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.
January 6, 1904: Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered
Corvallis Times 1/6/1904 p1
Tarred and Feathered
The Holy Roller Apostles Roughly Handled--Married in his new Coat
Tar and feathers were administered to Apostles Creffield and Brooks of the Holy Roller sect by a crowd of twenty men Monday night. The affair took place under the light of a winter moon near the first bridge north of the Corvallis saw mill at about 10 o’clock in the evening. The White Caps who were all Corvallis citizens crossed the ferry and went over to the Beach house 200 yards to the eastward. They stole noiselessly up to the house which they surrounded. Then they broke in the front door, took the apostles and recrossing the ferry, went to the bridge in question, where the clothing was removed from both men, and the tar and feathers applied. With the ceremony complete, their clothing was again put on the apostles, and they were told to leave the vicinity, and not to return or worse treatment might be applied. As soon as released, both men started north along the Albany road, running at full speed. While the affair was in progress, Brooks was stoical, never uttering a word. Just before the tar and feathers were applied, however, Creffield, who had trembled all along as though much frightened said, “Let us pray.” “We have heard too much of your prayers already,” was the gruff response of one of the party, and Creffield had nothing more to say.
NO MASKS WERE WORN
There was no attempt at secrecy by those who took part in the affair. None wore masks, and none affected a disguise. The identity of many of the party is known, and these are men of standing and character. They say there was not a boy or hoodlum in the party. In the main, they were persons who have felt the results of the strange spell that the apostles have seemed to exert on the members of families, often in a way to bring sorrow and trouble. It is believed that their purpose was not for motives or revenge, but an effort to get Brooks and Creffield out of the community, hoping thereby to secure a rest from the religious agitation which has dethroned the mind of one young woman of its reason, at least temporarily.
The party left Main street about nine o’clock, according to the best obtainable account. Before that they had stood in groups in various places. They did not leave the street together, but passed along in small groups. They met at the ferry, and all crossed together.
BROKE IN THE DOOR
From the ferry they went direct to the Beach house, 200 yards or more beyond the other side of the river. There a dozen members of the sect have held rendezvous for the past month. Passing in the gate, the members of the party at once surrounded the house, so as to bar all avenues of escape. Then several stalwart men advanced to the font door, and after a loud knock, burst in.
Nearly a dozen members of the sect were in the room, Brooks and Creffield among them. Among the others were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hurt, Mrs. Frank Hurt’s sister, the Misses Seeley, and others whose names could not be learned. Some of them were seated on chairs and others on the floor. A number, if not all were barefooted. At the sudden appearance of the intruders the member of the sect were more or less startled. Brooks and Creffield were at once ordered to put on their shoes. It was however apparent that they were not astonished having lived no doubt in the expectation that something of the kind was likely to occur at any time. The female potion of the assembly began to singe, and so continued during the rest of the ceremony.
TIED APOSTLES TOGETHER
The rest of the proceeding at the house is quickly told. Brooks and Creffield were ordered to put on their shoes and hats. They obeyed with alacrity for the command to do so was not in gentle tones. Then both men were tied together and ordered to pass out the door. This command they likewise obeyed, and the whole party followed. While in the room one of the female members of the sect passed from one to the others of the intruders and gazed into each face intently, apparently for the purpose of further identification. After leaving the house the party marched directly to the ferry and crossed to the Corvallis side. The captors, while on the boat, stood close about the apostles to prevent any possible attempt at escape. One of the former lighted a cigar, and then held the lighted match up before the face of Brooks to make sure apparently that there was no mistake.
After leaving the ferry, the White Caps did not even take the precaution to travel by a back street. Passing under the electric lights en route, they came directly from the ferry to Main Street and then went north on Main past the saw mill and on north to the first bridge. Halting there, they ordered the apostles to remove their clothing.
