The Bloody Benders

      Near here are the Bender Mounds, named for the infamous Bender family ~~
John, his wife, son, and daughter Kate ~~ who settled here in 1871. Kate
soon gained notoriety as a self proclaimed healer and spiritualist.
Secretly, the four made a living through murder and robbery.

      Located on a main road, the Benders sold meals and supplies to
travelers. Their murders were carried out by use of a canvas curtain
that divided the house into two rooms. When a traveler was seated at the
table, his head was outlined against the curtain. The victim was then
dispatched from behind with a hammer, and the body was dropped into a
basement pit, later to be buried in an orchard.

      As more and more travelers disappeared, suspicion began to center on the
Benders. They disappeared in the spring of 1873, shortly before
inquisitive neighbors discovered the victims' bodies. The Benders are
believed to have killed about a dozen people, including one child.

      Although stories abound, the ultimate fate of the murderous Bender
family is uncertain. Some say they escaped, others that the were
executed by a vengeful posse. Their story is unresolved, and remains one
of the great unresolved mysteries of the old West.

Erected by Kansas State Historical Society & Kansas Department of Transportation
 
There was an older marker about the Benders.

Marker text sent by Robert Walter, Pittsburg, KS

Montgomery County  
Rest Area
U.S. 400 & U.S. 169
Montgomery County
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Historical
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October 6, 2000 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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