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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.

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

Attie Bray & Mae HurtCorvallis Times 5/7/1904 p3

Victims Of Creffield

Two More Young Women Taken to the Asylum--Miss Bray and Miss Seeley.


There was a melancholy scene in the county judge’s office yesterday morning. It was the fruit of Creffieldism, in which two young women were under examination as to sanity. One was Attie Bray, aged 22, whose parents reside on the Coast, and the other was Rose Seeley, aged 28, whose mother is dead and whose father is in unknown parts. The examining board was County Judge Watters, Dr. Cathey and Dr. Farra. Both girls were bareheaded, and during the examination, Miss Seeley remained standing because of the fool notion in the Creffield creed that a chair and other furniture is contaminating. One young girl at a former examination remained seated on the floor for the same reason.


The questions by the board were all gently and kindly asked. Often they were not answered, though Miss Seeley, who is now the leading spirit in the faith, talked freely. Miss Bray was asked if she did not want to go home, and she said “no.” When asked if she believed Creffield was good, she said, “he is a man of God.” When asked concerning her future plans, she remained always silent, though the question was frequently repeated, the inquirer sometimes pressing it. She admitted that she had destroyed her hat, but declined to explain why.


Both girls were perfectly rational on all ordinary subjects, but when the subject of their particular belief was touched upon, a complete consuming delusion was manifest. Deep sympathy was observable in the faces and voices of the members of the board as well as among others present for the melancholy plight in which the teachings of Creffield have placed the girls. Both girls have had situations as help in Corvallis homes, but each left her place, and had taken a room at the farmers Hotel where it is supposed they intended to spend their time idly, on Creffield’s plan that “God will provide.” Miss Bray is a graduate of the Corvallis public schools. Both were committed to the asylum and were taken to Salem by Sheriff Burnett yesterday afternoon.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/7/1904 p11

Asylum Receives More Fanatics

Two More Supporters Of The So-Called Apostle Creffield Are Committed. Edmund Creffield


(Special Dispatch to the Journal.)

Albany, Or., May 7.--Rose Seeley and Attie Bray, two young women of Corvallis who have for the past six months been connected with the Holy Rollers, were brought to this city yesterday afternoon by Sheriff Burnett and taken to the Salem asylum, having been committed to that institution by the Benton county court. Miss Seeley is an older sister of Florence Seeley, who a week ago was sent to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid society at Portland by the Linn county court. Rose Seeley has been an ardent supporter of Creffield ever since that so-called apostle invaded Corvallis. She is 28 years old and was born at Alsea.


Recently she worked as a domestic in Corvallis, and when her sister was taken to Portland, she feared commitment to the asylum and left her place of employment, giving out that she was going to Hood River. Instead she was secreted at the home of O. V. Hurt, father of Mrs. Creffield, who was sent to the asylum from here a week ago. Yesterday her whereabouts was discovered by Mr. Burt, and she was promptly arrested and committed. With her was Attie Bray, who was also a native of Lincoln County, 22 years old. Both hanging women were bareheaded, with loose hair hanging down their backs. While waiting for the train they stood in the waiting room at the station ignoring the curiosity of the people crowding about them. They scorned taking seats in the room, as they never make use of anything made by common man if they can avoid it, and this objection to the works of man extends to articles of wearing apparel--almost.



Mollie Hurt
Sara Robbin as Mollie Hurt

Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 5/7/1904 p1

Holy Rollers

Two More Of The Sect Brought To The Asylum From Corvallis. There Are Still Others and It Is the Opinion of the Authorities That the Only Solution of the Problem Is to Commit All to the Asylum.




Two more of the famous band of “Holy Rollers” were yesterday afternoon brought to Salem from Corvallis by Sheriff M. F. Burnett, of Benton County, and taken to the asylum, having been committed to that institution by the county court of Benton county, as being dangerous to the peace and good morals of the community. Those brought were Rose Seeley, aged 28 years, a servant girl by occupation, of good habits and born in Alsea, and Attie Bray, aged 22 years, also a servant girl, of good habits, and born in Lincoln county.


There are now six members of this particular sect in the insane asylum, all having been committed from Corvallis, and all of good habits, with no charge against them except on account of their outlandish method of worship. They are Frank Hurt and Mrs. Millie Hurt (sic), aged 25 years (sic); Miss Sophia Hartley, aged 20 years, a daughter of a respectable and well-to-do family of Corvallis, and Mrs. Maud Creffield, aged 23 years, who was enticed from her home and induced to marry apostle Creffield, originator of the sect.


There are yet several who espoused the faith who are still at large or confined in other cities, and it seems to be the opinion of those who have come in contact with them that the only way of breaking up the movement, which threatened to undermine a certain element in society, is to send them to the asylum, where they may be looked after and prevented from spreading their abominable doctrines and exerting a hypnotic influence over others. It is admitted by all that they are not crazy, and any one conversing with them can tell that their minds are as well balanced on general subjects as those of ordinary mortals. They declare that it is necessary for them to return to the old manner of living, as was practiced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and it is their mission to convert the world to the new doctrine.


