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 21, 1904: Reward For Creffield's Capture


Donna Starr
Ben Decampo, Rachael Perreli & Jeffree Newman
as Burgess & Donna Starr & Sheriff Burnett

Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/21/1904 p1

Reward For His Capture

Corvallis Police and Posse Take Up Chase After Joshua Creffield. Self-Appointed Apostle of the Holy Rollers in Bad Position. Mob Violence is Feared Should He Fall Into Trap of Pursuers.”


[Telegram Coast Special]

CORVALLIS. Or., March 21. -- Where is Joshua Creffield? This is the problem that is now exercising the minds of the local police force, and also a posse of private citizens which has been close on his tracks since his presence in this vicinity was made known. Early yesterday morning the home of Frank Hurt, across the river in Linn County, was thoroughly searched, as were also the barns and out-buildings, but no trace was found of the slippery apostle and his young wife whom he persuaded to quit the comfortable home of her parents t accompany him in his flight from justice.


The search for Creffield has been considerably stimulated by a subscription which was circulated here this morning by Lewis Hartley, the well-known mining man, to secure a reward for the apostle’s capture. Mr. Hartley headed the list with $40 and Warren Hartley followed with $10, and is believed that before night at least $100 will be raised.


It is now a race between the officers and the posse, the former are after the $100, but the latter are after Creffield and if they get him in their hands he will undoubtedly receive pretty rough treatment.



Evening Telegram (Portland) Mon 3/21/1904 p1

Called For His Wife. Much Wanted Character Is Believed To Be Hiding In Corvallis.


CORVALLIS, Or., March 21.--Since the appearance of the article in Friday’s Telegram stating that a warrant was out for the arrest of the Apostle Creffield, the Corvallis authorities have been expecting a request from Portland officials to keep a look out here for this smooth-tongued fanatic. Mrs. Creffield, nee Hurt, has been visiting for about a week with her parents in this city, and if Creffield had disappeared from Portland the chances were that he had headed this way, and late development have proved that he was here Saturday.


About 2 p.m. Saturday O. V. Hurt and Mr. Hartley called on Sheriff Burnett and asked him if he had received any notification that a warrant had been issued for the Apostles arrest. The Sheriff stated that he had not. Both gentlemen then urged him to telephone to Portland in regard to the matter stating that Creffield was somewhere in town. Mr. Hurt said “he came and stole Maude away this forenoon while I was away from home, and I want to see him sent over the road. I have had a number of serious talks with my daughter since she returned home, and she had about made up her mind to have nothing more to do with him, but he sneaked around and has gotten her under his influence again. Mr. Hurt was very bitter against Creffield, whom he said had turned one member of his family against him, and had made threats that he would ruin the others. When he found Mrs. Creffield was gone yesterday, he questioned his wife and younger daughter as to her whereabouts, etc., but all they would say was that she was gone, no matter where, and would return Saturday night.


Mr. Hartley, whose family was also under Creffield’s influence and took a prominent part in the actions some time ago that attracted the attention of the reading public to the Holy Rollers of Corvallis, was also very anxious that the fugitive apostle be turned over to the officers looking for him. Yesterday afternoon Chief of Police Lane telephoned to Portland asking if Creffield was really wanted and the answer came back. “Yes we want him and we want him bad.” But the slippery rascal has so far successfully eluded the officers.


The Sheriff and deputies assisted by the police force searched every house last night where Creffield and wife might have hidden, and it was not till after midnight that they gave it up. They still think the fugitive is being harbored some where in this vicinity, and all the roads leading from town are guarded. Last night a fearful storm of rain and snow was raging here and it is not believed that, hampered as he was by the presence of his wife, Creffield could have gone very far.


Frank Hurt and wife are still living in the Beach cottage just across the river in Linn County, but it is believed that the ones sought for are not there as neither Creffield nor his wife crossed the ferry yesterday, and it would be almost impossible to cross the river in a small boat at its present stage.


