October 8, 1909


More Than 60,000 Take Last
Look at Man "Who Gave
Us the Park."

The head of the cortege which will follow Thomas H. Swope to his last resting place will form at the city hall at 1 o'clock this afternoon. From there the procession will march to the public library, thence to Grace Episcopal church, Thirteenth and Washington.

It has been arranged that all children attending school east of Main street will form from the library west on Ninth street and south on Grand avenue, the intention being of the cortege to pass through a line of school children as far as possible. The west of Main street school children will form on Eleventh street west from Wyandotte street and south on Broadway. The children of the Franklin institute, to whom Colonel Swope, conditionally, gave $50,000 before he died, will form on Grand avenue south of Eighteenth street, on the road to the cemetery.


The library doors were opened at 9 a. m. and the waiting crowd began to file slowly by the casket. Instinctively, men removed their hats. Small boys, some of them barefoot, followed this example, keeping the hat close to the heart until the casket had been passed. When there was no rush the crowds passed the casket at the rate of forty to sixty a minute. Between the hours of noon and 2 p. m., however, there was a great increase, and Charles Anderson, one of the police guard, counted 369 in five minutes. Shortly after 3 o'clock, after the flower parade had passed along Admiral boulevard, the crowd became very dense at the library and two lines had to be formed. During that time they passed at the rate of 120 a minute, which would be 720 an hour.


During the morning the school children were released to give them an opportunity to look upon the face of the man "who gave us the park." Some were bareheaded, some barefooted, some black, some white, but all were given the opportunity to look upon the pale, placid face of Colonel Swope.
Mothers who could not get away from home without the baby brought it along. Many a woman with a baby in arms was seen in line. The police lifted all small children up to the casket.

"Who is it, mamma?" asked one little girl, "Who is it?"

"It is Colonel Swope who gave us the big park," the mother replied.

"Out there where we had the picnic?"


"Did you say he gave us the park, is it ours?"

"He gave it to all the people, dear, to you and me as well as others."

"Then part of the park is mine, isn't i t?"

"Yes, part of it is yours, my child."

One white haired man limped along the line until he came to the casket. With his hat over his heart he stood so long that the policeman on guard had to remind him to pass on.

"Excuse me," he said, and his eyes were suffused with tears, "he helped me once years ago just when I needed it most. He was my friend and I never could repay him. He wouldn't let me."


The aged man passed on out of the Locust street door. Every so often during the day the police say he crept quietly into line and went by the casket again, each time having to be remembered to pause but for a moment and pass on. Who he is the police did not know.

Near the casket Mrs. Carrie W. Whitney, librarian, erected a bulletin board on which she posted a card reading: "Thomas Hunton Swope, born Lincoln county, Kentucky, October 21, 1827; died Independence, Mo., October 3, 1909."

In the center of the board is an excellent engraving of Colonel Swope and on the board are clippings giving bits of his history and enumerating his many public gifts to this city. The board was draped in evergreen and flowers.

On a portion of the board is a leaflet from a book, "History of Kansas City," which reads, referring to Colonel Swope:


"When Swope park was given to Kansas City, Senator George Graham Vest said of Colonel Swope: 'I am not much of a hero worshiper, but I will take off my hat to such a man, and in this case I am the more gratified because we were classmates in college. We graduated together at Central college, Danville, Ky.

"He was a slender, delicate boy, devoted to study, and exceedingly popular. I remember his fainting in the recitation room when reading an essay and the loving solicitude of professors and students as we gathered about him. He had a great respect for the Christian religion. It has gone with him through his life, although he has never connected himself with any church. I know of many generous acts by him to good people and one of his first donations was $1,000 to repair the old Presbyterian church at Danville, where we listened to orthodox sermons when students."

Later Colonel Swope gave $25,000 to his old school at Danville for a library. Then followed his most magnificent gift, Swope park. Its value when given was more than $150,000. Today it is worth far more.

Speaking of Colonel Swope again, Senator Vest said: "In these days of greed and selfishness, where the whole world is permeated with feverish pursuit of money, it is refreshing to find a millionaire who is thinking of humanity and not of wealth. Tom Swope has made his own fortune and has been compelled to fight many unscrupulous and designing men, but he has risen above the sordid love of gain and has shown himself possessed of the best and highest motives. Intellectually he has few superiors. The public has never known his literary taste, his culture and his love of the good and beautiful. The world assumed that no man can accumulate wealth without being hard and selfish, and it is too often the case, but not so with Tom Swope. In these princely gifts he repays himself with the consciousness of a great, unselfish act."