1873 Tickling the Ivories

January 14

A frigid Shop greets Kavanagh & Smith on this Tuesday. Baltimore is in a deep freeze. It’s a day when blow-torches are lit even when not in use. The crew goes about their business. They make the commercial jacket kettles now to keep in stock. Demand for these large cookers is getting higher. In addition to restaurant and eateries some large factories have their own kitchens. With a bit of success now, Joe & George can afford to keep some standard sizes on hand. They don’t sit around long as Baltimore keeps growing.

March 16

Most of Joe’s family are enjoying the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Baltimore. The Sunday before the feast day proper, a parade and celebration is held. After they go to mass at St. Vincent De Paul’s Church, the other Kavanaghs hasten to the Washington Monument for the start of the parade. Joe goes over in his mind a meeting he had with the folks at Orient Distilling. He took along his bottle of his rye. They were impressed by its potency, but were not interested in Joe servicing their equipment. They are a larger distiller and they have a big crew. Some of those men are there for the purpose of repairs. The meeting was cordial and professional. There was no issue with Joe’s rye. They just had little interest in an outside person or firm being involved in their production. Joe considers this through the chilly Sunday afternoon. They are still busy at the Shop. They’ve done another small repair for Monticello Distilling. He decides to focus on other small distillers. He’ll try to get “in” with these companies and go from there.

.March 22

A long week ends and the partners of Kavnagh & Smith discuss hiring another apprentice. The two young fellows they have hired have done well. The work is definitely there. They have several industries they are drawing work from which seems to keep things flowing. They can count on a fair amount of regular sales from both private customers and the cooking vessels users. They decide to hire. George will look for a suitable young man.

March 31

George finds a teen boy in the neighborhood who’s looking to work. He’s hired as the 3rd apprentice. He’s quickly put to work doing basic cleanup at first. Generally, this is the first assignment to any new employee. This will free up Joe’s other helpers to attend to the kettles and other coppersmithing duties.

May 10

Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh move out of the family home. They don’t go far moving from 89 Albemarle to # 93, just two doors down. They have four children now and they need the room. Patrick has a good job of his own. Still working as a ship’s carpenter. The time is right for them to get their own home. Joe’s happy for his older brother. He gives his brother and sister-in-law a present. A piano.

May 19

The Kavanagh children attend St. Patrick’s Catholic School. On this Monday, their father, Patrick, speaks to the principal of the school and piano lessons are arranged for his sons, Martin and Joseph. Both boys are excited to learn. Lessons are weekly. They take their lessons seriously, but it is the younger brother, Joe, who excels. He has some natural talent. It is clear. He grows to love the piano and singing, as well. Doing both throughout his life.

May 23

Baltimore welcomes a new tradition. The first Preakness Stakes is run. The race was and still is held at Pimlico Ractrack. It’s unlikely that Joe attended. Saturday is a work day. Still, I’m sure he read the paper with some interest. Survivor wins in a runaway by 10 lengths.

June 7

Another Kavanagh leaves the nest. Joe’s younger brother James moves to 13 S. Bond Street. He’s working at the Baltimore Sun as a printer now. Joe remains at home with his mother. Always a devoted son. He does all he can to make his mother’s life as happy as possible.

July 16

It’s the middle of a very hot very busy week. Joe and his crew hammer out the work. He’s sold a second still to another small distiller. He finishes that himself while the boys make more kettles and pitchers. The work is steady and plentiful. Joe’s family and business are both doing well. He puts his thoughts of the larger distilleries on hold. Things are good. No need to fret now. Both Joe and George are content that the Shop is moving in the right direction with a bright future ahead.

September 18

The Stock Market crashes in New York. Over-speculation combine with a huge drop in bank deposits to cause a panic. This sends the burgeoning U.S. economy into a depression that hits hard and fast. Kavanagh & Smith feel the effects within several weeks. Suddenly, companies are closing and people are out of work. There is less money for people and businesses to spend. The amount of work will plummet by the end of the year. In a few days, the promising future is gone replaced by one of fear and uncertainty.



Ulysses S. Grant is still the President. The Coinage Act puts the U. S. on the gold standard. The first typewriter is produced. Levi Strauss begins making denim jeans with copper rivets at the pocket. In New York, Central Park is completed. The entire nation is slammed into Depression after the Panic of September 18.

The state count remains at 37.

2 thoughts on “1873 Tickling the Ivories

  1. Remarkable information. I am descended from Alice Sarah Kavanagh b: 1888? I have an Ancestry Tree. “LoisPat”. My father was John Aloysius Lambie. I am Lois Meyer. How did you find so much details. Do you have old diaries? Thanks for compiling all this family history it is a true gift to us. God Bless You and Yours Regards, Lois

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Lois. I am sure were cousins. John Lambie married one of Martin Kavanagh’s daughters. Martin was my great-grandfather Joe’s brother. I have some very old job books & other details of what they did. I also have notes and tapes of interviews with my Dad. He told me stories he had been told by his father & grandfather. You’re welcome & I very much appreciate you reading. It’s mostly about the Shop but the family as well. For us, the Shop is family. It’s a long story with more to come. 🙂


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