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 29, 1904: Urania Seeley is Arrested
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 4/29/1904 p11
Officer To Seize Young Holy Roller
(Special Dispatch to the Journal)
Albany, Or., April 29.--As a result of a complaint made by her sister, officers this morning started from here to Corvallis to arrest Urania Seeley, a 16-year-old orphan girl who has joined the Holy Rollers.
Late last evening Edna V. Seeley, the sister, filed a complaint with the county court of Linn County in which she says that her sister has come under the influence of Apostle Creffield and has joined his sect near Corvallis.
The complaint charges that the Holy Rollers are a depraved, demented, disreputable people, the members of which lie around on the floor without regard to sex or other conventionalities and are totally unfit for a girl to associate with. It asks the court to place Urania Seeley in the care of the Boys’ and Girls’ home, where she may be protected from the influence of the Holy Rollers.
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 4/30/1904 p3
Holy Rollers’ Lose A Convert
Edna V. Seeley Of Oregon City Causes The Arrest Of Her Sister.
(Special Dispatch to the Journal)
Albany, Or., April 30.--Miss Urania Florence Seeley, a girl 16 years old, was brought before County Judge H. M. Palmer yesterday afternoon on a warrant charging her with being from under the control of her natural protectors and in the hands of the Holy Rollers. She was arrested upon petition filed by her sister, Edna V. Seeley of Oregon City, who alleged that her sister was with the Holy Rollers, that she was being injured, and asked that the girl be placed under the care of the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid society.
The girl was given a hearing before the court, and three gentlemen of Corvallis who were well versed in the operations of the Holy Rollers, testified to the fact that the life of the girl with the members of the sect could only result in the complete degradation of the child.
It was shown that the sect, since it was expelled from Benton county last winter, has taken up its quarters in Linn county, just across the river from Corvallis, and here the girl-wife of Creffield, the apostle, has surrounded herself with a bunch of young men and women, especially some silly girls, and almost naked, they lie about the floor for hours at a time, praying. There is no furniture in the shack occupied by the Holy Rollers, and the barest necessities is all that they provide themselves.
Among them is Frank Hurt of Corvallis, who was formerly a clerk in a gents’ furnishing goods house. He and his wife are among the fanatics, and it was with him that this girl was found by the Linn county officers. When brought in she was hatless, he hair hung down, uncombed and unconfined, and she acknowledged having destroyed her hat in response to a divine command. After the hearing of the case, the county judge committed the girl to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid society and Sheriff Worth Huston was ordered to take her to Portland this morning, which he did, being accompanied by Miss Edna Seeley, sister of the girl, and who was radiantly happy over the success of her efforts to snatch her young sister from the hands of the fanatical sect that has already blighted so many lives and homes in this section of the valley. Another sister, and older girl, is still with the Holy Rollers. Efforts will be made to have several of the leaders of the sect examined as to their sanity and committed to the insane asylum.
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 4/30/1904 p3
Frank Hurt Is Forced To Flee
Religious Sect Parade Streets Bareheaded And Barefooted--Women With Hair Hanging Loosely Over Shoulders And Eyes Turned Heavenward.
(Special Dispatch to The Journal)
Corvallis, Or., April 30.--A scene on Main street at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon caused considerable excitement as well as amusement. It was a chase by city officers around several blocks and down to the ferry, in pursuit of Holy Roller Frank Hurt, who in spite of good report and evil, still pins his faith to the roller religion.
Mr. Hurt and a number of females have for several days been parading about, the former with bare feet, pantaloons rolled up half way to the knee, and bareheaded; the females, with hair hanging loosely over their shoulders, eyes rolled heavenward and heads bare.
After the recent expose of the Apostle Josh and his villainous practices, the appearance of the local followers in their new role has much the same effect on local residents as does the waving of a red flag in the face of a bovine. Wearied by the sight, Chief Lane today decided to end the carrying on of Frank Hurt, and when the latter appeared on Main Street the officers gave chase. Hurt dodged down back streets and reached the river, where his own boat carried him across to Linn County and to safety for the time being.
The condition of night watchman David Osburn, injured in Sunday morning’s shooting affair in this city is improving, and there is little doubt of the patient’s ultimate recovery.
Albany Democrat 5/6/1904
(From Friday items)
A Holy Roller Victim. Urania Florence Seeley Wanted by Her Sister
V. Seeley of Oregon City, came over from Corvallis last evening, where she had been after her sister, Urania Florence Seeley, aged 16, but learned that she was across the river in Linn county with a gang of Holy Rollers, and so came to Albany and last evening Judge Palmer granted and order for the Sheriff to take charge of the girl and turn her over to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society in Portland.
The affidavit of the sister prepared by Deputy District Attorney Kelly states that the mother is dead and the father had abandoned his daughter, that she is now associating with a number of disreputable and demented people styling themselves Holy Rollers, which is ruining her, and unless cared for she will become unbalanced and her life hopelessly ruined. That the Rollers go barefooted, hatless, half-dressed, and men and women lie around on the floor indiscriminately for hours at a time in pretended obedience to alleged divine commands of one Creffield, notoriously disreputable, immoral, degrading and licentious, teaching immoral, degrading and demoralizing and will result in her degradation.
Deputy Sheriff Munkers left at 9:30 o’clock today after her. Mr. Munkers found the girl at the home of Frank Hurt, with Hurt, Mrs. Hurt being in Corvallis. Hurt was barefooted with nothing on but overalls and a shirt, and acted in a very demented way. The house seemed to be destitute of everything. The girl wanted to stay, but consented to come. She had no hat, saying they had burned it, and came bareheaded.
Another older sister, who is in Corvallis, the complaining witness says, has been ruined already by the Holy Rollers.
The case was heard before Judge Paler this afternoon, O. V. Hurt, father of Frank Hurt referred to, Lewis Hartley, whose wife and daughter have been lead off by the Holy Rollers and C. M. Starr who was, with his wife, a Holy Roller for a year, and whose sister is one. All testified as to the demented condition of the present Holy Rollers, the immoral influence and the degraded conditions. The girl refused to testify. She was committed to the Girl’s Home at Portland, and will be taken down by the sheriff.
Mr. Hurt stated that his son Frank was arrested in Corvallis for insanity just as he left, having gone there bare headed and barefooted.