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.

May 2, 1904: Frank & Mollie Hurt are Committed to the Asylum


Frank HurtOregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/2/1904 p1

“Rollers” Would Restore Eden


(Special Dispatch to The Journal)

Albany, Or., May 2.--Frank Hurt and his wife, Nellie (sic) Hurt, who were Saturday afternoon committed to the asylum at Salem, were yesterday morning taken to that institution by Sheriff Worth Huston and Deputy I. A. Munkers. The sheriff also took down Miss Urania Florence Seeley, the girl who was a few days ago taken from the Holy Rollers and committed to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid society, and took her to Portland. When Hurt and his wife were brought to Albany the young man was provided with a new pair of shoes and a hat, he being barefooted and hatless. He wore these articles of clothing until placed in jail, when he promptly divested himself of the shoes and hat and burned them in the jail stove, and when called out of jail to be taken to the asylum Hurt was again hatless and shoeless.


Miss Seeley, when seen by the Journal correspondent, after being committed to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid society, talked rationally regarding the peculiar belief of the sect to which she belongs, commonly known as the Holy Rollers.


“In time, she said, “we will be restored to innocence and purity such as marked the condition of Adam and Eve, but in order to reach that state we must put away all that is sinful. To do this we must conquer our pride and everything that tends to make us proud, and this included the destruction of clothing and ornaments. When the world is restored to its original condition of innocence, we will be as were Adam and Eve, and there will be no use of clothing or raiment of any kind. Then the world will once more be innocent and God will dwell with us here on earth and we will be like him.”



Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/3/1904

Holy Rollers To Put World Where Adam Entered It.

(A photo of “Miss Urania Florence Seeley, Seventeen-Year -Old Victim of Strange Religion Relates Its Aims and Objects”)


“All things will be restored. The world will be again like it was before man fell. This can be brought about only by the way we live here.”


Such was the explanation of the “Holy Roller religion by Urania Florence Seeley who is now in safe the keeping of the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society where she was brought from the Holy Roller camp by Sheriff Huston. Since Frank Hurt’s family has been sent to the asylum, and this innocent 17-year-old girl has been brought to Portland, the Roller camp is a thing of the past, as the last member is now gone. Miss Seeley said there were 17 members, all but three being women.


Probably more light on this peculiar religion than has hitherto been known to the public was brought out when she answered the query: “Why do you believe you should not wear shoes, hats and other garments?”


“Adam and Eve were put into the world without clothing,” was the girl’s answer. It showed that she was still determined to defend the religion she had been wildly following for the past few months.


“That is the way we should live. When Adam fell the world was cursed, and now there is death. There would have been no death is Adam had not sinned. All things will be restored, and we can bring the world back to that condition by living like the Lord wants us to.”


“We did these things at the command of the Lord. We received messages direct from him. Sometimes we would all receive them together.”


“Around the camp we read our Bibles and prayed. We did the work about the house.”


Although she defended her religion, Miss Seeley would not discuss other subjects when seen today. At times, with a view of defending her peculiar faith, she bursts forth with expressions that could be credited to a much older person.


Although she is only 17 years old, she has the experienced look of a much older person. She said she could tell much about her religion, but that she did “not feel just right.” She is of light complexion and more than “passing fair.”


She seems kind in her disposition, and willingly does what she is told by the officers of the home. This is much unlike the other Holy Roller who was at the home and who was hardly manageable.


She would not say whether she knew where Apostle Creffield is, but she intimated that some of the sect knew. She seems determined in her ways, and does not want to give up her faith. She said the name of her religion was “Restoration of All Things.”


In the little Bible which she brought with her are many passages marked with red ink. The majority of these marked passages are confined to the first few chapters of St. Matthew.



Frank Hurt's Commitment PapersDaily Capitol Journal (Salem) 5/2/1904 p1

Interviewed. Odd People Are Not Insane

Have No Prescribed Form of Religious Worship But Believe in Divine Messages. Say They Will Remain in the Asylum Until the State Gets Tired of Keeping them There--Have Queer Ideas Regarding Dress.


(The first page of the article is illegible)

p4 (Continued from first page)

. . . refused to do so, and would rather suffer than to desert what we know is right.”


When questioned concerning the form of worship accepted by his people he said: “We never prescribe any form of worship, but allow every person to pray and act as they feel would serve the Lord best. We are called “Holy Rollers” because some of the members, when they are praying, get tired of kneeling and prostrate themselves on the floor at times, but that is not one of the requirements of the church. we do not fast, as some of the people reported, except to occasionally refrain from eating for perhaps a day, or until we get hungry. I know that stories have been circulated alleging that at times we will not partake of food for several days, but there is no truth in such reports. We have no creed or special by-laws, except those found in the Bible, and we believe the whole book, both New and Old Testament. We are not like other churches, we take everything in it as God’s word. we believe that any person can get messages from God by first preparing themselves to receive them. God always answers prayer, and we pray so that we will be able to get our direction from him.”


