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Documentary series in the works recalls Bath School bombing 95 years ago

Bath bombing documentary series
Posted at 5:45 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 17:45:24-04

BATH TWP., Mich. — May 18, 1927, was a tragic day in Bath Township. The deadliest school massacre in U.S. history and the subject of a new documentary series in the works.

The children who went to the Bath Consolidated School 95 years ago got ready for what they thought would be a normal day.

Andrew Kehoe served a school trustee, school board treasurer and a handyman.

At 8:30 that morning, he went into town to mail a package and at 8:45 a.m., an explosion rocked the north wing of the school and a second explosion went off at Kehoe's farm.

While the community rushed to rescue those at the school, Kehoe pulled up in his truck which was full of shrapnel and another bomb. He fired his gun at it, causing another explosion.

The explosions lead to the deaths of 38 children and six adults including Kehoe and his wife Nellie.

There are no longer any living survivors from that horrific day. The last of them, Irene Dunham, died earlier this month at the age of 114, but Matt Martyn has been working on a way to keep the story alive.

“We started interviewing survivors of America's worst school massacre that occurred in Bath, Michigan,” Martyn said.

Martyn is one of the co-directors for the docuseries "Forgotten: America's Worst School Massacre."

“I had lived in the area for quite some time," Martyn said. "Never heard of the town, never heard of that incident and was just, you know, that blew my mind.”

When Martyn started working on the series in 2005, he never thought he'd still be working on it 17 years later.

“It just became something completely different that I never could have imagined," Martyn said. "I expected something that could be put together in a matter of months, maybe a couple of years. It's been a journey that has changed my perspective on so many things.”

Martyn said meeting the survivors and talking with the community changed his life.

“The conversations that I had with these survivors that were in their 90s," Martyn said. "Irene lived to be 114. She was one of the top 10 oldest people in the world. Talking with these people forever changed the way that I looked at life and death."

Which encouraged him even more to make sure this is remembered.

“Then I realized this is about these children and these heroes of that day, that should be remembered,” Martyn said.

Seventeen years ago, Martyn had no idea how relevant his docuseries would be today.

“This is not a fluke, this is something that should be part of the discussion along with these school shootings," Martyn said. "The Bath School massacre is by far, the worst of all time and just it's relevant to the discussion. I mean, this is the world's first suicide car bombing as well, he used terrorist tactics that, you know, al Qaeda and ISIS are using all these years later.”

Historians have offered different reasons as to why Kehoe blew up the school, from being upset about school taxes, to just being a psychopath and wanting to destroy the community. It's the community pulling together to get through the tragic day that Martyn hopes to highlight.

"The fact that this town, even was able to survive and exist and pull together tighter than ever, is a story of perseverance and strength,” Martyn said.

Martyn said they're still in the process of wrapping up shooting and building a scale rendering of the school. He said once it's complete, they'll begin talking to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu to decide where it will be released.

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Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Mikayla Temple

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