1905 Joe’s Successor

January 2

The last will and testament of Joseph M. Kavanagh was read soon after his death. The executors of the will were Martin Kavanagh and Joseph France. He being Joe’s lawyer. Subsequently, Mr. France will go on to much bigger and better things. He is named Chief Council to the United Rail Co. and later is the first head of the MD State Bar association. In the will, Martin is named successor and it is revealed that prior to Uncle Joe’s death he signed half of the business over to Martin. By his will, Martin inherits the other half and is now sole-owner of the Shop. Martin also receives $ 25,000. A rather large sum of cash at that time. He also gets Uncle Joe’s gold watch and any other jewelry, but for a diamond ring which was bequeathed to Martin’s daughter, Kitty. Eugene’s widow and family received $ 1,000. A few other items were given to specific relations. The remaining estate was split among Martin’s younger brothers, Joe, James and Frank and his sister, Sarah. This amounted to approximately $ 2,000 each. There was certainly some surprise and even some hard feelings about the distribution of the will, but everyone accepted it. Regardless, the Shop goes on. Just prior to Joe’s death, Martin had made arrangements for a move to larger premises. Hopefully permanent premises. They move to 7th and Gough. A large warehouse building where they will share space will other recovering businesses. They rent initially, but Martin will consider buying the property in the future. The move is quick and by the end of the year it is complete. On this day, the first business day of 1905 the Shop’s crew is still settling in to their new home. They have several candy kettles to make. Nephew Joe has continued his job of General Manager and works the phones. In anticipation of the winter work they receive from confectionary companies, Joe has let those customers know that they are very much in business. He passes on their new address and several orders are placed. It is an adjustment for the Kavanaghs. They have worked so long for their uncle. Martin is different. Uncle Joe was very much a stoic whereas Martin is not. Still, they set about their work. They are family and all quite happy that the Shop is moving forward. All quite pleased with the new building and anxious to get to work.

February 2

Martin and his wife welcome a son. Joseph Michael Kavanagh. He is named in honor of Uncle Joe. The family is excited and joyful at this new arrival.

February 7

A cold day begins quietly. Nephew Joe is cold-calling customers. There is not much work. The problem being that most of their customers were impacted directly or indirectly by the Fire. The Shop has 9 employees including Martin and his three brothers. They struggle to keep everyone busy. The space they occupy on Gough Street has several other metals companies, as well. A lot of new faces roam through the building. Some of these are part-time employees for the other companies, but many seem to be friends of Martin’s. Martin tells his brothers that they will all have to make a little less money until the Shop gets back on its feet. They agree. All taking about a 25% cut. They are happy to have jobs so there is no grumbling. Martin sets his crew to building a 100 gallon still in the building. As Uncle Joe did before, it will serve as a display still for customers to view. Also, Martin confides to his brothers that there is a market for basic pure rye and they may have to dip into it to make some money. He is really saying they may have to sell illegal whiskey to be used in bars of lesser repute. Those willing to buy non-brand whiskey and sell it. The brothers and the other workers go along as they trust that Martin is right. He is the most experienced man there and the longest tenured Shop employee.

March 2

Young Joe’s father-in-law, James Long, dies. He passes suddenly. His daughter, Johanna is deeply saddened. She was very close to her father. Most of his estate goes to his wife, but Johanna is gifted his pocket watch. Inside is a picture of he, his wife and Johanna and one of her sisters. This watch passes through several generations and now is in my possession.

March 16

Tragically, the infant Joseph M. passes away. He has grown sickly the last two weeks and dies on this day. His parents mourn deeply. Mary is inconsolable, but Martin seems hardened by it. The baby is buried at New Cathedral Cemetery where the elder Joseph M. was laid to rest last year.

March 22

The Shop receives an order for a large storage tank for Gunther’s Brewery. A 300 gallon unit. It’s not the money that they would receive for a still this size, but it is a good order. James and Frank take measurements of the building. James makes the drawings which has always been his forte. Frank and several of the gents will fabricate and assemble the tank. Frank has become one of the best coppersmiths on the crew. He has done so rather quickly. He was, of course, schooled by Uncle Joe himself and seems to have a natural aptitude for shaping and working copper.

April 20

Work is still very spotty so far and Martin approaches his brother Joe with a proposition. He wants to partner with a Brass Works. They have a smaller crew and Martin believes this will help them with the steamship work they usually do in the summer months. Joe is hesitant at first as they are having trouble keeping their crew busy as is. Sending the brazier work out will cut down what they have and they just may need it. Martin assures him that they will still make and repair the pump-chambers which is more their specialty and is more profitable. They will work together focusing on which business is busier at the time. Martin could do this without Joe’s consent, but he wants Joe to handle sales and he wants his involvement. He may need the other brothers, as well. Joe agrees with some hesitation. He trusts Martin and hopes this will be beneficial to the Shop. Kavanagh-Ward Brass is formed by Martin and Joe Kavangh, John Ward, Richard Gardiner and John Stedman. The last two gentleman being primarily financiers. John Ward is a seasoned and experienced brazier. They begin operation almost immediately at 7th & Gough along with the Joseph Kavanagh Co.

