January 31, 1909


Reviews the Killing of Policemen
and Asks Permission to Locate
Followers on Govern-
ment Lands.

"Adam God" wants to make a covenant. Since December 10 the bearer of this title, whose real name is James Sharp, has been in the county jail awaiting trial on a charge of murder. It was his band of fanatics that participated in the city hall riot nearly two months ago.

Now, after thinking matters over, Sharp is prepared to forgive anybody who may have wronged him, provided everybody forgives him. He is ready to take his followers and with them colonize vacant government land, to live there annoyed by no one and annoying nobody.

The offer of Sharp is contained in a letter which he mailed Friday to the judge of the criminal court. Judge Ralph S. Latshaw received it yesterday. The entire document is unique, considering only its import and not the grotesque manner in which Sharp treated the English language.


A number of versions of the riot are given by Sharp. Once he says "they began to shoot at me and I became absent-minded." That was just before he began to fire. In another place he says that he now knows why he was "shooting straight up in the air." Again he writes that he does not remember "shooting up in the air," and calls the whole riot a "foolish dream." Still in another place he says he acted in his "blindness."

Sharp also denies the right of officers in Kansas City to interfere with the children of his band. He says he is not a resident of the city, county or state, but that his home was on "government waters." This refers to the habit held by his band of traveling on a houseboat on the Missouri.

The letter, stripped of grammatical and orthographical errors, as nearly as possible, is as follows:


"I wish to make a covenant of peace with my brethren, as I am heartily sorry of the affair that has happened. As to my part, I have not killed anybody, neither can they prove that I have. I have been honest before God and man in my faith. I did not carry guns to do evil with, but to defend myself. If I carried a gun to defend myself in doing evil deeds, it would be altogether different -- and the Humane Society officer that came to take our children away from us, he came contrary to the laws of the land, because I was a non-citizen of this city, or county, or state. My home was on government waters, traveling doing the work of evangelistic preaching of the Bible. We were paying our way, asking for nothing. We did not take up any collections, nor tell people that we were even in need of anything, and the police told us we could preach along Fourth and Main streets, or about there, any time we wanted to.

"The police had moved us from other places where the Salvation Army would hold their meetings, and we moved without a word. We had done all we could to get along with the officers and do the will of the good Lord. We have been misused and mistreated in different places, contrary to the law. When an officer of the law breaks the law to persecute you, he is not an officer of the law, but a violator of the law. When the riot started a man dressed in citizens' clothes did not say, "Consider yourselves under arrest," neither did he say he was an officer. He pointed a gun in my face and at that my partner -- which was Louis Pratt that got killed -- he shot him, and then they began to shoot at me, and I became absent minded. There were two of my friends killed, and the greater sin is for those who were against me. So the covenant that I wish to make is this:


"That I will quit street preaching and stop my followers from street preaching and colonize them in a colony to ourselves. There are lots of government lands in the West to be taken as homesteads. As we are a strange people, but we can't help it. We are of your brethren chosen out from you. We are a working people, do not believe in harming anyone. We mean to do good. So if we can make a covenant of this kind we would like to do it. And if the Lord don't send signs of approval the faith will come to naught as all false prophets do. And if I am a prophet that God has sent He will prove me as He has proved all prophets that He has sent. So if we can live in quietness it looks like it would be much better. As for me I am done fighting with instruments that men have made. What I have done was done in my blindness. As it is written, 'who is blind but my messenger that I have sent.'

"So I will heartily forgive my enemies for their mistake if they will forgive me for my mistake. Though I meant no harm, I broke the peace, as they well know.


"Well, I hope and trust to the Lord you will ponder this over in your heart and judge with righteous judgement. Since I have been in prison I have seen why I was shooting straight up in the air. It was because the Lord did not want me to be a bloody man. Although I don't remember shooting up in the air. The whole thing was like a foolish dream that a man could not remember. If we made a covenant of peace through righteous counsel then the Lord will be with us. We are all brethren here; can't help being here. We are born, not at our will. So if we can't forgive one another in a case of this kind, how can God forgive us? If you can see where I have done evil, it would be a different matter. If a man wants to be a Methodist, or a Baptist, or a Catholic, let him alone. Don't prosecute him on account of his belief; that is my motto. The Lord has asked me to write this letter, asking a covenant to be made with my brethren. Then their blood will not be required at my hands. I don't know the lot that the Lord has laid out for me, but that which the Lord shows me I am required to show to my brethren.

"Well, I will close, hoping and trusting that my enemies will become my friends, as I am willing to become their friend. May the Lord be with you. Amen. -- JAMES SHARP."

Accompanying the letter is a note, a sort of preface to the longer epistle. It makes an attack on a witness who testified at the coroner's inquest.

As the judge who probably will preside at the trial of Sharp and Melissa Sharp, his wife, Judge Latshaw will, of course, take no official cognizance of the letter. The Sharps will be arraigned in the criminal court, probably this week, on new informations which have been prepared since the first arraignment. Both will be charged with murder in the first degree.

In jail, Sharp and his wife are model prisoners. They spend much time reading the Bible, finding in it, so they say, passages to back up their strange doctrines of things spiritual.