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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

'Notorius' exhibit presents extremes in regional characters

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Visitors to the La Cygne Museum over the next few days will become reacquainted with John Brown, Carrie Nation and a host of other regional characters. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

LA CYGNE – You will recognize a lot of the regional characters you will meet in the “Notorious” exhibit now on display at the La Cygne Museum.

Whether it is Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, the controversy surrounding John Stuart Curry’s portrait of fiery abolitionist John Brown with his outstretched arm carrying a rifle in one hand and the Bible in the other, angry portraits of “Barroom Smasher” Carrie Nation, the infamous quack John Brinkley known as the “Goat Gland Doctor” who prescribed his vile formula for everything, or the story of Kansas City in the early days with “Boss” Pendergast, jazz great Charlie “Bird” Parker, and the Kansas City Massacre, they are all stories for visitors to explore.

There are some less familiar stories as well, like the story of the murderous Bender family near Cherryvale. Travelers who were unlucky enough to stop to dine at the Benders’ home simply disappeared, and it wasn’t until years later that authorities found that the visitors had been robbed and murdered by the otherwise hospitable Bender home.

This is the last few days at the museum for the traveling exhibit developed by the Smokey Hills Museum in Salina. In addition to fascinating exhibits and stories (be sure to try your hand with the divining rods), there are also some activity sheets for children.

The exhibit will be at the museum through Monday, Memorial Day, May 29, before moving on. The hours of the museum are 1 to 5 p.m. daily, or you can call (913) 757-4478 for an appointment.

Kansas City notorious mob culture and jazz scene in the 1920s and '30s is covered by the exhibit.

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