Adam God (evangelist)

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Adam God
Alias(es) Adam God, "Elijah II"[1], David, the Fifth Angel of Revelation, etc.
Born James Sharp
12 January 1857(1857-01-12)
Lebanon, Missouri
Died 8 March 1946 (89) [2]
Joplin, Missouri
Nationality American
Known for "Adam God" Riot (1908)
Spouse(s) Melissa Sharp

James Sharp (January 12, 1857 - March 8, 1946), more commonly known as "Adam God", was an American street evangelist, prosecuted and convicted for murders committed during the "Adam God" Riot at Kansas City, Missouri in 1908.

Background

Sharp was born near Lebanon, Missouri, the son of Charles Sharp and Eliza Kirsey. In his court testimonial of 1909, Sharp said he had, beginning at age fourteen, made his living as a short card gambler,[3] plying his trade across the west, including runs up the Mississippi River aboard casino steamboats. At the age of thirty, Sharp married Melissa Frances Roper, then seventeen, and the couple settled in Arkansas, raising a small family together.

In the first years of the twentieth century, having given up his hustling career, and by then in his mid-forties, Sharp relocated with his family to a land claim in the Oklahoma Territory near Woodward.[4]

Sharp's Ministry

The conversion of James Sharp, according to his own testimony, began with a meteor (falling star) crash-landing on or near his claim. This, it seemed to Sharp, was a sign from heaven, and he devoted himself for some days after to fervent prayer, fasting, and repentance, eventually coming to the conclusion that he had been called to become a prophetic messenger of God. His wife joined him in these religious devotions, and she was soon likewise convinced of this revelation.[5]

For an unspecified time after their initial conversion, the Sharp family remained on their claim, taking their faith to the streets of Woodward from the back of their "Gospel Wagon".[6] They would eventually sell the land, along with most of their possessions, and take their preaching out into the world.

Oklahoma City (1905-'06)

At Oklahoma City, the Sharps were introduced to John Aitken, a young Scottish-born evangelist, and quickly joined his cause. This propitious meeting of minds gave rise to a new revelation: Aitken claimed himself to be God Almighty, and found that James was his Adam, Melissa Eve, and their son, Lee Sharp, Jesus Christ. So it went that, in mid-April 1905, the foursome took to the city streets, marching in the nude, while Aikten loudly proclaimed his divinity, declaring that he and the Sharps would be killed, lay in state for three days and nights, and then be resurrected, upon which occurrence some seven-thousand inhabitants of the city would be killed in a great earthquake. The local police promptly took them into custody; Aitken was pronounced insane and sentenced to the Norman Asylum, while the Sharps were remanded to county jail, the authorities supposing they had been subject to "hypnotic influence."[7]

After their release following a month-long incarceration, the Sharps resumed in their public preaching, laying out their doctrine of a renewed Eden, led by Father Adam and Mother Eve, now free from original sin. The family took their message through the countryside around Oklahoma City, gradually attracting a small following to their cause, including Lewis Pratt and his family, Homer Comer, and others. This group - who called themselves Adamites - were labelled by the local press as the "Holy Rollers" (styled, perhaps, after reports of Edmund Creffield's cult in Oregon).

Aitken himself was released from the asylum in July of 1906, and he soon joined the Sharps at their new camp.[8] The reunion seems to have caused such a great stirring that, within weeks, several members were arrested for disturbing the peace;[9] and while the charges were ultimately dismissed, the group resolved to leave the state, moving westward to Colorado.[10]

Colorado (1907)

Attempted Conversion of the Doukhobors (1908)

The "Adam God" Riot (1908)

Murder Trial (1909)

Release and Later Years

References

  1. "FATAL FRACAS WITH FANATICS - Spectacular Career of "Adam God" and His Band Ended With a Street Fight in Kansas City", Ocala Evening Star (Ocala, Fl.): 4, 10 December 1908, http://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/UF/00/07/59/08/01022/0635.pdf 
  2. "Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV24-9914 : 13 December 2015), James Sharp, 1946; Burial, Joplin, Newton, Missouri, United States of America, Osborne Memorial Cemetery; citing record ID 63338392, Find a Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=63338392.
  3. "JAMES SHARP TELLS A RAMBLING STORY. PREACHES ON WITNESS STAND BUT PASSES UP KILLING.", Kansas City Journal (Kansas City, Mo.): 1, 28 May 1909, http://www.vintagekansascity.com/100yearsago/labels/Adam%20God%20sect.html 
  4. "JAMES SHARP, "HOLY ROLLER," OF KANSAS CITY, ONCE "CUT UP" IN OKLAHOMA", Independence Daily Reporter (Independence, Kansas): 1, 11 December 1908, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/93522926/ 
  5. "METEOR A MESSENGER OF THE WRATH OF HEAVEN", The Tribune (Hicksville, Ohio): 3, 7 January 1909, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/35339902/ 
  6. Woodward Dispatch (Woodward, Ok.) 6 (8): 4, 21 April 1905, http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc407027/m1/4/ 
  7. "NAKED LUNATICS - Parade the Streets of Oklahoma City in Rage of Fanatical Frenzy", Chandler Daily Publicist (Chandler, Ok. Terr.) 4 (16): 1, 18 April 1905, http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc911917/m1/1, "They were all dressed under protest and arraigned before the insanity board. Aitken claimed to have received inspirations. He was ordered to the asylum. The others, over whom he has exercised hypnotic influence, were taken to county jail. Efforts will be made to restore them to an approximately sane condition." 
  8. "HOLY ROLLERS SINCERE - Claim Their Faith is Inspired by God", Oklahoma State Capital (Guthrie, Ok.) 18 (92): 1, 10 August 1906, http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc126245/m1/1/ 
  9. "HOLY ROLLERS IN TROUBLE. They Are Arrested For Lewd Conduct and Disturbing Peace of Neighbors.", Norman Transcript (Norman, Ok.) 17 (17): 1, 16 August 1906, http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc138051/m1/1/ 
  10. Norman Transcript (Norman, Ok.) 17 (42): 5, 23 August 1906, http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc138057/m1/5/,+"The suit against John Sharp and his band of 'Holy Rollers' was dismissed in Oklahoma City, Monday, and on Tuesday he and his gang of men, women, children, and dogs left for the west. They go to Colorado to locate a Garden of Eden."