Holy Rollers

Edmund Creffield's Holy Rollers got their start in Corvallis in 1903.

When they all prayed and rolled together they made a “Babel of weird sounds”--or so said those living near the services--“the effect to the uninitiated being extremely weird.”

They were so annoying that officials forbade Creffield from holding gatherings within city limits.

Undaunted, he told his followers that he had “received instructions from on high” to hold a camp meeting on Smith Island, a small, uninhabited island three miles out of town. Bring family and friends, he told everyone, because there are a limited number of spaces on that Holy Roll in Heaven, and if your family and friends don’t get their names inscribed on it soon, they will be doomed, doomed to spend an eternity in Hell. Besides, it’ll be fun. We’ll build wigwams and camp out. It’ll be sort of like a vacation. It was on the island that things really started to get wild.

So who were these people who joined Creffield on the island? It would be comforting to think all of them were a bit off. Who else would mistake hallucinations--they were hallucinations, weren’t they?--for the voice of God, but someone who was a bit off? Or at the very least that they came from bad stock. Or had wretched childhoods. It could be disconcerting if they were normal people, people like the rest of us, intelligent, well-adjusted people from good homes, people of “a sane mind and a reasonable being, because it means that normal people--people like the rest of us--can fall victim to someone like Creffield.

Respectable, modest and refined women and girls,” was the way Will H. Morris, an attorney who got involved in the Creffield case, described many of the group. “From old neighbors, who had known them from childhood, I learned that prior to their coming in contact with Creffield and his pernicious teachings and blighting influence, all of these women and girls were from families of good reputation, respected by all who knew them, and that not a breath of reproach or a taint of suspicion had ever been directed toward their reputation for virtue and womanly conduct.”


The stills from How the Fire Fell, Edward P. Davee’s movie based on the Holy Rollers.

Most were taken by Destiny Lane.


Hurt Family

Hurt FamilyKrizia Amber, Maren McGuire, David Poland, Jacob Reehl, Jon Ashley Hall, & Alana Crow as Mae, Maud, O.V., Roy Robinett, Frank and Sarah Hurt.

O.V. Hurt

OV HurtDavid Poland as O.V. Hurt

Edmund Creffield

Edmund CreffieldJoe Haege as Edmund Creffield

Maud Hurt

Maud HurtMaren McGuire as Maud Hurt

Sarah Hurt

Sarah HurtAlana Crow as Sarah Hurt

Frank Hurt

Frank & Mollie Hurt

Sara Robbin & Jon Ashley Hallas Mollie & Frank Hurt

Attie Bray & Mae Hurt

Holy RollersMaren McGuire, Brighid Thomas and Rachael Perrell as Maud Hurt, Esther Mitchell and Donna Starr

Roy Robinett Hurt

Roy Hurt

Jacob Reehl as Roy Robinett Hurt

Esther Mitchell

Brighit Thomas as Esther Michell

Brighid Thomas as Esther Mitchell

George Mitchell

George Mitchell

Jason Haines as George Mitchell

Donna Starr

Donna Starr

Rachael Perreli, Ben Decampo & Jeffree Newman as Burgess & Donna Starr & Sheriff Burnett

Florence Seeley

A woman in a Mother Hubbard

Rachael Perrell as Donna Starr

Edmund Creffield

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