« Lore

Episode 93: A Place to Lay Your Head


Humans are hard-wired for trust. It’s the secret ingredient that helps us form communities, build relationships, and grow as people. But while that trust is a noble inclination, it can also get us into trouble—trouble that can sometimes turn deadly.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
He was a thirty four year old scottish soldier, but his adventures had taken him all over south and Central America, where he become friends with King George, Frederick Augustus of the mosquito coast, and this ruler had gifted him with a kingdom of his own In the summer of one thousand, eight hundred and twenty one Gregor Macgregor Travel to England to get help. He said his kingdom was rich with resources. The rivers
with gold and the soil was so fertile. Farmers could bring in multiple harvests each year it was beautiful and exotic and bigger than Wales. He just needed investors to help them, develop those resources and settlers to make it happen, and people signed up. In September of eighteen, twenty two seven ships left for the kingdom of pious. There were hundreds of settlers on board. Hundreds of thousands of pounds in Macgregor Pocket, but when they arrive two months later, they found nothing that Macgregor had promised them There was no one waiting for them. No buildings, no crops, not even a port for their ships. Hundreds of settlers got off the ships and tried to make the best of it by two thirds of them die
in the process. Eventually, a passing ship saw the survivors and rescued them, but Macgregor escaped to France. He had never been who he claimed to be and when he got caught he ran Humans are idealistic. We look for the best in the people around us and are quick to trust. Most of those we encounter. Perhaps this is by design were creatures. Community. After all, all isolation is something we try to avoid aiming. stead for the opposite. We join clubs, gotta concerts and build relationships. We seem ready and willing to let down our guard, but history should
serve as a warning against too much trust slipping through those dusty pages where confronted with tail after tale of people who were just a bit too trusting and the price they paid for that mistake, because not everyone is who they appear to be. Sometimes they are much much worse. I'm Aaron Monkey- and this is lore. They called them. Prayn towns. They were an invention of a man named John Elliot, who was a puritan missionary to the native Americans in sixteen forties
Elliot had seen some success in converting these original inhabitants of New England into Christians, but one of them to have a place to start fresh, so talons were built for them praying towns. It was, of course, Convenience idea by converting the native Americans to Christianity and me: in them off their ancestral land and into small reservation like communities, the english settlers achieve two goals at once. They subdued their rivals without violence, and they freed up valuable land that they ve been trying to get at four years. a dozen of these communities were set up across Massachusetts and Connecticut, but when King Philip's war broke out in one thousand six hundred and seventy five most of that system, just sort of fell apart, looking back it's
need to see how these praying towns became a model for things to come. We had wanted the land, and so we took it for seeing the people who had owned it for centuries to go, live in special places we built for them the idea return years later. Obviously, the colonies would grow and spread and eventually become the phone, nation of a new nation. The United States of America, we matured, we expanded and eventually fell into war with ourselves. Civil war was over in eighteen, sixty five we went back to expanding and that let us west into lands that already had people living in them that aim offer went out to the native Americans of the West assimilate or get out of the way to help New reservations were set up to receive them. They might have been less religious than the brain towns of old New England, but they serve the same purpose.
to remove the native Americans, so white settlers could take their land thee. Osage people felt the full bro that policy out in the area they had called home for centuries. What is today, Southern Kansas, the white settlers were beginning to flood in during the first. For the nineteenth century, their control over their homelands began to crumble and eighty oh eight treaty gave the U S government over fifty, two million acres and another treaty. one thousand eight hundred and seventy had the rest of it sold off and the Osage move south to indian territory in what is now Oklahoma. The settlers immediately flooded in. One of the newly open areas in Kansas was La Back county took down in the southeast corner of the state,
Lee after the removal of the osage. A number of european families moved into the area along the old Osage trail. It had once been a migration trail for Buffalo, but had become one of the most commonly used passages by white settlers headed. Why A lot of those early settlers were dutch and german. They were looking for land to farm and space to raise their family and Le Back county. Had all of that. So, when John and his son rode into town in eighteen, seventy, they purchase one hundred, sixty acres of land to call home and another tracts of land to act as a buffer. They didn't want to see their neighbors. Apparently, John Senior and John Junior got right to work. They built a cabin just a few yards off Yo Sage Trail right at the start of a wide valley which gave them commanding views in all directions. They could see travellers from a great distance by their neighbours.
Were out of sight, and that was just fine by John and his son, that was October of eighteen. Seventy nearly a year later, the rest of Johns family arrive by wagging his wife daughter had been waiting for the man to get settled, and now they could all be together again. Johns wife, Elvira and his daughter, Kate broke ground on a large vegetable garden on the north side of the house and even planted some apple trees there Whether it had been their intention all along or just an idea inspired by the highway outside, they. Also set up the front half of their cabin as a sort of general store for travellers. They use the key. discover from their wagon as a curtain that divided the large one room house and added some sleeping space off to the side for those rare times when a guest would stay with them. The back half was hidden away for their own personal use. They did slow, steady business, but not everything was idyllic.
