1888 Alice

January 17

Joe’s Shop is very busy. It has been a good and fairly mild winter so far. The work is plentiful as Joe’s reputation in the distilling industry is growing. Today Martin is near Cumberland visiting a potential customer. The crew in the Shop are busily making two stills and some miscellaneous parts. Joe is happy as he is truly tasting some success now. His hard work and sacrifice have begun to pay off for the business.

March 11

The Great Blizzard of 1888 hits the east coast. Baltimore is buried in over a foot of snow. The City grinds to a halt for a few days. The Shop is closed. MD gets off easy though as the NE is covered in much deeper snow. Some areas as much as 58 inches. Over 400 people die in the storm.

April 9

The 22nd Anniversary of the Shop arrives with another order for a still in Georgia. Joe has hired two more employees to bring his crew to 15 including himself and Martin. They work in several groups on stills and a large fountain today. If Joe notices the date, he does not make any mention of it to his crew. It’s a day like any other as far as work goes. If there is work, it’s a good day. That is all.

May 19

Joe spends a quiet Saturday evening reading. He’s reading through a book sent his way from his brother, James. A very recent publication called “Half-century’s progress of the city of Baltimore : the city’s leading manufacturers and merchants.” It is published in NY. That’s how James came to hear of it. Joe is stunned to find himself mentioned. They speak glowingly of his skills, his experience and the Shop itself. It must have been a great affirmation of his success, of his abilities, of his trade. His proudest moment may have been when he handed this publication to his mother, Alice. Opened to page 216 and there is a short write-up about Joe and the Shop. She beams at her son as she reads and re-reads the pages over and over.

July 7

Joe and his mother, Alice, move to High Street. Joe’s success has afforded him the opportunity to live in a slightly bigger house in a better neighborhood. Alice is hesitant at first, but Joe convinces her that it’s still close enough to the rest of the family. Alice agrees and they relocate. Alice is very proud of her son and grateful for his care of her.

August 13

Another hot week begins this Monday. The Shop is humming along. More stills to be made and more jacket kettles for cooking. In addition, a steamship is due to dock this week. Repairs have already been arranged. This year is well on its way to being the best in the history of the company.

October 22

Joe assigns jobs to his employees on this Monday. They set to work. Martin is in Pennsylvania supervising an installation of a 40 gallon still. The rest of the boys are split between another 40 gallon unit and a very large brass rail. This rail is relatively straight forward, but for it’s overall length. Nearly 200 foot of rail to be worked. Joe watches and thinks. He is thrilled at the expansion in area of customers. Now reaching slightly north and farther south. Still, he wants to protect the business. To be assured of local work as well as out of state jobs. He must temper his excitement with enough reason to be cautious. To not get too big too fast. This has killed many a business.

November 6

Voters north and west of Baltimore City agree to annexation. The City is expanding. More land and more people make Baltimore a bigger metropolis. This is very much the age of cities. More modern and bigger they will become.

November 29

Joe returns to High Street to find his mother still in bed. This is very out of character. He tries to rouse her, but she is gone. Very suddenly, Alice Kavanagh has died. Joe is overwhelmed with sadness. He quickly informs his family. They gather as one to comfort each other. Alice was truly a matriarch in every sense. Certainly in the Irish sense. She lead this family from poverty and starvation in Ireland to the New World. To a New Hope. She sailed the seas with 4 children. No guarantees were given. There were no assurances of arrival much less happiness. She found a home for these children. Baltimore. She supported and raised them. She guided the family alone for a very long time. She lived to see her children have children. She lived to see them thrive in America. She even lived to see one of her sons work on the Statue of Liberty. That same son has established a successful business. Something the family can use as support both financially and otherwise. I think of her reading the article in the book about Joe’s success. Pride for sure, but also satisfaction. Satisfaction that her life’s work, her family, would be fine and continue on after her. Her courage and steadfast dedication to her children is inspiring. She never blinked. She never wavered. The family came first, always. 130 years after Alice’s death, her descendants number well over 100. She is buried in New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore. Many Kavanaghs will join her over the next five generations.

December 12

More work continues to roll in to the Shop. When they have no stills to work on, there seems to be several that need servicing. The distilling alcohol industry is being very good to the Joseph Kavanagh Company. They continue to make cooking vessels and other copper and brass items. Joe encourages Martin and his crew to take on all work of a copper nature. Joe is trying to protect himself in case of an economic downturn. He is confident and comfortable with the winter coming. They have work and contracts to carry them through. Joe ponders about other markets and customers he can tap into. He spends his evening alone giving thought to the future.

December 19

Martin and his wife, Mary Rachel, welcome their second child. She is named Alice. The Kavanagh Clan continues to grow. The family is buoyed by this girl’s birth. After the elder Alice’s death, a new Alice is born.

December 26

The day after Christmas finds the Shop a busy place. Joe calls Martin aside to speak to him. They discuss the fine year business-wise they have had. They speak of the jobs they have and where they want the company to go. They talk Shop basically. That is what we call it. Joe is perusing the newspaper as they speak. Finally, Joe invites Martin out for a drink after work. Martin is very receptive. Joe rarely goes out for such things. He tells his uncle, “Sure, let’s go have a glass of rye.”

Joe tosses down the paper opened to an ad for a brewery and replies, “No, let’s go get a beer.”





Benjamin Harrison defeats Incumbent Grover Cleveland to win the Presidency despite Cleveland winning the popular vote. The National Geographic Society is founded. The International Council of Women is formed by Susan B. Anthony and others. “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Thayer is published. Knute Rockne, T. S. Eliot and Harpo Marx are born.

There remain 38 states in the Union, but several territories are on the cusp of statehood.

Half-century’s progress of the city of Baltimore : the city’s leading manufactures and merchants. 1887

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