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 1, 1906: Creffield Takes Credit for The San Francisco Earthquake


Holy RollersOregon Daily Journal (Portland) 5/1/1906 p8

Mrs. Starr Walks To Holy Roller Camp


(Special Dispatch to The Journal.)

Corvallis, Or., May 1.-- A telephone message this morning from Alsea states that Mrs. Bert Starr, who left her husband and three children in Portland Saturday night, was seen passing through Alsea afoot today en route to the Holy Roller camp. She was in Corvallis Sunday.



Corvallis Times 5/1/1906 p2

Camp Given Up


Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/2/1906 p6

Rollers Run Out

Creffield Said to Have Disappeared--Followers Leaving Waldport.

Lincoln Ranchers hostile to Creffield’s Followers. Denied Food Supplies. Ex-convict Leader Disappears, and Mrs. Starr, of Portland, Travels Thirty Miles Afoot From Camp by the Sea.


There are signs that the Creffield camping proposition at Waldport has miscarried. Two of those who started for the rendezvous recently arrived in Corvallis yesterday, and a third passed out to Albany on today’s train. Creffield himself, is said to have been two or three days at the camp and he then disappeared and has not since been seen. The belief is that all the others will within a short time, return to their homes, and that Creffield will go elsewhere to carry out his devilish enterprise.


People familiar with the situation are convinced that the residents of the vicinity of the camp turned out to be hostile to the undertaking, and through fear of bodily harm, Creffield abandoned his plans. Mrs. Starr who deserted a seven months baby and another small child in Portland Saturday to join the party is said to be in Alsea. She arrived here Sunday and is supposed to have traveled most of the way to Alsea on foot. A story of her desertion of her home and children appears in last night’s Portland Journal.


Creffield tells his dupes now that he cursed San Francisco and that is why the western metropolis is in ruins, and that he has a similar curse on Portland and Corvallis. San Fancisco Earthquake


Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/2/1906 p4

“Holy Rollers” Scatter From Secret Assembly

Fanatic Leader Assumes Title of ‘Christ.’ Gathers Followers and Arouses the Citizens. Creffield’s Wife Is In Portland, Husband Hiding.


[Telegram Coast Special.]

ALBANY, Or., May 2.--Terrified by rumors of a threatened raid, the Holy ?Rollers have abandoned their camp near Waldport, Lincoln County, and are scattering in all directions. All the followers of Edmund Creffield have taken separate routes, but it is supposed they have planned to meet in some new rendezvous.


Men from Corvallis whose relatives have been enticed the second time into the lawless fanatical band, are eagerly searching for the “apostle,” and is it generally believed in this part of the state that stern punishment will follow if he is captured. Some predict lynching. “Rollers are being constantly followed in the hope that they are going to a new camp and that Creffield thus will be located.


Mrs. Maud Hurt-Creffield, wife of the leader of the fanatics, spent yesterday afternoon in Albany, and went to Portland last evening. She came from Yaquina at noon, intending to take the afternoon train for Portland. It was late and she did not leave the city until 7 o’clock last evening.


It was learned from meager information she gave out in several attempts which were made to converse with her that the Waldport camp, founded a few weeks ago to renew the old shocking rites and ceremonies of Creffieldism, was abandoned last Sunday. She admitted that almost all of those at the place had left, but would not intimate where they had gone. She also refused to tell where she was going, but she bought a ticket for Portland.


She was closely shadowed all the time she was in this city by a young man from Corvallis named Mitchell. His sister is in the band the “apostle” gathered at Waldport. He watched Mrs. Creffield get aboard the train, then swung on the car behind that in which she was sitting. Mitchell did not prove a very good sleuth, however for Mrs. Creffield noted his constant attendance, and having formerly known the boy in Corvallis, realized she was being watched. She intimated as much in her conversation.


“Where is Creffield?” she was asked pointblank, after other attempts to gain information failed.

“Oh, he’s over there yet,” she said.

“He stayed at the camp, did he?”

“No, he’s not right there,” was the vague answer, and the wife of the “Modern Joshua” smiled.


It was rumored Creffield had come from the coast on the Corvallis & Eastern train Sunday, and fearing to come through Corvallis had left the train at Blodgett station. He is thought to have struck off southward intending to walk to Junction City, Harrisburg or some other point between Albany and Eugene, and there take a northbound train.


Thinking that Creffield might meet his wife on the train two other Corvallis men made a thorough search when the train, but she was not aboard.


It is stated that Mr. Hartley of Corvallis whose wife and daughter have been induced to desert him the second time to join the Holy Roller band, is determined to find the “apostle” and that her is working with others whose homes were wrecked in the first outbreak of the frenzy, among whom are many men of Corvallis, where the first outbreak of the strange fanaticism occurred, and from which city most of Creffield’s followers came.


If the apostle should fall into the hands of these men it is believed he would receive little mercy. Though violence might not be resorted to, all are anxious to effect his capture so that the courts, at least, could attend to his case a second time.