As the county slowly filled in with new settlers. The community that grew up around them began to buzz with rumours. There was something odd about Johns family that rubbed every one else. The wrong way as the events of the coming months were about to reveal. There was a good reason why not every one who checked in at their makeshift hotel checked out the following morning. There were a lot of rumours about Johns family and, to be honest, it was probably therefore when they move there. They were one of five families to settle at the same time and all of them were spiritualist for some. That meant, they simply believed in the maintenance of spirituality that the spirits of the dead existed and could communicate with the living
Regions family though it went deeper. His daughter, Kate, it turns out, was an amateur medium. She passed out flyers that marketed her services to the locals. A mixture of mutual healing and what appears to be german american power, something more commonly found Pennsylvania and Europe? She was known sell spells usually a script that the buyer could read aloud when they needed help, but activities like is also earned her a reputation as a which, once to test this local theory, a boy was said to have placed a sharp nail on Cates chair, causing heard a cry out when she sat on it. I'm not really sure what they were trying to prove, though, because all Kate did was jump up and scream and pain. She wasn't the only member of the family with a reputation, though her parents were looked upon, as rude and unfriendly, but there are good reasons why both of them spoke very little. English around other people, referring to stick with their native German
John was said to be short and stout with a full bushy beard. Making him appear to be very unapproachable. Kate and her brother, John Junior, were at the centre of a number of their own rumours. Somebody they were actually married and not related at all, while others thought John Junior might suffer from some sort of handicap. He was known, allow out loud. When no one was speaking to him and had a person, quality that seem to put other people off. Then again, that was a good description of all of them. The family just had a way of unsettling people, The worst rumours, however, words about their personalities, know it seems that in for travellers had begun to go missing in late eighteen. Seventy one and people were starting to wonder granted. It was dangerous. area and the eighteen Seventys was a dangerous time to be travelling out. West people went missing all the time. Accidents could happen and bandits were a common problem.
The travellers on the Osage trail had a few things in common often in the middle of a very long journey they had found Willie somewhere, either waiting for them at the end of the trip or back home in the eastern states. and those family members expected silence for a very long time. A lot of them also carried large amounts of cash with them because they plan to start a new life when they reached wherever they were going. My early one thousand eight hundred and seventy three as many as ten people had been reported missing and their loved ones were starting to look for them. The most prominent of those disappearances was a man named after William York Godly. He was actually a local man from the nearby town
Dependence, in fact who was looking into yet another missing person, Yorks Neighbour, back and independence, a man named George longer had headed east with his daughter, Marianne in the winter of eighteen. Seventy two, but they never returned York, waited for months before packing his bags and heading out to see if he could find them. He went as far as Fort Scott seventy miles northeast of his home, where his brother, Colonel Edward York, was stationed, Annie, told him the story, then he left for home and Van a short while later that seems to have been enough for the people of a community in April of eighteen, seventy three over seventy five men from the back county gathered in the local schoolhouse for a meaning. They agreed that every single farm should be Sir,
John Senior and John Junior were there, although its reported that the older man slept through most of the meeting, the search would have begun that very day if a spell of bad weather had it rolled into town, but when people finally did arrive to inspect John Seniors Farm on March, twenty eighth of eighteen, seventy three it wasn't a group of locals. No, it was a dozen strangers led by Colonel Edward York. The brother of the missing physician he'd, been following his brothers trails. out from Fort Scott and all of the clues had led them right there, the John Benders General store and they had questions. John Senior told them that William York had indeed pass through, but he had done nothing more than a meal before leaving an hour later, y'all offered the men new ideas, though,
Perhaps York had been murdered by a native American or had been set upon by bandits if they wanted, he told them he'd be happy to help them dragged the nearby creek to see if your ex body was in their Kate offered a different option for just five hundred dollars. She would contact the Spirit world and get the definitive answer for Edward York. It was a price tag worth ten thousand dollars. Today, Colonel York, scoffed at it. Instead he turned his horse around and led his men back out of town frustrated and defeated, but the community was still on edge.
