Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult
T. McCracken and Robert Blodgett
Holy Rollers is a story that has everything a good read should have: sex, religious fervor, mass insanity, the downfall of prominent families, murder and sensational court trials.
And it's all true.
John Terry, The Oregonian's 'Oregon's Trails' columnist says of the book: "Bought a copy, took it home and straight away in the space of a couple of late evenings, read through it. A dandy piece of research and a good read. Lots more stuff than I was aware of. It deserves an audience."
Cultic Studies Review recommended the book saying it: "provides useful information about the developmental dynamics of cult-like groups and their leadership; as such, it is a valuable addition to the database of how destructive cults develop and to the psychopathology of their leaders."
The eBook version has lots of extras and is only $3.99
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In 1903 Edmund Creffield lured most of Corvallis's Salvation Army's soldiers to his own church. They called themselves The Church of the Bride of Christ. Everyone else called them The Holy Rollers. Most of Creffield's followers were women, and not just any women, but women who were the wives and daughters of respected men, women of high character and standing, God-fearing, decent women.
Their going's on were page one news--and not just in the Pacific Northwest, but around the world. Stewart H. Holbrook, a reporter for the Oregonian and an historian, said of the Holy Roller's story: "It seems to me, the most incredible of all the cases I have studied." Yet few today know the story, not even many folks in Waldport, Oregon where the final chapter takes place.
Waldport is a small town--it's population is about 2,000 today--the sort of place where everybody knows everything about everyone else. But asking anyone about the Holy Rollers is an offense. "We were always told to not talk about it," an old-timer will tell you with eyes cast down, "and I'm not going to."
What little most folks in town know was gleaned from a magazine article a student at Waldport High happened upon in the 1950s. The girl had never before heard of Edmund Creffield, but she knew almost everyone else mentioned in the piece. "Do you know who these people are?" she asked after reading the article aloud on the school bus. "Whose mothers these are? Whose fathers these are?" Everyone on the bus knew who they were because everyone in town knew who they were. They were some of the town's earliest settlers, some of the town's best-respected citizens.
That--not murder--may be the most unsettling part of this story. Unsettling because these were normal people. Sane people. People like you and me. If things like these could happen to them, things like these might happen to anyone.
When the Waldport High students asked their parents for more information about the doings of the Holy Rollers and Edmund Creffield, all were shushed up and told to never bring up the subject again. A group of men went up and down the coast buying and destroying every copy of the offending magazine they could find.
The young people obeyed their parents and never did bring the subject up again.
And neither did anybody else in town.
Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers
Oregon State Penitentiary Where Creffield Was Incarcerated
1903 to 1907 Newspaper Articles About the Holy Rollers
Stewart Holbrook Holy Rollers Articles
How the Fire Fell A Movie based on the book Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult.
Advertisements from 1893 to 1913
Creffield, Brainwashing & Thought Reform
Life in Corvallis in the early 1900s
Life in Waldport, OR in early 1900s
Reverend Knapp's Bible Songs of Salvation & Victory, Hymns Sung by the Holy Rollers
Facts & Stats about 1906 And How The Holy Rollers Measured Up
1906 Editorial Calling for Gun Control After Multiple Murders Involving the Holy Rollers
Early Cases of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
1906 Autopsies Of Holy Rollers Forensics Before CSI
Holy Roller Bizarre Divorce Decree in which Lewis Hartley describes trying to kill his wife's lover
Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?
Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults
The Salvation Army Opening Fire in 1886