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.

November 2, 1903: Fanatics In Court


Edmund Creffield
Joe Haege
as Edmund Creffield

Evening Telegram (Portland) 11/2/1903 p1

Fanatics In Court

Great Excitement Attends Examination of Leaders of the Holy Rollers. Edward Baldwin Makes Desperate Attempt to Get Daughter to Desert Ranks. Wife of Prominent Corvallis Man Removes Furniture from Beautiful Home.


[Telegram Coast Special]

CORVALLIS, Or., Nov. 2 -- The result of the examination as to the sanity of the two leaders, Krafel (sic) and Brooks of the Holy Rollers, has not yet been made public. The examination was held Saturday afternoon behind closed doors. Judge Watters and Drs. B. A. Cathy and Pernot conducted the investigation. The affair was most sensational.


Several converts to the faith were subpoenaed as witnesses, among others Mrs. Hurt, Mrs. Hartley, Frank Hurt, and Miss Baldwin, a daughter of Edward Baldwin, a respected citizen of this county. A startling scene occurred during the examination in the Circuit Court Room, adjacent to where the examination was being conducted, several witnesses being there in waiting. Edward Baldwin, father of a girl of 22 years, took his daughter away by force being assisted by others. Miss Baldwin remonstrated, and was taken from the Courthouse screaming, and wailing and pleading to remain. She yesterday went to her home and tried to get her trunk and clothes to take to the Hurt house to be burned with the other clothing, jewelry and furniture which was destroyed by fire yesterday.


When Deputy Sheriff Henderson with his assistants went to the house he was refused admission at first, but afterward got in, finding all the converts in one room, which was bare of furniture. Some were lying on their faces, others on their backs, and others in crouching position. Some were praying, some laughing, and others weeping. Mrs. Hartley and daughter went yesterday to their beautiful new home in Corvallis and removed all available furniture and had the same hauled to the Hurt house where it was burned. Louis Hartley, manager of the Great Eastern Mining District, arrived in Corvallis from Bohemia Saturday, but so far he and his son have been unsuccessful in inducing the wife and daughter to return home.


One of the principal doctrines of the members of this sect is that as soon as they are converted their names are inscribed on the “Holy Roll,” which makes them worthy of personal communion with God. Hence the term “Holy Rollers.” They also believe that only a limited number of names can be so inscribed, and consequently each member makes a special effort to convert his or her immediate relatives before the roll is closed.


Mrs. Hurt, her son and two daughters have been Holy Rollers for some time, and have done everything in their power to influence the husband and father to join them, but had so successfully withstood their prayers and those of their fanatical leaders that he had become known among the converts as the “Black Devil.” His final conversion day before yesterday seems to be the cause of the fanatical frenzy which has taken possession of the entire body.



Evening Telegram (Portland) 11/2/1903 p1 The Holy Rollers

Group of Holy Rollers, Religious Fanatics Having Their Headquarters at Corvallis, Oregon

(Under this is a photo of the group, Top row, left to right--Levin, Brooks, Mrs. Worrell, (Portland), Ester Mitchell, Rose Seeley, Florence Seeley, Wesley Seeley, Mrs. Frank Hurt, (nee Sandell), Frank Hurt, Edna Seeley, Ona Baldwin, Campbell. Bottom row--Mrs. Lewis Hartley, Olive Sandell, Mrs. B. E. Starr, Mrs. Clarence Star (her figure is obliterated by small stickers containing scriptures: “In the world ye shall have tribulations, be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. John 16:33,” We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22,” and “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him. Psalm 25:14.”, Mae Hurt, Mrs. Maud Hurt Creffield, Edmund Creffield, Mrs. Victor Hurt, Sophia Hartley, Atta Bray)



[Telegram Coast Special]

CORVALLIS, Or., Nov. 2 -- The above picture was taken at an outing of this new religious sect some months ago and shows all the members of the organization at that time. Since the photograph was taken one of the members withdrew and the figure was obliterated by small stickers containing scripture verses as is shown in the picture. Copies of this picture were buried the other day together with the bicycles, guns dishes, baby buggies and miscellaneous household articles which for some reason were not burned together with a lot of clothing and furniture.



The light haired man in the front row with a book in his hand is Krafel, the acknowledged leader of the Rollers, and the smooth-faced man, second from the left in the rear row, is Captain Brooks. These are the men who were examined as to their sanity Saturday. The young man directly behind Krafel is Frank Hurt.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 11/2/1903 p4 Group Photo of the Holy Rollers

Holy Rollers’ Are Quiet at Present

Fear Was Entertained That a Child Had Been Served as Burnt Offering

--World Did Not Come to End Saturday


(Journal Special Service)

Corvallis, Or., Nov. 2.-- There is a lull in the operations of the religious fanatics known as “God’s Anointed,” or “Holy Rollers.” A feature of their recent outbreak which resulted in an examination of the leaders, Brooks and Creffield, for sanity, was the destruction of their personal and household effects by members of the faith. Dishes, lace curtains, furniture and other belongings were ruthlessly destroyed in the belief by members of the sect that the world was to end Saturday evening. Sacrifices were also burnt on a large fire and fears were for a time entertained that an adopted child of one of the families had been offered on the alter as a burnt sacrifice. This, however, proved untrue.


1906 Edison phonograph records advertisementMorning Oregonian (Portland) 11/2/1903 p10

“Holy Rollers” In Frenzy

Rev. John Glasco Exhorts His Hysterical Brethren.


In a meager room on Second Street, between Taylor and Salmon, the “Holy Rollers” held forth last evening toward the saving of sinners against the coming of an early judgment. The Rev. John Glasco, a Negro exhorter of the Southern camp meeting type, preached an alleged sermon, while hysterical women members of the society of “Rollers” became temporarily insane, shrieked, tore their hair, and experienced the “jerks.” Some of the male members also felt the “power,” and the meeting place took on the semblance of the violent ward of a madhouse.


Glasco, by some strange psychological power, played upon the emotions of his audience until it was lost in the wave of religious frenzy which swept through the hall. The meeting opened with the singing of the old-fashioned hallelujah hymns, and after a number of more or less eloquent prayers by volunteer talent, the black preacher began his harangue. It was largely of a personal character, and Brother Glasco, without batting an eyelash, compared himself to Christ, and severally and collectively to the various apostles. He shouted until the glass in the windows rattled and his shouts were echoed back in “amens” of equal fervor. After and hour of rambling, disconnected appeals to “git sanctified” the preacher, foaming at the mouth, and completely exhausted, his voice worn to a rasping croak, gave way to a testimony meeting, which lasted into the night.

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