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Deaths on Pleasant Street: The Ghastly Enigma of Colonel Swope and Doctor Hyde
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Deaths on Pleasant Street: The Ghastly Enigma of Colonel Swope and Doctor Hyde

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  224 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
The 1909 murder case surrounding the wealthy Swope family of Independence, Missouri, gripped newspaper readers throughout the nation. This book gathers the facts behind the suspicious fates of three Swope family members: the eccentric Colonel, millionaire donor of Kansas City, Missouri's Swope Park, his affable cousin, and a young nephew and heir. The mystery pits the Swop ...more
ebook, 264 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Truman State University Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Oct 08, 2015 Aligd848 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this to anybody interested in Kansas City history/mystery. Basically could not put it down once started. I have generally only found bits and pieces about this possible murder of a big name wealthy icon Swope) at the turn of the century (19th into 20th, after whom Swope Parkway and Swope Park are named, along with members of his family, by a young in-law doctor - apparently to try to control the order of inheritance. The story also interestingly tied into other prominent names ...more
Lisa Nocita
Fascinating glimpse of Kansas City history from 1910. I was as much intrigued by the description of the town as by the intrigue surrounding the deaths or murders of a prominent family. If the deaths were in fact murder, then Dr. Hyde was certainly a maniacal, calculating madman with an ingenious scheme that could have profited him tremendously. And his wife was more than a pretty face teeming with wifely devotion and ardor. I cannot help but think that she must have acted in cohort with her husb ...more
Sep 09, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This was a great book. It was so fascinating and my book club loved it. While we all agreed that he was guilty, I was out voted in my belief that Frances Hyde was duplicitous as well. I had a supporter or two but most of my club believed that she was just stupid and loyal. I am not sure. If she was such a good person, then why didn't she forgive her mother earlier. Anyway, that is just my opinion and it made for such a great discussion. Fowler really did a good job of presenting the case and the ...more
Sep 04, 2012 Mum rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The writing was jarringly inconsistent. I expected an even tone from a journalist, not a plethora of overly descriptive adjectives. Oh, no! It's influencing my writing style!!! Less melodrama would have been better. A straight forward telling in terms of events would have made the story clearer. Interesting material, poorly presented.
William Bibliomane
An entertaining and brisk journey through a largely forgotten chapter in local history for the Kansas City area. Was one of the city's most famous benefactors murdered by the grasping, money-hungry son-in-law of his sister? And what of the two other deaths in the palatial Swope home, and the seemingly unchecked outbreak of typhoid? Fowler's book, evidently the first ever to assemble the full story of this fascinating case from 1909, brings the past to life most convincingly. If as an author Fowl ...more
Sep 25, 2014 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating read. I couldn't put it down. It made me really interested in Kansas City history.
Jun 08, 2013 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery or true crime lovers
The Swope family in Independence, Missouri, was well-known. The grandfather, Colonel Swope, was a recluse philanthropist. He had given to many projects in Independence, including the land and money for a large park. The family was rich.
Frances Swope, his granddaughter, married Dr. Clark Hyde against her family's wishes, .
Colonel Swope's will designated that his money should be divided equally among his family. If one of them died, whatever was designated for him would be added to what the othe
Oct 18, 2009 Patty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true crime book with victims and criminals that I only had a vague hint of - which is a rarity for this true crime nut!

In 1909, when Colonel Thomas Swope dies and then others in his family start falling sick, with some dying as well, suspicion falls on a family doctor who also happens to be the son-in-law of the Colonel's daughter-in-law. Dr. Bennett Clark Hyde is eventually accused of killing the Colonel with strychnine, a nephew with the same weapon, a niece who comes close to dying and almo
Jun 08, 2010 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of the death of one of Kansas City's most generous benefactors, Colonel Swope. But it is not just the story of his death; there were several other Swope family members that met their demise, as well as a few more that were made violently ill. The common thread: Dr. Clark Hyde, the eldest Swope daughter's husband. He knew the old Colonel was about to change his will, essentially cutting Hyde's wife out of her share of the inheritance. Did Hyde do the unthinkable? Hmmmmm.... I li ...more
Eric Spannerman
Aug 04, 2016 Eric Spannerman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Part history, part crime thriller, this story kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I read it. Every time I thought the author had definitely fingered the murder, just enough contrary evidence appears to raise my skepticism to the level of "reasonable doubt."

