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 17, 1904: Where is the Apostle?


Donna StarrEvening Telegram (Portland) 3/17/1904

Where Now Is The Apostle?

Creffield, of the Holy Rollers, Much Wanted by the Law. Thus Far Has Succeeded in Eluding Officers Vigilance.


Where is Joshua Creffield, the man of self-alleged favor on high, who says he enacts the role of a second lowly Nazarene?


An officer with a warrant in his pocket is looking for him--has been since yesterday--but thus far the man who was routed out of Corvallis in the glare of the twinkling stars with his “divine” form covered with tar and feathers, has managed, either by accident or design, to keep under cover. Officer Hawley, in whose hands the warrant was placed, has looked high and low for him, but the former Corvallis “apostle” has nowhere been found.


In the meantime, the state’s case against him has been materially strengthened by evidence collected by District Attorney John Manning today, and offered the opinion that there is no in the hands of his office facts of a sufficiently damaging character to send Creffield to the State Penitentiary.


This morning Mrs. Donna Starr, wife of B. E. Starr, who swore to the warrant for the arrest of the “apostle,” affixed her signature to a signed statement that there were improper relations between her and Creffield at the Worrell home in Fulton.

b. E. Starr, the complainant against Creffield declares that he will have justice if he has to take the law into his own hands. In the meantime, says he, he will do all that in his power to prosecute the man whom he charges with ruining his home, but it that fails, he will attend to him personally. He spoke feelingly of the matter today, and said that if he could only find the “cur” he would do all that he could to send him to the penitentiary.


Starr, who resides at 349 East Yamhill Street, says that the affections of his wife have been attained by the vicious teachings of the Corvallis fanatic. Starr says that his wife met Creffield and his crowd while on a visit to Corvallis during the recent rampage of the fanatical sect. She was won over into the rank of sisters he says and there her mind was poisoned against him by the teachings there meted out.


Of such a character were these instructions, says Mr. Starr, that his wife refused to shake hands with him when he went to Corvallis to see her because she had been taught to have nothing to do with him on account of his relations with the wicked world. Starr says he brought his wife to Portland by force in order to get her away from the influence of Creffield.


Their relations had about been readjusted, he says, when Creffield, routed out of Corvallis, came to Portland about a month ago, and then his wife went back to him again. Now, he says, she will not kiss him because he belongs to the world and is outside the pale of the select sect of the Creffield contingency. Creffield’s wife says Starr went to his wife upon their arrival in Portland, and persuaded her to go back into the ranks.


Creffield, according to Starr, has advanced in his relations with the ethereal realm since his enforced nocturnal exodus from Corvallis, for while he was there nothing more than “Chief Apostle” he has now been advanced to the rank of the second Savior, and teaches the day of Pentecost, with the end of the world in immediate view. They were all going to foreign lands, pending the annihilation of material things, says he and his wife was to go to china as a missionary. She still clings to Creffield, says Starr, although he is informed that the Worrells have renounced him and refused to have anything more to do with him.


Where Creffield is, Mr. Starr says, is something he would like to know. He did not begin to look for him until last Monday and then found that he had gone from the Worrell home. He went to Corvallis, and nothing could be learned of him there. His followers refuse to divulge anything. He believes the man to be in hiding somewhere, and says he thinks he is getting scared, and that if he isn’t, he thinks it is about time for him to begin feeling that way.


“Did you have a revolver when you went to Corvallis to look for Creffield?” was asked.

“I knew there was one there,” came the reply, but as to whether he would have used it in case he found Creffield, Mr. Starr said he would not like to say. He did remark just before that, however, that if he could see Creffield with a six-shooter it might be better.


Until last Monday Starr was employed at the Lehman meat market on the East Side. He has been employed at intervals with the Standard Oil Company in this city for the last five years. Mr. and Mrs. Starr have two children, both little girls.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/17/1904 p4

Roller” Prophet Is Still Missing


Joshua Creffield, the leader of the “Holy Rollers,” who is wanted on a serious charge, has not yet been located. The warrant was issued yesterday morning by District Attorney Manning, and was placed in the hands of Detective Hawley late in the afternoon. It was thought that Creffield was in Rainier, but the marshal made a search and failed to find the much-wanted man.


Further efforts are being made today to locate Creffield, but it is feared that he learned of the issuance of the warrants and that he has made his escape to some out-of-the-way place.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/17/1904 p4

Old Mount Rainier May Become Active


(Journal Special Service)

Seattle, March 17.--The directions of the undulations and indulations at different northwestern points where last night’s earthquake shock was felt show it was caused by some subterranean disturbance with Mt. Rainier as the center. The people fear Mt. Rainier may become an active volcano.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/18/1904 p4

Apostle Creffield Gets Out Of Country


It is the belief of the police that Joshua Creffield, leader of the “Holy Rollers,” now being sought on a criminal charge, has made his escape from this part of the country. He cannot be located, although great efforts have been made. It was at first thought that he was at Rainier, but he left there, if he ever was there.


B. E. Starr, who signed the complaint against Creffield, calls at the police station every few hours to seek news of the man who is said to have broken up his home, but each time he has been disappointed.


“I have an idea that Creffield has fled the country,” said Starr today. “He probably learned that a warrant was out for him, and took the first opportunity to make his escape. His wife is at Corvallis, I understand.”



Corvallis Times 3/19/1904 p3

Creffield, the Holy Roller apostle is wanted by Portland officers on a criminal charge that the Oregonian says will likely land him in the penitentiary. The charge is made by B. E. Starr whose wife is named in the complaint. The allegations seem to be that under the cloak of religion the scoundrel was a betrayer. The Times always held him up as a fraud, and was criticized for it. Its position is more than vindicated by the revelations in the Portland courts, where is the statement that he is liable to a dozen charges of the sort. The scamp is in hiding.

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