On May 18, 1927, a dynamite blast rocked the Bath Consolidated School, shattering one wing of the building and resulting in the death of thirty-nine children and teachers; dozens more were injured. An inquest concluded that dynamite had been planted in the basement of the school by Andrew Kehoe, an embittered school board member. Resentful of higher taxes imposed for the school construction and the impending foreclosure on his farm, he took revenge on Bath’s citizens by targeting their children. Soon after the explosion, as parents and rescue workers searched through the rubble for children, Kehoe took his life and the lives of four bystanders including the superintendent, one student and two townspeople, by detonating dynamite in his pick-up truck as he sat parked in front of the school.
The destruction of the Bath Consolidated School shared the front page of national newspapers with Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight. “Maniac Blows Up School …Had Protested High Taxes” screamed the headlines of the May 19, 1927, New York Times. Michigan Governor Fred Green created the Bath Relief Fund, and people from across the country expressed their sympathies and offered financial support. Michigan U.S. Senator James Couzens gave generously to the fund and donated money to rebuild the school. On August 18, 1928, Bath looked to the future and dedicated the James Couzens Agricultural School to its “living youth.” A statue entitled, Girl with a Cat, sculpted by University of Michigan artist Carleton W. Angell and purchased with pennies donated by the children of Michigan was also dedicated that day.
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