APPLIED THE TAR
Like all other commands given, the men proceeded at once to do as told. Creffield hesitated long enough to propose a prayer, but the gruff response was that he had no time for that sort of thing and that there had been too much of his prayers already, and he began at once to remove his clothing.
The scene at the moment was unquestionably dramatic. The moon shone clear and bright in the eastern sky. The two apostles, nude and shivering in the center of the group. Silence was only broken by the movements of the men and by an occasional remark. One man surveying Creffield after his head and body had been well smeared with tat and feathers remarked, ”Well you would make a fine old Santa Claus now.” The apostle made no reply. All the time he trembled like an aspen, and was undoubtedly much frightened. It was otherwise with Brooks who was stoical throughout, and apparently undisturbed by the proceedings.
After the tar and feathers had been applied, the apostles were required to put their clothes on again, and then they were told to leave, and never to return to the community. Both started off at full speed, running northward along the Albany road. Later, however during the night, Creffield returned to the Beach house.
It is supposed that Frank Hurt intercepted the fugitives in their flight toward Albany. It is known that he followed the White Caps across the river after the apostles were taken prisoners, and is supposed also that he was an unseen witness of the tar and feather act. At any rate, Creffield was back at the Beach house by midnight, and about that time Frank Hurt applied at a local drug store for linseed oil for use in removing tar.
A sequel to the incident was the marriage yesterday of Creffield and Miss Maud Hurt. Early in the morning a Corvallis livery carriage drove up to the door of the Beach house and stopped. Later it drove away in the direction of Albany with Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hurt, Miss Maud Hurt with F. E. Creffield as occupants. A dispatch from Albany to the Times about noon related that the party had reached Albany and had driven to the court house where a marriage license was obtained, that with Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hurt as witnesses, Maud Hurt and Creffield had been married at the court house, Judge Palmer officiating. The dispatch added that the odor of tar was noticeable in the room when the ceremony was performed.
Corvallis Gazette 1/8/1904 p3
Rollers are Rolled
Four of them Receive Coat of Tar and Feathers
Creffield Weds Miss Hurt
Incident Brings to an End a Disagreeable Reign of Rollerism--Frank Hurt Warned
The last act in the famous Corvallis Holy Roller drama came to a close in a genuine Southern whirlwind style on last Monday night when the four leaders of this fanaticism that has made out quiet little city a reputation that will long be remembered, were taken from their meeting place by twenty determined men and treated to an old-fashioned coat of tar and feathers. The four gentlemen so elaborately decorated were “Apostles” Creffield and Brooks and “Parsons” Campbell and Levins. Earlier reports and press dispatches say that only Creffield and Brooks were tarred and feathered, but we are reliably informed that Campbell and Levins were also found in the house and were treated in the same manner as the “apostles.”
STORY OF THE AFFAIR
It has been known for some time that all that was lacking in carrying out the Monday night episode was a leader. Plenty of assistance could have been procured weeks ago had any one been willing to shoulder the responsibility of leadership. Who the leader was on Monday night we do not know, but sufficient to say he did his work well. Getting twenty men whom he could depend upon, they marched across the river and made their way to the Beach house, where the Rollers have been holding forth for about two weeks. Upon arriving at the house they were compelled to break open the door and entered the room where the services were going on. Stating their mission in a manner that none dare refuse to obey, the four above expounders of religion were tied together and marched down to the ferry where they recrossed the river and scoffing any idea of secrecy and without masks they marched their victims through the quiet streets down past the sawmill. When made aware of what was going to happen Creffield broke down and cried like a baby, begging in an appealing manner to be spared the humiliation of being made one of the feathered tribe. Leniency and sympathy were both missing in the heart of the tar-and-feather artists and Creffield was compelled to abandon his wail of woe by the persuasion of a switching, administered in no gentle manner.
