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.

March 16, 1904: Holy Rollers to Be Arrested on Serious Charge


Burgess StarrEvening Telegram (Portland) 3/16/1904 p12

Rocks Ahead For Joshua Creffield

Self-Styled Apostle of Holy Rollers to Be Arrested on Serious Charge


A warrant for the arrest of Joshua Creffield, leader of the notorious Holy Roller band of Corvallis fame, was issued out of the office of the District Attorney today, on a serious charge.


Complainant in the case is B. E. Starr, and the woman in the case is Donna Starr, his wife. It appears from what was said at the District Attorney’s office that Mrs. Starr was one of the sisters in the Holy Roller band, and it is charged that she has been brought under the influence of the man who represented to her and a dozen or more other women in this city that he was gifted with powers extraordinary from on high, and thus accomplished his purpose. Mrs. Starr was one of the Portland band of Holy Rollers, and it appears that her now irate husband was also allied with the work of the “apostle.” He remained true to the tenets of the institution until the alleged doings of Creffield in the criminal line became unbearable, and a visit to the District Attorney’s office followed.


To an officer in the office of the District Attorney, Starr told a tale of the relations of Creffield with his flock that has few parallels in local fanatic history, if in any other.


Creffield is the same Holy Roller who was treated to a midnight coat of tar and feathers and told to decamp from the country and never return by a party of Corvallis citizen a short time ago, after the sect had made itself so obnoxious that the law was taken into the hands of the citizens themselves.

The warrant for the arrest of Creffield was placed in the custody of Officer Hawley and at last accounts he was in quest of the “apostle.”



Donna Starr
Rachael Perreli & Jeffree Newman as Donna Starr & Sheriff Burnett

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/16/1904 p4

Warrant Out For Holy Roller

Apostle Creffield Is Under A Serious Criminal Charge Preferred By B. E. Starr, Whose Wife Is A Member Of The Peculiar Religious Sect.


A warrant was sworn out this afternoon for the arrest of Josh Creffield, a “Holy Roller” high priest, by District Attorney Manning on the complaint of B. E. Starr. The crime charged is a penitentiary offense. The wife of Star, Donna Starr, is alleged by the husband to have fallen under the evil power of the “prophet,” along with 10 other women who have joined the Portland band recently organized by Creffield after his hurried exit from Corvallis.


Creffield is said by his followers to have laid claim to the power of Christ and to have cast an unholy influence over the women of his flock in the short time he has been in the city. Members of the “Rollers” in the city are being examined by the district attorney this afternoon and the high priest is being anxiously sought by deputy sheriffs.

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