Who is Thomas Hunton Swope?
September 05, 2012
My husband and I like to go to Swope Park to go to the zoo. Many folks love to picnic there, golf, and attend shows at Starlight. At 1,805 acres, it is one of the largest urban parks in the United States.
Thomas Hunton Swope donated 1,334 acres to Kansas City to be used as a park. The city acquired other properties to make it the current size. Thomas Swope is buried in a vault on the park property.
Thomas Swope, known as "Colonel" Swope (an honorary title, not from any military service) was born in Kentucky. He worked his way west until he settled in Kansas City in 1857. He dealt in real estate and eventually became the largest individual land owner in the city.
Swope’s sudden illness and death and the subsequent illnesses and deaths of his cousin and nephew after being attended to by Swope’s niece’s husband, Dr. Bennet Clark Hyde, caused Dr. Hyde to be charged with their murders. He was accused of using strychnine poison. His motive (according to prosecuting attorney James A. Reed) was greed. Swope was thinking of changing his will, and Dr. Hyde and his wife might get less (or even none) of Swope’s assets worth three and a half million.
After seven years and three trials, Hyde was released. He had been convicted in one trial, but his conviction was overturned by a higher court.
You can read all about it in the book Deaths on Pleasant Street by Giles Fowler.
Blue Ridge Branch