Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult
T. McCracken lives in Waldport, Oregon, where many of descendants of the people in this story are her friends and neighbors. She teaches natural history for Lane Community College and works as a naturalist on the Discovery, a ship that does sea life cruises out of Newport. She is also a cartoonist. Her work has appeared in hundreds of publications ranging from the Oregonian to the Saturday Evening Post. She first wrote about Edmund Creffield while working for the U. S. Forest Service compiling anecdotes about Northwest history.
Robert Blodgett is a resident of Corvallis, Oregon. He originally became aware of the Creffield story through conversations with several long-time Corvallis citizens. Subsequent research into the story led to several thousand hours spent staring at old newspapers on microfilm readers and many visits and much correspondence with numerous archives in the Pacific Northwest. Robert works as a paleontologist/stratigrapher unraveling the fossil and rock record of ancient western North America.
Edmund Creffield did not impress men. But women flocked to him. He called himself Elijah, and founded a love cult from which we still hear echoes today.
Creffield claimed to speak directly to God. Men mocked him. But Creffield's Brides of Christ listened and acted. It's an incredible story: religion, sex, mass insanity, the downfall of prominent families, murder, sensational court trials.
Edmund Creffield and his "Holy Roller" religious cult made headlines throughout the country in 1903.
The events ripped apart Oregon town -- Corvallis, Newport, Waldport and others.
The authors say even today some families won't talk about these shadows in their closets.
Creffield founded what he called "a new Eden," for he was "the new Christ."
Husbands whose wives and daughters left home to be with Creffield went gunning for him. Eventually one succeeded.
All the material used in the book comes from newspaper accounts and court records. So it's hard to dismiss this book as cheap fiction. No. It was real life in Oregon.
The Eastern Oregonian