Kavanagh-Ward Brass
Kavanagh-Ward Brass. 1905. 7th & Gough St. Far left is James Kavanagh, next over is John Ward. Far right is Joseph A. Kavanagh. Promotional photograph.

May 11

The crew of the Shop work on a few cooking kettles and some spare drip pans that they will stock for the distillers. They are still not particularly busy. Kavanagh-Ward Brass is similarly slow. Joe makes a few cold calls through the day. Martin is not at 7th & Gough. When he returns after a two-day absence, he tells his brothers he was out scouting around for more work. Several of Martin’s friends are there. Two fellows whose primary function seems to be running the occasional batch of whiskey in the Shop still. They bottle it up and leave. This occurs every week or so. Martin has told his brothers that this is a courtesy to some customers and associates. Also, a small source of revenue. They accept it as they know times are tough and Martin is the boss. Privately, Joe wonders where this may be going. He doesn’t speak of any concerns to his brothers, but hopes this is a temporary thing.

May 22

Martin hires a photographer to take some pictures of the 7th & Gough St. building. He intends to use them for promotion. He also has one taken for Kavanagh-Ward Brass. The brothers and workers line up for pictures. Most seem amused by it. Joe is a bit disturbed by it. Joe is one who loves to have his picture taken, certainly. In his mind though, this is wasteful. If they are still “cash-poor” as they say, he thinks this is a frivolous expenditure. Martin sees it as an investment for the future.

Kavanagh Coppersmith (1)
A business postcard from 1905. 7th & Gough St. The Firm of Joseph M. Kavanagh, Martin J. Kavanagh, Successor.

June 16

The steamship work arrives on schedule. Joe making calls and arranging the jobs. It’s still not at the volume of past summers, but the work is welcomed. Kavanagh-Ward Brass gets the brass and the Shop does the ballast chambers. A few jobs come in in a flurry. Martin is quite pleased. The Shop and the new business are both busier and the cooperative work seems to be a good thing. The younger Kavanagh boys, James and Frank, do work for both. James makes drawings for both and Frank uses his smithing skills for both. The building at 7th & Gough is alive with heat and hammering finally.

July 25

Mary Long, Johanna Kavanagh’s mother, dies. She passes within a few months of her husband. This is relatively common. Johanna is saddened and she, Joe and their children grieve. The Kavanaghs as a group pray for them and they mourn together as they always do.

August 12

Frank Kavanagh weds Augusta Snyder. Another Kavanagh brother takes a wife. His brothers and the family celebrate.

August 21

The Shop receives a very big job. Their first substantial distillery job since Uncle Joe’s death. Martin and crew have been contracted to design and build a complete distillery. The building will be erected by a construction firm, but the Shop will handle all design, fabrication and installation of the stills at the Gwynnbrook Distillery. James will take on the large task of making all necessary sketches and drawings. The company is still being sorted out financially, but the contracts have been awarded to build this large facility on Owings Mills and Gwynnbrook. The plan is for it to be up and running by February of 1906. Today some small still parts are made and Frank has several men with him at Globe Brewing. They are soldering leaking seams in large vessels. The usual job of climbing up into a tank and running a bead along the seam to stop the leak.

September 11

The Shop has a few jobs. Enough to keep them happy as they prep for the Gwynnbrook job. Joe is a little bothered today as Martin, again, is a no-show. Perhaps, out looking for work again. Nonetheless Joe wanted to speak to his brother about purchasing the copper block and sheet for this job. He wants to place an order soon. Martin has told him to hold off for now. Martin does not want their cash flow hurt by buying material too soon. Joe, on the other hand, is worried that the longer they wait it might run the job too late into the winter. They can always use the work in winter, but weather may impact their schedule. It’s unpredictable. Better to get at it while they can. Then again, Martin is the boss. Joe does do the books and knows their accounts pretty well, but Martin tells him they need to be careful with their cash.

September 28

A small copper fountain is bent and the holes drilled at the Shop. A nice little job for the crew. It will be installed by E. J. Codd Fab. One of their long-time customers. Also, today James finishes all the necessary drawings for the Gwynnbrook Distillery. He lets Joe know and is surprised when he’s told the material is yet to be ordered. Being in agreement with him, Joe can only tell him to take it up with Martin. Joe stays late tonight. He takes a closer look at the books. Their cash does not seem as bad as Martin thinks. It is not great. Certainly not like it was Pre-Fire, but not as dire as Martin infers. One thing that strikes Joe is that there are some discrepancies between quotes and billed prices on several jobs. When he brings it to Martin’s attention, Martin waves it off as “giving a break to customers” and using it to build for more work down the road. Joe is accepting, but does not agree with this approach. They have to make a certain amount of profit on each job. If not, why bother doing it?

October 7

On this Saturday, Joe takes a train after a half-day of work to D. C. He is attending a double header at American League stadium. The Washington Senators vs. the Philadelphia Athletics who are managed by his old friend, Connie Mack. Mack, now retired as a player, has grown into a successful skipper. This is the last weekend of the season and his club is on its way to the World Series. Joe visits with him between the two games. Unfortunately, the A’s lose both. It’s no matter as the pennant is already won. They catch up and Joe tells him of the changes at the Shop post fire. Though Joe is always one to talk, today he is much more interested in hearing Mr. Mack’s thoughts on his team. He is confident going into the World Series and tells Joe so. They have a good balanced team. Good pitching and good hitting. Unfortunately, Mr. Mack will be disappointed as the A’s lose the Series to the NY Giants who are still managed by former Baltimore hero, John McGraw.

October 18

The Shop’s crew are building another tank. This one is a 500 gallon “low wine“ tank for Maryland Distilling. “Low wine” refers to the first pass of alcohol in the distilling process. Usually, this liquid is passed through the system several more times to increase its potency. The tank will be used for storage. Another nice job. Along with some small kettles it makes for a busy few days. James and Joe have a meeting with Martin. They both push Martin to purchase the copper for the Gwynnbrook Distillery job. Martin is still concerned about putting the money out at this point. Joe remains calm, but James gets a bit angry. He wonders why he worked so hard to finish the drawings so fast if the job is in a holding pattern anyway. He explains that he did some of this work from home. He’s upset that he may have just wasted his time. Martin’s stance is firm. He will give it more thought and buy the material soon. He promises. Joe and James have no choice, but to accept Martin’s decision.

November 1

At long last, the Shop places its large order for copper block and sheet. Martin is absolutely sure that this will have no effect on the job. Joe does not agree. He is of the mind that winter weather could cause delays and hold up the project. However, he is glad that the material is on its way as they need the work. Today all they work on is several cooking vessels. The typical commercial kettles and pans. At the end of the day, Joe sits at his desk and looks out into the Shop. He is watching Martin and two of his friends run another load of rye in the still. They have a few drinks while doing so. Joe makes note of it, but says nothing.

December 24

The Shop’s year will end as it began. The company is not busy, but for the Gwynnbrook Distillery build. They have received their material and are proceeding. It’s a big project. Joe is worried though as they can not get by on one big job alone. They must have that combination of larger orders and the small ones. He knows that times are tough and they may have to just take what they can get. Martin has told all three of his brothers that he can not increase their wages as promised. The Shop just does not have the cash to return everyone to their prior salaries. Joe, James and Frank are not happy. They can see there is not much work, but they do need more money. They resolve to stick it out. Martin asks for just another six months to get the company rolling properly. This Christmas Eve is a Sunday. After a day at church and with family, Joe and the Kavanaghs meet on the Lombard Street bridge. He sings “O Holy Night” per his tradition. This time without his Primrose Quartet friends. He sings into the chilly air to honor the holiday. He has agreed to join Martin for a drink at a local watering hole afterward. He arrives and Martin buys a round of whiskey for all. Joe sips his Maryland Rye while Martin begins holding court among his friends at the bar. A second round is ordered by Martin though Joe is still nursing his first. Martin moves about the crowd laughing and joking with his pals. He’s dressed in a fine new suit while toying with Uncle Joe’s gold watch which is now his. Joe watches silently. A third round is ordered by Martin as Joe finishes his first. Joe says an uncharacteristic quiet goodbye and Merry Christmas to Martin and his friends. Joe walks home deep in thought. He thinks through the events of this year at the Shop. Also, the events of the last few minutes. He is troubled. He is no longer sure he can trust his older brother.



Theodore Roosevelt is the President of the United States. Franklin Delano Roosevelt marries Eleanor Roosevelt. She is given away by Teddy Roosevelt. 31 people die during a large Chicago Teamsters Strike. Las Vegas is founded. The Seattle Metropolitans become the first American hockey team to win the Stanley Cup. Juilliard is founded as the Institute of Musical Art. Joseph Cotton, Henry Fonda and Howard Hughes are born.

There remain 45 states in the Union.

Martin J. Kavanagh, Joe’s Successor. Circa 1900.



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