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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 28, 1904: Creffield Destroys His Revelations


Reverend Knapps HymsOregon Sunday Journal (Portland) 8/28/1904 p3

Creffield Destroys His Revelations


Rather than allow profane eyes to gaze on revelations he asserts were made to him by God, Edmund Creffield, the chief of the Holy Rollers, tore the fly leaves out of his well thumbed bible and destroyed them. On these leaves, written in a fine hand with a lead pencil, were the so-called revelations.


“I have them all in mind now, anyhow,” Creffield explained, “and if it is necessary can write them down again.”


County Jailer Grafton learned that Creffield had placed these “revelations” on the fly leaves in the back of his bible, which is an Oxford edition, with Levant cover and red-under-gold edges. He asked Creffield to let him look at the book. The “apostle” offered to let him take another bible, with calfskin covers, but Grafton answered that he wanted to see the other book, whereupon Creffield stood for a moment in a state of hesitation, and the deliberately tore all the fly leaves containing the “revelations” out of the volume and with a sigh handed it to the jailer. He afterward destroyed the leaves.


Lately Creffield has expressed a desire to “go home.” Asked where his home is, he remains silent. For a number of reasons, his language is taken to indicate that he means he is tired of life and is ready to go to heaven.



Corvallis Gazette 8/30/1904 p3

The bicycle establishment of Berry & Carl was transferred Saturday to the exclusive ownership of J. K. Berry who will now run the business alone. Mr. Berry has been in the bicycle business here for a number of years and is one of the most popular business men in town. Many will miss the genial presence of Mr. Carl at the work bench. We wish for Mr. Berry a continuation of the prosperity he has always had and success in winning additional trade.


Evening Telegram (Portland) 9/2/1904 p6

Elijah Dowie has been keeping himself in the background of late. The latest utterance of his is that Creffield, the Oregon Holy Roller, is not Elijah, although Creffield stoutly maintained that he was the original. the public, however, is inclined to believe that both are wrong.



Corvallis Times 9/3/1904 p2

His Coming Trial

Much Interest Here in Outcome of Creffield’s Case in a Portland Court.


Considerable interest is felt here in the approaching trial of Creffield which is to take place in a Portland court early this month. The fear is that the rogue will play the crazy dodge and instead of his just deserts, get adjudged insane and be sent to the asylum. Those in position to know say that the evidence against him in the adultery case for which he is now held is absolutely straight and convincing, and in such abundance as to make his conviction certain, unless the whole business gets sidetracked on a sentimental theory of lunacy. They say the fact that he took advantage of the weakness of one of his followers and got himself into his present position shows that it is not lunacy, but down right deviltry that affects him. It is also nearly certain now that hypnotism has been the agency with which he has been able to manage his converts so successfully and so fatally. William Crabtree, who was with Creffield in the Salvation Army , has a book on hypnotism that the great saint studied perseveringly before his advent as a Holy Roller. It is also the statement of the Salvation Army people with whom he was associated in Portland before he came to Corvallis, that he had powers then as a hypnotist. There is practically no other explanation by which this insignificant man could gain such control over daughters as to cause them to deny their parents, and such power over wives as to induce them to forswear their own marital relations, treating their own husbands as unworthy and discredited strangers.


Facts that tend to confirm the hypnotic theory is the news from the asylum. The condition of Creffield’s victims under treatment there is not encouraging. It is well known that persons long or often subjected to hypnotic influence suffer mentally, which may be, in part, explanation of the unfortunate condition of some of the asylum inmates. Similar inference is attributable to the case of Mrs. Hartley, for several weeks past in camp at Bohemia mines. She has largely recovered from the religious dementia, and admits the Holy Roller idea to be a mistaken one, but she constantly suffers from a buzzing in the head which causes her relatives to feel alarmed for her safety.


If Creffield should, on a subterfuge of lunacy, cheat the penitentiary of its long overdue deserts, indignation in this city would be very much heightened.



Corvallis Times 9/7/1904 p1

Portland, Sept. 3.--Portland Journal: Edmund Creffield, the High Holy Roller apostle, every time he has been in court, has refused to permit counsel to be appointed to defend him saying, “The Lord will defend me.”


As indicative of what he expects to be his fate, Creffield called County Jailer Grafton up to the bars in front of his cell yesterday and asked him all about the penitentiary at Salem. He wanted to know whether preachers were permitted to visit convicts and if Bibles and religious tracts were allowed in their hands. He asked a large number of other questions.