Standing under the mocking glare and freezing glances of a winter moon, the four victims were compelled to strip themselves and with chattering teeth, shaking knees and stubborn silence, they were presented with a nice layer of tar and then bedecked with feathers galore. The mob was somewhat partial toward Creffield and wanted to make sure that he would get all that was coming to him, so gave him two coats and the beautiful amount of feather donated him would make the biggest bird known turn blue with envy.
After the allotted mission was completed the mob commanded the victims to put on their clothes, and we warrant the never dressed with more alacrity before in their lives. After dressing they were told to get, and never again be found in Benton County under penalty of being hanged to the nearest tree. It is needless to say that they got, and whether the feathers aided them in their flight we cannot say, but the first 100 yards was made by Creffield in 10 flat and if we had him on our track team in the spring, honors would all fall to us as his speed is something marvelous.
CUPID CARED NOT FOR TAR
The remainder of the night was spent in an attempt to remove the tar and feathers after they returned to their rendezvous. One of our local druggists was called upon after midnight for a quantity of turpentine to remove the glue like substance. Early in the morning, Frank Hurt came to town and procured a carriage and returned across the river. Accompanied by his wife, sister, and Creffield he drove to Albany, where a license was secured and Miss Maud Hurt and Creffield were married, Frank Hurt and wife acting as witnesses. After the ceremony they drove to Tangent where, we understand, Creffield and his bride boarded the train.
The marriage of Creffield and Miss Hurt was a sensation in itself. O. V. Hurt, the father of the girl, was not made acquainted wit the facts of his daughter’s marriage until it was too late to interfere. He denounces Creffield in scathing terms and the “apostle” has not only the wrath of the community to contend with it he returns, but also that of Mr. Hurt.
FRANK HURT IS WARNED
Upon his return from Albany related above, Frank Hurt returned to town with the carriage and was met on the street by a committee of citizens, who gave him warning that unless he abandoned his late practice, that he would be treated as were the four above-named victims. Sentiment is very strong against him in Corvallis for he is the cause of Creffield returning after the latter had been compelled to leave town. Had it not been for Frank Hurt, Corvallis would have been spared this last unfortunate affair.
MOB MAKES SECOND CALL
On Tuesday night the mob again called at the Beach house to make sure that none of the feathered tribe had returned. Upon going to the house they found no men there, but the women were still in the building. As stated in another column some of our ambitious pencil pushers were mistaken for the Roller leaders, but fortunately were able to identify themselves.
HOLY ROLLER INCIDENT CLOSED
We sincerely hope that the happening of the last few days will forever close the Holy Roller fame in Corvallis. It has made our county the talk of the state and the finger of ridicule has been pointed steadily toward us for several months. On account of the actions of a few the entire community has been laughed at and made fun of. While we do not approve of Monday night’s affray, yet we feel that the end could only have been brought about by some violent measure and no easier method could have been adopted than the one resorted to. All the partied tarred and feathered were given warning after warning to leave the community. They ignored the danger signals and had no one to blame but themselves. Corvallis citizens sincerely regretted to be compelled to resort to the means adopted in ridding the vicinity of such a nuisance, but it was only by force that they accomplished such an end.
Maren McGuire as Maud Hurt
Albany Democrat 1/8/1904 p7
Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered at Corvallis
Creffield and Maud Hurt Married
F. E. Creffield and Maud Hurt were united in marriage at the court house at 11:20 o’clock this forenoon by Judge H. M. Palmer. Frank c. Hurt and his wife, Mollie, were the witnesses. These are the members of the famous band of Holy Rollers of Corvallis about which there has been so much talk, of whom Creffield is chief. This is one chapter.
Last night the most sensational chapter in the muddy story was enacted. About 10 o’clock an band of about twenty prominent Corvallis men crossed the river on the ferry boat, took Creffield and his fellow apostle Brooks, conveyed them to a place near the saw mill near Corvallis where they stripped them and applied a liberal dose of tar and feathers and then permitted them to return home, which they did and spent the remainder of the night in cleansing themselves, but not so well but what the tar could be smelled on Creffield this forenoon when married. Crooks skipped out, but Creffield seems to have appreciated one of the things the people objected to, the free love part of the establishment, which has been disgracing the outfit as well as the entire community and early this morning left for Albany resolved in getting that much out of the way.
