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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.

August 4, 1904: Creffield Says He Is Entirely Purified

 

Edmund Creffield
Joe Haege as Edmund Creffield

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 8/4/1904 p3

“I Know No Sin”--Apostle Creffield

“Joshua” of the Holy Rollers Says He Is Entirely Purified--Is Bound Over to the Grand Jury Without Trial.”

 

“I am now Joshua, high priest, and at some future time will become Elijah, the restorer, “said Edmund Creffield this morning as he sat waiting to be called before Municipal Judge Hogue, B. E. Starr being the complaining witness. My work is to lead the 12 tribes of Israel back to Jerusalem, where the restoration of all things will take place, and the millennium will dawn on earth, he concluded.

 

At that juncture Bailiff Goltz called the leader of the Holy Rollers from the side room and he was arraigned before Judge Hogue by Deputy District Attorney Haney. He insisted on waiting preliminary hearing and going before the grand jury, so Judge Hogue held him under $2,000 bond. He will in all probability have to remain in the county jail.

 

Creffield walked with a firm step this morning and stood erect without assistance before Judge Hogue. When he said he wished to waive examination he was asked if he realized the serious nature of the charge facing him, and replied that he was fully aware of the gravity of the situation. Creffield had just granted an interview, which is here published, and Judge Hogue, upon being told that the Holy Roller leader talked rationally and was apparently in his right mind, bound him over.

 

Creffield complained this morning of flimsy stories that have been published concerning him, saying he was willing to tell everything the public desires to know.

 

Edmund Creffield“I KNOW NO SIN.”

 

“I have a mighty work to accomplish,” said Creffield just before his arraignment. “That work I will accomplish as God directs. I cannot know what my lot will be, but whatever comes to me, that will I construe as God’s holy will. I went under the Hurt residence at Corvallis not knowing what would befall me; I know now that I was crucified there and my spirit, body and mind were purified. I now know no sin. I was there prepared for my future work which I know is to restore Israel to Jerusalem.

 

“What will I say if sent to the penitentiary for life? Why, that God wills it so, of course. I shall wait patiently his commands, and do whatsoever he says. I am ready to lay down my life for Him. Regarding the charges people make, I say they are false. I have been pure in all my teachings. The reason my followers are insane, as people say, is because they are being sanctified for Jesus’ sake. They are not crazy--they are bound up in the spirit of God for a purpose. People who are in darkness cannot comprehend the things of the light of the spirit; that is impossible.

 

DENIES PUBLISHED STORIES

 

“A great many cruel and false things have been published about me and my work, but excepting for the souls of those who have written the false tales, I do not care, for they are irresponsible, being of the world, the flesh and the devil. They cannot understand the great light of the truths of the spirit as I do and as my disciples do.”

 

Creffield said he felt fine this morning, and he looked it. Save for the paleness of face, brought on by his long sojourn under the Hurt residence, he appears well. He carried in his coat pocket the little volume of the scriptures, recently presented to him by O. V. Hurt.

 

During the proceedings this morning, B. E. Starr, with his wife sat and listened to all that was said. Mr. Starr says his wife still believes some portions of the Holy Roller teachings, but that she is now living with him and is not a fanatic. He says it would be all Creffield’s life is worth to again go to Corvallis.

 

 

West Side Enterprise (Independence, OR) 8/4/1904 p2

Passed Through

Edmund Creffield Alias “Elijah” Passed Through Independence Saturday. Was not Communicative, Carried no Alligator Grip, Silk Socks Nor Saratoga Trunk.

 

Edmund Creffield, of Holy Roller fame, spent a few minutes in Independence Saturday. He was aboard the Southern Pacific train and did not alight from his coach or stir from his seat. He was in custody of Detective Hartman of Portland, and deputy sheriff Wells of Benton County and was being escorted from Corvallis to Portland.

 

Through courtesy of the officers in charge, Creffield was asked by a representative of the West Side Enterprise if he still clings to his religious teachings that have attracted so much notoriety.

 

“It would be unjust to talk to reporters, in the sight of God,” was the reply.

