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 6, 1903: Rollers Take On New Life


Sarah HurtEvening Telegram (Portland)   11/6/1903 p1

Rollers Take On New Life

Return of the Leaders Give Added Vim to Corvallis Strange Sect.

Say They Only “Roll” When They Are Communing With Heaven.


[Telegram Coast Special]

CORVALLIS, Or., Nov. 6 -- The return of Apostle Creffield to Corvallis has inspired new life in the “Holy Rollers” and meetings are being held regularly in the mornings and evenings. The Hurt home, where meetings are held, is practically closed to the public and it is difficult to obtain audience with the leader.

Members of the sect complain of exaggerated reports through the press, although they admit that occasionally “the saves” in their communion with God do indulge in “rolling.”


Two of the apostle’s subordinates, S. Levins  and Lee Campbell, have established headquarters in a yard near the depot and there devote their time to the study of scripture when not at meetings at the Hurt home.


Mr. Levins  is a very ordinary man of the working class, as is also his partner, Mr. Campbell. The former says he hails from Portland, and recently fell in with Mr. Creffield and his followers. He worked in the Dalles and Rainer prior to coming here.


When seen this afternoon, he occupied a small cot in the tent, while Mr. Campbell, seated on a box, was preparing excerpts from the Holy Book, and was in deep study. Reticent at first, Levins  finally explained that the “Holy Rollers” were known as the Church of God, and laughed at the idea of being spoken as “Rollers.”




“We take the bible in its entirety,” he said, “and do not, like other churches, admit a member because he pays the membership fee. In order to become a member of the Church of God, as we are known, one must be saved. That is all there is to it. It is not for us to judge whether one has the spirit of God. The one seeking admittance will have to feel sure of that.”


When asked how it would be possible for him to distinguish “saved” persons from curiosity-seekers, he replied that the leaders would receive the spirit from Christ, and if not, the candidate would not be eligible.


“It is our intention to establish a church some time,” Levins  continued, “in fact, we have already established a church at the Hurt home, and our membership will eventually spread for we have the pure religion. It is the old religion from the time when Christ was on earth.


“Creffield is an apostle endowed with the power of the apostles of Christ.”


The Hurt home in the south part of tow, across the river, presents a sorry appearance. The ground is charred and barren and heaps of ashes mark the spots where some of the furnishings a few days ago were sent up in smoke. All the windows have been smashed and suspended sheets cut out a view of the interior. When Corvallis was at a fever-heat because of the doings of the “Rollers” a crowd of boys stoned the building with the above result.


When paid a call today, Mr. Hurt would not be seen. Mrs. Hurt, who appeared at the door, said that the husband was not at home. She also “guessed” that Creffield and Brooks were out.


Meetings for the present being held at 6 o’clock a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Testimony is presented by the members and the apostle leads in prayer. It is possible that the meetings will again become public, but not until permanent headquarters have been established, of which the members seem to entertain hopes.

Mr. Hurt yesterday replaces some of the furniture destroyed at the first outbreak. He has resigned his position and declares that henceforth, despite the adverse view of the public, he will devote his time to the cause of the Church of God.


OV Hurt
David Poland as O.V. Hurt

Corvallis Gazette 11/6/1903 p2

We learn that the ringleader of the Holy Rollers, Parson Creffield, who recently left this city in a hurry, has mustered up courage enough to return and is now at his old quarters. It is now up to the county officers to see that no further disturbances of the peace are allowed, and that the threatened mobbing of these fanatics is prevented. Much as this treatment is deserved, we hope for the good of our city, it will be prevented. It is but right, however, to warn these people that a single overt act on their part will be the signal for prompt and effective measures to rid Corvallis of a nuisance, and that will be a lesson to future Rollers and howlers, as they will do well to note. We trust the county officers will see their way to perform their duty in the premises.



Yamhill County Reporter (McMinnville) 11/6/1903 p8

The “Holly Rollers” operating at Corvallis derive their name from the supposed fact that when a people become completely sanctified their names are written on a holy roll in heaven and they are thence “Holy Rollers.” This is one of the most peculiar organizations ever heard of in Oregon, and so far as is known their strange ceremonies and sacrifices of cats and dogs are unequaled in this state for absurdity, foolishness and absolute idiocy.

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