Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hell Comes to Bath

What of Bath?

The Girl With A Cat
The Girl With A Cat

Today, seven decades after the event and worlds away from rural 1927 Michigan, the village of Bath still remembers the awful tragedy that nearly destroyed their community. A museum commemorating the history of the Bath school is located nearby. Gene Wilkins, the town historian who has dedicated his life to memorializing the bombing catastrophe, said recently: "people of that era had great faith and that is what got them through at that time. If you carry hate for over 70 years, it would have consumed you. We hope their memories live on forever." Citizens from the Bath community have donated many items and memorabilia from the tragedy. An American flag that flew over the school on May 18, 1927, was returned to the museum in 1977 by a firefighter who was at the bombing scene. A statue titled "Girl With a Cat," completed in 1928 by artist Carlton W. Angell, stands inside the museum, a testament to the courage and determination of the people from Bath. The work was financed by penny donations from young students from the state of Michigan. It was rumored for years, and still believed by many, that those pennies were melted down to make the cast for the statue. Whether it is true or not, remains a mystery.

The Bath Consolidated School has long since been torn down. Another school was built in its place and that school was eventually torn down also. A small park has been built where the original school once stood. Inside the park, a bronze memorial plaque contains the names of all the children killed on that terrible day. And although their parents survived, they too were victims of the bombing, for life has never been the same since. But it hasn't been easy. The murder of children is never an easy thing. Some people moved away from Bath in the years after the tragedy, probably as much to escape from their own memories as anything else. The episode had a numbing effect on the community that, in a sense, still remains deeply embedded in the subconscious of successive generations. To many people, Bath is still remembered as the place where a bloody school massacre occurred on a glorious spring day. A day when one man's strange obsession was transformed into hate and hate transformed into murder. A day when the world went wrong and death fell upon the innocent. A day when Hell came to Bath.

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