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.

April 18, 1904: Holy Roller High Priest Is Seen


Edmund Creffield
Joe Haege as Edmund Creffield

Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 4/18/1904 p3

Holy Roller High Priest Is Seen

Creffield, The Much-Wanted Religious Fanatic, For Whose Apprehension A Reward Is Offered, Is Seen Wandering Along A Lonely Road.


(Special Dispatch to the Journal.)

Corvallis, Or., April 18.--The story is related here that the Holy Roller apostle, Creffield, has been seen in the vicinity of Toledo, Lincoln county. The party who saw the longed-for fugitive resides near Waldport, and was not aware that there was any reward hanging over the head of the traveler. According to the story of the Waldport man, who was seen by a Corvallis party only a day or two ago, Creffield was walking along the public road near the suburbs of Toledo. He carried a grip, and seemed in no particular hurry. When the Waldport citizen passed the traveler the face of Creffield seemed familiar, but having no interest in the matter, he paid no attention to the man afoot. When the reward was spoken of, however, he said: “That was Creffield. I am positive of it now, though I did not then place the resemblance.” The man knew Creffield by sight, the apostle having held Holy Roller meetings on a small scale in the Waldport country a year or two ago. The belief is expressed by Deputy Sheriff Henderson, who conversed with the Waldport man, that the Toledo traveler was none other than High Priest Josh, and that he is now making his way along the coast for points unknown.



Corvallis Gazette 4/19/1904 p3

The old Salvation hall is being remodeled and will be occupied by the Corvallis Steam Laundry about May 15.





Sunday Oregonian (Portland) 4/24/1904 p10

Reward For Creffield

Holy Roller Wanted By Victims, But Is In Hiding


Corvallis Times 4/27/1904 p1

After The Roller

Creffield’s Hiding Place Still Unknown To The Officers. The Apostle Is Believed to Be Concealed by His Converts in Portland.


Portland, April 24.--The Oregonian says: Joshua Creffield, the Holy Roller prophet, has a reward hanging over his head, and the police are redoubling their efforts to capture him. The reward is $150 (sic), and is offered by the husband of Donna Starr, one of the women converted by Creffield to his outlandish and law-breaking creed.


But despite the reward and the redoubled efforts to affect his capture, Creffield seems to be able to hold his own in the game of fox-and-hound. Since the warrant charging him with immoral conduct in connection with the women he converted to his creed was issued, a month ago, Creffield has managed to keep altogether out of sight. It is thought he has not as much left the city. The police believe he is being sheltered by some of his converts. A report reached the police station Thursday night that he was at the house of a Carson Heights resident and a couple of sleuths went hurriedly to the place, but did not get their hands on the “Roller.” The authorities have promised to make an example of him if his capture is effected.



Oregon Sunday Journal (Portland) 4/24/1904 p5

Officer Is On “Apostle’s” Trail

Chief ‘Saint’ Creffield Is Being Trailed By A Detective Who Believes The “Holy Roller” Is Being Kept By Friends Near The City.


That Joshua Creffield, leader of the “holy roller” sect is harbored by friends on the outskirts of Portland is the belief of Special Officer Heninger, and for several nights, in the company with a friend, he has watched for the wily “apostle” near a house situated about two miles south of Portland. Thus far no results have been obtained, but the officer and his companion still have hopes of ultimate success in capturing the much-wanted man.


Stimulated by the $100 reward that hangs over Creffield’s head, Officer Heninger and his friend have been seeking Creffield for a long time, but it was only a few nights ago that they received a tip to the effect that close friends of the holy-roller leader were housed south of the city, and that it was believed Creffield was being sheltered there at night.



By day Creffield is supposed to be hiding in the woods lying south of the city, and Officer Heninger and his friend have spent some time scouring the section in which he is supposed to be. Knowing that he is sought for, and that serious charges hang over him, the Holy Roller is supposed to be living in the lap of nature by day, though fed from the house of his friends south of town.


People in Corvallis and other southern Oregon villages have recently thought that they caught glimpses of Creffield, but this has proved to be incorrect. Heninger now believes he holds the key to the situation, and hopes to capture the Holy Roller in due time.




Undaunted even after receiving a coat of tar and feathers at the hands of outraged citizens of Corvallis and being ridden out of the city on a rail, Creffield came to Portland, where he preached his doctrine. His teachings are said to have broken up a dozen home here. Finally a warrant was issued for his arrest on a serious charge, while others stood ready and anxious to supplement the charge should more proof of his perfidy be required.


Ascertaining in advance that the warrant was to be issued, Creffield fled, and had the earth opened and swallowed him, he could not have disappeared more completely.

FBI Anti Piracy SealThe unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment