1874 Year Nine

January 15

The amount of work is down a tremendous amount from last year. The Depression has a tight hold of the economy with no end in sight. Kavanagh & Smith make the difficult decision to let go the two youngest and newest of their apprentices. The volume of work just isn’t there. They hold on as far into the winter as possible. The Shop is very clean. Usually a sign of little work. If you have the time for a thorough cleaning, you must not have much work. Both the large kettles and the small pitchers, pots and pans are sitting on the shelf. Very little foot traffic from individuals or eateries. They are getting some repair work. Both from steamships and the small distilleries. It’s cheaper to repair than replace. Perhaps, not long term, but certainly over the short term. Joe & George are happy for any work they have.

March 20

Kavanagh & Smith is down to just 3 men. Joe, George and one helper open the Shop on Lombard Street every day. Both the partners beat the bushes for work. George makes bi-weekly trips to the docks and speaks to boatman. Hoping for some parts or pieces to repair. Joe keeps knocking on the doors of distilleries. Both large and small. Repairing stills, replacing stills. It makes no difference at this point. Every bit of work that can be found is important now.

July 25

A hot Saturday of work is followed by a fun family night for the Kavanaghs. It is young Joe’s 8th birthday. There are the usual presents and cake, but the highlight is the music. Young Joe has taken well to the piano. Still inexperienced but learning, Joe entertains his family by pounding out several songs he has learned. There is much clapping and smiling for the young lad. Despite the economic challenges, the family remembers what’s important. They are safe. They are together. In addition, young Joe’s mother, Katherine, is pregnant. Baby#5 will arrive soon enough. Something else to buoy their happiness.

September 12

Katherine gives birth to her 3rd son and 5th child, Eugene Kavanagh. All of the family is gathered in anticipation of meeting the baby. Joe is even there because it’s a Saturday. He and George have given up bothering to open the last few Saturdays. It seems pointless as they have enough trouble staying busy five days a week. The upside for Joe is being able to spend more time with his nephews and nieces especially the new baby.

November 27

Friday brings an end to a chilly week. The partners discuss the year that is passing and the future. They decide to stick it out. They hope that some relief will come in the new year. There’s no sign of it yet. They get their repair jobs here and there. The occasional kettle or pitcher is sold and another made for their stock. It’s not much, but they will make it through the year. Joe is concerned for his business and his family. I feel certain his faith helped sustain him. Joe was a devout Catholic and leaned on the Church when he needed to. Again, he just hopes for better times.



Ulysses S. Grant is the President of the United States. The first public zoo in the country opens in Philadelphia. The sovereign nation of Hawaii signs a treaty giving the U. S. exclusive trading rights.

Robert Frost and Herbert Hoover are born.

There are 37 states in the Union.

Joseph M. Kavanagh. (1836-1904) Founder of the Joseph Kavanagh Co. Picture taken 1890s.

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