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.
Oregon Sunday Journal (Portland) 8/28/1904 p3
Creffield Destroys His Revelations
Rather than allow profane eyes to gaze on revelations he asserts were made to him by God, Edmund Creffield, the chief of the Holy Rollers, tore the fly leaves out of his well thumbed bible and destroyed them. On these leaves, written in a fine hand with a lead pencil, were the so-called revelations.
“I have them all in mind now, anyhow,” Creffield explained, “and if it is necessary can write them down again.”
County Jailer Grafton learned that Creffield had placed these “revelations” on the fly leaves in the back of his bible, which is an Oxford edition, with Levant cover and red-under-gold edges. He asked Creffield to let him look at the book. The “apostle” offered to let him take another bible, with calfskin covers, but Grafton answered that he wanted to see the other book, whereupon Creffield stood for a moment in a state of hesitation, and the deliberately tore all the fly leaves containing the “revelations” out of the volume and with a sigh handed it to the jailer. He afterward destroyed the leaves.
Lately Creffield has expressed a desire to “go home.” Asked where his home is, he remains silent. For a number of reasons, his language is taken to indicate that he means he is tired of life and is ready to go to heaven.
Corvallis Gazette 8/30/1904 p3
The bicycle establishment of Berry & Carl was transferred Saturday to the exclusive ownership of J. K. Berry who will now run the business alone. Mr. Berry has been in the bicycle business here for a number of years and is one of the most popular business men in town. Many will miss the genial presence of Mr. Carl at the work bench. We wish for Mr. Berry a continuation of the prosperity he has always had and success in winning additional trade.
Evening Telegram (Portland) 9/2/1904 p6
Elijah Dowie has been keeping himself in the background of late. The latest utterance of his is that Creffield, the Oregon Holy Roller, is not Elijah, although Creffield stoutly maintained that he was the original. the public, however, is inclined to believe that both are wrong.
Corvallis Times 9/3/1904 p2
His Coming Trial
Much Interest Here in Outcome of Creffield’s Case in a Portland Court.
Considerable interest is felt here in the approaching trial of Creffield which is to take place in a Portland court early this month. The fear is that the rogue will play the crazy dodge and instead of his just deserts, get adjudged insane and be sent to the asylum. Those in position to know say that the evidence against him in the adultery case for which he is now held is absolutely straight and convincing, and in such abundance as to make his conviction certain, unless the whole business gets sidetracked on a sentimental theory of lunacy. They say the fact that he took advantage of the weakness of one of his followers and got himself into his present position shows that it is not lunacy, but down right deviltry that affects him. It is also nearly certain now that hypnotism has been the agency with which he has been able to manage his converts so successfully and so fatally. William Crabtree, who was with Creffield in the Salvation Army , has a book on hypnotism that the great saint studied perseveringly before his advent as a Holy Roller. It is also the statement of the Salvation Army people with whom he was associated in Portland before he came to Corvallis, that he had powers then as a hypnotist. There is practically no other explanation by which this insignificant man could gain such control over daughters as to cause them to deny their parents, and such power over wives as to induce them to forswear their own marital relations, treating their own husbands as unworthy and discredited strangers.
Facts that tend to confirm the hypnotic theory is the news from the asylum. The condition of Creffield’s victims under treatment there is not encouraging. It is well known that persons long or often subjected to hypnotic influence suffer mentally, which may be, in part, explanation of the unfortunate condition of some of the asylum inmates. Similar inference is attributable to the case of Mrs. Hartley, for several weeks past in camp at Bohemia mines. She has largely recovered from the religious dementia, and admits the Holy Roller idea to be a mistaken one, but she constantly suffers from a buzzing in the head which causes her relatives to feel alarmed for her safety.
If Creffield should, on a subterfuge of lunacy, cheat the penitentiary of its long overdue deserts, indignation in this city would be very much heightened.
Corvallis Times 9/7/1904 p1
Portland, Sept. 3.--Portland Journal: Edmund Creffield, the High Holy Roller apostle, every time he has been in court, has refused to permit counsel to be appointed to defend him saying, “The Lord will defend me.”
As indicative of what he expects to be his fate, Creffield called County Jailer Grafton up to the bars in front of his cell yesterday and asked him all about the penitentiary at Salem. He wanted to know whether preachers were permitted to visit convicts and if Bibles and religious tracts were allowed in their hands. He asked a large number of other questions.
“What do you want to know all this for?” queried the jailer. “Do you expect to go there?”
