Field trips

1927 Bombing of school not forgotten

12 Comments 09 March 2011

By Bahaa Abazeed and Diala Elhallak
Unis Middle School

(Editor’s note: After a visit to a journalism conference at Michigan State University, Unis Middle School journalists were taken by field trip bus driver Bill Bromund to the little town of Bath, Mich., where two of Bromund’s ancestors were killed in the 1927 bombing of a schoolhouse.)

On May 18, 1927, the deadliest attack ever on a U.S. school took place in Bath Township, Mich.

Near the site of the explosion, Bill Bromund said, “Andrew Kehoe was the person who planned this attack.” Two of Bromund’s relatives, Robert and Amelia Bromund, died in the attack. The explosion that Kehoe set killed 45 people.

A memorial of the explosion is inside the

Kehoe, who was born in Tecumseh, Mich., on Feb. 1, 1872, to a family of 13 children, was elected treasurer of Bath School in 1924. While he was on the board, he fought continuously to lower taxes. Kehoe blamed his family’s poor financial conditions on property taxes. Some taxes were used to build the Bath School. Kehoe repeatedly accused school Superintendent Emory Huyck of financial mismanagement.

Kehoe and his wife, Nellie, whom he had married in 1912, lived on a farm outside the village of Bath. Kehoe was described as being impatient with the people around him. Neighbors saw the cruelty he showed to his animals, and he was said to have once beaten a horse to death.

People also called him thrifty and it helped him get elected as school treasurer. He campaigned for lower taxes. Working as janitor at the Bath School that he felt had cost him so much money, Kehoe had the opportunity to carefully plan his attack.

The first attack began early in the morning on May 18, 1927. Kehoe had killed his wife, who was already ill and near death, and tied up his farm animals in the barn. He then used firebombs to set the barn and house on fire. Neighbors contacts firefighters, who rushed to the farm.

Kehoe, meanwhile, headed for the school. There, a second set of explosions began at 9:45 a.m. Kehoe had planted hundreds of pounds of pyrotol inside the school’s walls and floors, and used a detonator to set the dynamite off. Kids jumped out of windows. It was a huge chaos. The explosion was heard miles away. Firefighters headed toward the school. Concerned parents feared an earthquake and began heading toward the school.

When rescuers arrived at the school, the third explosion came. Kehoe had packed his car with explosive and metal objects and summoned the superintendent over to it. Linda Wolf, director of the Bath School Memorial, told us, “Kehoe then ignited dynamite … and killed himself and the superintendent and many others.” Wolf’s grandfather died in the attack.

Cleo Claton, 8, a second grader wandering out of the collapsed school building was killed by flying pieces of metal from the car.

As investigators were searching the school after the massacre, they had found 500 pounds of unexploded dynamite. Then, investigators gathered at Kehoe’s farm to investigate the fire. Detectives identified Nellie Kehoe’s body at the ruins of the farm. Nellie’s body was extremely damaged that it wasn’t noticed by neighbors. The farm was destroyed and the barn animals were killed. The amount spent on explosives could have easily paid off the mortgage.

Bill Bromund said “This bombing has not only impacted our family but the whole community by pulling us together.” His ancestors, Amelia and Robert, were fifth graders at the school. Their graves were the last two marked. It did not happen until 2008.

This chaos was devastating not only for Bath Township, but all of the country. Thirty-eight children between the ages of 7 and 14 and seven adults died. These children did not deserve this to happen to them.

At Kehoe’s farm, investigators found a wooden sign wired to his fence that saud:


This desk is part of the memorial to the Bath School disaster of 1927.

Your Comments

12 Comments so far

  1. Ahmed Fakhreddine says:

    I think that what happened at that school was sad. Bahaa Abazeed and Diala Elhallak, good job. I learned something new. :)

  2. Bahaa Abazeed says:

    Thank you Ahmed for commenting on this story. It’s a good thing that you learned something new that day.

    – Diala & Bahaa

  3. Houssein ajrouche 7th says:

    Wow. I feel so bad for these kids. Oh and the adults. This reminds me of 9/11 even though it wasn’t as big as 9/11 it still will haunt. Great issue

  4. Ali hammoud4th says:

    Wow what a sad story.

  5. That sounds so bad i wish I could help.

  6. OMG, this really disappoints me. It’s really sad of what happened to the school, and I wish it didn’t happen.

  7. Inshirah Sufyan 2nd hour kincaid says:

    wow i cant believe someone would ever think of doing something so cruel. It doesn’t make sense that he would want to kill a bunch of kids and adults especially at a school. I’m glad he killed himself because he doesn’t deserve to live. I feel bad for the families and the whole community to have to go through something so tragic.

  8. Hussein Baydoun says:

    WOW, what he did was unbelievable i think some one would actually do that. He killed so many innocent kids teenagers and adults. Just to think about it why would Andrew even put in his head that he wants to blow the school up and blow up his farm and killing his animals and his wife:(. Anyways what a really sad story its a good thing that the investigators caught him and brought him to justice and was served to a death penalty.

  9. Fatima Bouhamdan/Knicaid 6th hour says:

    This a really sad story.For what reason should anyone actually kill his sick wife and then kill his animals and then bomb a school filled with innocent children and adults. This man really deserves to die because what he did was plain cruel and mean. I feel so sad for those poor little children and adults.

  10. zahirah abdullateef 4th hour says:

    wow, what a kill why would he do something like. iam glad he killed hisself.i mean what kind of human does that like realy. i just wonder what CRIMINALS ARE MADE NOT BORN. really sad story.

  11. jojo1969 says:

    Wow, interesting to see its not been forgotten. I have heard this sorry my entire life. My grandmother was raised in bath, mi. I myself attended 2nd and 3rd grade in bath schools. My great grandfather was offered a job in a different city just the week before this happened, my grandmothers class was the class that lost the most children. two weeks after this they moved back and my grandmother completed school in the bath schools. If my great grandfather did not take the job (even though it didnt work out) I may not be here to make this comment. This is very sad and effected my grandmother her intire life(even though she was not there she knew all those kids). Thanks for sharing this storey. Brings back all the stories grandma would share with us.

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Unis Middle School

Unis School serves grades K-8 in the Dearborn Public School District. The school principal is Heyam Alcodray. These are its beliefs about education:

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