Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Bloody Benders
There was the story of the Bender family that belonged in the third volume, Little House on the Prairie. The Benders lived halfway between it and
On his trip to
There were Kate Bender and two men, her brothers, in the family and their tavern was the only place for travelers to stop on the road south from
Then it was noticed that the Benders’ garden was always freshly plowed but never planted. People wondered. And then a man came from the east looking for his brother, who was missing.
He made up a party in
The front room was divided by a calico curtain against which the dining table stood. On the curtain back of the table were stains about as high as the head of a man when seated. Behind the curtain was a trap door in the floor and beside it lay a heavy hammer.
In the cellar underneath was the body of a man whose head had been crushed by the hammer. It appeared that he had been seated at the table back to the curtain and had been struck from behind it. A grave was partly dug in the garden with a shovel close by. The posse searched the garden and dug up human bones and bodies. One body was that of a little girl who had been buried alive with her murdered parents. The garden was truly a grave-yard kept plowed so it would show no signs. The night of the day the bodies were found a neighbor rode up to our house and talked earnestly with Pa. Pa took his rifle down from its place over the door and said to Ma, “The vigilantes are called out.” Then he saddled a horse and rode away with the neighbor. It was late the next day when he came back and he never told us where he had been. For several years there was more or less a hunt for the Benders and reports that they had been seen here or there. At such times Pa always said in a strange tone of finality, "They will never be found." They were never found and later I formed my own conclusions why.
Doesn't that just give you the creeps? You can see why she'd never include it in a book. But I have to say I'm so intrigued by this that I think I'll go to the bookstore today to see if they have anything to read on this topic. I love Kansas history, even the horrible stuff.
Oh! I wanted to point out the last line of Laura's speech, that her father remained mysterious about the Benders' disappearance. It is thought that her father was part of the posse who most likely killed the Bender family for their crimes.