Share1 Shares Considering counterfactuals is an interesting and compelling way to think about history, but some of the most popular scenarios are more evocative than actually plausible.
January 31, iStock Ina group of new families moved to the wind-ravaged plains near what would become CherryvaleKansas. They were Spiritualistsa religion that was foreign to the homesteaders already in the new state, but locals tended to accept newcomers without asking too many questions.
Two of the families moved away within a year, discouraged by the difficult conditions, and the others kept to themselves. But the Benders were different.
At first, they appeared be a normal family.
The older Bender, called "Pa," made a claim for acres in what is now Labette County. The Benders also included "Ma" and a daughter named Kate, who advertised herself as Spiritualist medium and healer. Ma and Pa reportedly mostly spoke German, although the younger Benders spoke fluent English.
The group soon built a one-room home equipped with a canvas curtain that divided the space into two areas.
The front was a public inn and store, and the family quarters were in the back. Travelers on the trail were welcome to refresh themselves with a meal and resupply their wagons with liquor, tobacco, horse feed, gunpowder, and food.
Kate, who was reportedly attractive and outgoing, also drew customers to the inn with her supposed psychic and healing abilities.
These men, who usually traveled alone, often spent the night. The trail was a dangerous place, and there were many reasons for travelers to go missing on their way out West—bandits, accidents, conflicts with Native Americans, disease.
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But over the course of several years, more and more people went missing around the time they passed through Labette County. It usually took time for such disappearances to draw attention—mail and news traveled slowly—but that all changed in March after a well-known physician from Independence, Kansas, named Dr.
William York seemingly disappeared after getting off the train at Cherryvale. York had two powerful brothers who were determined to find out what happened to him: Colonel York led an investigation in Labette County. Ma defended herself by claiming that the visitor had been a witch, a "bad and wicked woman, whom she would kill if ever she came near them again.
The townsfolk decided to search every homestead for evidence of the missing—but the weather turned bad, and it was several days before a search could begin. Eventually, a neighbor noticed starving farm animals wandering the Bender property. When he investigated the inn, he found it empty: The Benders had fled.
Though the house was empty, all else seemed normal—until someone opened a trap door in the floor. What they found beneath it was chilling. Horrified, the group lifted up the cabin from its foundations and dug into the ground, yet found nothing.
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The investigation then turned to the garden, which was freshly plowed; neighbors recalled that the garden always seemed freshly plowed. The back of his head had been smashed, and his throat slit.
Soon, they found more bodies with similar injuries.
Accounts differ about the number of bodies excavated from the site, but totals hover around a dozen. In all, the Benders may have committed as many as 21 murders. Their terrible work garnered the family only a few thousand dollars and some livestock. One man, a Mr. Wetzell, heard this theory and remembered a time when he had been at the inn and declined to sit in the designated spot near the curtain.
His decision had caused Ma Bender to become angry and abusive toward him, and when he saw the male Benders emerge from behind the cloth, he and his companion decided to leave. A traveler named William Pickering told an almost identical story.
The crimes created a sensation in the newspapers, drawing journalists and curiosity-seekers from all over the country.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported over people at the crime scene, with more trains arriving. A book published in Philadelphia soon after the murders were discovered, The Five Fiends, or, The Bender Hotel Horror in Kansas, described how "large numbers of people arrived upon the scene, who had heard of the Hardened men were moved to tears.
In the years following the sensational crimes, several women were arrested as Ma or Kate, but none were positively identified.
A number of vigilante groups claimed to have found the Benders and murdered them, but none brought back proof.And the money is well-spent - The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is one of those special stories that just wouldn’t be aired elsewhere. Or rather, it’s a series of short stories set in the Old West, and each is a self-contained masterpiece.
every single palliative care doctor I have ever met is relentlessly cheerful and upbeat and this is a total mystery to me. All the stuff in this post, the extended suffering, the dying by inches. It has now been years since the outbreak of World War I, but the European catastrophe remains relevant today.
As the Continent looks back this year, old wounds could once again be rubbed raw. The War of the Masters: The conflict between United Earth, which exerts outsize influence in the United Federation of Planets (a deconstruction of the overuse of Humans Are Special and Most Writers Are Human in Star Trek), and a group of rebellious colonies on the Klingon border called the Moab Confederacy, which secedes from the Federation during Star Trek Online's war with the Klingons.
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