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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 3, 1906: Creffield In Fear Of His Life

 

Lewis HartleyMorning Oregonian (Portland) 5/3/1906 p6

In Fear Of His Life

Holy Roller Creffield Disappears From View

All Trains Are Searched. Despoiler of Homes May Be Roughly Handled if He Falls Into the Hands of Some of the Irate Husbands.

 

ALBANY, May 2.--(Special.)--The wrath of deserted husbands caused Creffield and his Holy Roller followers to scatter from their late rendezvous near Waldport, in Lincoln County. Mrs. Maud Creffield, wife of the “Apostle” and daughter of O. V Hurt, a prominent citizen of Corvallis, was in Albany last evening on the way to Portland. She seemed to have fully recovered from her recent mental trouble that caused her confinement in the state insane asylum. While her mind seems right, she declares her intention of remaining with Creffield.

 

When the Creffield's went to their camping ground on the coast, they were immediately followed by many of the women of Benton County, who had been under the spell of the “prophet,” and the orgies of the Holy Rollers were reported to have begun again. People in Benton County became aroused and heads of families that were broken up by the teachings and practices of Creffield began talking ominously. Some gun play was indulged in by irate fathers and husbands, who followed Creffield to Waldport and Creffield found things too hot for him.

 

When Mrs. Creffield appeared in Albany, she was trailed by a number of Corvallis men, who were seeking through her to ascertain the whereabouts of her husband. Last Sunday information was sent from the bay that Creffield had departed from his camp, and the Holy Rollers were dispersed. The head of the new organization was said to have headed for Junction City. When Mrs. Creffield appeared on the way to Portland, it was immediately suspected that the prophet was headed for Junction City for the purpose of boarding the train there, joining his wife in Albany, and thence go to Portland.

 

Last night every train, freighter or passenger, that passed through Albany from the south was watched by a number of Corvallis men, who were seeking the religious fanatic and despoiler of homes. Just what was in store for Creffield is not known, for he failed to show up, although every freight train was searched thoroughly. That he is wanted by justly indignant men seems to be a fact will known to the chief Holy Roller for when he left the seaside camp he went alone and by a route unknown to his followers, and has studiously avoided Benton County, where he is wanted.

 

By some unaccountable power, Creffield holds a terrible influence over his followers. In the last gathering of the Holy Roller clan were women who left pleasant homes and infant children to the care of strangers.  Men have become desperate in their indignation, and those who were seeking Creffield last evening were terribly in earnest. Reports have reached Albany of one attempt by a wronged husband to kill the apostle at Waldport, whither the apostle had been followed.

 

 

Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/3/1906 p8

Creffield, the Holy Roller, is accumulating another stock of lunatics who sooner or later will have to be taken care of by the state. The capture and care of his misguided followers cost the state several thousand dollars two years ago, and from the start he is making, it is not improbable that there will be another big bill of expense to foot in the near future. The husbands or brothers of these misguided women who run after this fakir seems to have something lacking in their make-up, or the Holy Roller would long have been given a treatment which would have prevented him from carrying out a portion of the religious rite which he is accused of practicing on his victims.

 

George Mitchell
Jason Haines as George Mitchell

SAME ARTICLE IN DIFFERENT PAPERS

 

Corvallis Gazette 1906 p1

Newberg Graphic 5/3/1906 p5

Mrs. B. E. Starr, of East Portland, who will be remembered in this neighborhood as Donnie Mitchell, daughter of Charley Mitchell, deserted her husband Saturday night and departed to join her “spiritual love,” who is none other than the notorious Joshua Creffield, apostle of the Holy Rollers, who in February finished serving a two year term in the state penitentiary for his licentious practices carried on in the guise of extreme holiness. Since his release from imprisonment he has gathered a few followers about him away out in Lincoln county where he is reported to be carrying on very much as of yore. Mrs. Starr is said to have fallen under the influence of Creffield three years ago, when the Rolling prophet was playing havoc with weak minded women, and had remarked to her husband recently that she still had a spiritual love for him. She left in the night, taking what money she could find in Mr. Starr’s pockets. She left a note to her husband saying she did not disturb him for fear the children would cry, adding that, “He said that Christ will take care of them.” “He” refers to Creffield. The Starrs have three little children, the youngest a seven months old babe which Mr. Starr’s mother has taken. Mrs. G. W. Mitchell went down from here Tuesday morning and in the evening brought back the two pretty little girls, aged five and three years, to whom they will give a home.

 

Yaquina Bay News (Newport, OR) 5/3/1906 p3

Hartley, the Corvallis man, who was over here last week gunning for the “Holy Roller Creffield” succeeded in getting his wife and daughter to return home with him. Mrs. Creffield has gone to Portland, it is reported, to gather in recruits for the Holy Roller colony.

 

 

Lincoln County Leader (Toledo, OR) 5/4/1906 p1

--Waldport has been having for a couple of weeks some distinguished visitors.--Holy Rollers. Quite a number are camped just below town.

 

--Word came from Waldport that Creffield, the chief inkydink of the Rolly Holers (sic), has gone back to the valley via the south end route, presumably after recruits. There is said to be quite a bunch of these bad actors in the south end of Lincoln County.

 

Corvallis Gazette 5/4/1906 p3

O. V. Hurt spent Sunday in Portland

 

 

Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/7/1906 p3

Creffield Seen in Linn County

 

ALBANY, Or., May 7.--A report has reached Albany that Creffield, leader of the Holy Rollers, is in hiding in the mountains of Eastern Linn County, near the town of Crawfordsville. there is no warrant out for the “prophet,” but an investigation has been started to learn the truth of the rumor, at the instigation of Corvallis men who are willing to pay a reward for authentic information in regard to Creffield’s whereabouts. The report did not state with whom Creffield was staying, but says that he was seen near Crawfordsville recently by a man who knows him, and that he was alone. Sheriff Burnett of Corvallis is investigating the report this morning.

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

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The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers

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Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers

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Info for Book Groups

Book Reviews

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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

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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

(541) 563-3112

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