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.

March 22, 1905: Prison Life Of Joshua Creffield



Evening Telegram (Portland) 3/22/05 p4

Prison Life Of Joshua Creffield

Holy Roller Leader A Faithful Workman.

Corvallis Gazette Fri 3/24/05 p5

His Prison Life


Silent in mien but unbroken in spirit and apparently unshaken in religious belief, Joshua Creffield, erstwhile chieftain of the Holy Rollers, takes life merely as a matter of course in the penitentiary, goes about his daily work cheerfully and uncomplainingly and attends strictly to his own business. It does not seem to matter much to him whether his band of followers have undergone a change of heart and mind, or that his young wife has renounced him and returned to things of a more worldly nature, for he asks no questions, betrays no thought or feeling in the matter and keeps his own council as to matters religious and otherwise.


Creffield, who is serving a two-year sentence for adultery, is employed in the tin shop and is a faithful workman. He enjoys the best of health, his appetite is good, he sleeps well and is gradually growing fleshy. He pays no attention to his surroundings and has nothing to say to guards, foreman or fellow convicts, except as pertains to work he is performing. He carefully avoids being drawn into conversations regarding his past or what he intends doing when he secures his release; neither has he any confidants among the prisoners, so little is known as to his state of mind or feelings as to his present predicament. If he feels any degree of disgrace or humiliation he does not betray it.


Creffield has never caused any trouble since he has been in the prison, and makes no attempt whatever to convert the other convicts to his belief, if he still maintains it. Several people have called at the prison to see him, yet while he will not refuse to see them, he declines to discuss anything pertaining to his past, present or future in a religious sense or otherwise. When told that his wife was no longer a believer in the faith he betrayed no feeling of surprise.




All the followers of Creffield’s Holy Rollerism have left the Asylum, discharged as cured, and have returned to the life of quiet and contentment they enjoyed before he appeared among them to work their minds into a religious frenzy. Mrs. Creffield, formerly Miss Hurt, left the Asylum after a serious illness, which was in the nature of a hysterical trance. After she recovered from this spell, she promised to go home. Mrs. O. V. Hurt, Attie Bray, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hurt and Rose Seeley were among the first to renounce their fanatic faith and take their departure homeward, but Sophia Hartley fought it out for about two weeks after the last of the others had left.


The Asylum physicians are convinced that Miss Hartley’s religious professions were wholly affected from her manner of conduct. Up to the morning she decided to give Holy Rollerism up, she was a raving, shouting Holy Roller. When told she was the only one of the band remaining, she thought they were trying to hoodwink her.




She did not desist in her fanatical protestations until Mrs. Creffield called at the Asylum to pay her a visit. As soon as she saw Mrs. Creffield looking very nice in a neat traveling suit, and that she had thrown off her curious religious belief, she underwent a very sudden change of manner, greeted her affectionately and signified her willingness to go home and be good. She was called for by her father a few days later. He purchased her a new outfit of clothing of the latest style and took her home with him. Reports to the Asylum indicate they are all doing well.

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