On the high prairie a mile northwest, beyond the nearby Mounds which bear the name, the Bender family ~ John, his wife , son, and daughter Kate ~ in 1871 built a small house. Partitioned in two rooms by a canvas cloth it had a table, stove and grocery shelves in front. In back were beds, a sledge hammer and a trap door above a pit-like cellar. Kate a self- proclaimed healer and spiritualist and reported to be a beautiful, voluptuous girl with tigerish grace, was the leading spirit of her murderous family.

The house was located on the main road. Travelers stopping for a meal were seated on a bench backed tight against the canvas. In the next two years several disappeared. When suspicious were finally aroused, in 1873 , the Benders fled. A search of their property disclosed eleven bodies buried in the garden, skulls crushed by hammer blows through the canvass.

The end of the Benders is not known. The earth seemed to swallow them, as it had their victims.

Erected by the Kansas Historical Society and State Highway Commission

This marker has been removed & replaced by a newer marker about the Benders

Marker text sent by Mike LeMasters, Wichita, KS

Labette County  
Old Location
Rest Area on U.S. 160;
Labette County


September 13, 2000 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas /

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