1906 The Pie and Whiskey Conspiracy

January 2

The Shop begins a new year focused on the large distilling system for Gwynnbrook. There are many parts to be made in addition to the stills themselves. Also, Martin hires Charles Whiteford as a consultant. Mr. Whiteford is a newly elected young member of the MD Legislature. Martin informs his brothers of this hire today. They are surprised and each is curious why. Martin thinks that having a little help in Annapolis will assist with job procurement. It helps to have someone with our interest at heart in the government he says. This will bring them more projects like Gwynnbrook. Joe tells Martin this is a ridiculous waste of money. If we are still unable to bring our salaries to where they were before the Fire, how can we pay this man? Martin lets Joe know that this is his call. This will help them draw in work and get to the point where everyone can make more money. Joe doesn’t like it, but Martin is the boss.

January 10

Candy and ice cream kettles are made along with the Gwynnbrook job. This keeps the Shop’s crew working hard. A deadline approaches. They must have Gwynnbrook prepared by the end of February. The winter’s cold is fought off by constant use of blow-pipes as they heat and hammer. Shaping the pots and pans to create the continuous column still. Assorted tubes, bearings and fittings are created. Nearly eight weeks of work must be done in six.

February 26

Martin J. Kavanagh Jr. is born. Martin and his wife are thrilled to welcome a son. The Kavanaghs are excited at yet another addition to this large clan. Martin is doubly happy because the Gwynnbrook job is finished on time, but just barely.

March 1

Maryland Historical Magazine is first published by the Maryland Historical Society. The Shop is suddenly very slow. Spring is a bad time to be slow. They did have a better winter due to one large project, but it was a tough job. The crew worked harder and more hours with wages still reduced from two year prior. The younger brothers are frustrated with Martin. Even after the Gwynnbrook project, Martin still does not have the money to increase salaries. The profit on the distillery was not what he expected. The dissatisfaction with Martin spreads to his non-Kavanagh crew whose wages were reduced even more so. Two of their experienced coppersmiths quit. Two fellows who worked for Uncle Joe and were quite skilled. They are unable to carry on with less money. The Shop’s crew drops to seven.

April 9

The 40th Anniversary of the Shop is not celebrated. It may have passed from memory by now, but it’s not the same Shop. Martin and his friends run a batch of whiskey which becomes more and more common. Frank is at Arrow Brewery. He and a helper work on some repairs. Replacing some fittings and soldering seams. The rest of the crew make some spare pans and kettles for stock. They wait for more work. Joe waits for the telephone to ring.

June 7

The steamship work arrives just in time.. The pump-chambers are fabricated by the Shop while brass stacks, fittings and gauges are made by Kavanagh-Ward Brass. Both companies are busy and the Kavanaghs and crew are working for both. James, as always, doing the engineering and making drawings. Frank and the one remaining pure smith each paired with a helper taking on the copper work. They have several cooking kettles to work on as well. Both Kavanagh-Ward Brass and the Shop are very busy very suddenly. Everyone works extra hours. They must take the work when they can and take advantage of it. On this day, Martin returns to the Shop for the first time in three days. He arrives after lunch well fed and slightly inebriated. Joe is angry but James is livid. They demand to get more money. They have given Martin time. He swears he will do so as soon as he can then storms out.

June 8

Martin returns and promises to find a way to pay them more. He will help as much as he can on the steam ship work they have. He spends the day with Frank and his helper working on a chamber. For the first time in a year, he is smithing.

July 14

Frank’s wife, Augusta gives birth to their first child, a boy named William Christian. The youngest brother has his first boy. His mother, Katherine and the family rejoice and pray for his young family.

July 23

They are busy still with some ship work. Joe coordinating with John Ward on much of this. Martin was true to his word for a week. Afterward, he spent a few days in Annapolis. Meeting with Mr. Whiteside. He told his brothers he is trying for more larger projects. Bigger money. The boys toil without his help. His work was sub-standard anyway. According to Frank, his skills have deteriorated and his mood is unmotivated.

August 15

Some small boiler work and commercial cookers are made today. As the pattern continues, they are very slow again. The work keeps coming and going. Two extremes. The jobs they have can be finished in several days, but instead they are stretched over a week. The Shop is clean. A very clean Shop is usually a slow Shop. Martin and his friends make a run of rye. They busily bottle it and leave. Martin again tells his brothers the sale of this whiskey is helping them financially. Kavanagh-Brass is similarly slow. Much of this is due to Baltimore’s recovery from the Fire. The breweries, distilleries, eateries are all still in recovery. The City is bouncing back, but it’s unreasonable to expect it to go any faster than it is. Joe worries more and more about Martin, but keeps it to himself.

October 14

The White Sox beat the Cubs in an all Chicago World Series. The Kavanaghs, even in such tumultuous times, are baseball fans. I am sure they followed closely through the newspaper. The Cubs had posted a record setting 116 wins in the regular season but, fall to the Sox who win four games out of six.