The crime for which the warrant was sworn out against Creffield is no surprise to the citizens of Corvallis, as it is only a verification of what was all the time suspected to be his practices and teachings while here. It was this belief that activated the vigilance committee when they drove him from this community with a coat of tar and feathers.



Corvallis Gazette 3/22/1904 p3

Creffield A Fugitive

One Hundred Dollars Offered For His Capture.


“Apostle” Creffield, of Holy Roller fame, is a much-wanted man at present by the Portland police, where a warrant has been sworn out for his arrest. B. E. Starr, of Portland, is the complaining witness in the case and says that Creffield has broken up his home. The details of the case of this low-lived Gospel imitating rascal are revolting in the extreme and if he is captured, a career in the penitentiary will probably be his end for a few years at least.


It is suspected that the fugitive is receiving assistance and shelter in Corvallis, as it is known that he came here last Thursday night. He came to Albany and started to walk to Corvallis in company with a man named Breon. When within a few miles of this city, Creffield evidently suspected something wrong and suddenly jumped from the railroad track and took out across a field, and disappeared in the timber. This was the last his traveling companion saw of him. It is almost a certainty that Creffield reached Corvallis and sought shelter with some of his former subjects.


On Friday night Mrs. Creffield, who has been home for some time, slipped from her father’s house and disappeared and since then nothing has been seen of her by her folks or the city officers. She no doubt received word that her husband was in hiding in Corvallis and went to him and is probably with him some where in the city.


The citizens of Corvallis have offered $100 reward for Creffield’s capture and the authorities are making a diligent search for this so called expounder of the Gospel.


The “Apostle,” has been carrying on in Portland much after the style that he did in Corvallis, his religious subjects being mostly women. Starr, who made the complaint against Creffield, is only one of many who would like to see the Roller leader landed behind the state prison walls with a good long sentence to serve out. In fact the penitentiary is too good for a varmint of this caliber and the worst prisoner there would be degraded by having to associate with him. And yet, the newspapers throughout Oregon criticized the Corvallis people when they took upon themselves the duty of getting such a thing out of the community.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/22/1904 p3

Chase For Holy Rollers Still On

Rewards For Creffield’s Capture Now Amount to $100, Most Of Which Is Contributed By His Dupes--Was Seen Boarding South Bound Train.


(Special Dispatch to the Journal)

Corvallis, Or., March 22.--A reward of $100 is offered here today for the capture of the “Holy Roller” Creffield. About $70 of this amount is contributed by the local “Rollers” who were formerly followers of the rascally fugitive. Reports are current here that Creffield has been in Corvallis with the past week.


A man claims to have walked with Creffield on the Railroad track last Thursday evening, and declares that when they neared the city limits the apostle suddenly left the track and hurried away through the brush toward the Willamette. The person who tells this story, however, has never met Creffield and claims to have recognized the traveler from the descriptions of the religious crank, which belief was further strengthened by the fact that the fellow carried a Bible under his arm.


A fact that lends color to the report is the disappearance Friday night of Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield, who has been at the house of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. O. V. Hurt in South Corvallis. No one knows here whereabouts, but many believe that she left in company with her husband.


Three persons who know him by sight claim to have seen Creffield. Two of these assert that they saw the apostle board the 1:20 train from Portland yesterday afternoon.


Search of vacant houses about town and of the Frank Hurt house has been made without avail. No one believes Creffield to be hereabouts at present.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 3/22/1904 p6

Sharp Lookout For Creffield

Holy Roller Apostle Believed to Be in Hiding Near Corvallis.


CORVALLIS, Or., March 21. -- (Special.)--Officers and others here are on the alert for Joshua Creffield, wanted by Portland authorities. The theory is that he is in hiding in this vicinity, though there is no reliable information to that effect. He is reported to have been seen approaching the suburbs of Corvallis from the northward, but the man who saw him never saw the apostle before and only surmises it to have been Creffield, from the latter’s description.


A circumstance that lends interest to the matter is that Mrs. Creffield has disappeared from he father’s home, and all attempts to locate her or to unravel the method or means of her going have proved futile. If Creffield is in the vicinity, he is likely to be apprehended, for the watch for him is constant.

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