We think of violence at schools as a recent phenomenon, but this incident occurred 75 years ago in a city an hour outside of Detroit.
In 1926 in Bath, Michigan, Andrew Kehoe unsuccessfully fought a long battle against a tax increase to pay for the towns' new school. He won a position as treasurer of the school board to aid his cause, but the city retained the tax despite his efforts. Kehoe claimed that with the added tax burden he would lose his farm and asked that he be hired to work as the school's custodian. The school board agreed.
Kehoe seemed to be a diligent custodian. He was seen doing electrical work in the building along with his janitorial duties. He seemed particularly willing to take on electrical work, saving the school the cost of an electrician.
On 18 May 1927, just after morning bell at the school, 300 pounds of dynamite wired in the basement exploded. The north wing of the school was entirely demolished in one blast. People four miles away reported hearing the noise. Help had to be got on foot since telephones were scarce. Not until noon was a full scale rescue effort mounted. Kehoe pulled up at that time and spotting the superintendent, Emory E. Huyck, aiding with the rescue, and called him over. As Huyck walked over to the car, Kehoe pulled a rifle from his truck and fired into a bundle of dynamite in his truck. The resulting blast killed Kehoe, Huyck, and 7 others.
Forty-four were dead, 30 of those were children. Another 50 to 90 were wounded. Not a family in the area went untouched by the tragedy. The massacre of Bath Michigan made the front page on 20 May, along side news of Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight.But the story went on a bit longer. That day they discovered the Kehoe farm had also been destroyed, his wife slain. Horses in the stables had been hobbled with bailing wire so they couldn't escape. There was a sign hung waiting, which read "Criminals are made, not born."
The Bath School Disaster held the title of the worst bombing incident in the US up until 1995's Oklahoma City bombing, and suffered a small historical revival in the time after the Columbine School incident.FOR LINKS TO OTHER MY TOWN MONDAY BLOGS: http://traviserwin.blogspot.com/