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 3, 1906: Creffield In Fear Of His Life


Lewis HartleyMorning 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.


George Mitchell
Jason Haines as George Mitchell



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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