A human head containing wrestling human figures. Crayon drawing, 1929.
Vintage Patent for Updated Corset; 1908
The Bender Family - America’s First Serial Killers
In 1870, five families of spiritualists settled in Labette County, Kansas. Spiritualists were known in the Old West at that time and their presence caused no alarm among the hard working settlers. The Benders were among the group of spiritualists.
The Bender’s home was not a fancy place, but was a general store with a wayside inn that could provide both food and a bed for travelers. The house was made up of one large room that was divided by a canvas curtain. This separated the grocery store and inn from the family’s living quarters in the back. Old man Bender, his wife, and their supposed son spoke little to the strangers who passed through. But Katie Bender was different story.
Kate Bender, 23, was cultivated, attractive, and spoke English very well. A self-proclaimed healer and psychic, she distributed flyers advertising her supernatural powers and her ability to cure illnesses, conducted séances, and also gave lectures on spiritualism for which she gained notoriety for advocating free love. She was also reported to be a prostitute. Kates’ popularity became a large attraction for the Benders’ inn.
When the Bender’s had a “guest” at their inn, they would seat the victim at the table so their back would be towards the curtain that separated the room. The victims chair was also positioned over a trap door. Then one of the male Benders would hit the person over the head with a hammer and slit their throat to ensure death. After the gruesome act, they would open the trap door and the body would fall beneath the house until they had time to remove and bury it on the back of their property in the garden.
As time passed, reports of lost persons became more frequent. In the late spring of 1873, much bitterness was directed to this southeast Kansas area. The township called a meeting to see what should be done. The matter gained urgency when the widely-known physician, Dr. William H. York, was reported to have disappeared. A decision was made to search every farmstead in the area. Old man Bender and young John were at this meeting.
Three days after the meeting, a passerby noticed that the Bender homestead looked deserted. They descended onto the Bender property and found its inhabitants missing. The Benders’ food, clothing and possessions were greatly disturbed or removed. Upon entering the cabin, searchers were met by a sickening stench.
A trap door, nailed shut, was discovered in the floor of the cabin. Pried open and lifted by its leather hinges, it covered a cellar that was filled with clotted blood which produced the horrid odor. In desperation, the cabin was completely lifted and moved aside. A search was made under the house, but nothing was found. The search was about to be called off when Dr. William York’s brother saw the outline of a strange depression behind the house. They began digging and Dr. York’s body was found buried, head downward, his feet scarcely covered. His skull had been bludgeoned from behind with a hammer and his throat had been cut.
The next day, the search revealed nine other bodies with smashed skulls and slit throats along with other dismembered body parts.
The Benders had become this Nation’s first recorded mass murders or “serial killers” when 10 bodies were recovered at the inn. Many believe the Benders killed over 21 people. None of the Benders were ever captured. Their story remains one of the most gruesome and greatest unsolved mysteries of the Old West.
The World’s Largest Macabre Displays of Bodies and Body Parts
America’s finest museum of medical history, the Mütter displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a 19th century “cabinet museum” setting. The goal of the Museum is to help the public understand the mysteries and beauty of the human body while appreciating the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.
The Collection began as a donation from Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter, who was determined to improve and reform medical education. The donation stipulated that the College had to hire a Curator, maintain and expand the collection, fund annual lectures and erect a brick building to house the collection. Since 1858, the College has held true to its promise to Dr. Mütter. Today the museum enjoys steadily rising international popularity, including a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel and two best-selling books.
Vintage Ads Pushing Weight Gain
Its bathing suit season again and…horrors…you are TOO SKINNY! With the media shoveling ads to the population about how we are “supposed” to look, it’s a shock to see vintage ads promising popularity to women (and men) by adding pounds and inches. “Since I gained 10 pounds,” reads one, “I have all the dates I want.”
Since the perception of acceptable body size has changed, women who were considered voluptuous are now seen as fat. Full-figured women like Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Raquel Welch flaunted their curves in clingy dresses and skimpy bathing suits…and they looked great. You can’t win. There will always be an expensive product or procedure to “cure” some perceived flaw that the media puts in our heads. If these ads teach us anything, its time to banish the body insecurity. Life is too short.