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 23, 1904: Fugitive Creffield


Edmund CreffieldCorvallis Times 3/23/1904 p3

Fugitive Creffield

Disappearance of his Wife and her Return--His Treachery.


There has been a hunt in Corvallis and vicinity for Apostle Creffield for a day or two. Reports have been in circulation that he was in hiding in the vicinity. A young man who had never seen him reported that he had walked from the northward toward Corvallis with the fugitive, and that the latter as town was approached suddenly quit his company and run away. There is also an unconfirmed rumor afloat that a certain young woman of the Roller faith admitted to another Roller that she had seen the bogus saint. A belief that he was in hiding in the vicinity resulted in a search of vacant house as well as the Roller headquarters across the Willamette, but no trace was found. A day or two ago it developed that Mrs. Creffield had disappeared from the family home across Mary’s river and this increased belief that Creffield had stealthily visited Corvallis in his flight from the vengeance that awaits him in Portland. Nothing can be learned of where she went, or the means of her going, and the supposition is that she has joined Creffield.


A reward of $100 is offered for the capture of the outlawed apostle. Lewis Hartley circulated a subscription paper for contributions for the reward. Heading the list was a donation of $40. O. V. Hurt contributed $20 and Mr. Starr $10. Nearly the whole of the sum was contributed by husbands whose families are or have been identified with the rollers.


The Portland Welcome tells in plain language the revolting story of Creffield’s treachery. The charge for which he is wanted is adultery, preferred by B. E. Starr, an injured husband. The paper says that the day the warrant was issued, 12 other Portland husbands whose families had been betrayed appeared in turn at the district attorneys office and asked permission to lodge a charge of the same nature against Creffield.


A development as the TIMES goes to press is the return of Mrs. Creffield. She appeared at the family home between 9 and 10 yesterday, coming from, nobody knows where. Sheriff Burnett and Chief Lane visited her at three o’clock, but were unable to get admissions from her. She absolutely refused to talk on the subject of Creffield’s whereabouts.



Corvallis Times 3/23/1904 p4

It is probable that the smart editor of the Lebanon Criterion would like to crawl into a hole and pull the hole in after him. It was he who with assumption of superior knowledge said that religious reformers in all ages had been the objects of persecution. He held Josh Creffield up as a persecuted and much abused man. He said there were things in Corvallis beside which Creffield and Brooks were as pure gold to sounding brass, or words to that effect. It now develops that Creffield, under the cloak of religion, pursued a life of lust. Thirteen husbands in Portland are clamoring for vengeance and the bogus apostle is a hunted criminal with certain knowledge that he will go straight to the penitentiary for many a year if he is caught. His crimes are worse that that of the rapist Negroes, who are lynched and burned for their villainy. Beside him, Outlaw Tracy is a gentleman. Yet this Criterion man is Josh Creffield’s apologist and defender. Since it is his taste, let him continue to hug Josh Creffield to his bosom and to criticize Corvallis people for disliking the bogus saint. A new department in the Criterion, entitled the “Ethics of Free Love” and presided over by Josh Creffield, would be a fitting arrangement under the circumstances.



Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/24/1904 p4

No Trace Of Creffield

Much Wanted ‘Apostle’ Manages To Elude Officers And Posse

(Article is illegible)





Sheriff Burnett
Jeffree Newman as Sheriff Burnett

Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/28/1904 p4

Reward Is Offered


Brownsville Times 4/1/ p1

Reward Is Offered


[Telegram Coast Special]

CORVALLIS, March 28.--Circulars issued by Sheriff Burnett, of Benton county, offering $100 reward for the arrest of Edmund Creffield are being sent to all county officials and railroad towns in the state. Creffield’s given name is Edmund instead of Joshua, which latter he adopted when pronouncing himself a Holy Roller. Edmund Creffield is described as being about 30 years old, very light complexion, white hair, white whiskers, unless smooth shaven, which he is very likely to be at present; weight about 135 pounds, height 5 feet 6 inches, wears No. 5 1/2 shoe; has good black suit, but may be wearing blue-colored blouse with belt run through it; also wears brown leggins. He is sure to have a Bible under his arm on in his pockets.



Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 3/30/1904 p10

After the Holy Roller


Searchers for the Apostle Creffield have so far failed to bag their game. One hundred dollars was deposited with the sheriff of Benton County by irate victims of this notorious Holy Roller as an incentive to the man hunters, but “Josh” is proving as elusive as Pat Crowe. Rumor has it that he is sojourning at present in a little village just north of Salem.



Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/31/1904 p10

Careful Search For Holy Roller

Systematic Effort Being Made to Find “Joshua” Creffield.


Edmund Creffield, the Holy Roller wanted on a serious crime, is being hounded in every part of the state. Everything possible is being done to run him to earth at the earliest possible date.


The search, as in many cases, is by no means a “go as you please,” but is being conducted under a complete system. From reports that have reached the police, three men are now devoting their entire time to looking for the criminal who accomplished his ends by wearing a cloak of religion. These men are working in different parts of the state--one in the east, one in the vicinity of Corvallis, and one in Portland.


The officer detailed on the case in the city is at present working on the East Side. He is making a house-to-house canvass, and is inquiring at every lodging house. So far he has covered a large territory, but has secured no trace of Creffield whatever.


Some of the men making the search are directly interested in the arrest of the wrongdoer. They do not care for the reward, but are desperate in their determination to get him.


Creffield seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Since he was seen in Portland about two weeks ago, nothing has been heard of him. The officers believe that he could not have left the city, for every train and all public roads have been carefully guarded. He is in hiding.

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