Three years ago, Creffield succeeded in getting a large company of men and women so completely in his power that they performed rites and strange ceremonies which astounded not only this state, but the nation. It was one of the marvels of religious fanaticism. His second attempt has apparently failed. It has been “nipped in the bud.”


The self styled apostle established his cam in the woods near Waldport, as nearly as can be learned, about a month ago. He selected this place in the hope that he and his followers would not be molested. Waldport is on Alsea Bay, and lies in an isolated region, and the Holy Roller camp was in a secluded valley between two hills.


Creffield gathered his followers with great secrecy. As soon as he was liberated from the State Penitentiary where he had served for two years for illicit relations with one of his followers, he evidently began work. He did not send letters directly to former victims in Corvallis for fear of arousing suspicion, but is believed to have sent word through friends in Oregon City. When all was ready he sent word to those where were again in his mysterious power to go to Waldport.


There his followers gathered. It is known that there were at least seven people there. There may have been more. Those known to have been at the camp were Creffield and wife, Frank Hurt and wife, Mrs. Hartley and daughter and the Mitchell girl. It is said others were on their way to the headquarters of Rollerism when the camp was abandoned.


Newspaper stories are said to have shown Creffield that the location of his supposed secret camp was known and friends in the Willamette Valley are believed to have sent him word.


Three years ago Creffield had his followers in such a frenzied state of mind that most of them were sent to the State Insane Asylum.


Mrs. Creffield was Miss Maud Hurt. All her family were in Creffield’s first camp. She married Creffield in Albany, the two, with Frank Hurt and his wife having driven to this city the day after Creffield was tarred and feathered by a wronged and indignant body of men in Corvallis. When her husband was sent to the penitentiary she was sent to the asylum with other victims of the “apostle’s” teachings. She was later discharged as cured of her fancies, but Creffield was not at liberty long before she was again in his power, and she appears to take pride in speaking of him as “my husband.”


Creffield is said to call himself “Christ.” He says he has risen from the dead to again lead the faithful. The two years he spent in the Oregon (rest of article is cut off)




Oregon Daily Journal (Portland) Wed 5/2/1906 p4 San Fancisco Earthquake

Creffield Poses As Jeremiah

Holy Roller Claims to Have Brought on the Earthquake at San Francisco. Condemns Corvallis To A Similar Fate. Disciples Testify That They Obeyed the Order of the Lord in Flocking to the Coast--Leader Claims to Be the Holy Ghost.


(Journal Special Service.)

Corvallis, Or., May 2.--”Creffield is Jesus Christ; he condemned the city of San Francisco and brought the earthquake; he has condemned the city of Corvallis and an earthquake will destroy this place.”


Such, in substance, is what Mrs. Lewis Hartley and her daughter, Miss Sophia, declared to Drs. Farra and Pernot and Judge Watters in an examination held for the purpose of determining whether the females are sane or insane. Complaints were lodged with the clerk, charging mental derangement of both Mrs. Hartley and her daughter, by W. C. Swann.





When questioned by the court as to why the old-time followers of Joshua Creffield assembled together at the coast a week ago, the witnesses stoutly declared that they had held no communication whatever with the fallen apostle, but that “God told them to board the train that day and go,” and they simply obeyed the command, as did all the other members of the faith who happened to go to the coast that day, when Mr. and Mrs. Creffield went to Yaquina.




When questioned why Joshua Creffield hired a team at Airlie and drove through to Wren station, instead of passing through Corvallis on the train en route to the coast, the witnesses stated that “Creffield, who is the Holy Ghost, has condemned Corvallis, and he never returns to a city that he has condemned.”

Perhaps the memory of a warm coat of tar and feathers applied by Corvallis citizens one fine night something over two years ago may have decided Joshua to travel by private conveyance.




It was stated by the witnesses examined that the Holy Rollers in camp on Ten Mile Creek, below Waldport, are simply awaiting the commands of God, and that they will be governed accordingly.


When asked if they obeyed Creffield in all things, they replied that they first took the matter to God in prayer, and that Creffield’s orders had always proven to be the desire of God--all of which is sufficient proof to them that he is the Christ.

Aside from this mania Mrs. Hartley and daughter answer all questions with perfect intelligence. They were brought home from the coast by the husband and father, Lewis Hartley, who is a highly respected resident of this city.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/3/1906 p6

In Fear Of His Life

Holy Roller Creffield Disappears From View

All Trains Are Searched. Despoiler of Homes May Be Roughly Handled if He Falls Into the Hands of Some of the Irate Husbands.


ALBANY, May 2.--(Special.)--The wrath of deserted husbands caused Creffield and his Holy Roller followers to scatter from their late rendezvous near Waldport, in Lincoln County. Mrs. Maud Creffield, wife of the “Apostle” and daughter of O. V Hurt, a prominent citizen of Corvallis, was in Albany last evening on the way to Portland. She seemed to have fully recovered from her recent mental trouble that caused her confinement in the state insane asylum. While her mind seems right, she declares her intention of remaining with Creffield.