Hurt did not care to say whether he had ever received revelations himself, but answered in an evasive way, “Oh, any person can receive commands from God.”


“Will you make an effort to get out of this place,” was asked, and he replied “No not a thing. I am satisfied and will remain until they get tired of keeping me. I do not intend to give up my religion, and I constantly have a prayer in my heart to God. My father expects me to get weaned away from my views, but he will never accomplish what he expects to do.”


Mrs. Hurt is a comely looking woman of perhaps 23, and talks very intelligently. She would not speak for publication, saying that the band had already received more than enough advertising. She is apparently of good parentage, and is not at all hasty in answering questions concerning herself or the views entertained by her fellow believers. her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sandell, live in Seattle, and are said to be quite well-to-do people. She joined the Salvation Army about six years ago, and met Creffield. The two afterwards moved to Corvallis, and there the prophet married a sister of Hurt, while the Sandell girl married Hurt last July. Creffield and Miss Sandell were at the Ryan mission in this city for some time, and afterwards went back to Corvallis where they commenced to receive, as they claim, messages from God.


The people of Corvallis and the upper portion of Linn County are determined to break up the band, and this is one of the first moves in that direction. The Hurts appear rational in every way, even while discussing their hobby, yet they get very earnest at times, and explain in minute detail the power of prayer. This seems to be about the only thing practices by the followers of this queer belief.


It is the deliberate opinion of the reporter that these people who have been sent to the Oregon insane asylum are not insane.




There are 1328 patients at the asylum 921 males and 407 females.

Frank Hurt's Commitment PapersCorvallis Gazette 5/3/1904 p3

Holy Rollers


The Holy Rollers here, through their prophet Creffield have just received enlightenment in the way of several messages from Heaven. One is that all believers must go barefooted, bareheaded and not braid or adorn their hair.

Last week they proceeded to carry out this part of the program by appearing on the streets in the aforesaid condition. Frank Hurt who is living over in Linn County came to the Post Office Tuesday clad only in a pair of overalls and jumper. Several of the women have appeared on the streets with unkempt hair and without wraps to protect them from the chilly air. Friday afternoon an exciting chase took place when Hurt again appeared at the Post Office. Deputy marshal Overland attempted to capture him, several others joined in the chase, but Hurt out sprinted them all and reached his boat and pushed out into the river before his pursuers came upon him.


The people here would like to see Creffield, who is supposed to be hiding not far away and perhaps somewhere in the city. There is no doubt that this renewed activity of the Holy Rollers is due to his influence.


Urania Seeley, an orphan, was arrested here Thursday on a warrant issued by her sister, Edna V. Seeley, who lives in Oregon City. The girl is only about 16, and very pretty. The have had her under their influence for some time, and would have caused her ruin.


Her sister tried by every other means to get her away, when she had herself appointed guardian and took her by force.


It is the intention to have the girl placed in the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society, that she may be kept away from the influence of the Holy Rollers.


The last message the Holy Rollers have received is that all shall go to the heathen in Africa as missionaries.


There is a strong sentiment in favor of stopping the practices of the Holy Rollers, even if heroic measures have to be adopted, and something probably will be done for they are a menace to young women, and their purpose seems to be principally to get the girls under their control and influence.


Miss Edna Seeley is a nice looking young woman. She says her parents are dead and there are three sisters, one, the oldest, aged about 21 years, being now with the Holy Rollers near Corvallis. She sobbed bitterly when she told the story of her troubles, and when her young sister was committed to the care of the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society she became radiantly happy, as she now felt that the child was now safe from vicious practices of the Holy Rollers.


She came up from Oregon City to Albany on Thursday and filed a petition with County Judge Palmer asking that her sister be taken from the Holy Rollers and placed in the care of the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society of Portland. The judge at once issued a warrant for her arrest. She was found with several others in a house on the Linn county side of the Willamette opposite Corvallis where some of the Rollers reside. At the trial, several members of the sect denounced the movement in scathing terms and told of the unspeakable actions of the leaders. When the girl herself was asked if she had anything to say, she was mute, and Judge Palmer ordered her committed to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society.


The girl was brought to town bareheaded as she had destroyed her hat according to divine revelations commanding such a course. Her sister asked permission to comb the child’s hair and this was given, and the county judge also ordered Miss Edna to buy a hat for her sister.


Deputy Sheriff Munkers reports that in the house where he found the girl no furniture was to be seen, that the house was bare, and the occupants appeared to be dazed or on a verge of insanity.


The last scene in the Holy Roller drama was enacted Saturday when Frank Hurt and his wife Mollie were sent to the Insane Asylum at Salem by the Linn County Court.


Hurt’s father was the principal witness. The testimony showed that the parties refused to work and that they destroyed all their good clothing and other property by fire, neglected their persons and generally showed insanity.

