Saturday, June 20, 2015

Worst Mass Killing At A School In U.S. History Was In Michigan-And Not A Single Gun Was Fired

By Brandon Hall 
(Email him at

Terror at a church in Charleston has brought gun and school violence back to the forefront of the national discussion this week, and when asked where the deadliest mass killing at a school in U.S. history occurred, almost all Americans would guess Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, or Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virgina. Some might say Columbine in Littleton, Colorado.

They would all be wrong. Unless they guessed Bath, Michigan.

In 1927, a deadly terror attack killing 38 innocent school kids and 5 adults happened at the Bath School, perpetrated by a disgruntled school board member. And not a single gun was fired.

"Some time between May 16 and the morning of May 18, 1927, Kehoe murdered his wife. Then on the morning of May 18 at about 8:45 a.m., he set off various incendiary devices on his homestead that caused the house and other farm buildings to be destroyed by the explosives' blast and the subsequent fires.
Almost simultaneously, an explosion devastated the north wing of the school building, killing 36 schoolchildren and two teachers. Kehoe had used a timed detonator to ignite hundreds of pounds of dynamite and incendiary pyrotol, which he had secretly planted inside the school over the course of many months. As rescuers began working at the school, Kehoe drove up, stopped, and used a rifle to detonate dynamite inside his shrapnel-filled truck, killing himself, the school superintendent, and several others nearby, as well as injuring more bystanders. During rescue efforts at the school, searchers discovered an additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol connected to a timing device set to detonate at the same time as the first explosions; the material was hidden throughout the basement of the south wing. Kehoe had apparently intended to blow up and destroy the entire school..."
a single grey-haired man dressed in a dark suit and white shirt, is looking directly at the photographer, while sitting in a chair at a table while apparently holding up a cigar
Bath School Killer Andrew Kehoe

Churchill famously said, "The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see."

As politicians are so quick to use the latest tragedy in South Carolina to push agendas-nine innocent Americans gunned down while at church in a sickening display of evil-it's important to remember that the problems in this country aren't simply because of guns.

We have always had to deal with fellow citizens who have hate in their heart that causes them to commit evil acts throughout our history.

I don't have all the answers and I don't know what the perfect system looks like, but to ignore the mental health and other factors involved and use cases like South Carolina solely to pass gun control laws is disappointing, counterproductive, and won't stop an event like this from happening again. It just won't.

For once, can't we just mourn the victims of a tragedy instead of pushing an agenda? And once agendas start getting "pushed," can we get real about mental health reform in this country and what that might look like?

People like Dylan Roof or Andrew Kehoe will kill with or without guns.So why should you not be able to protect yourself and your family or fellow community members from evil thugs like these two, as law abiding gun owners have done time and time again?

I'll listen to President Obama when he gives up his armed security team strapped with dozens of guns...

>>Read more about the Bath School Disaster below, via Wikipedia, which has a thorough and well sourced page on the topic:

"Telephone operators stayed at their stations for hours to summon doctors, undertakers, area hospitals and anyone else who might help. The Lansing Fire Department sent several firefighters and its chief.[31]
The local physician, Dr. J. A. Crum and his wife, a nurse, had both served in World War I, and had returned to Bath to open a pharmacy. After the explosion the Crums turned their drugstore into a triage center with the dead bodies being taken to the town hall, which was being used as a morgue.

Hundreds of people worked in the wreckage all day and into the night in an effort to find and rescue any children pinned underneath. Area contractors had sent all their men to assist, and many other people came to the scene in response to the pleas for help. Eventually, 34 firefighters and the Chief of the Lansing Fire Department arrived on the scene, as did several Michigan State Police officers, who managed traffic to and from the scene. The injured and dying were transported to Sparrow Hospital and St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing. The construction of the latter facility had been financed in large part by Lawrence Price, Nellie Kehoe's uncle and formerly an executive in charge of Oldsmobile's Lansing Car Assembly.

 Michigan Governor Fred W. Green arrived during the afternoon of the disaster and assisted in the relief work, carting bricks away from the scene. The Lawrence Baking Company of Lansing sent a truck filled with pies and sandwiches, which were served to rescuers in the township's community hall..

People from all around the world provided sympathy to the families and the community of Bath, Michigan, including letters from some Italian schoolchildren. One 5th grader wrote: "Even though we are small, we understand all the sorrow and misfortune that has struck our dear brothers..." And another: "We are praying to God to give to the unfortunate mothers and fathers, the strength to bear the great sorrow that has descent on them, we are near to you in spirit...

Vehicles from outlying areas and surrounding states descended upon Bath by the thousands. Over 100,000 vehicles passed through on Saturday alone, an enormous amount of traffic for the area. Some Bath citizens regarded this armada as an unwarranted intrusion into their time of grief, but most accepted it as a show of sympathy and support from surrounding communities.[46] Many of the victims were buried starting Friday, May 20...

Governor Fred Green quickly called for donations to aid the townspeople[3] and created the Bath Relief Fund with the money supplied by donors, the state, and local governments. People from around the country donated to the fund.
brass plaque listing the people's names who died during the disaster (with the exception of the Kehoes, fixed to a large  boulder
Plaque at the entrance of Bath
School resumed on September 5, 1927, and, for the 1927–1928 school year, was held in the community hall, township hall, and two retail buildings. Most of the students returned. The board appointed O. M. Brant of Luther, Michigan, to succeed Huyck as superintendent. The Lansing architect Warren Holmes donated construction plans, and the school board approved the contracts for the new building on September 14. On September 15, Michigan's Republican U.S. Senator James J. Couzens presented his personal check for $75,000 (roughly $1,018,000 in today's money)[36] to the Bath construction fund to build the new school

The board demolished the damaged portion of the school and constructed a new wing with the donated funds. The "James Couzens Agricultural School," named for the senator, was dedicated on August 18, 1928.[58] The Kehoe farm was completely plowed to ensure that no explosives were hidden in the ground and was sold at auction to pay the mortgage."


Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
>>>Email him at 


Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson


  1. This might not mean much to most people. But this part caught my eye:

    "On September 15, Michigan's Republican U.S. Senator James J. Couzens presented his personal check for $75,000 (roughly $1,018,000 in today's money)to the Bath construction fund to build the new school"

    When was the last time anyone saw a sitting politician who felt so strongly about an issue, they that freely gave their own personal money to that cause?

    Sadly, nowadays politicians just have government cut them a check from the general fund and then pat themselves on the back for such an outstanding act of generosity.

  2. Minor quibble, but there WAS a gun.

    "Kehoe drove up, stopped, and used a rifle..."

  3. I know the distant cousin of Emory Eli Huyck: Lorinda Ann Huyck. Huyck lived in Moffat County and she died very unexpectedly.

  4. Emory Eli Huyck is part Dutch. Richard Dibble Richardson is part Pennsylvania Dutch.

  5. Emory Eli Huyck is a Freemason, the secret society! He was a Masonic hero!