May 18, 1927
It was a beautiful sunny morning. Lawrence Seeger, a seven-year-old first grader at Bath Consolidated School, picked up his lunch pail and headed for school.
At approximately 9:45 a.m., his world and that of the entire Bath, Michigan, community would change forever. Unbeknownst to everyone, the school board treasurer and local farmer, Andrew Kehoe had wired hundreds of sticks of dynamite together under the floor of the entire school at night – under the guise of doing maintenance work. A timer set off a massive explosion, resulting in more than forty deaths and dozens of injuries. The blast was heard all the way to Lansing, more than twelve miles away.
Kehoe was angry at the consolidation of the school district, which he felt unfairly raised his property taxes. He had recently lost the election for township clerk and his farm was being foreclosed. After murdering his wife the night before, and upon hearing the massive explosion at the school, Kehoe set fire to his house and farm buildings, and headed into town to witness the destruction he had caused.
Upon arrival, he saw the school superintendent (against whom he held a grudge) was still alive. While he motioned him over to his truck seemingly to ask him what had happened, Kehoe detonated his own truck, packed with dynamite and shrapnel, killing the superintendent, three other bystanders, and himself. It was the largest mass murder in U. S. history until the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.
So here is my favorite postcard! This photo shows rescue workers displaying three buckets-full of unexploded dynamite. You see, while the entire school was wired to detonate, the section where the lower grade students’ classrooms were located did not go off.
First grader Lawrence and his classmates were spared. Lawrence, while carrying the memory of that day, grew up with his classmates, became valedictorian of his graduating class at Bath High School, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Upon his return, he married Lillian Hauser, had three children, and worked for Michigan Bell Telephone until his retirement. Lawrence’s and Lillian’s middle child, the lovely Christine Seeger, became my wife and the mother of our two sons.
I’ve told my sons many times that the unexploded dynamite is the reason they are here.
And now you know why this is my favorite postcard!
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[For additional details see the Lancing State Journal of Wednesday, 18 May 1927. Included in that issue are additional photographs (including the one below) and several sidebars of related interest.
Bath, Michigan, Consolidated School before May 18, 1927.
Great story! Never heard of this horrible event by a terrible man – Kehoe.
Russ – Uff da!
Wow. What a powerful story!
A powerful reminder that any tragic event creates repercussions that are felt for generations to come.
Whoa! Never heard of this….and blessings on your children!
Quite a hard story to fathom. I had heard of this event, but never in any detail before. A truly horrific crime. It would be something to have a connection to a story like this. Amazing that many young lives were spared though. Thank you for sharing your story.
Wow, What a fascinating story. No wonder that is your favorite postcard. I love reading history. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for this story. I never heard it before. I sure wish that the history that was in my textbooks back in the day was as interesting as the history that wasn’t.
Thank you for sharing your favorite postcard. What a story.