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 24, 1903: Girl of Sixteen Almost Insane


Esther MitchellOregon Daily Journal (Portland) 11/24/1903 p12

Girl of Sixteen Almost Insane

Member Of The “Holy Rollers” Sect Taken To Boys’ And Girls’ Home Almost Crazy From Excessive Religious Zeal--Is Recovering.


Shouting “Glory to God!” until she seemed about to fall in a faint, Annie (sic) Taylor, aged 16, a member of the curious “Holy Rollers” sect at Corvallis, was received into the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid society home four days ago.

At the time the girl’s mind seemed to be so affected by religious zeal that she appeared a fit subject for the asylum, but by careful treatment she so far recovered until she is among the best-behaved girls in the institution. The sole object now seems to be the saving of the girls in the home.


Annie has a sister in Portland and another in Corvallis. Some time ago she became identified with the “Holy Rollers” and she participated in their nerve racking ceremonies until her mind was ready to give way. Her sisters pleaded with her in vain. Finally it was decided that she must enter the home.

“Hallelujah! Glory to God!” she shouted upon entering the home, but Superintendent Gardner soon stopped her. She was inclined to insist, but the superintendent replied that there was a time for all things, and she would have ample opportunity to attend to her religious devotions. She persisted in carrying her Bible with her all the time, but she was persuaded that she could not work while holding it, and she consented to put it away. She was allotted a certain time for prayer each evening, but complained that it was not long enough. She asked for a half an hour, but Superintendent Gardner compromised with her and she was satisfied. Now Mr. Gardner has told her she could do much good by converting the other girls in the institution, and Annie is happy in her efforts for their uplifting.


William GardnerSuperintendent Gardner, who has seen many cases of insanity, believes this girl was on the verge of losing her reason when she entered the home. He thinks in a short time, with careful watching, she will recover her equilibrium.



Corvallis Gazette 11/24/1903 p2

The citizens of Corvallis are to be congratulated on the fact that the Holy Roller craze in this city is a closed incident, and will not appear again in the news from our city. Mr. Hurt made a visit to Portland last week, and returned home on Friday. Removed from the influences that biased his better judgment here, and out of the reach of the emotional excesses that surrounded him in his home, Mr. Hurt’s mind returned to its normal condition, and on his return he notified the two leaders that he could no longer tolerate their presence in his house. He also notified three others of the crowd to leave, and in a short time the house was cleared, and only Mr. Hurt’s own family remains. This will be good news for those of Mr. Hurt’s many friends who regretted deeply his temporary hallucination. We congratulate him and the city as well, that the Holy Rollers have passed forever into history.

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