For several road-weary travelers the Bender Inn was the end of the road.

This 1873 photograph shows the infamous Bender Inn the day after the grave digging began. Local residents pose in front of the tiny inn where souvenir hunters have already started to remove wood siding on all four sides. The inn served as a general store and a wayside inn during the winter of 1871 to the spring of 1873. The Benders provided travelers with provisions, a meal to eat, a place to sleep--and a place to die. Measuring 16 feet by 24 feet, it was not large or fancy, not for a grocery store and an inn. The only paint on the structure was a crude sign over the front door simply stating “GROCERIES.” At the time of this photograph, the crude sign has already become a souvenir. The inn faced the Osage Mission-Fort Scott Road. In early May, 1873, the Bender family quickly fled from their homestead leaving behind ten, to be discovered, graves. News soon spread about the “Bloody Benders” deadly deeds. Soon hundreds of sight-seers and curious relic-seekers flocked to the farm carrying away every last remnant of the building, taking the stones that lined the cellar walls and even chopping the corral fence into splinters for souvenirs. By 1886, the Inn was reduced to nothing more than an empty hole that had once been the cellar. Photo by George R. Gamble, Parson. Kansas.  Cherryvale Museum Collection