Adam God (evangelist)
|Alias(es)||Adam God, "Elijah II", David, the Fifth Angel of Revelation, etc.|
12 January 1857
|Died||8 March 1946 (89) |
|Known for||"Adam God" Riot (1908)|
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.
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, 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.
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.
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". 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."
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. The reunion seems to have caused such a great stirring that, within weeks, several members were arrested for disturbing the peace; and while the charges were ultimately dismissed, the group resolved to leave the state, moving westward to Colorado.
- "I Shall Dress Only in Fig Leaf as I did in the Garden of Eden", Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Ind.): 55, 10 February 1907, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/118683603/
Attempted Conversion of the Doukhobors (1908)
- Barry, Bill, The Adamite Invasion, virtualsk.com, http://www.virtualsk.com/current_issue/adamite.html
- Johnson, Gilbert (1970), "The Adamites", Saskatchewan History 23 (2): 70-74
- "Appendix C. Annual Report of Superintendent G. E. Sanders, D.S.O., Regina", Sessional Papers, First Session of the Eleventh Parliament of the Dominion of Canada, Session 1909, 16, 1909, p. 42-43, https://archive.org/details/n16sessionalpaper43canauoft — [official Canadian government report on the Adamite incursion into Canada.]
The "Adam God" Riot (1908)
- "RIOT OF FANATICS CAUSES 2 DEATHS. Five Other Persons Wounded, Two Fatally, When Kansas City Police Fight Religious Band.", Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Il.) 67 (295), 9 December 1908, http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1908/12/09/page/1/article/riot-of-fanatics-causes-2-deaths
- "OFFICERS HAVE BLOODY BATTLE WITH FANATICS - RELIGIOUS RIOT IN KANSAS CITY FATAL TO FOUR - OVER 100 SHOTS EXCHANGED NEAR CITY HALL", Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, Ca.) 36 (69): 1, 9 December 1908, https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=LAH19081209.2.10
- "FATAL FRACAS WITH FANATICS - Spectacular Careeor 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
- "'ADAM GOD' CAPTURED. Found Sleeping Under Haystack — The Fanatic Pratt and Policeman Dead.", New York Times (New York, NY), 11 December 1908
- ""Adam God" and Wife Held on Murder Charge", Topeka Daily Capital (Topeka, Ka.): 1, 13 December 1908, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/64172368/
Murder Trial (1909)
- "SLAYER DENOUNCES PRISON EVANGELIST - RIOT LEADER SAYS MINISTER ABUSED HIM - James Sharp, Fanatic on Trial at Kansas City, Makes Charges Which Prove to Be Unfounded", Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, Ca.) 36 (238), 27 May 1909, https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=LAH19090527.2.74
- "'ADAM GOD' GUILTY OF MURDER", Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Il.): 69, 30 May 1909, http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1909/05/30/page/69/article/adam-god-guilty-of-murder
- "RELIGIOUS FANATIC RELIEVES THE LORD OF RESPONSIBILITY - 'Adam God,' Who Led Riot in Which Five Were Killed, New Admits That He Was Mistaken", Weekly Courier (Fort Collins, Co.) 31 (28), 9 December 1908, https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/cgi-bin/colorado?a=d&d=TWC19081209.2.135
- "THE INSANITY OF IDEATION", Oklahoma State Register (Guthrie, Ok.) 17 (41): 4, 17 December 1908, http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc112628/m1/4/, ""I am no longer 'Adam God.' I'm just plain James Sharp." This was the statement of James Sharp, leader of the religious fanatics, whose fearful hallucination ended in the bloody battle in Kansas City. "A long time ago I followed a man named Green who told me he was Jesus Christ and that I was his son. We traveled through Oklahoma together, studying deeply the Bible. The more I studied the more I came to know that I was the son of God. Then I believed that all persons who opposed me were enemies of the Creator.""
- "ADAM GOD IS BEING TRIED - DEPOSITION BEING TAKEN IN OKLAHOMA CITY TO PROVE INSANITY - Religious Fanatics Startled Oklahoma by Nude Procession and Then Tried Hard at Ridding Earth of Devil's Chosen in Kansas City", Weekly Oklahoma State Capital (Guthrie, Ok.) 21 (7): 1, 22 May 1909, http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metapth352928/m1/1/
- "'ADAM GOD' GETS 25 YEARS IN STATE PRISON - He Killed a Kansas City Policeman in a Religious Riot", Norwich Bulletin (Norwich, Ct.) 51 (128): 1, 31 May 1909, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1909-05-31/ed-1/seq-1.pdf
- "MELISSA SHARP RELEASED", Arkansas City Daily Traveler (Arkansas City, Kansas): 3, 2 November 1909, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/53466878/
Release and Later Years
- "After 45 Trying Years, Missouri Woman Is Still Loyal to Her Husband", Indian Journal (Eufaula, Ok): 7, 11 June 1931, https://newspaperarchive.com/us/Oklahoma/Eufaula/Eufaula-Indian-Journal/clippings/Advertisement/140607/
- "'Adam God' Dies After Dancing Jig At Age 89", Gaffney Ledger (Gaffney, South Carolina): 1, 12 March 1946, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/78033379/, "James Sharp, self-styled "Adam God" who said he would never die and who once led a fanatics' riot in which five persons were killed, succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 89, after doing a jig yesterday to prove his "youth." Sharp, who professed a hatred for the law and its officers, led the famous "Adam God" riot in Kansas City in 1908. He had lived in virtual seclusion at Joplin since his release from the Missouri Penitentiary in 1923."
- "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
- "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.
- "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
- "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/
- "METEOR A MESSENGER OF THE WRATH OF HEAVEN", The Tribune (Hicksville, Ohio): 3, 7 January 1909, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/35339902/
- Woodward Dispatch (Woodward, Ok.) 6 (8): 4, 21 April 1905, http://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc407027/m1/4/
- "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."
- "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/
- "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/
- 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."