When the Creffield's went to their camping ground on the coast, they were immediately followed by many of the women of Benton County, who had been under the spell of the “prophet,” and the orgies of the Holy Rollers were reported to have begun again. People in Benton County became aroused and heads of families that were broken up by the teachings and practices of Creffield began talking ominously. Some gun play was indulged in by irate fathers and husbands, who followed Creffield to Waldport and Creffield found things too hot for him.


When Mrs. Creffield appeared in Albany, she was trailed by a number of Corvallis men, who were seeking through her to ascertain the whereabouts of her husband. Last Sunday information was sent from the bay that Creffield had departed from his camp, and the Holy Rollers were dispersed. The head of the new organization was said to have headed for Junction City. When Mrs. Creffield appeared on the way to Portland, it was immediately suspected that the prophet was headed for Junction City for the purpose of boarding the train there, joining his wife in Albany, and thence go to Portland.


Last night every train, freighter or passenger, that passed through Albany from the south was watched by a number of Corvallis men, who were seeking the religious fanatic and despoiler of homes. Just what was in store for Creffield is not known, for he failed to show up, although every freight train was searched thoroughly. That he is wanted by justly indignant men seems to be a fact will known to the chief Holy Roller for when he left the seaside camp he went alone and by a route unknown to his followers, and has studiously avoided Benton County, where he is wanted.


By some unaccountable power, Creffield holds a terrible influence over his followers. In the last gathering of the Holy Roller clan were women who left pleasant homes and infant children to the care of strangers.  Men have become desperate in their indignation, and those who were seeking Creffield last evening were terribly in earnest. Reports have reached Albany of one attempt by a wronged husband to kill the apostle at Waldport, whither the apostle had been followed.



Morning Oregonian (Portland) 5/3/1906 p8

Creffield, the Holy Roller, is accumulating another stock of lunatics who sooner or later will have to be taken care of by the state. The capture and care of his misguided followers cost the state several thousand dollars two years ago, and from the start he is making, it is not improbable that there will be another big bill of expense to foot in the near future. The husbands or brothers of these misguided women who run after this fakir seems to have something lacking in their make-up, or the Holy Roller would long have been given a treatment which would have prevented him from carrying out a portion of the religious rite which he is accused of practicing on his victims.




Corvallis Gazette 1906 p1

Newberg Graphic 5/3/1906 p5

Mrs. B. E. Starr, of East Portland, who will be remembered in this neighborhood as Donnie Mitchell, daughter of Charley Mitchell, deserted her husband Saturday night and departed to join her “spiritual love,” who is none other than the notorious Joshua Creffield, apostle of the Holy Rollers, who in February finished serving a two year term in the state penitentiary for his licentious practices carried on in the guise of extreme holiness. Since his release from imprisonment he has gathered a few followers about him away out in Lincoln county where he is reported to be carrying on very much as of yore. Mrs. Starr is said to have fallen under the influence of Creffield three years ago, when the Rolling prophet was playing havoc with weak minded women, and had remarked to her husband recently that she still had a spiritual love for him. She left in the night, taking what money she could find in Mr. Starr’s pockets. She left a note to her husband saying she did not disturb him for fear the children would cry, adding that, “He said that Christ will take care of them.” “He” refers to Creffield. The Starrs have three little children, the youngest a seven months old babe which Mr. Starr’s mother has taken. Mrs. G. W. Mitchell went down from here Tuesday morning and in the evening brought back the two pretty little girls, aged five and three years, to whom they will give a home.


Yaquina Bay News (Newport, OR) 5/3/1906 p3

Hartley, the Corvallis man, who was over here last week gunning for the “Holy Roller Creffield” succeeded in getting his wife and daughter to return home with him. Mrs. Creffield has gone to Portland, it is reported, to gather in recruits for the Holy Roller colony.



Lincoln County Leader (Toledo, OR) 5/4/1906 p1

--Waldport has been having for a couple of weeks some distinguished visitors.--Holy Rollers. Quite a number are camped just below town.


--Word came from Waldport that Creffield, the chief inkydink of the Rolly Holers (sic), has gone back to the valley via the south end route, presumably after recruits. There is said to be quite a bunch of these bad actors in the south end of Lincoln County.


Corvallis Gazette 5/4/1906 p3

O. V. Hurt spent Sunday in Portland



Evening Telegram (Portland) 5/7/1906 p3

Creffield Seen in Linn County


ALBANY, Or., May 7.--A report has reached Albany that Creffield, leader of the Holy Rollers, is in hiding in the mountains of Eastern Linn County, near the town of Crawfordsville. there is no warrant out for the “prophet,” but an investigation has been started to learn the truth of the rumor, at the instigation of Corvallis men who are willing to pay a reward for authentic information in regard to Creffield’s whereabouts. The report did not state with whom Creffield was staying, but says that he was seen near Crawfordsville recently by a man who knows him, and that he was alone. Sheriff Burnett of Corvallis is investigating the report this morning.

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