“Well, if God so wills it, I suppose I must accept my fate,” said the apostle.
Corvallis Times 9/10/1904 p4
--After a visit of several weeks with O. V. Hurt, her brother, Miss Mary Hurt left Monday for her home in Indiana. She was accompanied as far as Portland by Mr. Hurt, who returned home via Salem Tuesday evening.
Oregon Sunday Journal (Portland) 9/11/1904 p1
Promotes Himself From Plain Elijah
(Special Dispatch by Leased Wire to the Journal.)
Waukegan, Ill., Sept. 10.--John Alexander Dowie announces in today’s issue of his paper, “Leave of Healing,” that on Sunday, Sept. 18 he will promote himself from plain Elijah, the prophet, to the position of the first apostle. He will be “John Alexander, the First Apostle of the Christian Catholic and Apostolic Church in Zion and Elijah, the Prophet of the Restitution of all things.” He makes this advance because he believes that God is with him in his successful work, and that it is stated in the Bible in First Corinthians, 12:28; it reads; “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers.”
In organizing the Christian church, Dowie posed as a preacher. Meeting with success, he on June 2, 1901, advanced to the position of prophet, taking the name of Elijah the Restorer. Now he will declare himself as the divinely commissioned apostle of the Christian Catholic and Apostolic church in Zion, with authority to ordain eleven other apostles when and where God may direct.
Evening Telegram (Portland) Thu 9/15/1904
Thinks Dowie Real Prophet
Former Stenographer of Zionist in Local Office. Tells of Personality and Labors of So-Called “Elijah”.
Believing that he is not a reincarnation of the prophet Elijah, but that he is divinely appointed to do a work similar to that of Elijah in restoring the faith to its pristine purity, is the estimate put upon Dr. Alexander Dowie of Zion City, by Charles Beckman passenger agent of the Northwestern in this city.
Mr. Beckman had every opportunity to form a careful estimate of Dowie, about whom so much criticism has been heard during past years, for he was the alleged prophet’s private stenographer for 13 months. He was with Dowie when he took his journey to New York in 1898 (??) and was a dweller in Zion City for a long time. He handled Dowie’s private correspondence, and was in a position to know for certain whether the avowed prophet was dealing justly with his people or whether he was as claimed by some newspapers a monumental fake whose patriarchal rule was grounded on the superstitions of the thousands of people who are known as Zionists.
Mr. Beckman is a member of the Zionist church in this city, of which he says there are about 40 members. On his coat he wars a shield-shaped emblem, at the top of which the dove of peace flies with outstretched wings. At the bottom, on a white pyramid, is the word “Zion”.
Members of the church meet every Sunday in the Alaska Building, and during the week they meet for prayer and discussion in the homes of the members about the city. There are three meetings held weekly. One-tenth of all they earn is sent to Zion City each month, where it goes to help the poor and other churches about the country whose people may not be so prosperous as are the Portland members.
THEIR CHARITY IS RETIRING
Their method of helping a needy brother of the church is lacking in the ostentation sometimes attendant upon the work of other denominations, and the needy Zionist escapes all the ignominy of charity.
They believe that while there is such a thing as sickness, its cure is found in prayer and not in medicine. They do not hold that Dowie as a man can heal anyone, but that through prayer he has the power ascribed to the earlier prophets, although perhaps in a lesser degree.
When one of the members of the church falls sick a petition is sent to the prophet at Zion City, and the faithful pray for his restoration. They claim that this is invariably the means of bringing them back to health. In all things the members of the Dowie faith believe in taking a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. Their elders are said not to depend upon the church they serve fore their pay, but get their salaries from the head of the church in Zion City. In this way, they allege, the priest is not compelled to favor any members of his flock who are not doing right, even though the offenders may be the richest ones in his church.
DOWIE IS A LOVABLE MAN
Dr. Dowie’s personality, says Mr. Beckman, is a lovable one. Of great powers of endurance, he often works for several days at a time without sleep, thus requiring several stenographers, as none of his secretaries has been able to equal him in endurance. He always works from early morning, until late at night. In his rooms are great numbers of books, and Dowie is a master of several languages, besides having a very fine education.
He is captain of industry in that he directs many large enterprises at Zion City, consisting of lace works and other large manufactures. Zion City itself is said to be only little more than two years old, yet it is now a model city of 10,000 inhabitants. all over the world there are converts to Dowieism, and there is hardly a hamlet in the whole Willamette Valley from which there does not go each month the tithe to Zion’s prophet.