We keep hearing about how the Sandy Hook massacre was the SECOND WORST in American history but, the news media doesn't really seem that interested in
going into details on what, exactly happened in the worst school massacre or where and when it happened. Maybe its because it doesn't fit into their
The worst school killing happened way back in the Year of our Lord 1927. 45 souls perished that day, 38 of whom were children. It involved the usual
deranged individual that usually carries these things out and shocked the nation, for at least three days, after which the nation carried on with its
“We Still Look at Ourselves as Survivors”: More Than Eighty Years Later, Remembering the Deadliest School Massacre in American
The recent shootings in Newtown, Conn., have led many people to characterize school violence as a modern affliction, a byproduct of our national
obsession with guns and media violence. But the deadliest school-related massacre in American history happened in 1927, at an elementary school in
Bath, Mich. A school board member named Andrew Kehoe, upset over a burdensome property tax, wired the building with dynamite and set it off in the
morning of May 18. Kehoe’s actions killed 45 people, 38 of whom were
At the time, Bath was a small farm community with under 300 residents. The town had “an elevator, a little drugstore, and you knew everybody within
20 miles,” as one survivor of the attack recalled in 2009. Perhaps its most modern feature was the Bath Consolidated School, which opened its doors
in 1922 and brought all the region’s students under one roof. In The Bath School Disaster, published in 1927 and available online
here, Kehoe’s neighbor, Monty J. Ellsworth, noted that the consolidated school was markedly superior to
the “common country school” that preceded it. It was also more expensive, and the township raised property taxes in order to repay the school’s
This upset Andrew Kehoe. A local farmer with training as an electrical engineer, he was a severe, stubborn man fond of drastic solutions to small
problems; Ellsworth writes that Kehoe once shot a noisy dog and killed his own horse because it was lazy. In an article from May 20, 1927, the New
York Times noted that Kehoe “was known through the countryside as a ‘dynamite farmer’. Neighbors detailed how he was continually setting off
blasts on his farm, blowing up stumps and rocks.”
Kehoe tried working within the system to fight the tax increase, even joining the school board where he tried to obstruct even the most necessary of
spending and running for office but, his reputation preceded him and he was rejected by the voters.
His loss at the polls and impending foreclosure on his home finally caused something in him to crack and he spent months packing the school with
explosives in order to have his revenge.
The school exploded at 8:45 a.m. on May 18. At that point, after killing his wife and destroying his farm, Kehoe hopped inside an explosive-laden
truck and drove to the school. Thirty minutes after the initial attack, while conversing with the superintendent, he detonated the truck bomb, killing
himself, the superintendent, and a few others. Later, investigators found that a short circuit in Kehoe’s wiring was the only thing that stopped the
attack from claiming more lives, as “more than 500 pounds of dynamite and several sacks of gunpowder were found under a portion of the building that
remained standing.” If the explosion had gone as planned, Bath’s entire downtown might have been destroyed.
They didn't have the politically crazed 24-7 news media like we have today but the story did make national headlines. The nation mourned the loss
with the people of Bath but, didn't dwell on it for overly long or become obsessed with finding a way to "make sure nothing like this happens ever
again". Back then people recognized this as an isolated incident and went on with their lives. No legislation was proposed to take away anyone's
rights to protect the people from themselves.
But the attention was short-lived. In an interview this summer with the Christian Science Monitor, Arnie Bernstein, author of 2009’s Bath
Massacre: America’s First School Bombing, noted that “there wasn't a media frenzy like today. The media came in and left. Three days after it
happened, Lindbergh took off and flew to Paris, and that part of it was over.”
Without a news media obsessed with learning every aspect of the killer's life and turning him into an instant celebrity, the event died down
naturally over the normal course of time, the town was left alone to mourn their dead, and no copycat events followed.
I guess the moral of this story is; American's REALLY hate it when you raise their taxes.