a woman had recently been chased off the bender property by John Seniors, wife, Elvira and they say she'd been holding a knife and a pistol when she did it. It wasn't until three days after Colonel Yorks visit, however, the two brothers passed by the bender farm and discovered something that spurred the whole town into action. There only hope was that it wasn't too late
They were just doing their job. That's what Billy Toll and his brother told the town when they reported what they found. They'd, been driving their cattle down the Osage trail and were passing the vendor farm when Billy glanced over and noticed that the farm animals there were unfed and abandoned Billy stopped and approached the house, but everything seemed empty as if all life had left the structure peering inside he noticed the place was in disarray. It almost look like some one had packed up and left as quickly as possible leaving most of their world behind so Billy, headed to town and told the trustee who called for an immediate search party when they converged on the vendor farm. It looked as if the entire town had turned up. There were reportedly hundreds of neighbours and townsfolk they're all ready and willing to help search the property for evidence or clues that hinted at that,
Ruth behind all the missing people. One of the men who showed up to help that date was none other than Colonel Edward York. He and the others spread out across the farm while others entered the house to search inside, Everything seem normal for a long, while too sure they're wagon was gone, as were all of their personal belongings. Their didn't seem to be any sign of foul play inside the house. I dont know how that changed to be Honest, maybe someone noticed scratch marks on a particular spot on the wood floor. Perhaps one of the people heard the buzz of flies somewhere near by obviously something Tipp them off we're just not sure what that something was, but it led them to a trap door beneath that door was the cabin seller. It was dark and wet and smelled horribly and to a group of farmers who spent their lives, slaughtering livestock and cleaning.
The mess. It was a familiar smell, rancid, rotten blood and after bringing in a lantern and lowering someone down into the cellar, they confirmed what their noses had already told them, but there were no bodies. Yes, the dirt floor of the seller was soaked with congealed blood and, yes, it wouldn't have made sense for a farmer to butcher olive animals in the cellar beneath their living space. But without any other evidence there is still no way to prove that the blood hinted at something nefarious. As the story goes after searching the property for a long time and coming up empty handed. Everyone took a break. Colonel York walk back over to his wagon and took a seat up top. Maybe he had some food up there or.
water, but it was while he was higher up than everyone else that he glanced out toward the area of the farm where the orchard had been planted and noticed something odd. There were lumps in the soil beneath them. Long human sized lumps after York pointed them out to the rest of the search party. Shovels were brought into unearth, whatever lay beneath the surface, every one held their breath as the first mound soil was pushed aside to reveal the face of a dead man. No one knew who he was but it did it make the moment any less somber for all of them. The second body to be uncovered was William York. The colonel spent a moment standing over his brothers corpse before returning to his wagon moment later. He rode off toward town. After that, nine more bodies were unearth, bringing the total that day to eleven, which included William Yorks Missy Neighbour George longer and his daughter. Marianne,
Each body had been stripped of all valuables and most of them showed signs of blunt force trauma to the skull. Most of the men agreed that the weapon had been some kind of large hammer and all of it begged for justice. There were murderers on the run and the people of the town wanted to find them What they found later that day, was the benders wagon empty and abandon near the town of fair about twenty miles, north west of the farm. Oddly, there were bullet holes in the sight of it, and a shot gun had been left on the seat as if it had been fired and then dropped. There was no blood, though, or any other clue that might hint at why the benders abandon their wagon, had they been attacked or killed, or had they fled the story spread course, it was a tale of murder and violence, and those stories were just as popular back then, as they are now this one else.
Heavy added texture of Kate, benders, spiritualist activities and rumoured witchcraft. In fact, during the exploration of the farm, some of the men had discovered what appeared to be Zodiac symbols scratched into the dirt above the graves. It was enough to get people whispering about occult activities and satanic murders. Communities began searching for the missing killers. The governor of Kansas offered a reward to any one who could bring them in dead or alive, wanted posts, Others seem to pass through the walls of every public building in the southern part of the state, but it was all in vain. The benders easy would never be found.
Now. I think it is fair to say the most of us want to trust the people around us. It may not be something that we actively think about all the time, but we still driving down the highway standing in line at the movie theater eating your favorite restaurant. We trust that we will be did in a way. That's normal, safe and expected. Entrust isn't just about people. It can be an emotion we feel towards systems and objects. We trust our mobile phones to work properly and do what we need. We trust that the garbage will get picked up each week. Trust comes to us, naturally, each of them Items was far from home. They were on a journey that took them away from friends and family and put them in a danger,
this environment around the clock. No one could pull over and call for help from their wagon in eighteen. Seventy one alleys, not without shouting in most of the time there was no one to hear you if you did so stumbling upon a house that claim to offer supplies a hot meal and a place to lay your head. Well, that was a welcome site. Every weary traveller who passed by the benders knew that people needed to eat and rest, and they use that as bait to lure them into their dark murderous web and it worked newspapers across them, west carried. The story after the bodies were discovered, partly I'm sure, to see if spreading. The word might help them locate the killers, but also because people are curious. Remember this was twenty years before H. H, homes would build his murder castle in Chicago the vendors offered, the public something most of them had never seen before.
