It’s 1927 in a small mid-Michigan town named Bath, mid-May.
Andrew Kehoe was a 55 year-old man married to Nellie Kehoe. The couple had a farm in Bath, located 10 miles to the northeast of Lansing. Andrew was born in Tecumseh, MI on February 1st, 1872, he had 12 siblings. Nellie and Andrew married in 1912, Andrew was 40. Seven years into their marriage, they moved to Bath.
In 1924, Kehoe was elected onto the school board as a trustee, moving up from that to become the treasurer. He was described as extremely frugal and difficult to work with due to his stubbornness. He fought with the township financial authorities often about getting the value of his farm lowered, to decrease taxes, and to get his mortgage removed. Every attempt unsuccessful and he eventually received a notice in June of 1926 that his property was being foreclosed. The first event that helped push this man over the edge.
Kehoe was temporarily appointed to the position of Township Clerk in 1925 and decided to run for a permanent position in the upcoming local election in 1926. Unfortunately for him, he was defeated and left to wallow in the embarrassment the public rejection had caused him. This was the final straw.
In the summer of 1926, Kehoe was hired by the board to fix some lighting in the building while students were on break. Having complete access to the school, it is believed that this is when Kehoe planted the explosives he would later use to terrorize the town that had so harshly rejected him earlier that year. His purchasing of explosives was not suspect at the time due to the excavation techniques used by farmers then.
Nellie had been in the hospital for unknown reasons and was discharged on May 16th, 1927. To welcome her back home, Kehoe decided to murder her. The time of death is unknown.
On May 18th, 1927, he began his day of satisfaction. In the early morning, he detonated fire-bombs in his home and the buildings on his farm. As he was leaving his property, Kehoe told firefighters to head to the school instead of wasting time at his home.
Kehoe had set an alarm clock for 8:45 am in the basement of the school to trigger the explosion. 38 people were killed in the first explosion. After the explosion, Kehoe headed up to the school with a pick-up truck full of metal debris, explosives, and a .32mm rifle. Once he arrived at the school, he motioned for the Superintendent Huyuck over to his car. He picked up the rifle and pointed it at him.
Huyuck grabbed for the gun and there was a struggle. Bystanders report to have seen the struggle when, suddenly another explosion came. This time it was from the truck. This explosion killed Huyuck, Kehoe, Nelson McFarren- a retired farmer who had gone to the scene to help, and an eight year-old named Clea Clayton. Clea had survived the first blast and was helplessly wandering to find a familiar face in the ash-filled area. Cleo was immediately killed shrapnel flying from the truck.
The Bath School Massacre, carried out by Andrew Kehoe, left 38 children and six adults dead, as well as injuring 58 others. Kehoe died as a result of the second explosion and never had to face his guilt for what he’d done. The community of Bath, MI will never forget this tragedy.