February 9, 1910



Artificial Cause of Death Suspected
by Pathologist.
Mrs. Maggie C. Swope, Sister-in-Law of the Colonel.

After the testimony of Dr. Hektoen yesterday in the coroner's inquiry into the death of Colonel Thomas Swope, Dr. Frank J. Hall, a patholigist, testified that he was requested by Mr. Paxton to get permission from Coroner Zwart to perform the post mortem examination of the colonel's body. He acted as an assistant to Dr. Hektoen, and dictated the report to Dr. Stewart. His report was a repetition of that of Dr. Hektoen, except that it was more explicit. It was filled with techincal terms and called for frequent explanations by Dr. Zwart to the jury.

After a recess, Dr. Hall was asked several questions suggested by Mr. Reed. He said that if strychnine had been taken in quantities sufficient to have caused death it would not have been noticeable in the post mortem. He also said that some artificial cause for death was suggested as a result of the examination.

After Dr Hall testified, Dr. Hoektoen was recalled, and was asked whether strychnine affected the old people more than it did the young, and he replied that he did not know. He also said that there was nothing in the post mortem examination to indicate the cause of death, and that a chemical analysis was indicated.

Overton H. Gentry, a pharmacist of Independence, testified as to the nature of the tonic mixture which Colonel Swope took. He said that it was made up of quinine, iron, pepsin and minor drugs and that each dose, a teaspoonful, contained one-hundred-and-eightieth grain of strychnine. He put the tonic up in six ounce bottles, which would give a little more than a quarter of a grain of strychnine to the bottle.


"This tonic was an extemporaneous mixture," said Mr. Gentry. "It was put up for and sold to Mr. Hunton although I understood that Colonel Swope used it several times."

Mrs. Maggie C. Swope, widow of L. O. Swope, and a sister-in-law of Colonel Thomas Swope, at whose home he died, was the next witness. Mrs. Swope was dressed in mourning. A closely woven black veil with a heavy border dropped loosely from her hat to her chin. She spoke clearly.

"I have lived in Independence for fifty-four years," said Mrs. Swope. "Colonel Tom was my brother-in-law and he lived at my house for the last ten years or almost since the death of my husband. My husband was Colonel Tom's favorite brother. I have six children living and there were four at home during the last illness of Colonel Swope.

"Dr. and Mrs. Hyde came to the house Friday evening, October 1, the evening of Mr. Hunton's death. I sent for Dr. Hyde.

"Colonel Swope was very averse to taking medicines. 'Medicines don't do anyone any good,' he would say when it was suggested that he take something for his indigestion, or a tonic. He did take some medicines occasionally and took the tonic that Mr. Hunton got for him. He took two bottles of this tonic in a year. It was only at rare intervals that he would take the medicine. He also took charcoal tablets for his dyspepsia. He was only ill twice in the last two years. Both Drs. Twyman and Hyde prescribed for him then. Dr. Twyman prescribed a tonic for him a year ago and last summer Dr. Hyde prescribed some laxative pills.


"Colonel Swope fell Sunday, September 4. He did not want to get up and we had some trouble getting him upstairs. We sent for Dr. Twyman, but he could not come and sent his son, Elmer. He put his shoulder in a sling and said that he did not need any medicines.

"The following Sunday Dr. Hyde and his wife come out for a visit and Dr. Hyde called on Colonel Swope. He was smiling when he came downstairs. 'I have solved the question,' he declared. "Colonel Swope has agreed to have a nurse.' We all agreed that this was an excellent thing, for it was hard to care for Colonel Swope. He did not want anyone around and we could not handle him as well as a nurse would. He did not take any medicine, and the only thing we know that he took was those pink pills. Monday Dr. Hyde brought Miss Kellar.

"When Mr. Hunton was taken ill we sent for Dr. Hyde. His wife came with him, and when she asked if I wanted them to remain at the house I told them that I did. I was glad to have her there. They remained until Monday after the Swope funeral. Saturday morning Dr. and Mrs. Hyde went to the cemetery to get a burial lot. I asked my daughter to do this for me.

"Sunday morning Miss Kellar and I were alone at the breakfast table. Miss Keller had told me that Colonel Swope had spent an unusually good night and then Dr. Hyde came in. Dr. Hyde asked if Colonel Swope had had his breakfast, and when told by Miss Kellar that he had, he remarked to her, 'Please come and give him this digestive tablet.' They were not gone long, and when they returned Miss Kellar said that Colonel Swope had refused to take the medicine.


"It was not long afterward when we received word that Colonel Swope had been stricken. I met Dr. Hyde in the hall afterward and he said: 'It is just a matter of time. He is going just like Mr. Hunton.' I stepped into Colonel Swope's room about 3 o'clock. He was unconscious then."

Mrs. Swope said that she had been told about the will which Colonel Swope had made but that she did not know its contents or any thing about any of the bequests until after his death. She said that she had been told that her children had been liberally provided for in the will. This was natural, she said, "as they were the children of his favorite brother.

"Mr. Swope was inclined to talk about his wealth to those whom he knew well. He frequently boasted to me that he was a millionaire. Dr. Hyde told me that Colonel Swope told him that he had a million and a half dollars that he intended to devote to charity. This was about the time he was taken sick.

"Dr. Hyde was aware that my children, one of whom is is wife, would be the biggest beneficiaries. They, however, did not know to what extent they had been provided for, although he told them that he had so arranged his estate that none should ever want for anything. He also talked of making a new will. He expected to do this when he got down town after he got well. Dr. Hyde understood that if Colonel Swope made a new will that the million and a half residuary estate would not go to the children.

"Dr. Hyde did not tell me that he wanted to be an executor of the estate of Colonel Swope but recently Miss Kellar told me that Dr. Hyde asked her to use her influence with Colonel Swope.


"I saw Dr. Hyde go into Colonel Swope's room when he was called by Miss Kellar and it was Dr. Hyde who told me that it was all over, referring to Colonel Swope's death. I only saw Colonel Swope once on the day he died. This was between 3 and 4 p. m.

"The children were all a little afraid of Colonel Swope. He did not like children and young folks seemed to bother him. That is the reason that the children did not go into his room during his last illness.

"I knew that his will was in his vest pocket. He told Moss that it was there the afternoon that he fill in the library. He told moss that if anything happened to him that he could find his will there."

Mrs. Swope was then questioned about the medicine which she threw away after the death of Colonel Swope and Mr. Hunton. She said that about a week after the funeral she cleared away a quantity of medicines which stood on an open shelf in Mr. Hunton's room. Some of these medicines, she said, were strychnine preparations or contained strychnine. Efforts were made by Coroner Zwart to get Mrs. Swope to tell just what all of the bottles and boxes contained and the colors of the boxes. Her testimony was apparently unsatisfactory in this respect. These medicines, she said, had accumulated for a couple of years.

"There was no possibility of Colonel Swope getting hold of these medicines, for he never entered Mr. Hunton's room," she said. "Colonel Swope had a well-beaten path from the library to his room and he never deviated.

"For the last twenty-five or thirty years Colonel Swope would tell me he did not expect to live much longer. He made the statement a couple of years ago while Dr. and Mrs. Hyde were here that 'You are talking to a dead man now. I am just walking around to save funeral expenses.'

"In the early part of his last illness he said that he was going to die. A week before he died he declared that he was going to get well and that he was going to change his will as soon as he got downtown. This was the first thing he said that he was going to do."

Subpoenas were served on Dr. Ludwig Hektoen yesterday in the libel suit of Dr. Hyde vs. the St. Louis Post-Dispatch an in the suit for libel by Dr. Hyde against Mr. Paxton.