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 4, 1904: Maud Hurt-Creffield & Sophia Hartley are Committed


Maud Hurt
Maren McGuire as Maud Hurt Creffield

Corvallis Times 5/4/1904 p3

--A carriage, containing Miss Hartley, Maud Hurt-Creffield, Sheriff Burnett and Lewis Hartley left Main Street at two o’clock yesterday to catch the Eastside train for Salem. Miss Hartley and Mrs. Creffield were en route to the insane asylum and the others were conveying them thither. Mrs. Creffield had an examination for sanity at noon, and was committed. There were no witnesses.


--Miss Sophia Hartley, aged 18, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Hartley was examined as to her sanity in the county court yesterday and committed to the asylum. The examining physicians were Drs. Farra and Altman. Her trouble is the result of the teachings of Creffield, who ought to be hunted to the ends of the earth, and be made to pay the penalty of his deception. Aside from her delusion on religious matters, Miss Hartley is an intelligent and amiable young woman. She was taken to Salem by Sheriff Burnett yesterday afternoon.



Corvallis Gazette 5/6/1904 p5

Miss Sophia Hartley and Mrs. Maud Creffield were sent to the State Insane Asylum Tuesday by Judge Walters. Complaints were lodged against the former by S. B. Bayne and against the latter by L. Hartley. Drs. Farra and Altman were the examining physicians. They recommended that the Holy Rollers be not permitted to see each other in the asylum. This practically puts an end to the organization at this place.


Daily Capital Journal. (Salem) 4 May 1904 p1

Wife of Apostle Creffield and Another Sister Becomes Guests of State


(the usual about Maud and Sophia’s commitment and … ).

The latest revelation received is that the band must go at once to South Africa to work with the natives, and as they are without funds, and are determined to follow out the supposed injunction, the hardships which they would endure if they persisted in making the trip would be something awful to contemplate.



Frank and Maud Hurt
Jon Ashley Hall and Maren McGuire as Frank and Maud Hurt

Weekly Herald. (Albany) 5 May 1904 p7

Holy Rollers in the Public Eye


(the usual about Frank Hurt’s commitment and …)

County Judge Palmer had called in Drs. J. P. Wallace and W. A. Trimble to assist in the examination. After the witnesses had been examined the two physicians plied the two prisoners with questions. Mr. Hurt stated that all he had done was under the direction and revelation from God. He reluctantly, and after repeated inquiries acknowledged that he had burned his clothing and bicycle, as the use of these articles was sinful. He had gone barefooted and bareheaded because of the same commands from God, and that he would at all times obey these commands. Asked if he would obey an order given to him in a revelation such as he claimed to have received requiring him to kill someone, he said that such an order would not be given.


Mrs. Hurt’s examination developed very little more than did that of her husband, except that she strenuously denied having burned any clothing that was of use; in fact, she insists that nothing of value had been destroyed, and she had never gone barefooted. She acknowledged burning a dog, but said that it was done because the dog could not be buried, and was done for sanitary reasons. She stated that she was a native of Seattle, and came to Corvallis as the captain of a Salvation Army corps, and had been converted by Creffield. She gave the impression of being a shrewd and wily operator, and as one of the spectators put it, “more knave than fool.” Hurt was clad in blue overalls and had two weeks growth of beard on his face. The woman, who is several years the senior of her husband, was clad in a plain black dress devoid of collar or ornament, and her light hair hung down her back in luxuriant waves, uncombed and unconfined.

Albany Democrat 5/6/1904 p5

(under items for preceding Saturday)

More Holy Rollerism. Frank and Mollie Hurt Brought to Albany


Frank Hurt instead of being arrested at Corvallis yesterday afternoon escaped the officers and went to his place across the river, where Mr. O. V. Hurt, father of Frank, found him and his wife last night, and took them to his home, where upon direction of Deputy District Attorney Kelley, they were arrested today by Sheriff Huston and his deputy I. A. Munkers and brought to Albany. J. K. Berry, of Corvallis, signed the complaint.


They were given an examination this afternoon by Judge Palmer and Drs. Wallace and Trimble. O. V. Hurt, Lewis Hartley, and J. K. Berry testified as to the condition of the Hurts, who received messages from God and went entirely according to the supposed direction from him, about their habits of destroying everything worldly, etc.


