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.
August 2, 1904: Creffield Does Not Dislike Prison
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 8/2/1904 p2
Apostle Does Not Dislike Prison
“Apostle Joshua” Creffield seems not to mind his surroundings at the county jail while awaiting trial on a criminal charge. He spends the most of his time lying on a cot in his cell reading the Bible supplied him by O. V. Hurt, his father-in-law and one of the men whose family was broken up by the prisoner’s fanaticism.
When some of the other inmates made a number of sarcastic comments on his tenets of faith this morning Creffield paid no attention to them for some time. Finally he turned to the most persistent of his tormentors and declared:
“I don’t care for your talk. The Lord is my protector.
The “apostle” was visited this morning by Fred Braun, a member of the Salvation Army. He stood at the bars and chatted with his visitor for about five minutes. The burden of his remarks was that the people are all in the dark and that he is the Moses sent by God to lead them out of the wilderness of ignorance and sin.
Creffield appears to be growing stronger. His cheeks are taking on a natural color and he eats and sleeps well. The officials declare that his poor physical condition is due largely to fright. He seems to feel perfectly safe in the county jail, and if any thought of the future troubles him, he does not show it.
Jeffree Newman & Joe Haege as Jeffree Newman
as Sheriff Burnett & Edmund Creffield
Evening Telegram (Portland) 8/2/1904 p14
Creffield Is Human Study
Why He Should Exercise Influence Is a Hard Problem. Slowly Regaining Strength in Multnomah County Jail.”
What is there in this man that ye should forsake all and follow him?
Those who have seen Edmund Creffield, Holler Roller chieftain, since his arrest, wonder wherein lies his power to attract. They cannot understand why a religion invented by him and said to teach many things not usually considered orthodox, should be accepted, even by a very few, for the man does not appear to be of striking mind or personality. Creffield affords a problem for the student.
Edmund Creffield, self-styled “Joshua the Prophet” is decidedly a peculiar human being. Although he is gaining strength, both mentally and physically, at the County Jail, it is not likely that he will be sufficiently strong to face a preliminary hearing at Police Court on Thursday morning on the charge of adultery. If he has not gained sufficient strength by that time, his case will again be continued.
Today, though better, he is still little more than a wild man. Awaking from three months’ fasting in sackcloth and ashes, and dragged into the limelight of publicity in a big city after solitude and brooding had caused him to forget almost everything he ever knew, he was apparently stricken with bewilderment and knew not what he did. He knew fear and apparently that alone, as he moved about as might a child.
Creffield has now a strong desire to get well. At the County Jail, where he is confined, he lies on his cot nearly all of the time. During the day he sleeps a great deal. At his request he has been furnished a Bible, out of which he reads (illegible) during the time he is awake. He does not walk about the corridors, as do the other prisoners, probably afraid of the many inmates, or possibly because of his great weakness. He does not talk to the other prisoners, although they rail at him.
SEEMS VERY HUNGRY
The jail meals are relished by Creffield as though he had been starved for months. He cleans the dishes even to the last scrap of meat and the last crumb of bread.
If he prays or follows his religion other than to read his Bible, it is not known to the officials of the jail or the inmates. If he prays, it is to himself for he does not speak aloud and makes no demonstration.
Creffield in his present condition is a subject more for the hospital than for a jail. He is harmless, and it does not require strong iron bars to keep hi a captive. Three months of what was practically starvation worked wonders in weakening his system and skeletonizing his form.
Creffield has a well-developed head, but has not a magnetic eye. He does not appear like an attractive person, although when he speaks his voice has a low and not unpleasant sound. He speaks slowly, but distinctly, and what he says seems to be emphatically impressed upon the listener. For this reason probably, people followed his “Holy Rollerism.”
CREFFIELD HAS FOR MANY YEARS BEEN A TEACHER OF THE WORKS OF GOD
He was born in Germany 31 years ago. He came to America nearly five years ago. For the past four years and up to the time he organized his camp at Corvallis, he preached in a number of the missions of Portland. He assisted the Salvation Army and other denominations in their missionary work of the slums of the city. There are many people in Portland who remember him and who say he was a strong and convincing speaker.
Corvallis Gazette 8/2/1904
Lewis and Warren Harley, while on a hunting trip up in Bohemia killed three fine big four-point bucks.
Evening Telegram (Portland) 8/3/1904 p8
On Trial Tomorrow
Holy Roller Creffield Will Be Defended by Attorney John A. Logan
At his trial tomorrow morning before Judge Hogue at Police Court, Attorney John A. Logan will, through the orders of the court, defend Edmund Creffield, Holy Roller Leader, on the charge of adultery. Creffield is much stronger than he was when he was first brought to the jail. He relishes the meals of the institution and talks rationally on all matters. He is considered a model prisoner.
Evening Telegram (Portland) Wed 8/3/1904 p14 “Is Creffield A Hypnotist? Could Holy Roller Chief Restore His Victims to Sanity? Was Formerly Member of Salvation Army at Corvallis.”
SEEKS MISSING SON
(Blurb in a box)
Somewhere in the eastern part of the United States the mother of Edmund Creffield, now in the Multnomah County Jail, facing trial for a serious crime, is grieving because she does not know the whereabouts of her boy. Trying to find her son, this mother, whose address is not known here, has written to American headquarters of the Salvation Army in New York City, and inquiries have been forwarded to Portland, where Creffield once was engaged in Salvation Army work.
Is Edmund Creffield a hypnotist? Did he have his 17 followers at Holy Roller Camp under his influence? Could he, if he were nursed back to his original self, bring them out of their spell?
Members of the Portland Salvation Army Corps, who knew Creffield when he belonged to the organization, declare him to be possessed of hypnotic power.
It was learned late yesterday afternoon that Creffield had made a deep study of hypnotism and it is known that he practiced his power on people in Portland before he went to Corvallis. Members of Salvation Army, of which Creffield was an important officer, say he was a hypnotist, and it is their belief that he had his followers under this strange influence.
The officials are now collecting evidence to be produced at the “Apostle’s” trial Thursday morning to show that the women whom he led to accept his doctrine were held under some kind of mental spell. It is the theory that if he were strong again he could bring the people to their normal condition and that they would no longer need to remain in the asylum. The hypnotic influence of some other person beside Creffield may be tried on these patients.
SAME SYMPTOMS FOR ALL
Although not until recently realized, all of his followers seemed to go the same way--all losing control of their mind. They would move to the bidding of their leader, and did things the officers believe they would not have done had they not been controlled by a power that they could not resist. At the trial tomorrow, if the case is not again postponed because of Creffield’s great weakness, there will be evidence introduced on this question.
B. E. Starr, complaining witness in the case against Creffield, whom he thinks wronged his wife says he believes Creffield had his wife under the strange hypnotic power.
ONCE SALVATION LEADER
Through his untiring work and his convincing teachings, Edmund Creffield, now in the County Jail awaiting trial on the charge of adultery, was considered one of its most valuable officers while he was a member of the Salvation Army.
He has, since he started his exclusive peculiar and strange religion, fallen from grace, according to the rules of the Salvation Army, and is considered worse than a backslider who has gone deep into the ways of sin.
Members of the Portland branch of the Salvation Army know Creffield well, but now they refrain as much as possible from even speaking of him. It is hard to get any information from them about their former brother. They tell some facts, but only on close questioning. When Ensign Maude Bigney and Captain Bertha Holeton were seen yesterday, they told an interesting story of the “Apostle.” Their story follows:
It was four years ago this summer that Edmund Creffield, a native of Germany, was led to see the light of Jesus Christ. He was then only a common street listener, but he received the light and from that time on he was an earnest worker in the Army. Shortly after his conversion he came to Portland, where he entered the training department of the Army. In the garrison here he advanced from a private or common soldier in the ranks to the rank of Lieutenant. About six months later, or about three years ago he became a Captain. That was the last position to which he advanced.
While in Portland he did not have full charge of any single division, but he took charge of classes and officiated and preached at house and street meetings. He was never considered a clever man in a high degree, but he was looked upon as being above the average. His pleadings had effect and many additions were made to the Army during his work.
