The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers
1906 Editorial Calling for Gun Control
After Multiple Murders Involving the Holy Rollers
Oregon Insane Asylum
Where the Holy Rollers Were Committed
1906 Autopsies Of Holy Rollers
Forensics Before CSI
Holy Roller Bizarre Divorce Decree
Hartley describes trying to kill his wife's lover
Oregon State Penitentiary
Where Creffield Was Incarcerated
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
When writing Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult we had many a debate about how to spell the name of the book's protagonist. About the man's early life, like Jesus', little is known. No one even knows for certain what his parents named him.
January 1894 Philadelphia immigration records list him as Edmund Crefeld, a German disembarking from the Steamship Switzerland and Edmund Crefeld is also the bi-line he used when he wrote articles for the Salvation Army's War Cry and God's Revivalist and Bible Advocate.
He signed both his Oregon and Washington State Marriage Licenses as F. E. Crefeld.
Four agencies that kept records on the man list his name four other ways: the U. S. Census lists him as Edmond Crefeld; the Salvation Army lists him as Edmund Crefield: the Oregon State Penitentiary lists him as Edwin Creffield; and his Washington State Death Certificate lists him as Franz E. Crefield.
We chose, however, to refer to him as Edmund Creffield for that is the form most often found in newspaper accounts, articles in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer being notable exceptions.
Whatever his name, Creffield never seemed to have corrected anyone about what people called him. Maybe it didn't matter to him. Perhaps he viewed these as temporal names and presumed history would remember him as God's Elect, Joshua the Prophet, the Second Savior, or Elijah.
No one knows for certain where Creffield was born. O. V. Hurt, his father-in-law, said that Creffield was "a very highly educated man, having been trained in Germany for priesthood in the Catholic church." Perhaps he came from Krefeld, a city northwest of Düsseldorf that is in a predominantly Catholic enclave within Protestant dominated northern Germany. In Creffield's time it was common for Germans to spell the city and family name as either as Crefeld or Krefeld.
No one knows for certain when Creffield was born. The 1900 Census lists him as being born in May, 1864, but his death certificate lists him as being thirty-three when he died in 1906 which would mean he was born in 1873.
Perhaps he left Germany before his twentieth birthday in order to avoid being conscripted for two years military service. Or perhaps what Burgess Starr, O. V. Hurt's brother-in-law, said is true: "Creffield was a deserter from the German army."
If Creffield was thirty-three when he died, he died at the age Christ was when he was crucified. Such symmetry would have pleased Creffield. That, you can be certain of.
The Twelfth Census of the United States (1900) ( (3rd Precinct of the City of Seattle, King County, Washington; Enumeration District 82, Sheet Number 9B, line 59) reads:
Edmund Crefield's Salvation Army Records reads:
Edwin Creffield's Oregon State Penitentiary Convict Record (the Great Register, 1894-1910) reads:
Franz E. Crefield's Washington State Death Certificate (Volume No: 1906, Register No: 16307) reads:
An Autographed Copy of
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment.