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 6, 1904: Creffield Believes in Satan and Eternal Punishment
Corvallis Times 8/6/1904 p2
A Dangerous Man
Creffield is in the hands of the Portland authorities. Private information is that there is ample evidence to bring him within the full liability of the penalty for adultery. The offense was committed while the man posed as a vicegerent of Heaven, a man of God, a leader of a religious sect. The sanctity of religion was used as a cloak and means for his wicked purpose. The offense against man is infinitesimal compared with the offense against all churches and church people. Great and damnable as it is, however, it is one of the least in the manifold methods and wide extent of his offending. The presence in the insane asylum of his victims, the care necessary to keep others out of the asylum and the sorrow these things all mean to affected families represent an aggregate of wrongdoing of which the public has no conception and the law neither measure nor penalty. The estrangement of members of a family from each other, accomplished in part, perhaps, by exercise of occult influence, in part by threats of what terrible penalty, here or hereafter, God may inflict upon a wife who recognizes her own husband and in part by the influence a keen and wicked mind may lean to exercise over weaker ones, all this is the work of a devil incarnate, which Creffield is. Murder, arson, theft, bigamy, burglary, riot, and the ordinary crimes are, trifling in their effects on society, compared to the wickedness of Creffield. There is no excuse for him, no palliation of his offense, no room for him where there are decent folk to be pestered, misled and ruined by his practices. His place is the penitentiary, and for the sake of the sane and insane, here and elsewhere, it may be hoped that the law and the courts will send him there to stay the limit.
Evening Telegram (Portland) 8/6/1904 p14
Material Hell Says “Apostle”
Creffield Believes in Satan and Eternal Punishment. Formerly Headed a Sect Holding Service at The Dalles.
Though the Holy Roller religion of Edmund Creffield contains many new things, it omits the modern doctrine that there is no material hell and that Satan does no exist in form.
“There is a hell and a devil. The body, soul and spirit of wicked people will be punished in a material hell.”
With a look of reverence on his face, Edmund Creffield confined in his cell at the County Jail repeated the above sentence with deepest earnestness.
Creffield would not talk very freely today. He seemed filled with a fear he would say too much, and a religious objection to discussing things that might put his beliefs in a wrong light. He had not been directed by heaven to speak, he said.
“I might talk for a long time for publication, but it would do the people no good. My labors would be a failure. You know I said yesterday that I did nothing except as directed to through a message from on high. It is the Holy Ghost that directs me.
“If the people ought to know my doctrine, the spirit will tell me, and then I will write you what our doctrine is.”
In speaking the name “Holy Rollers” that has been applied to his religion, Creffield said he did not know where that name had come from. He said “The people gave that to us.”
Creffield has an obstinate nature. He does freely what he likes, but there is no persuading him to do a thing against his will.
Creffield was at one time a believer in the Roman Catholic faith, but he will not say why he has forsaken the religion of his mother.
From passages in the Bible, which he quotes freely and without hesitation, he reasons that, like the apostle of old, he has been given power from on high and now he is an “interceder” between heaven and earth. He thinks no one can be saved unless filled with the power of the Holy Ghost.
WORKED AT THE DALLES
Creffield was at the Dalles two years ago, and opened the Penal Mission at that place in connection with the Star Lodging House. He stayed there about six months. Many of the followers of the International Apostolic Holiness Union of the Dalles were followers of his at that time.
He had about 20 followers at The Dalles, and their meetings were always characterized by a great amount of noise. He had some trouble with one of his associated and left the place, going to the Willamette Valley.
Members of the International Apostolic Union now holding meetings in the Dalles claim that Creffield was too radical in his teachings, and they have renounced the more radical of his ideas, but continue to teach doctrines which are still far removed from the teachings of any established church. some of his former followers at the Dalles claim that he was an expert at hypnotism, and practiced it a great deal. They also believe that his followers at Corvallis who have gone insane are under his spell.
Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) 8/6/1904 p2
Heavenly Talks In County Jail
Henry (sic) Creffield, self-styled “Joshua” the high Holy Roller apostle has been kept busy at the county jail in the last few days, so he asserts, holding conferences with the Lord. He says he has received information from on high that there is a material hell and that when the wicked depart this life their bodies, as well as their souls, are tortured.
The apostle has employed a great deal of his time in marking a copy of the Bible. In view of his claims to the priesthood, the following from Malachi ii:7, which has been encircled with a pencil mark, is interesting:
“For the priests lips would keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for his is the messenger of the lord of the hosts.”
While in the municipal court last Wednesday, Creffield was asked by a newspaperman to write a brief account of his religious views. He promised to do so, but when he reached the county jail changed his mind. He said he had been advised by the Lord, while riding from the police wagon, not to write the article as requested.
What seems to bother Creffield a great deal is the failure of the Lord , according to his statement, to reveal to him what will be the outcome of the charge against him. He is growing fleshy and helps the other inmates sweep out the corridor in which he is imprisoned.