The Democrat has received a private letter from a Corvallis friend who was probably one of the crowd who manipulated the tar, who confirms the above. When covered with tar and feathers they were told that if they ever came back again they would wake up some morning dangling to a telegraph pole. Creffield wanted to pray, but they told him he had done enough of that. Then he said: “Lord forgive them they know not what they do.” Two are reported insane from the doings, one already in the asylum besides all the things destroyed. During the tarring the women followed praying and singing.
This afternoon the couple and Mr. and Mrs. Hurt got in their back and left for the Beach farm where they will do well to behave themselves as it is said to be more tar and feathers left.
Morning Oregonian (Portland) 1/6/1904 p4
Put Tar on Rollers
Corvallis Citizens Rough Treatment of the “Apostles.”
Sacres On Into Marriage
Creffield, After Removing as Many Feathers as Possible, Accompanies Miss Hurt to Albany, Where a Justice Makes Them One.
(The usual story about the Tar and feathering, plus. . .)
For some time before the party went to the Beach house, which has become the headquarters of the sect since Mr. Hurt sent them away from his house, they were congregated in little groups about Main Street. In the same way they went to the ferry and crossed, serving notice to the ferryman that they would be back in a few minutes, and adding laconically that there would be others in the party upon the return. At the house they cut off all avenues of escape and then broke in the door. Present in the room were Brooks and Creffield, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hurt, Mrs. Hurt’s sister, Miss Maud Hurt, the Seeley sisters, Miss Bray and others. All were seated about the room, some on chairs, and others on the floor. Some, if not all were barefooted.
After the door was burst in the Rollers made no resistance. It is now known that they had long expected that such an occurrence might happen at any time, and they were apparently not surprised. One of the members at the house when interviewed this morning said: “They killed Christ, killed the apostles and stoned the disciples to death, and we expect them to do anything with us.” She added:
“It is either Heaven or hell, and I am for Heaven.”
. . .
The moon shone bright and clear in the eastern sky as the tar and feathers were administered. The silence was unbroken save by the movements of the men or an occasional gruff order or jocular remark. Surveying Creffield earnestly after the feathers had been added to the coat of tar on his body and head on man remarked: “Well, you would make a handsome Santa Clause, now.”
. . .
At the Beach house this morning one of the four or five young women there admitted to the reporter that Creffield had come home covered with tar and feathers, and that he had encountered much difficulty in removing them after arrival home.
Brownsville Times 0/8/1904 p1
(at the tail end of the usual article about the tar, feathering and marriage)
F. E. Creffield and wife, the Holy Rollers, who returned to the Beach farm opposite Corvallis last evening, disappeared this morning and their whereabouts is being sought--Albany Herald
A rumor has been circulated that Creffield and his wife were in Brownsville, but a diligent search and inquiry has failed to locate them.
Corvallis Gazette 1/8/1904 p1
Two “Holy Roller” apostles were given a coat of tar and feathers by citizens of Corvallis.”
Corvallis Gazette 1/12/1904
Two “Holy Rollers” came to grief at Corvallis Monday night. They are Creffield and Brooks, the leaders who were tarred and feathered and run out of town. In addition to their rantings these fanatics are also free lovers and the double dose of damnable doctrine don’t go down over in the Agricultural town. -- Eugene Register.
Corvallis Gazette 1/8/19048 p3
A Mystery of the Night
Where the Midnight Prowlers Rollers High or Rollers Holy?
Since the days when the Holy Rollers first brought themselves to public notice, no more mysterious event has taken place than the midnight raid of the “heroes three” who braved the stormy passage of the Willamette on their perilous journey to the home of the Rollers in the Linn county hop yard. Whether they went as friends or foes we know not--alas, we never will know.