Full disclosure: Giles Fowler was one of my instructors when I studied journalism at Iowa State University.
Apr 21, 2013 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A very entertaining and easy to read account of the 1909 murder case surrounding the wealthy Swope family of Independence, Missouri. If you live in Kansas City, Missouri, you know of Swope Park and the many attractions that it contains. Colonel Thomas Swope was a multi-millionaire who donated the land for the park. In 1909, there were a series of mysterious deaths in the Swope mansion, including his own. The suspected cause of the deaths was Dr. Bennett Clark Hyde, the son-in-law of the Colonel' ...more
Jo Ann
Jan 29, 2012 Jo Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the true story of a murder case, in 1909, in Independence, MO, involving the death of the milionaire donor of Kansas City's Swope Park, and members of his family. The case was "the trial of the century," in KC, and the author utilizes many newspaper accounts, court transcripts and testimonies, to depict what may have happened at the Swope mansion on Pleasant Street. Did Dr. Bennet Clark Hyde, the son-in-law of the mansion's matriarch, really stystematically kill 3 members of the family a ...more
Anna Francesca
Jul 24, 2012 Anna Francesca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This story fascinated me, and I found myself looking forward to reading more. I also went to the Kansas City Public Library's Missouri Valley Collection webpage to view places described. The photographs in the book also lent a visual side to imagining the happenings in 1909. While this was an extensively researched book, it read like a piece of good fiction. Readers form an opinion about who committed the murders from the start, but there is still suspense waiting to see how the jury will decide ...more
Jan 25, 2015 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: siena-book-club
Interesting account of true story. Did he or didn't he murder his wife's relatives for money. Since moving to K for college, training here too and working in the KC many of the places and names are familiar to me. I liked this book.
Mary Aubuchon
Feb 06, 2015 Mary Aubuchon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book written by a historian instead of a crime/mystery/thriller writer. You couldn't make up everything that happens in this book, and I am glad the writer didn't try to make some kind of an ending out of it.
Jul 11, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I can't believe I've lived in KC most of my life and didn't know about the Swope murders. I didn't know my city had such scandal in its history!
Jul 05, 2012 Jean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Another "crime of the century" book. Since the century had only begun in 1909, this was slightly premature, but the crime is still fascinating. The son-in-law, Dr. Hyde, was charged with killing Colonel Swope and attempting to kill other members of his family in order to get Swope's fortune for himself. The bizarre crimes were particularly heinous, since they involved killing Swope with poison and then infecting other family members with typhoid. The nurses alerted the physician in charge and th ...more
Mar 17, 2012 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, mystery
Historical true crime story from 1909: the appropriately-named Dr. Hyde is accused of murdering his wife's rich elderly uncle and then infecting the rest of the extended family household with typhoid in order to increase his own inheritance. Fowler, who used to be a journalism professor at Iowa State, has recreated the scene as best he could from contemporary reports and primary sources. He spends a wee bit too much time commenting on the journalism of the day (those of us who are not journalist ...more
Kathleen Stark
Love local history!
Sep 13, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True crime that reads like a cross between Agatha Christie and Stephen King. It's the story of a series of suspicious murders in Kansas City in the early 1900s. Involves the once prominent Snopes family, a classic dowager, a creepy doctor who may have cultivated nasty bacteria for nefarious purposes, a big rambling mansion, heroic nurses and an marvelously macabre autoposy on a frozen corpse. Beautifully written and wonderfully reported, anyone who loves a good murder story will find this hard t ...more
Apr 17, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though this book will have limited appeal, I enjoyed it. I learned a bit about the history of the Kansas City area. The author did an excellent job of presenting the strange happenings that occurred in the Swope Mansion in 1910. I only wish the mansion was still standing so I could see it. I usually don't read "true crime," but this one reads like a novel.
This is a really good book if you like mysteries. And, living near the site of this real-life drama, the local color is interesting. Col. Tom Swope, a KC philanthropist and real estate developer dies suddenly. Is it stroke or poisoning at the hand of his niece's husband whose motive is the family fortune? It's not possible to say for certain, but the author does a good job of laying out all the evidence. This is well researched and written.
K Christy
Jan 02, 2014 K Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting view behind the well known name of Swope in Kansas City. Of much interest to me because I live in and love all things Kansas City. At times, as other reviewers have noted, the adjectives seemed a little "overdone" but all in all a fantastic read!
Rachel Brune
Dec 11, 2014 Rachel Brune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am on a business trip to Kansas City and picked this up in the local bookstore. It was an entertaining read that gave a fast-moving description of not only the events of the crime, but also a peak into life in the turn of the century Midwest. It also details some of the challenges facing the criminal justice system before the dad of CSI, etc. All in all, an entertaining read.
My Dad wrote this book. And, obligations aside, I still really enjoyed it. In fact, due to a paucity of English language reading material in the region, a large number of teachers in an obscure corner of Southeast Asia read my pre-release copy, and damn if they didn't like it too.

I mean, I don't really read true crime ever, but hey, this was pretty good. Maybe I'll start?
Apr 07, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good non-fiction account of the mystery surrounding two elite families, of early 1900's Kansas City by a former journalist of Kansas City. Good example of how sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I'm having a friend get this book autographed by Mr. Fowler, the author, since he is living in my home town of Ames, IA.
Mary Kay
Oct 06, 2012 Mary Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent true story about suspicious deaths in Independence, MO, in 1909. One of the victims was Charles Swope who bequeathed the land for Swope Park. Giles Fowler has done a meticulous job of sorting out all kinds of original information & has included helpful illustrations. Fascinating reading!
Apr 15, 2010 Carie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting non-fiction book about murders of some members of a well known, wealthy family in Kansas City (Independence actually) at the turn of the century - early 1900s. True crime meets local history. (I probably wouldn't have loved this book as much if I didn't live in KC.) Overall good read.
Jun 19, 2012 Meghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating retelling of a century-old (murder?) mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed! It is based in my hometown and my dad has told me stories of going through the old mansion as a kid! The tale of the Swopes and Dr Hyde is still as mysterious and gripping today as it was 100 years ago!
Kim Meyers
I’m not much of a fan of non-fiction true crime, but this one piqued my interest because it happened in my hometown of Independence, Missouri. Clinical in presentation, but just long enough to hold interest and make you think about the non-conclusory conclusion of the case. A worthwhile read.
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