Kansas Historical Society: The Bender Knife (a podcast about the Bloody Benders of Kansas)

Aural Noir: Online Audio

KSHS Cool Things PodcastIn research for another story I came across a cool podcast along the lines of BBC Radio 4’s The History Of The World In 100 Objects. Except that instead of it being a history of the planet it’s just the history of Kansas. The first epsiode of the KSHS’ Cool Things podcast to strike me (out of my chair, through the floor, and then into a shallow grave in a nearby field) was an episode on “The Bender Knife”. Here’s the setup:

Two men settled a claim near the town of Cherryvale in southeastern Kansas in 1870. John Bender, Sr., and John Bender, Jr., built a one-room timber cabin with a trap door that led to a stone cellar. Once the lodging was complete, the Bender men sent for the rest of the family, a mother and a daughter, both named Kate. The family outfitted the house with furniture and supplies, and hung a canvas curtain to divide it into two rooms. The Benders turned the front half into an inn and grocery store where travelers on the nearby Osage Trail could find rest, supplies, and a warm meal. Ma and Kate planted a garden and small orchard near the house. By all appearances, the Benders were like most area settlers: a family of German descent who came west for a fresh start.

Business at the Bender inn would have been brisk. The southeast corner of Kansas had recently opened to white settlers, and men regularly arrived with money to purchase land and livestock. This available cash made the area a dangerous place to travel. Settlers were easy prey for robbers, and it was not uncommon for people to go missing. No one took note of people looking for their family members. This changed when locals started disappearing.

You can read the full story HERE.

Bender Knife


And here’s the Wikipedia entry on the Bloody Benders.

Also check out their “Space Age Stove” episode (featuring a very cool Frigidaire Custom Imperial Flair stove).

Posted by Jesse Willis

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