And they wanted to see it too papers from the time reported the thousands of people hopped on their local train and travelled to Kansas to see the bender farm when they were finished, they started taking pieces of the house with them as a souvenir enough. People did this that eventually the Bender House just sort of fell apart. And that's not all that fell apart. You see the family that history has come to remember as the bloody benders might not have actually been a family at all. There are a lot of stories, so none of this is definitive, but their strong evidence to suggest that their name wasn't even Bender Elvira Bender from what I can tell was actually are.
Myra Meek. She worked your way through a number of husbands before meeting up at the man. We know today, as John Senior and its possible that one of them had the last name of bender. Speaking of John Senior. His last name was really flicking her still german, of course, but not bender. Kate was most likely Elmira real daughter, but how last day was Griffith taken from her father. John Junior was John Gebhardt and there was a lot of talk about him actually being Cates husband, the entire family, it seems, was a lie and then they vanished into the Kansas night. It turns out that Colonel York, the brother of one of the victims, had another brother. This man, Alexander York, happened to be a Kansas state Senator and he offered a big reward for their capture. The governor eventually triple the reward funds to increase incentive, but it still didn't work
no one was able to locate them, no matter how motivated they might have been putting myself in the shoes of the travellers who headed west in the early eighties seventies. It's easy to see why the benders were so successful at what they did. Every one who stopped inside their house believed they were safe, that they could trust their hosts. The benders use trust. the weapon just as skilfully as they swung their heavy hammer and sharp knife. They used it to welcome strangers in to give them what they needed and then, when the moment was right to take it all away.
Nearly a century and a half later, we don't know what became of them, but we do know that they left a mark. They ended, lives, destroyed, hope and tore entire families. Apart in the process, they taught us all a painful lesson that goes against every human instinct. We possess never trust, a stranger, you never know who they might really be. I hope you enjoy learning about the bloody benders today. There are powerful example of just how
easy. It is for an innocent situation to become horribly dangerous, but not everyone who sat down at their table made their way to the dusty earth beneath their apple trees. Some people in fact managed to get away stick around after this sponsor break. To hear all about it to understand how the benders worked. You have to understand other home was laid out. As I mentioned earlier, they use the canvas cover from their old wagon to divide their living space into two sections. The front half was where their meagre little general store was located, no more than a counter with a few essential supplies
there was also a small table and caught in one corner behind the curtain, was where the four of them slept. But that curtain was incredibly close to the back of one of the chairs at the table. So close that if you were to lean back, your head might brushing Instant and anyone standing behind it would be able to see your silhouette. It was an easy target for anyone who might be lurking in the back with a heavy hammer to swing, not everyone who stepped inside the bend. Your house ended up in the pit below their kitchen. No
Man, William Pickering, claim that he was welcomed in for a meal by Kate. She guided him to the table, making conversation the entire time and try to see him with his back to the curtain. Pickering notice that the canvas was filthy and covered in stains and move towards a different seat, Kate was said to become irate and she shouted at him while waving a knife around in the air. It was enough to make anyone uncomfortable, but Pickering had the courage to stand back up an exit, the house. He managed to get back on his horse and ride off before the entire fan
They chased him down why he didn't head straight to town to report it. Well that's anyone's guess. Another traveller who escaped death at the hands of the benders was catholic priest, Father POL pot of the own. He claims to have left before his meal was finished, because he noticed Kate whispering behind the curtain with John Senior, who held a large hammer in his hand. It's probably a good thing. He did Those hammers have a way of leaving a mark, metaphorically speaking,
and of NEO game in might be surprised by some of the details he woven to his novel american gods. At one point in the story, the main character, shadow visits, a clearing in Southern Kansas, where he's told about the people who once lived there, they made human sacrifices to an old slavic God named turn a bog killing travellers in exchange for power. Their weapon of choice, of course, was the hammer. This episode of Lore was written and produced by me, Erin Banking, with research help from our SAT Crockett and music by Chad Loss, I make another podcast called Aaron Minky's cabinet cabinet of curiosities, and I really think that you'd enjoying it twice weekly podcast that explore some of the most bizarre events, objects and people in history. Each episode,
is a ten minute bite size collection of two short tales that show you just how unexplainable our world really is more exists outside this pod cast too. There is a book series in stores around the country and are in line with book three dreadful places preparing on October. Ninth there's a tv show. on Amazon, prime with season. Two preparing on October nineteenth check them both out. If you want a bit more lore in your life.
And you can also learn about everything going on over in one central place: Thou world of lore dot com, Slash now an hey. If you're the social media sort of person, you can follow the show and twitter, Facebook and Instagram just search for law upon cast all one word and then click that follow button. When you do say hi, I like it when people say hi and as always, thanks for listening.
Transcript generated on 2022-03-12.