Because he was a man of considerable ability, he was then placed in charge of the corps at McMinnville. After remaining there a short time, he was sent to revive the work at Grant’s Pass. From there he went to Corvallis, and there is where he forsook the faith, to follow new and strange gods.
CHANGES HIS DOCTRINE
After being with the small flock there for a short time, he took a turn in his belief. One night he and his flock prayed and pleaded violently for a baptism of the Holy Ghost. They declared the power came to them, and from that time on Creffield and his followers no longer had any use for the Army. Creffield said: “The Army is not of God: neither is its people.”
Later in his “Holy Roller” career he said other harsh things about the Army, and for that reason the officials think that Creffield has fallen decidedly low. They do not speak ill of him, but rather pity him because of his present condition of great weakness.
After Creffield deserted at Corvallis, E. Brooks was sent down to pull the corps together, but he too went with the Holy Rollers and was later tarred and feathered.
When in the Army, Creffield was a bright, clever-looking man. He walked perfectly straight and could look a person in the face without a downcast eye. The contrast he presents now from his former self is exceptionally striking, almost shocking.
Chapter of Holy Rollers where these articles are some of the sources:
Chapter 10: Creffield is Found and Arrested
August 1, 1904: Creffield says, "I am Elijah"
August 4, 1904: Creffield Says He Is Entirely Purified
Newspaper Articles about Creffield & the Holy Rollers
1897-1903: B.C. (Before Creffield)
October to December 1903:Holy Rollers Burn Furniture & Pets
January to March, 1904: Holy Rollers Tarred and Feathered
April to June 1904: Holy Rollers are Committed to the Asylum
July 1904: Creffield is Found & Arrested
September 1904: Creffield's Trial
April 1906: Men are Gunning For Creffield
May 1906: Creffield is Murdered, Murderer is Considered a Hero
May 1906: Holy Rollers Found Starving Near Heceta Head
June 1906: George Mitchell's Trial Begins
July 1906: Hurt Testifies of Debauched Wife and Debased Sisters
July 1906: Esther Mitchell Kills Her Brother
August to October 1906: Seattle Prepares for another Big Trial
November 1906: Maud Hurt Creffield Commits Suicide
April 1909-August 1914: Esther Leaves the Asylum
1953 Stewart Holbrook's Murder Without Tears
1951Startling Detective Magazine, Nemesis of the Nudist High Priest
Holy Rollers: Murder & Madness in Oregon's Love Cult
Part 1: The Seduction
Chapter 1: Trust Me, Brothers And Sisters
(Life Before Creffield [B.C.])
Chapter 2: God, Save Us From Compromising Preachers
Chapter 3: The Flock
(Profiles of the Holy Rollers Were)
Chapter 4: The Holy Rollers
(Things Start to Get Wild on on Kiger Island)
Chapter 5: Housecleaning
(There's a Sacrificial Bonfire)
Chapter 6: Community Concerns
Chapter 7: Esther, The Chosen One
(Creffield Plans to Marry 16-Year- Old)
Chapter 8: Tar and Feathers
(The Men of Corvallis Act)
Chapter 9: Sane People Don’t Go Bareheaded
(Holy Rollers are Committed to the Asylum)
Chapter 10: More Beast Than Man
( Creffield is Arrested)
Chapter 11: God Will Plead Creffield's Case
(Creffield in Court)
Chapter 12: Scandal
(Shocking Testimony at the Trial)
Chapter 13: Calm Before the Storm
(The Holy Rollers Resume their Lives)
Chapter 14: Giving Up The Ghost
(Men are Gunning for Creffield)
Part Two: The People V. Creffield
Chapter 16: The Widow Creffield
Chapter 19: An Inherited Streak of Insanity
Part Three: The Madness
Chapter 23: Seeking Reconciliation
Chapter 24: Another Holy Roller Page One Murder
Chapter 25: What Can Papa Do For You?
Chapter 26: Human Life is Too Cheap In This Community
Chapter 30: The Final Chapter
(What Happened to Everyone Afterwards)