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:
- Crefeld, Edmond, Lodger,
- White, Male,
- born May, 1864, age at last birthday: 36;
- born in Germany;
- birthplace of father: Germany; birthplace of mother: Germany;
- year of emigration to United States: 1884;
- number of years
- in United States: 16;
- Naturalization: alien;
- occupation: laborer;
- months not employed: 0;
- can read: yes; can write: yes;
- can speak English: yes.
Edmund Crefield's Salvation Army Records reads:
- Edmund Crefield
- From: Seattle, WA
- German, age 26 in 1899, spoke English and German,
- November 1, 1899 Grant's Pass, OR
- April 29, 1900 Corvallis, OR
- August 1, 1900 The Dalles, OR
- November 11, 1900 Oregon City, OR
- February 5, 1901 McMinnville, OR
- February 14, 1901 CAPTAIN
- February 14, 1901 Heppner, OR
- June 26, 1901 Resigned
Edwin Creffield's Oregon State Penitentiary Convict Record (the Great Register, 1894-1910) reads:
- Name: Edwin Creffield
- No: 4941
- Received: Sept. 17th, 1904
- Released: Dec 13, 1905
- Manner of release: Discharge
- Charge: Adultery
- County: Multnomah
- Time: (2) Two Years
- Age: 31
- Nativity: Germany
- Height: 5 ft-2 1/2 inches
- Weight: 133 Abs.
- Complexion: Light
- Hair: Light
- Eyes: Blue
- Occupation: Minister of the Gospel
- Read and Write: Yes
- Name of Relatives: Mrs. Edwin Creffield
- Address of Relatives: Corvallis, Ore.
- Married or Single: Married
- Creed: Apostle of Jesus Christ
- SPECIAL MEASURE
- Breast: 36 1/2
- Arm: 30
- Waist: 30 1/2
- Hips: 34
- Leg: 29
- Foot: 5 1/2
- Neck: 14 1/2
- Head 22 1/2
- Cut scar left side back of head; cut scar back of head; pit scar and lump left cheek; pit scar right side of forehead; 2 pit scars below right temple; pit scar outside right upper arm; number of cut scars 2nd joint 1st and 2nd fingers right hand; large cut scar inside left hand; cut scar 3rd large cut scar inside left hand; cut scar 3rd joint index finger left hand; small cut scar right buttock, pit scar left side of back just above buttock; cut scar back of right knee; large cut scar right knee, good teeth.
- CONDUCT: DAYS AWARDED FOR EXTRA LABOR
- Conduct: Days Awarded for extra labor 127 days Road Work 9/27/05
- 20 days Road Work Oct./05
- 13 days Road Work Nov./05
- 42 days Road Work Dec/05
Franz E. Crefield's Washington State Death Certificate (Volume No: 1906, Register No: 16307) reads:
- Place of Death: County of: King, City of:
- Registration Dist. No:
- 2) FULL NAME: Franz E. Crefield
- Personal and Statistical Particulars
- 3) Sex: Male
- 4) Color or Race: White
- 5) Single, Married, Widowed or Divorced: Married
- 6) If Married, Widowed or Divorced, Husband of or Wife of:
- 7) Date of Birth:
- Age: 33
- 8) Occupation of deceased: Holy Roller (a) trade or particular kind of work:
- (b) General nature of Industry, business establishment in which employed (or employer):
- (c) Name of Employer:
- 9) Birthplace (City or Town) (State or Country): Germany
- 10) Name of Father: Franz Crefield
- 11) Birthplace of Father (City or Town) (State or Country): Germany
- 12) Maiden Name of Mother:-------
- 13) Birthplace of mother (City or Town) (State or Country: Germany
- 14) Informant:___________Address:
- 15) Filed: 5 MAY 1906 W. L. Ludlow
- Medical Certificate of Death
- 16) Date of Death: May 7 1906
- 17) I HEREBY CERTIFY, That I attended the deceased from:________ to:
- that I last say h___ alive on:_____and that death occurred on the date stated above at:
- (State the disease causing death or, in deaths from violent causes, sate (1) Means and nature of injury; and (2) whether ACCIDENTAL, SUICIDAL or HOMICIDAL.
- The CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows:
- (Primary): External Violence
- CONTRIBUTORY (Secondary):
- 18) Where was disease contracted if not at the place of death:
- (a) Did an operation precede death?:
- (b) Was there an autopsy?:
- (c) What test confirmed diagnosis?:
- (Signed) F. M. Carroll M. D.
- 19)Place of Burial, Cremation or removal:
- Date of Burial:
- 20) Undertaker: Address:
- We have been trying to locate long lost relatives of Edmund Creffield. If you believe you might be related, please e-mail us.