1868 The Black Friday Flood and New Digs

March 22

Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh welcome a baby girl, Alice. Their first daughter joins their two sons as the Kavanagh family gets a little bigger. The Kavanaghs all still living at 89 Albemarle. Three generations in one home. As Patrick and Katherine’s brood gets bigger, that will have to change.

July 24

The Black Friday Flood hits. A massive storm with torrential downpours slams Baltimore City. A tremendous amount of water causes the Jones Falls to overflow. At one point, the water level rises 5 feet in 10 minutes. Joe and George try their best to deal with the water, but it’s impossible. They scramble to save their tools, supplies and any of their products they can. The stall at 1. W. Falls Avenue is washed away. Joe and George salvage what they can and return to their homes. Joe sits at his home on Albemarle Street and thinks of what he can do. His short-lived business is essentially all gone.

July 29

Joe and George meet on Albemarle Street. They both agree to carry on. They need to find new premises and hopefully one more permanent than the stall. George has a lead on a building on Lombard Street. Joe and he inquire about its availability.

August 3

Kavanagh & Smith open a new facility, 16 W. Lombard Street. The partners have decided to give it another try. They pool their money and are able to acquire this much more permanent Shop. They are taking a chance, but they were doing fairly well in their stall. It’s a risk, but the other option was to give up on the business. The building is approximately 50 ft. X 20 ft. There’s room to build and grow, if that is necessary. They have more room to work and sell. Joe has an actual shop to work in now. It’s more convenient, safer and more secure. This new building offers a chance to be more successful. The process of moving was relatively simple. A few tools and supplies were all they had after the flood. Any move is complicated, but this one I am sure was quick and easy. Considering the flood and damage, there wasn’t much down time and they get back to work. They make their pots, pans, pitchers and sundry. But now, Joe also has some privacy. To develop his skills and his knowledge. He begins tinkering with the design of the French Column Still he learned about in France. When he is not otherwise occupied with his copper products, he begins exploring ways to make the Column Still even more efficient. Off hours things. After closing time. As an owner, closing time is quite often an open-ended time.

August 20

A blistering heat wave burns over Baltimore. Joe misses his old stall a bit. A breeze that offered some relief there is missing from the new shop. Still, he hammers away. He anneals, he bends, he twists and pounds his copper. Despite the lack of wind, the new shop seems to be working out well. They are able to make larger pots and kettles for cooking now. The room affords them the opportunity to try new things. They are able to store and use larger blocks and sheets of copper. Foot traffic near the Lombard Street building brings them a steady supply of customers. The heat is more tolerable as they get busier and busier. Work can cure all ills at times. The production of larger kettles opens up the possibility for commercial customers, as well. All the while, Joe is still contemplating the Column Still. He believes that the burgeoning distilling industry may be a better potential source for work than even the food service industry.

December 20

The first winter at 16 W. Lombard Street arrives and Kavanagh & Smith couldn’t be happier to have four walls. The stall is not missed at all now. Of course, as mentioned earlier, using a torch will help keep you warm through the day. But nothing seems better for warmth than walls and a roof. The two friends speak gently of their successful recovery from the flood. They know success can be fleeting. They continue to work and make bigger plans. Their thoughts return again to purchasing a horse and cart. A way to reach a wider range of folks and increase their customer base. They table this plan until after the winter. Next year, they will re-evaluate.


Andrew Johnson finishes his term. In November, Ulyssess S. Grant defeats Horatio Seymour to become the 18th President of the United States. Memorial Day is observed for the first time. The Maryland School for the Deaf is established in Frederick, MD. The first volume of the novel, Little Women, is published. W. E. B. Du Bois and Scott Joplin are born. After the re-admittance of six Confederate states, there are 33 states in the Union.

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