The young man was formerly a salesman. He appeared in overalls saying he had burned his good clothing on orders from God, and had also destroyed a new bicycle for the same reasons.


His wife had destroyed her clothing. She was formerly a captain in the Salvation Army, then took up with Apostle Creffield and married young Hurt.




Frank Hurt's Commitment PapersBrownsville Times Fri 5/6/1904 p1

Holy Rollers Insane

Frank Hurt and Wife Declared Insane--Girl Arrested.


ALBANY, April 30.--The last scene in Holy Roller drama in Linn county was enacted in Albany today when a husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hurt, were jointly examined by the County Court and committed to the State Insane Asylum at Salem. The religious fanatics were brought to Albany by Sheriff Huston today on a charge of insanity issued from District Attorney Kelly’s office with J. K. Berry, of Corvallis, as complainant.


The examination developed much interest concerning the Holy Rollers and was sufficient to warrant the County Court in committing the Hurts/ O. V. Hurt, father of the young man, spoke with much emotion of the downfall of his son, and at the end of the examination pleaded with him to return home, change his ways of acting and thus avoid spending a period of uncertain duration in the insane asylum. But the son, urged on by the fanatic wife, was obdurate and said that he would rather spend years in the insane asylum that return to the worldly ways that preceded the advent of Holy Rollerism.


The father stated that Frank Hurt was always very religious, becoming a member of the Methodist Church while a mere boy, and was industrious and exemplary in his habits. At the age of 8 or 9 years Frank joined the Salvation Army, continuing there until Apostle Creffield appeared upon the scene. Young Hurt then became sanctified, took unto himself a wife who formerly belonged to the Salvation Army and was also a Roller, and has since gradually become more fanatical.


On other subjects young Hurt and wife are intelligent and reasonable. During the examination Frank Hurt admitted the destroying of cats and dogs, headgear, clothes, footwear, pictures, etc., stating that God commanded their destruction because the animals were a nuisance and the clothing was too good, causing him to be proud. He further stated that at first messages were received by Creffield from God, who directed his flock, but that now all receive direct commands from the Lord.


These commands are not audible, says Hurt, but come to them while praying. Asked if he did not know if such things were a hallucination and very foolish, Hurt replied: “No, I know when God talks to me.”


Hurt and his wife both look emaciated, having fasted for days at a time. They often spend entire days and nights lying flat on the floor, face downward, praying the Lord for further light. Hurt is 22 years of age, his wife 23. They quote scripture glibly and are ready to use a quotation in parrying any thrust by questioners.

A further teaching of Creffield, which is claimed to be a direct message from God, is that the Holy Rollers must not work, that God will care for his children. Frank Hurt and wife are the last of the sect so far as Linn County is concerned. They were the only people remaining at the Holy Roller headquarters this side of the river. If more of them appear, they will be dealt with summarily.



Oregon State Insane AsylumWeekly Herald (Albany) 5 May 1904 p1

Burned His Shoes In County Jail


(the usual, plus)

The young man when brought to Albany Saturday was provided with a hat and a good pair of shoes, brought for him by his father before the officers brought the two from Corvallis. These he wore Saturday and up to the time he was placed in jail. Here a fire had been kindled, as it was cold. When the young man was called out of the jail yesterday morning he was once more bareheaded and barefooted, and investigation showed that he had again burned his hat and shoes, having put them in the jail stove. He went to the asylum bareheaded and shoeless.


The Sheriff also took down Miss Urania Florence Seeley, the girl who was a few days ago taken from the Holy Rollers and committed to the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid society, and took her to Portland.


“In time, she said, “we will be restored to innocence and purity such as marked the condition of Adam and Eve, but in order to reach that state we must put away all that is sinful. To do this we must conquer our pride and everything that tends to make us proud, and this included the destruction of clothing and ornaments. When the world is restored to its original condition of innocence, we will be as were Adam and Eve, and there will be no use of clothing or raiment of any kind. Then the world will once more be innocent and God will dwell with us here on earth and we will be like him.”


She also stated that the members of the sect believed that cooked food should not be eaten by man, and that fire had not been brought into the world by the creator, but was the invention of man. The members of the sect, she said, were putting away all that was sinful as fast as possible and this included cooked food; that they were gradually discarding this and learning to eat what food nature had provided, just as it was prepared by the Creator, and that ultimately they would be enabled to subsist entirely on food that was the product of Mother Earth. Meats are not used by them at all. . . .


Among the last to leave was Miss Seeley, and older sister of the girl recently sent to the Boys’ and Girls’ aid society. Miss Seeley, who worked as a domestic in a Corvallis family for a time left when her sister was taken away by the officers. She is believed to have gone to Hood River, where another colony of this peculiar sect is said to be located. . .


The report comes from Salem that Frank Hurt, the Holy Roller sent to the asylum from here last Sunday, became angry at his keepers Sunday evening because he was not allowed to occupy the ward in which his wife was detained, and he prayed loudly for the destruction of the asylum.

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