 

1906 Remington Typewriter advertisement“But if you have something good and we know nothing about it, you would not object to giving even reporters a few pointers,” ventured the interviewer.

 

“You’ll get pointers,” responded Creffield in a sarcastic tone, and these were the last words that could be drawn from the self-styled “Elijah.” He suddenly became mum as a Yaquina Bay oyster. Further questioning and the display of the warrant, but Detective Hartman, showing that the prisoner was held by virtue of a complaint of adultery, sworn out by B. E. Starr, only irritated to the leader of Holy Rollers. If remorse had ever taken him, bringing home the responsibility for breaking up homes, sending half a dozen people to the insane asylum, and others to the boys’ and girls’ aid society, he did not show it. He looked sorry that some one had pulled him from under the floor at Corvallis. He showed his displeasure at being questioned by restlessly looking to right and left alternately, in ill-concealed efforts to appear oblivious to his surroundings. There were no creases in Creffield’s pants, nor was his attire otherwise fashioned after a pattern plate. He carried no alligator grip with silk socks, sleeping gown, and change of linen nor Saratoga trunk with dress suits and French perfumes. With a slouched hat and clothes to match, and pallid complexion, he looked like one just released from a long jail sentence. His hands lay limp, and with a freshly shaven face and light eyes, his appearance was more that of a plant grown in the shade than a human being with red blood in his veins.

 

He was found under the house of O. V. Hurt at Corvallis last Friday.

 

(The usual story of finding Creffield under Hurt’s house)

 

HEADLINES IN DIFFERENT PAPERS FOR THE SAME ARTICLE

 

Evening Telegram (Portland) 8/4/1904 p1

Creffield To Answer

Holy Roller Prophet Does Not Attempt Any Defense. Says He Is Willing to Let the Lord Decide His Case. Judge Hogue Remands Him to Jail, Waiting Grand Jury.

 

Corvallis Times 8/6/1904 p3

 

 

HEADLINE IN ANOTHER PAPER FOR THE SAME ARTICLE, BUT MUCH ABRIDGED ARTICLE

 

Brownsville Times 8/12/1904 p1

To The Grand Jury

In Two Thousand Dollar Bonds Creffield in the Portland Courts.

 

[(Corvallis Times) Creffield has been bound over to await the action of the grand jury of the Multnomah County circuit court in $2,000 bonds. The grand jury will be in session in September. The action was taken in the police court in Portland Thursday. The story of the proceedings is told as follows in The Telegram: ]

 

“John Doe” Creffield, as he is known in the cold verbiage of the law; Edmund Creffield, as his mother christened him in the incipiency of his troubled career; “Joshua” the prophet, self-styled in the weird and fanatical fancy of the man whose deeds have shocked the religious world must go before the grand jury and answer to the charge of adultery, contrary to the laws of the land and the Decalogue of the books he worships. This man was brought before Judge Hogue in the Municipal Court this morning and upon waiving the right of a preliminary examination was bound over to the tender mercies of a higher court under $2000 bail. After this formal procedure this man who says he is a prophet was led back to the gloom of his prison cell.

 

The old dingy Police Court room was crowded to the doors all forenoon by a staring, morbid crowd, bent on catching a glance of the religious crank, who, fleeing from the demands of the law, skulked under the house of the man whose family he almost annihilated and starved himself to a pale and sickly wretch.

 

WOMEN CAME TO SEE HIM [Evening Telegram (Portland)]

 

Women there were in the usual number, some of whom were there as witnesses of this and other cases, and some who were said to be there for a look at Creffield. All morning the crowd hung around the courtroom, half of them unable to procure seats, but still they stayed until after the stroke of twelve when the “prophet” appeared, was led away and the court room cleared itself with a rush.

 

CALLED INTO THE COURT (Corvallis Times)

 

“Bring Creffield,” said Deputy District Attorney Haney, and there was a stir in the court room. “Come on, Creffield,” said the officer in waiting on the court as he beckoned to an invisible object in the culprit’s room, and immediately through the doorway emerged the form of the Holly Roller leader. Pale in complexion and insignificant in form, he walked slowly toward the bench upon which sat His Honor, Judge Hogue. The crowd stared and the eyes of B. E. Starr, the complaining witness, flashed the hatred he avows toward the man, charged with violating the sanctity of his home.

