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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 28 - Andrew Kehoe and the Bath Twp. Massacre Pt. 2


Pyrotol, Dynamite, Explosives
A portion of the Pyrotol bought by Andrew Kehoe.

Monty Ellsworth witnessed Andrew Kehoe’s erratic behavior firsthand more than most people. As he lived only 300 yards away from Kehoe. Would mention in his book on the bombing that in 1925 when he would purchase a tenant house from Andrew Kehoe for 250 dollars and that it was odd that Andrew demanded the entire payment upfront instead of half now and the other half when the house would be delivered as it was standard practice on deals like this. It's not clear if Ellsworth was aware of Andrew Kehoe’s money problems at the time.

Another conversation Ellsworth would have with Andrew about their current weather being cold at night and warm during the day. Monty would say to him “This isn’t good wheat weather.” but what caught Monty Ellsworth off guard was Andrew Kehoe snapping back at him “No, and I am glad of it. The farmers ought not to raise any more wheat until the country needed it badly. The damned fool farmers will never be any better off than they are now because if they do raise anything they will brag about it to everyone else.”

David Harte would find it also odd that in 1926 that Andrew Kehoe would just let his corn rot in the fields that year and not bring in thrusters to finish the job. But after all, he was known for being a bit odd and eccentric for the area like I mentioned last week due to wearing a suit while running his farm equipment. During this summer break is where it is believed that Andrew Kehoe would devise his plan to become the world’s worst demon while doing electrical work in the school.

As 1926 turned into 1927 Bath NYE celebrations would be disturbed by explosions from the Kehoe farm. It might have felt as if Bath was under attack as massive explosions pierced the silence and white flashes lit up the night sky around the Kehoe farm on the first day of the new year. Harry Cushman of Bath would run into Job Sleight asking him if he heard any explosions. Jobe’s response probably got him the reputation of the Bath’s soundest sleeper as he would tell Cushman no and chalked it up to Kehoe shooting off the old year.

Days after this Job Sleight and his wife would visit Andrew and Nellie since she was just released from one of her many hospital stays due to her illness. After a few pleasantries, Jobe would ask “I heard you were shooting off dynamite on NYE.” Kehoe would answer him with “Yes, I thought I would shoot some off. I set some out and wired it up to set it for midnight.” laughing to himself after his explanation “I guess I jarred them up.” my best guess this was an acceptable answer for Sleight as Andrew was known for tinkering all of his life with gadgets and electricity.

February with no mortgage payments still being made a professor from MSC would show interest in buying the property and making an offer of 12k dollars the same as Andrew made in 1920 but later withdrew his offer due to the property taxes being too high. By the end of March, two more offers would fall through even though Kehoe was offered equity in an unnamed property. He would consult Jame Dunnebacke about this, and he would tell Andrew he wasn't crazy about the deal as it would put him in a bad spot to negotiate, mid-April these two would meet for the last time where Dunnebacke would ask about the deal and Andrew told him didn’t accept it.

Part of Kehoe’s duties as treasurer was to pass out the paychecks to school employees. Every 20 days he would go from classroom to classroom giving the teachers their check in a cold voice with no expression. Where he would tell every recipient “Well, it's another month.” But when it would come to Superintendent Hyuck's check he would tend to “Forget” to bring it to Hyuck’s office.

In early May, janitor Frank Smith would find the backdoor split around its lock on his nightly duties of making sure the school was secure. With some effort, he would get this door to lock but eventually, it wouldn’t lock and of course, Kehoe would be called in to make repairs. Unfortunately, this lock could no longer be repaired at this point so it would end up being removed and sent to Lansing for repairs.

As some of these might seem a bit irrelevant but after the bombing, many townsfolk would say “I never knew a saner man” Regarding Kehoe I decided to include these to show how little everyone knew what he was planning.