When the ferry crossed the river early on Tuesday evening hidden in the densest shadow of the smoke stack, lurked three desperate looking characters. Who there were no on could tell. When the ferry boat steamed up to the Linn county shore they melted away in the darkness. Through the startled midnight air soon came a low whistle.
“Hist! Who’s there? Stand and unfold yourself!”
And the three voices merged into one and the three conspirators came together and made their way up the bank to the orchard. Here a surprise awaited them. Out of the gloom of the orchard rose the gang of lynchers who had so bravely done their duty the night before.
“Here they are” said the lynchers. “The little fellow is Creffield.”
“And the big mustached man is Levins,” said another.
“And the other is Brooks” said a third. “We’ve got the whole gang, lets string them up at once.
Then they jumped on their necks--and the moon went down behind a cloud. Did the three heroes howl? Did they weep? Did they cry for mercy” There lies the mystery. When we try to interview them they hang up. Frank don’t know, Bob won’t tell and Willie says he’s saving his news for a scoop. And the lynchers? When you ask them they look at each other and smile. And everybody smiles but Frank, and Bob, and Willie. They don’t have to.
Evening Telegram (Portland) 1/6/1904 p3
Married at Corvallis
CORVALLIS, Or., Jan 6. -- Miss Clara King, of Salem, and J. K. Berry, of this city, were married Monday night at the home of the groom’s sister, Mrs. George Carl, of Corvallis. Rev. Moore officiating. Mr. Berry is a young business man of Corvallis, having been engaged in the bicycle business. The young couple will make Corvallis their permanent home.
Miss King is the daughter of Mrs. J. Scott, of Salem.
Corvallis Times 1/9/1904 p3
The marriage of James K. Berry and Miss Clara M. King of Salem, occurred at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Carl, Monday evening, Rev Frank L. Moore officiating. Only relatives were present. Both are young people of high character and standing. They are temporarily at home at Mrs. Espey's.
Evening Telegram (Portland) 1/6/1904 p3
Thorough Search of Beach Premises Fails to Locate Hated Apostle.
Believed to Have Escaped in Attire of Woman--Mob Holds Vigil.
[Telegram Coast Special]
CORVALLIS, Or., Jan. 6.--Creffield has evidently changed his mind about making his home in the neighborhood of Corvallis. Yesterday at Albany, after his marriage to Miss Hurt, the “apostle” stated to a reporter that criminal methods would not drive him away from God’s work, and that he intended to return to Corvallis to live. This news reached here yesterday about noon, and from then till midnight the Beach cottage and its inmates and visitors were under constant surveillance. About 3 o’clock in the afternoon a carriage drove up to the house, and Creffield and his wife got out. Later in the day Mrs. Creffield was seen on a back street here in conversation with her father, O. V. Hurt.
About 4 o’clock, Frank Hurt drove from town in a rig and stopped at the Beach cottage, and two women came out and got in with him, and all drove off in the direction of Albany. The belief now is that one of these supposed women was Creffield in woman’s attire, as since entering the house about 3 p.m. none of the watchers have had a glimpse of him.
Last night at 8 o’clock a party of 12 men crossed the river in small boats and surrounded the Beach cottage, while several of their number entered and searched it from top to bottom for the apostle. They found six women only, three of whom were the Seeley sisters. The others were Mrs. Frank Hurt and two young girls who would not give their names. The party then quietly left the house and stationed themselves near by and waited and watched until midnight. All travelers were held up till their identity was discovered.
About 11 o’clock Frank Hurt drove back and threw some quilts and robes into the yard, and then crossed over to Corvallis and disappeared quietly. Indications were that if Creffield had been found he would have received much rougher treatment than mere tar and feathers.
Brooks has not been seen since he was turned loose the night before with his coat of tar and feather, and all the male hanger-on at the Beach place have likewise disappeared.