Kate was about 5 feet 6, slender and buxom. She held herself proudly erect, head high. She had flashing, alert deep hazel eyes. Her hair was her crowning glory. It was a deep auburn, coppery in the shadows, flashing red-gold, glinting in the sunlight, a sleek, silken crest. Her lips were red, very red and pouting. It was a mouth to disturb the dreams of the young men who saw her. The men of her time, chary of description and cautious of praise, called her "a mighty good looker". Others often described her as “Beautiful, voluptuous with tigerish grace” or “strikingly beautiful, but satanic”. She had a great desire for notoriety, longed to become a great lecturer, and she possessed an insatiable craving to gain wealth, money and position. With her, any means justified the end to fulfill this desire.
Kate was the only family member to cultivate social skills. She spoke good English, her slight German accent only added charm to her speech. She was affable and glib in talking with any stranger who took her fancy. She laughed a great deal, she moved quickly, a vivid and colorful addition to the community. She occasionally attended a little church, sang, and knelt to pray with the congregation of hard-working, sober, tired men and women. Doubtless to say she stopped in the little entry to laugh and flirt, with the sunlight falling through the dusty window on her flaming hair. Kate often attended “meetin’s” at the Harmony Grove Schoolhouse (later renamed Carpenter School), attended the Christmas exercises there, and took singing lessons held by Leroy F. Dick. Mr. Dick, the Township Trustee, lived 4-miles southeast of the Benders and saw all of the family members at their house several times and knew them well. She as an excellent horseback rider and she danced well.
Young Kate worked for a spell as a waitress at a hotel in the newly incorporated Cherryvale, but soon realized it was more profitable to give lectures on spiritualism and to conduct séances. In her lectures she boldly advocated free love and pleaded justification for murder. She often distributed advertising circulars throughout the counties proclaiming her abilities. She soon gained notoriety as a self-proclaimed magnetic healer and spiritualist. Many stated she had supernatural powers of one kind or another, being able to not only cure diseases and maladies, but locate lost articles. She understood astrology and numerology, read palms, told fortunes by means of sticks-and-buttons, and work spells against evil women, all for a generous donation. She also sold infallible luck charms and love-potions. It is difficult to believe this beautiful and talented young woman, instead of using her love charms, used her knife.
She was the fifth child of Almira Griffith (Ma Bender) named Eliza, became alias "Kate", and upon a later marriage, Sara Eliza Davis. © 2005 Wayne Hallowell