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Andrew Kehoe

Photo taken c. 1920
Born February 1, 1872(1872-02-01)
Tecumseh, Michigan
Died May 18, 1927 (aged 55)
Bath Township, Michigan
Occupation Farmer, School board member, Treasurer
Religious beliefs Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Ellen "Nellie" Price Kehoe

Andrew Philip Kehoe (February 1, 1872 ‚Äď May 18, 1927) was an American mass murderer and tax protester who perpetrated the Bath School Disaster on May 18, 1927.


Early life

Kehoe was born in Tecumseh, Michigan into a family of 13 children. His mother died when he was five, and his father remarried; reportedly, Kehoe often fought with his stepmother. When Kehoe was 14, the family's stove exploded as she was attempting to light it. The oil fueling the stove soaked her, and she caught on fire. He watched his stepmother burn for a few moments before dumping a bucket of water on her. She later died from the injuries.

Kehoe attended Tecumseh High School and Michigan State College (later Michigan State University), where he met his wife, Ellen "Nellie" Price, daughter of a wealthy Lansing family. Married in 1912, they moved around until 1919, when the couple bought a 185-acre (75-hectare) farm outside the village of Bath from Nellie's aunt for $12,000, paying $6,000 in cash and taking out a $6,000 mortgage.[1]


Kehoe was regarded by his neighbors as a highly intelligent man who grew impatient and angry with those who disagreed with him. Neighbors recalled that Kehoe was always neat, dressed meticulously, and was known to change his shirt at midday or whenever it became even slightly dirty. Neighbors also recounted how Kehoe was cruel to his farm animals, having once beaten a horse to death.

Kehoe's neighbors were not impressed by the level of his farming ability. As neighbor M.J. "Monty" Ellsworth wrote,

‚Äú He never farmed it as other farmers do and he tried to do everything with his tractor. He was in the height of his glory when fixing machinery or tinkering. He was always trying new methods in his work, for instance, hitching two mowers behind his tractor. This method did not work at different times and he would just leave the hay standing. He also put four sections of drag and two rollers at once behind his tractor. He spent so much time tinkering that he didn't prosper.[2] ‚ÄĚ

Bath Consolidated School administration

With a reputation for thriftiness, Kehoe was elected treasurer of the Bath Consolidated School board in 1924. While on the board, Kehoe fought endlessly for lower taxes. He blamed the previous property tax levy for his family's poor financial condition, and repeatedly accused superintendent Emory Huyck of financial mismanagement. While on the school board, Kehoe was appointed the Bath Township Clerk in 1925, but was unsuccessful at retaining this position in the election later that year. During this time, Nellie Kehoe was chronically ill with tuberculosis, and her frequent hospital stays may have played a role in putting the family into debt. At the time of the Bath School disaster, Kehoe had ceased making mortgage and homeowner's insurance payments, and the mortgage lender had begun foreclosure proceedings against the farm.[3]

Bath School disaster

The Bath School disaster is the name given to three bombings in Bath Township, Michigan on May 18, 1927, which killed 45 people and injured 58. Most of the victims were children in the second to sixth grades (7-12 years of age) attending the Bath Consolidated School. Their deaths constitute the deadliest act of mass murder in a school in U.S. history.

On the morning of May 18, Kehoe first killed his wife and then set his farm buildings on fire. As fire fighters arrived at the farm, an explosion devastated the north wing of the school building, killing many of the people inside. Kehoe used a detonator to ignite dynamite and hundreds of pounds of pyrotol which he had secretly planted inside the school over the course of many months. As rescuers started gathering at the school, Kehoe drove up, stopped, and detonated a bomb inside his shrapnel-filled vehicle, killing himself and the school superintendent, as well as killing and injuring several others. During the rescue efforts, searchers discovered an additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol planted throughout the basement of the school's south wing.

Kehoe's last message wrapped inside one of the farm's fences.

After the bombings investigators found a wooden sign wired to the farm's fence with Kehoe's last message, "CRIMINALS ARE MADE, NOT BORN," written on it.[4]

When they were done taking an inventory of the Kehoe's estate, investigators estimated that, prior to its destruction, the amount of unused equipment and materials on the farm could have easily paid off the Kehoes' mortgage.[5]

See also

External links


  1. ^ Gado, M. (2005) Hell Comes to Bath, Part 2,
  2. ^  Parker, G. (1980) Mayday, History of a Village Holocaust 27. Liberty Press
  3. ^ Ellsworth, op cit., Ch. 3.
  4. ^ Ibid.
  5. ^  Gado, op cit., Part 5
  6. ^  Ellsworth, op cit., Ch. 2

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