The defendants admitted that they were governed entirely by God, but declared that God wouldn’t ask them to kill any one or do anything wrong, that they believed in Creffield as an apostle, but denied his immorality.


They were ordered committed to the asylum for their own good.



Oregon Sunday Journal (Portland) 5/1/1904 p3

“Holy Rollers” Sent To Asylum


(Special Dispatch to the Journal)

Albany, Or., April 30.--Frank and Mollie Hurt of Corvallis were sent to the asylum today by the county judge after an examination as to their sanity. Both are members of the Holy Roller colony on the Linn county side of the river near Corvallis.


Hurt’s father was the principal witness. The testimony showed that the partied refused to work and that they destroyed all of 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 court dressed in overalls, saying he had burned his good clothing on orders from God, and had also destroyed a new bicycle for the same reason.


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.


Creffield’s wife is Hurt’s sister. She is still at the Holy Roller rendezvous near Corvallis.



Albany Democrat 5/6/1904 p7

Taken To The Asylum


Sheriff Huston yesterday morning took Frank Hurt and his wife Mollie to the insane asylum. During the previous night Hurt burned his new straw hat and shoes and went to Salem bareheaded and barefooted with his wife bareheaded. Of course they believe themselves martyrs, but the facts leave no doubt that they were taken to the proper place for treatment.



Albany Democrat 5/6/1904 p7

(from items from preceding Tuesday)

Frank Hurt Said


From the Journal:

“Will you make an effort to get out of the asylum” 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.



Corvallis Times 5/4/1904/p4

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hurt were examined as to their sanity at Albany Saturday and sent to the asylum. Their condition is a result of the teachings of Creffield. The witnesses in the case at the examination were J. K. Berry, O. V. Hurt and Lewis Hartley.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 5/4/1904 p2

The transfer of Frank Hurt and his wife to the asylum is especially sad under the circumstances, and suggests the query as to how far the right of free speech and the free public propagation of maudlin ideas should be tolerated. If the Holy Rollers had been squelched when their first demonstrations were made, much of the aftermath, so full of sorrow and regret, would have been avoided. Instead of interfering, as was finally done, the people and officers at first regarded their performances with a degree of amusement and their exploitations were watched by hundreds while accounts of them were sent out daily to the papers of the state. Such people are really dangerous, not only to themselves, but in their flighty and irrational notions to others as well. The man who becomes convinced that the world is all going wrong, that the hands of the few are becoming so powerful that the rights of the many are actually in jeopardy, and that he has a mission to warn the public of an impending danger, in religion, or otherwise, is as a rule, unbalanced and should receive the care of a more enlightened public. In many cases he is the raw material out of which full fledged anarchists are made, and if he himself is not, there are often those who hear his rot whose balance wheel is already eccentric, and who may develop into a Guiteau or a Czolgosz [the assassins of Presidents Garfield and McKinley].



Albany Democrat 5/6/1904 p2

-The Salem Journal says Frank Hurt and wife are not insane. Perhaps not in a general way, but in a special way they are insane on the subject of religion. Sane people don’t go bareheaded and barefooted and burn pictures, bicycles and other so-called worldly things.


-The Corvallis papers have become ashamed of the Holly Roller proposition and only give a few lines without a head to the recent episodes. Albany doesn’t want the mantle.



Albany Democrat 5/6/1904 p4

(An editorial under Saturday Night Items)

-This week Albany had a Holly Roller case, which in a marked manner divulged the fanatical character of these people, indicating that their religion is not a religion at all, but that is a species of insanity. Genuine religion should strengthen a person’s mind. There is nothing in it when rightly considered to weaken anyone, but much to make one more reasonable and considerate in the relationships of life. There are people who are not Holy Rollers who go to extremes in matters, splitting hairs over things about which there is a reasonable dispute. A study of it will show that there is a golden mean which it is well to find and follow.


-When the Lebanon Criterion said there were worse people in Corvallis than the Holy Rollers the Corvallis papers got mad, but the Criterion man evidently was on the inside. The Holy Rollers were pretty tough too.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 5/4/1904 p4

Infidels Invited--

This (Wednesday) evening Rev., C. L. Engle will preach on the Divinity of Christ, at the Holiness Mission, 204 Twelfth Street. Infidels are especially invited.

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