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Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie…

Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie (Bloodlands collection) (edition 2018)

by Harold Schechter (Author)

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559374,032 (3.71)8
Title:Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie (Bloodlands collection)
Authors:Harold Schechter (Author)
Info:Amazon Original Stories (2018), 80 pages
Collections:Your library

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Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie (Bloodlands collection) by Harold Schechter


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I grew up reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Pa playing his fiddle. Ma sewing. The kids playing in the great outdoors. Jack running behind their covered wagon. A great adventure! But, moving west and settling in mostly unsettled, still wild areas also held many dangers. Not just from weather and animals....from people, too. Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie tells the story of the Bender family. The Benders ran an inn on the Kansas prairie. They offered travelers hot meals and a place to sleep, but served up murder and robbery as well. The family smashed in the skulls of many guests, stealing their belongings and disposing of the bodies. Sometimes they killed for the money solitary travellers carried....sometimes seemingly just for fun. Either way, the family was horrifying. It just wasn't safe to travel the Kansas prairie alone when the Benders were around.

I had heard this story before. I grew up in Kansas and the tale of the murderous Benders is still told to this day. Schechter gives the facts in an interesting manner, touching not only on the crimes but on the disappearance of the family after their crimes were discovered. It's not known whether the family was quietly murdered by vigilantes or if they escaped off into the night to commit crimes elsewhere. None of the family members was ever seen again. At one point, a woman was put on trial for possibly being a Bender, but her identity couldn't be proven. Laura Ingalls Wilder even added to the mystery by saying she believed her father joined a vigilante group that killed the Benders....but the time lines just don't add up. Her family no longer lived in the area when Benders crimes came to light. It's a mystery that will never be solved.....the answers lost to time.

Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie is the second tale in the Bloodlands Collection from Audible/Amazon Originals. There are six stories of true crime in the collection. I love the mix of history and true crime story...so I'm enjoying the stories in this collection. Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie is a short read....the audio is just under 1 hour and 20 minutes long. This is non-fiction so if documentaries on history/true crime are not interesting for you, it might be best to pass on this collection.Steven Weber narrates. He reads at a nice, even pace and his voice is easily understandable. I have partial hearing loss but was easily able to hear and understand this entire audio book. The kindle book version of this story uses Kindle-In-Motion....so the cover, some of the illustrations and text has animations. It adds a bit of entertainment to the story.

The tale of the murderous Benders really brings home the fact that the Wild West was dangerous. People disappeared all the time -- accidents, illness, animal attacks.....and dangerous people. The brutality of their crimes is the reason why their story is still told today. Tricking solitary travelers into a hot meal at their table....only to sneak up and bash their heads in and throw the bodies out like garbage after stealing what little they owned. Horrific!

I'm enjoying the Bloodlands Collection so far. Some of the stories are new to me....some are a refresh on crimes I already know about. Very well done! ( )
  JuliW | Nov 22, 2020 |
I appreciated how the author recounted not just the Benders’ horrific crimes, but the fact that there were a substantial number of crimes during these prairie days. It was not a peaceful time by any means. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Oct 31, 2020 |
A Kindle true-crime story about the Bender family of Kansas. They were a German pioneer family of serial killers, all working together to murder as many visitors to their little grocery store and inn as they could. At least eleven people were murdered as they sat down to eat with the Benders, most robbed and a few mutilated. It wasn't until a Colonel went looking for his missing brother that their spree ended.
They seemed to be a family of Sweeney Todds, and there is a connection to the Laura Ingalls family. A quick read ( )
  mstrust | Jun 6, 2020 |
I'm convinced that Michael McDowell based his story KATIE on the Bender family. This family would provides fodder for a lot of horror tales. The family that kills together stays together.
Narrated by the excellent Steven Weber. ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
This short book tells the story of another murderous family from Arkansas, that operated at about the same time as Belle Guinness. The Bender family were co-conspirators in the murder of at least eleven people, apparently for money. The family setup a small tavern along a popular westward trail, then would sneak up behind their guests, using a tarp room divider for cover, and crush their skulls with a mallet or a hammer. Bodies were left at various locations or buried on their property. When their crimes were discovered the family disappeared, never to be positively identified again. ( )
  BrannonSG | Apr 20, 2019 |
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