Andrew Kehoe would ask local man, Allen McMullen if he had a use for a horse. Allen would tell him that he could probably use one every once in a while, and Andrew would tell him to come on over and get one as they are tearing up his barn. Kehoe would also ask him how much he would pay for one, but Mc Mullen wasn’t interested in buying the animal. To McMullen’s surprise, Andrew Kehoe would come to McMullen’s farm with the horse named Kit he had offered days before. One evening, while Allen was having dinner with mutual friends and Andrew Kehoe, would arrive. After talking shop for a few minutes as most would say Andrew reaches into his pocket and hands Mc Mullen a piece of paper. Since Mc Mullen didn’t have his glasses, Andrew being the helpful neighbor, he was known to be would read it to him.

May 4, 1927, received from Allen Mc Mullen.

One hundred twenty dollars in full payment for one bay mare, ten years old, blind in the left eye, weight 1800 pounds, Named Kit.

120.00 A. P. Kehoe

This was a receipt for the horse, the same horse that Mc Mullen thought was a gift and also this would be the first time Andrew would tell him that it wasn’t a gift at all. Even though Andrew spent his morning in Lansing visiting his wife Nellie in the hospital, Allen McMullen would take a chance to see if he was home and return the horse. After knocking on the front and back doors of the Kehoe home, he wouldn’t get an answer. He would then visit the Harte’s across the road where he found out that he had seen a light on late in the night. Even after trying to reach him by phone in the Harte home, he would still not get an answer. After more attempts knocking on the door, Mc Mullen would start to think the worse that maybe he had hung himself last night. Trying once more he finally would be answered by Kehoe half-dressed asking what's the matter.

“Are you going to kill yourself in your sleep?” Mc Mullen would ask but Andrew would respond with “It wouldn't be a bad way to die, would it?” with a grin. After giving Kehoe his reasons why he doesn’t want the horse. Days later Mc Mullen would finally get Kit back to Andrew. Kehoe would tell him after putting the hose in its stable “You made a mistake by not keeping that horse over there.” to which Mc Mullen offered no response to Andrew’s odd choice of words.

It was a regular site for David Harte to see Andrew coming back late at night. He would assume this was just him finally returning home from visiting Nellie at St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing. By mid-April, he would also notice Andrew’s trips to Lansing were increasing and sometimes have tarp-covered boxes in his truck and Kehoe never spoke a word to David Harte about this.

As payday came around again while giving bus driver Ward Keyes his paycheck Ward’s foot would slip from the clutch causing the bus to start rolling. Acting quickly to stop the bus from rolling Ward jumped back to stop it. As paycheck floated to the ground Kehoe would tell him “You better keep that, that may be the last you ever get.” Taking this as a joke Kehoe would same to him “Are you going broke?” Kehoe's only response was “I guess not.” It was known for years that Kehoe wasn’t too happy about Ward Keyes driving a bus but never held it against him. Even with Ward making occasional trips passed his farm if the weather was bad he would always notice Andrew Kehoe out by the fence checking his watch as Ward Keyes would pass by with a bus full of kids. Even though neither man ever said anything about these actions Ward Keyes just assumed it was Kehoe making sure buses were running on time.

On the morning of May 13th, Monty Ellsworth would invite Andrew to have a shooting contest between the two of them where Ellsworth would be impressed by how well Andrew was able to keep a steady hand shooting with everything he had going on at the time. When they were done shooting and returning to Kehoe’s truck. Ellsworth would notice a half-uncovered carte holding an estimated 1000 rounds for his Winchester rifle.

On May 15th Nellie was to be released from the Hospital once again but hospital staff would urge him that it was best, he would come tomorrow on Monday the 16th due to the rain that day could agitate her condition. But the day before road crews would report boxes of missing dynamite.

Lulu Harte would happen to notice that Andrew Kehoe was loading up his truck with old wheels and various pieces of scrap metal. She would question David her husband about this as this wasn’t a normal cargo most farmers would back into their trucks. “You don’t think he is junking his tools, do you?”