They can be easily recognized at sight as members of the sect, by their peculiar manner of dress, although they have not yet adapted the original human habit of attiring themselves in a fig leaf, at least not in public. All of the ladies who have so far been brought to Salem wore brown dresses, caught with a draw string around the neck, without collar. They invariably wear their hair unbraided and unkempt, flowing in tangled masses over their shoulders, and they scorn to wear such a thing as a hat or other head gear.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/7/1904 p3

Two Young Women Are Committed


(Special Dispatch to the Journal.)

Corvallis, Or., May 7.--Two more of Apostle Creffield’s converts were taken to the insane asylum by Sheriff Burnett yesterday. They are Miss Rose Seeley and Miss Attie Bray, aged 28 and 22 respectively.


The young women were formerly employed as domestics in Corvallis, but since their conversion to the Creffield faith had given up their positions and took up their abode in a hotel, where barefooted, with hair hanging loosely over shoulders and eyes turned heavenward, they idly passed the time away.


The examining committee was composed of County Judge Watters and Drs. Cathey and Farra.


Corvallis Gazette 5/10/1904 p3

Committed To Asylum


Miss Rose Seeley and Miss Atta (sic) Bray of this city, adherents to the “Holy Roller” sect were arrested Friday morning at the Farmers Hotel, taken to the Court House, examined as to sanity and were committed to the State Insane Asylum at Salem. They came to the Farmers Hotel Wednesday evening and were followed by Mr. Hartley who asked Mr. Howell, the proprietor, to make complaint to the county judge. They ate neither supper nor breakfast, but it was discovered later that they had a basket of preserves, bananas, etc. These no doubt were supplied by accomplices still remaining in the city.


When taken before the Judge, Miss Seeley answered such questions as she chose. When asked concerning the peculiar belief of the sect, she refused to answer. Both girls are young and quite pretty. The sheriff had no difficulty with his charges as both seemed willing and are anxious to be sent away. It is the evident intention of law-abiding citizens to rid the city entirely of this foolish outfit. If there were no other reasons for sending them away; their reckless disregard for decency and the sanctity of the house would be just and sufficient cause.




Albany Democrat 5/13/1904 p5

More Holy Rollers


Miss Seeley, a sister of the girl sent to the Girls Home in Portland, who has been hiding in Corvallis, and another girl, with bare heads and long hair loose, today were being examined at Corvallis for insanity with prospects of being sent to Salem.



Albany Democrat 6/13/1904 p1

Rose Seeley and Attie Bray, Corvallis Holy Rollers, are now residing at the asylum. Under the present plan the state of Oregon will have the settlement of Holy Rollerism.



Albany Democrat 5/13/1904 p4

-Mr. Hurt would like to hurt Creffield with a bullet.

-Corvallis, Albany and Salem these days seem to form a chain in Holy Rollerism. It will take another link to reach Creffield.

-(Under Court House News)

Sheriff Burnett of Corvallis, brother of R. L. Burnett of this city, returned from Salem this noon. He thinks there will be no further arrests of Holy Rollers at Corvallis.



Corvallis Times 5/21/1904 p4

The building on Main Street occupied some years ago by the second hand store of Dunn & Campbell and later on by the Salvation Army, has been leased by the Corvallis Steam Laundry Company. Removal to the new quarters will take place in the near future. The change is made in order to secure more room.



Corvallis Gazette 6/1/1904 p1

The $100 is still in the bank and 10 of the best republicans in the county to pick from. Here they are J. E. Henkle, Robt. Huston, O. V. Hurt, S. L. Kline, M. S. Woodcock, D. M. Smith, Robert Kyle, John E. Wyatt, E. R. Bryson and Joseph Edwards. Shame on a four-barreled liar.



Corvallis Gazette 6/8/1904 p4

Seventh Day Adventists


Will hold regular service at S.D.A. Hall East Main Street between Washington and Adams Streets each Sabbath or Saturday, as follows: Sabbath school at 2 p. m., Bible study 3 p. m.

Preaching as announced from time to time.

Rev. C. J. Cole



Corvallis Gazette 6/11/1904 p3

Another of Creffield’s victims is to be sent away from her home today. She is Miss May Hurt, an estimable young girl who has become so far entangled in Creffield’s nonsensical creed that it is deemed best to remove her to a place where she will not be constantly in contact with other members of the sect. An order of the county court yesterday, in answer to a petition, commits her temporarily to the care of the Boys’ & Girls’ Aid Society in Portland. Under the order all her rights are not surrendered, and she can at any time, when sufficiently recovered, return to her home. Miss Hurt is to be taken to Portland today by Sheriff Burnett.



Brownsville Times 6/17/1904 p4 “Another Holy Roller Victim.

May Hurt, of Corvallis, another victim of the infamous Holy Rollers, has been ordered sent to the Boys’ and Girls’ Home at Portland. Several More Holy Rollers remain in Corvallis administering the poison of their insane doctrine whenever possible. Come to think of it, those tar and feathers ought to have been glued upon Creffield.


$400 reward is now offered for Creffield, the dirtiest scrub who ever menaced the peace of a community.--Albany Democrat


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


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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