 1, 1904: Creffield says, "I am Elijah"

August 2, 1904: Creffield Does Not Dislike Prison

August 4, 1904: Creffield Says He Is Entirely Purified

August 5, 1904: He Does Nothing Unless Directed by God

August 6, 1904: Creffield Believes in Satan and Eternal Punishment

August 9, 1904: No Flowers For Creffield

August 13, 1904; The Holy Rollers And The Man Who Made Them

August 16, 1904; Creffield Reward Will Be Returned

August 19, 1904: Followers in Asylum Stick To Faith

August 23, 1904: Creffield Will Fight His Own Case

August 28, 1904: Creffield Destroys His Revelations

September 16, 1904: Creffield is Guilty

September 21, 1904: Holy Rollers go in and Out of the Asylum

March 22, 1905: Prison Life Of Joshua Creffield>

April 8, 1905: Life In Corvallis Returns to Normal

December 12, 1905: Frank & Mollie Hurt Have a Baby Girl

April 24, 1906: Creffield Establishes a Camp Near Waldport

April 30, 1906: Donna Starr Leaves Children to go to Her Spiritual Love, Joshua Creffield

May 1, 1906: Creffield Takes Credit for The San Francisco Earthquake

May 3, 1906: Creffield In Fear Of His Life

May 7, 1906: Holy Roller Shot Down Like A Dog

May 8, 1906: Medal to Be Given Mitchell in Recognition of His Killing

May 9, 1906: Oregon Prosecutor Would Aid Mitchell

May 10, 1906: Shows No Emotion At Husband’s Grave

May 11, 1906: Bail Is All Ready

May 12, 1906: Mitchell Denied Bail

May 13, 1906: Creffield is Due To Rise Today

May 14, 1906: Creffield’s Widow Watches At Grave

May 15, 1906: Corvallis Starts Fund for Defense of Mitchell

May 16, 1906: Holy Rollers Starving Near Heceta Head

May 17, 1906: Public Sentiment Favors Mitchell

May 18, 1906: Creffield Railed in Vermont

May 19, 1906: Mitchell to Enter Plea of Not Guilty

May 27, 1906: Joshua Says Not to Worry

June 1, 1906: Morris Claims Mitchell Rid World of a Fiend

June 16, 1906: Prosecution and Defense are Making Last Preparations

June 19, 1906: Many Witnesses For Mitchell

June 24, 1906: Trial Will Cost Taxpayers Ten Thousand Dollars

June 25, 1906: George Mitchell on Trial For His Life

June 26, 1906: Mitchell Jury is Selected With Care

June 27, 1906: Mitchell Trial Held Up By Squabble

June 28, 1906:  Jury is Secured to Try Mitchell

June 29, 1906: Trial is Now on in Earnest

June 30, 1906: Mrs. Creffield's Testimony

July 1, 1906: Creffield’s Ghost Controls His Flock

July 2, 1906:  Esther Mitchell on Stand Refuses To Aid Brother

July 3, 1906: Hurt Tells of Debauched Wife and Debased Sisters

July 4, 1906: Creffield’s Unsavory Record Presented to the Jury

July 5, 1906: Expected Admissibility of Evidence Will Arouse Controversy

July 6, 1906: Others Testify They Wished to Kill Creffield

July 7, 1906: Insanity Expert on the Witness Stand

July 8, 1906: Plan To Revive Holy Rollerism

July 9, 1906: Killing of Judge Emory May Effect Mitchell

July 10, 1906: Mitchell Case Goes To Jury

July 11, 1906: Not Guilty

July 12, 1906: General Rejoicing at Mitchell’s Acquittal

July 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Kills Her Brother!

July 14, 1906: Mitchell Boys Are Done With Esther

July 15, 1906: Hurt Will Come to Aid of His Daughter

July 16: 1906: Will Mortgage His Home for Daughter

July 17, 1906: Let’s Think When We Talk

July 18, 1906: Mrs. Starr’s Life Threatened

July 19, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Weeps in Jail

July 20, 1906: George Mitchell’s Attorney Offers Aid to Murderesses

July 21, 1906: Mitchell Boys to Stand by Esther

July 22, 1906: Hurt Thinks Both Women Are Insane

July 23, 1906: Frater Favors a Commission of Alienists

July 24, 1906: Mackintosh Will Oppose Calling Commission

July 26, 1906: Is Reconciled to Holy Roller Wife

July 27, 1906: Holy Rollers Seek Home in Wyoming

July 28, 1906: Mitchell Juror is Insane

July 30, 1906: Esther Will Deny Committing Murder In The 1st Degree

July 31 1906: Esther Mitchell Says Not Guilty

August 1, 1906: Relatives to Help Esther Mitchell

August 4, 1906: Creffield Greatly Hurt True Religion

August 6, 1906: Mitchell Boys in Drunken Row

August 8, 1906: St. Louis Woman Coming to Convert “Rollers”

August 12, 1906: Esther Mitchell Close to Death from Typhoid

August 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Not Seriously Ill

September 1, 1906: Four Charged with First Degree Now in County Jail

September 10 1906: To Examine Minds of Slayers

September 12, 1906: Hurt Thinks His Daughter Insane

September 13, 1906: Esther Mitchell Objects to Help

September 14, 1906: Women Not Agitated

September 15, 1906: Mrs. Creffield’s Trial Set for Next Month

September 17, 1906: Mrs. Creffield on Stand

September 18, 1906:  Maud Creffield Anxious to Hang

September 19, 1906: Are They Sane of Insane?

September 21, 1906: Both Women May Go Scott Free

September 22, 1906: Where is This Thing to End!

September 23, 1906: Murders Must Be Tried

September 24, 1906: Must Not Deport

September 25, 1906: Judge Frater is in Very Small Business

September 28, 1906: Insanity Board Not Paid

October 1, 1906: Holy Roller Woman Dies While in Trance

November 9, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Said to Be in Very Nervous State

November 17, 1906: Maud Creffield Dies in the County Jail

November 18, 1906: Death May End a Hypnotic Spell

November 19, 1906: Reviews Findings in Examination of Brain

November 20, 1906: Mrs. Creffield Killed Herself with Poison!

November 21, 1906: Poison Is Found In The Stomach Of Mrs. Creffield

November 22, 1906: Esther Says Maud Did Not Kill Herself

December 4, 1906: Washing Dirty Linen

December 17, 1906: Sad Christmas For Holy Roller

February 21, 1907: Esther Mitchell Goes to Asylum

April 30, 1907: Esther Mitchell Still Believe in Creffield & His Return

April 6, 1909: Esther Mitchell Leaves Asylum

April 9, 1914: Esther Mitchell Marries James Berry

August 3, 1914: Esther Mitchell is Dead By Own Hand

1953 Stewart Holbrook's Murder Without Tears

1951 Startling Detective Magazine: Nemesis of the Nudist High Priest

A List of All the Articles

***

Sample Chapters from Holy Rollers:
Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult

***

The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers

***

Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers

***

Info for Book Groups

Book Reviews

***

1903 to 1907 Newspaper Articles About the Holy Rollers

1906 Editorial Calling for Gun Control
After Multiple Murders Involving the Holy Rollers

Stewart Holbrook Holy Rollers Article

Advertisements from 1893 to 1913

***

Oregon Insane Asylum
Where the Holy Rollers Were Committed

Creffield, Brainwashing & Thought Reform

Early Cases of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

1906 Autopsies Of Holy Rollers
Forensics Before CSI

Holy Roller Bizarre Divorce Decree
Hartley describes trying to kill his wife's lover

***

Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers

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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

***

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

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

(541) 563-3112

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