David would hear through the grapevine that Andrew is trying to sell his horses off. So, visiting him and asking how Nellie was doing Andrew would tell him “Much better she's visiting her sisters in Lansing, David Harte would notice copper wires running to and from a tool shed to a henhouse. Harte assumed that this was Andrew preparing for Consumer power to bring power to his farm. Even though they couldn’t agree on a price for one of the horses David Harte wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary in Andrew’s behavior.

The end of the school year would mean fun for the school children. First-grade teacher Bernice Sterling would telephone Andrew about having an end-of-the-year picnic on his farm for her students. She wanted to have this picnic on Thursday 19th and what should have been taken as a warning of some sort he would go on to tell her “Well, if you are going to have a picnic you better have it right away.”

This same day Nellie's sisters would call asking about her but he assured them that everything is fine, and he was taking her to Jackson soon to visit her friends named the Vosts that they knew in Tecumseh, and it would do her some good to see some old friends. And he would be going back for her on Thursday. That evening David Harte would notice that Andrew Kehoe carrying more hay into his chicken coop as he was not a few days earlier when he came to possibly purchase one of his horses. Knowing that Kehoe didn’t own any chickens for a few years and would come to the conclusion that he maybe he was preparing to get back into chicken farming.

May 18, three days of school left. Early morning thunderstorms would have the skies over bath cracked with bolts of lightning as some kind of bad omen. The bright lights of the roaring twenties are finally coming to town as consolidated power-strung power lines finally put an end to a reliance on generators. This would make the end of the school year for children and tomorrow would be the final step of adulthood for school seniors.

Bath Twp consolidated school followed the agrarian calendar. This would allow students to attend school from fall to spring to allow them to be out of school planting to harvest due to the majority of the children being from local farms.

Even with electricity now being strung through Bath the school would have to wait a bit longer and still rely on its generators for electricity for the lights and to run the well pump to provide water for the school. Frank Smith the school's janitor would fire up the generator hours before the children would arrive so everything would be ready for their arrival. On this morning the water pump would be acting up and hold off on the generators until a repairman could come and take a look at it.

As daylight broke as the storms rumbled off in the distance as they moved from Bath, Kehoe drove into town to deliver a box to the local post office addressed to Clyde B. Smith of Lansing. Not wanting to wait a moment longer as his package urgently needed to be delivered would then send his package via railway express, railway agent would have no impression of “High explosives danger” as this box clearly didn't have its original contents as Kehoe had cut this box down to fit its contents better. Railway agent Huffman assured Kehoe that his package would be on the first train to Laingsburg and then on the first train to Lansing from there for morning delivery.

Albert Detluff on his morning errands of getting duck eggs would spot Andrew Kehoe and would strike up a conversation with him to find out when the next school board meeting was. During their chat about this school board meeting, Detluff would bring up the faulty water pump to Kehoe asking if he would take a look at it.

As the two men entered the school Kehoe would check his watching seeing it was 8:25. “School is about to begin we don't have enough time to look at the water pump” but Detluff would remind him its only really 7:25 and we have plenty of time before school starts. Hesitating for a moment “Yes, we have” Kehoe would reply. This confusion was due to Kehoe keeping his watch set to Eastern whereas the school was set to central time. This could be due to that a majority of the state was on Central time until 1931 after the city of Detroit switched to Eastern in 1915.

While Detluff and Kehoe look over the water pump with no conclusions as to what's wrong, moving to the school’s generator. Frank Smith and Detluff theorize what is wrong with the water pump, Andrew Kehoe is silent as the school's equipment in the basement suddenly springs to life snapping at the pair “You know, I’m in an awful hurry!” in an outburst leaving the basement. Detluff and Smith would eventually come outside to check to see if the repairman had arrived and they would find Kehoe and his truck gone.

As the children of Bath filled the schoolhouse that the community was so proud to have, their symbol of a bright future on top of a hill in town hidden in the North wing is an alarm clock ticking away, ticking away to fulfill its task, ticking away to awake a new era of Bath, Mi.