 

“Creffield, you are here to be given a hearing, do you want one?” queried Deputy District Attorney Haney, as the pale man leaned against the bar and roller his big eyes at the court on high.

 

WANTED NO HEARING [Evening Telegram (Portland)]

 

“No,” came the response in a weak voice.

 

“You want to waive a hearing then?” commented the prosecutor, and the pale man assented.

 

“Do you understand what is meant by waiving a hearing and going before the Grand Jury?” asked Judge Hogue from the bench, and Creffield said he did.

 

“You understand then, that you are to go before the Grand Jury when you leave this court? You are sane; you are not insane, are you?” asked the court.

 

Creffield blandly replied that he was not insane, and that he understood.

 

“You understand the charge that stands against you, do you not?” asked Judge Hogue.

“Yes, I understand,” came the weak voice of the “apostle” in returo (sic).

 

After a short conference between the court and the Deputy District Attorney the amount of bail was fixed at $2000, and Creffield was led to the waiting room to await transportation to the County Jail where he will languish until the sitting of the jury court in September.

 

PITIABLE SIGHT [Evening Telegram (Portland)]

 

It was a rather pitiable sight enacted in the courtroom, exemplary of the proverbial remark of the might fallen. There, under the sting and disgrace of a criminal charge, the center of morbid curiosity, and the contempt of the law, stood this man, who, but a few months before, held forth at the town of Corvallis--like a prince feeding upon the fat of the land as did Belshazzar of old--now forsaken per force by his erstwhile followers and locked in the confines of iron bars with common criminals.

 

“I shall not ask for a lawyer, but if the state demands that I have one, then it must be so,” said Creffield, after leaving the courtroom.

 

“How do you expect to receive justice without a lawyer” was asked.

 

“How do I expect to get justice? God will be with me all the time. If he desires to have me found guilty, I shall receive it joyfully. I have no feeling of animus toward anyone. I love all men with a divine love. Not as the world loves, but with a divine love. If they were to sentence me for life, hurt or kill me, I would still love them. all hatred has left me, but the world cannot understand this.”

 

When asked why Starr should have preferred against him the charge he has if he were not guilty, Creffield acted uneasy and replied that he did not know. He refused to talk on this point, but declared that he is not guilty of the crime charged.

 

CREFFIELD NOT INSANE

 

Creffield is not insane, but that he is a religious fanatic there is not the least doubt. He answers questions and carried on a conversation in a perfectly rational manner, but talks after the fashion of a pronounced fanatic when speaking of religion. He resents the story printed in the Telegram yesterday speculative as to his being possessed of hypnotic power. He declares that he knows nothing whatever of it. Knows nothing of the rudiments and has never practiced the art at all.

 

“I feel certain that Creffield has the power of hypnotism, or the ability of casting some strange influence over people,” said B. E. Starr, husband of Mrs. Donna Starr, the woman with whom the “apostle” is accused of criminal relations. “I am sure he has this power,” continued Starr, “because the people he has under his influence were good people and trying to do right.”

 

Starr says that his wife is gradually regaining her normal condition. She now eats pork, pickles and other edibles, forbidden by the Creffield creed. Her former coldness toward him, says Mr. Starr, is abated in a measure, although she still adheres to the faith and believes that she with all the other followers of this man, will have the power to cast out devils and perform other miracles, reputed of fact in Scriptural story.

 

Mr. Starr declares he believes his wife to be under hypnotic influence at the hands of Creffield.

 

HIS PAST HISTORY (Corvallis Times)

 

Some of the past history of Creffield has been dug up by the Portland newspapers. a sample of it is given in the following from the Portland Telegram:

(Excerpts from Evening Telegram (Portland) Wed 8/3/1904 p14)

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

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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

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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

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Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults

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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

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