“What do you want to know all this for?” queried the jailer. “Do you expect to go there?”

“Well, if God so wills it, I suppose I must accept my fate,” said the apostle.



Corvallis Times 9/10/1904 p4

--After a visit of several weeks with O. V. Hurt, her brother, Miss Mary Hurt left Monday for her home in Indiana. She was accompanied as far as Portland by Mr. Hurt, who returned home via Salem Tuesday evening.



Oregon Sunday Journal (Portland) 9/11/1904 p1

Promotes Himself From Plain Elijah


(Special Dispatch by Leased Wire to the Journal.)

Waukegan, Ill., Sept. 10.--John Alexander Dowie announces in today’s issue of his paper, “Leave of Healing,” that on Sunday, Sept. 18 he will promote himself from plain Elijah, the prophet, to the position of the first apostle. He will be “John Alexander, the First Apostle of the Christian Catholic and Apostolic Church in Zion and Elijah, the Prophet of the Restitution of all things.” He makes this advance because he believes that God is with him in his successful work, and that it is stated in the Bible in First Corinthians, 12:28; it reads; “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers.”


In organizing the Christian church, Dowie posed as a preacher. Meeting with success, he on June 2, 1901, advanced to the position of prophet, taking the name of Elijah the Restorer. Now he will declare himself as the divinely commissioned apostle of the Christian Catholic and Apostolic church in Zion, with authority to ordain eleven other apostles when and where God may direct.


Evening Telegram (Portland) Thu 9/15/1904

Thinks Dowie Real Prophet

Former Stenographer of Zionist in Local Office. Tells of Personality and Labors of So-Called “Elijah”.


Believing that he is not a reincarnation of the prophet Elijah, but that he is divinely appointed to do a work similar to that of Elijah in restoring the faith to its pristine purity, is the estimate put upon Dr. Alexander Dowie of Zion City, by Charles Beckman passenger agent of the Northwestern in this city.


Mr. Beckman had every opportunity to form a careful estimate of Dowie, about whom so much criticism has been heard during past years, for he was the alleged prophet’s private stenographer for 13 months. He was with Dowie when he took his journey to New York in 1898 (??) and was a dweller in Zion City for a long time. He handled Dowie’s private correspondence, and was in a position to know for certain whether the avowed prophet was dealing justly with his people or whether he was as claimed by some newspapers a monumental fake whose patriarchal rule was grounded on the superstitions of the thousands of people who are known as Zionists.


Mr. Beckman is a member of the Zionist church in this city, of which he says there are about 40 members. On his coat he wars a shield-shaped emblem, at the top of which the dove of peace flies with outstretched wings. At the bottom, on a white pyramid, is the word “Zion”.


Members of the church meet every Sunday in the Alaska Building, and during the week they meet for prayer and discussion in the homes of the members about the city. There are three meetings held weekly. One-tenth of all they earn is sent to Zion City each month, where it goes to help the poor and other churches about the country whose people may not be so prosperous as are the Portland members.




Their method of helping a needy brother of the church is lacking in the ostentation sometimes attendant upon the work of other denominations, and the needy Zionist escapes all the ignominy of charity.


They believe that while there is such a thing as sickness, its cure is found in prayer and not in medicine. They do not hold that Dowie as a man can heal anyone, but that through prayer he has the power ascribed to the earlier prophets, although perhaps in a lesser degree.


When one of the members of the church falls sick a petition is sent to the prophet at Zion City, and the faithful pray for his restoration. They claim that this is invariably the means of bringing them back to health. In all things the members of the Dowie faith believe in taking a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. Their elders are said not to depend upon the church they serve fore their pay, but get their salaries from the head of the church in Zion City. In this way, they allege, the priest is not compelled to favor any members of his flock who are not doing right, even though the offenders may be the richest ones in his church.




Dr. Dowie’s personality, says Mr. Beckman, is a lovable one. Of great powers of endurance, he often works for several days at a time without sleep, thus requiring several stenographers, as none of his secretaries has been able to equal him in endurance. He always works from early morning, until late at night. In his rooms are great numbers of books, and Dowie is a master of several languages, besides having a very fine education.


He is captain of industry in that he directs many large enterprises at Zion City, consisting of lace works and other large manufactures. Zion City itself is said to be only little more than two years old, yet it is now a model city of 10,000 inhabitants. all over the world there are converts to Dowieism, and there is hardly a hamlet in the whole Willamette Valley from which there does not go each month the tithe to Zion’s prophet.

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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