Ralph Cushman, nine years old hardly able to contain his excitement for the upcoming three months off to spend with his love, baseball. “Goodbye Mama I'll be good!” he would shout to his mother as he leaves for school with his sister Josephine. Knowing her brother six years younger than her could be quite bashful offered to sit with him until its time for class. He would tell his sister Josephine no because at nine what would be more embarrassing than being seen with your older sister “Ok that's all right, I will see you at lunchtime.”

Robert Harte before leaving for school would tend to the family's brood of chickens, grabbing his lunch pail as his mother looked on as he would leave for the day “See you later Mom!” as he leaves for the day.

Iola Hart would kiss her mother goodbye as she did every morning “Don’t worry if I don’t come home at noon, you know I have a test to write tests this morning and I might faint anyway.”

Scenes similar to these would play out across Bath in many homes as the children would rush to school before the 8:30 bell would ring. With the generators out at the school the principal Floyd Huggett would call the school to order at this time but classes would not begin until 8:45. Huggett would meet with the class of 1927 at the Bath Methodist Church next door to go over their commencement rehearsal the next day.

Lee Mast 10 years old, tried to get out of going to school that day using the excuse his hip hurts, but like most moms, she saw right through this and send him to school that day after all. His teacher Blanche Hart would send him off on an errand for her and would happily accept this as any excuse to get out of class is a good one. As he walked through the halls the breeze coming in through the windows would feel great on his face.

Leona Gutekunst, a teacher of second grade was said to be gifted to bring stories to life when she read them aloud. After finishing one tale her students begged her to read one more just one more story. Gutekunst would figure one more story wouldn’t hurt since their summer vacation is about to start and their minds wouldn’t be on the lesson for the day. She would pick up another book about an elf in search of a golden apple, keeping the students from their desks for a little longer.

Fifth grader Carlton Hollister and his classmate would switch classrooms with their sixth-grade peers for a geography test on the second floor. This switch was made as this classroom was considered it was better to conduct testing in. Being curious about whose desk he was sitting at he would open the lid to find a book belonging to Galen Hart a good friend of his that he played with often.

Two miles away on Clark Rd. Lulu Harte’s attention would be drawn away from her chickens in their henhouse from a thump on the roof. Coming out to see what had caused this loud thump the next thing she would hear was what she thought was a gunshot coming from across the road at the Kehoe farm. Early that morning she had seen him leave but now smoke is rising from the roof of the Kehoe’s corncrib before flames would start to find their way outside between the open sides of the crib. Running to find her husband David to inform him that Kehoe’s corn crib was on fire. Rushing together back to the front of their property they would now see that Kehoe’s barn is now fully involved with fire. The three-story farmhouse that was described with more windows than walls is now billowing smoke accompanied by gunshots inside the home.

David would shout to his wife and neighbors, and the linemen from Consolidated Power coming to aid in putting the fire out “Don't go in there I'm certain he set it!”

West of the Kehoe farm Sidney Howell and his two boys that weren’t named were working in their driveway as Melvin Armstrong stopped to visit with the Howells moments before the fires started. All three of the Howells would jump into Armstrong's car to see if they can do anything to help Andrew put these fires out unknowing he had started them himself. As they are coming down the road they can clearly see Kehoe run from the house to his tool shed. Running up to the back door they would see Andrew emerge from the smoke in his pickup truck and stop to remove a funnel and replace the truck's gas cap, Just before the Howells and Armstrong entered the back door of the home Kehoe would stop them. “You are friends of mine, don’t go in there, go down to the school.” taking Andrew’s advice they would turn back to the road where Kehoe casually walked back to his truck and drove towards Bath.

And at 8:45 am, an innocent alarm clock would make its final tick before ringing and sending electrons racing down wires snaked through the basement. Electrons raced to their destination of blasting caps wired to dynamite and Pyrotol waiting to unleash an explosion and horror that not a single soul in Bath was prepared for.

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