October 16

The Shop receives two very nice bits of work within three days of each other. One is a still replacement at Orient Distilling. The other is a set of new beer vats for Globe Brewery. They are very relieved with winter just around the corner. The crew are ready to work more hours. Martin makes an announcement that he will hire several coppersmiths. He thinks this is the best way to make money fast. Joe and the other brothers strongly protest. They would rather work more hours if they can make more money. They do not want to work more, but they are willing. They just want to be paid accordingly. If they hire more smiths, when the Shop gets slow again, they will have additional salaries to pay. Joe and the younger brothers believe it is better to stay smaller and busier than to get bigger and slower at least for now. Martin will not relent.

October 19

Martin places an ad in the Sun to hire several coppersmiths. The Kavanagh brothers are not happy. Martin is the boss and can decide what he wants to do. They see little chance of any more money anytime in the near future..

October 22

Martin hires two younger smiths. The crew welcomes them, but with skepticism. The first thing Martin has them do is run a pass of rye. They do seem to be smiths, but they do not impress on day one. The Globe Brewery job is nearly finished and will be delivered in several days. They begin work on the still for Orient. Martin, more and more, hovers between intoxicated or hungover, but stays consistently unreliable. Joe becomes more desperate that he must do something. He begins to consider leaving.

November 10

In Annapolis, “Anchors Aweigh” is written by Naval Academy bandleader, Alfred Hart Miles. It soon becomes the theme song for the United States Navy.

November 22

It’s a quiet Thanksgiving dinner for Joseph and Johanna with their sons, Leo and Eddie, and their daughter, Alice. They celebrate and are thankful. After dinner when the children are in bed. Joe opens up to Jo about the problems at work and his concerns. She is very aware of their financial issues and she knows Martin. Joe tells her he thinks he needs to leave. He can not work there much longer and he is not sure how long the Shop will be there. Martin’s haphazard running of the place and the spotty work are making it tough. He would like to give it a go on his own. He thinks he could get his brothers to come along .They can try to start their own Shop. He is confident they can do it. They know the jobs, customers and what to do. He would need money to get premises and to get started. He knows he and his brothers do not have the money to start. They have some, but not nearly enough. Jo has money she inherited from her parents. Insurance money. She always had her own money. A strong independent Irish woman. She ran a boarding house while Joe was off singing in his music days. He took long tours and she worked. Even now she bakes pies and cakes and sells these treats in the neighborhood. She always had her own money. It is hers and Joe knows better than to ask for it. Before he gets to that point, she offers. She believes in him and his brothers, but this is her money. They will have to sign notes and the money will have to be paid back. She is clear on this. It is her money for her future and her children. Joe is grateful and assures her that the money will be paid back. He will use the money as seed money to get a new business started. If not, the Shop will likely disappear or he will certainly have to find something else to do. He will need to find a building and make other plans. She asks him to give it all some thought first before speaking to James and Frank. He must have a plan and he must be sure. He must remember. It is her money.

December 8

Joe and Jo have a long Saturday night discussion. Joe has given his idea a great deal of thought. He is sure that he and his brothers can make a go of it. James the engineer and draftsman. Frank the very skilled coppersmith and Joe the talker. They may be able to get one or two of the Shop’s helpers, but at first it will just be the brothers. They will have to start small and try to stay busy. He wants to do this. Johanna listens She tells him to invite his brothers to Sunday dinner. She’ll make a ham.

December 9

James and Frank arrive for Sunday dinner in the rain. Johanna welcomes them. They greet and play with the kids for a few minutes. They enjoy a traditional ham and potatoes Irish dinner. They speak of the coming holidays and the neighborhood, but not the Shop. After dinner, the children are ushered out of the dining room.

The brothers sit and smoke. Joe opens a bottle of Monticello Rye. His personal favorite. James speaks up and is anxious to hear Joe’s proposal. Frank is just as ready to talk about Martin and the Shop. Joe asks them to wait and have a drink. Several moments later, Johanna joins them carrying a half of an apple pie and tea. She takes her seat. She cuts a piece for all and pours tea. Joe tells his brothers his plan. He knows that they agree on his assessment of Martin. Their brother is drinking too much. He sometimes doesn’t show up. Something is amiss with the Shop’s money. Martin is burning it up with no end in sight. He hires people for the wrong reasons. Joe feels the Shop could be out of business sooner rather than later. Joe suggests they open their own Shop. The three of them. If they all agree, they must decide now .They must start planning now. James asks where will the money come from. Jo answers him. She explains that she is willing to lend the necessary money, but it must be paid back. She will give them time to make the business work. They must all sign a note to her even Joe. They have to agree to this or she will not do it. James and Frank are taken aback a bit. They agree. They realize this may be their only opportunity. Also, they know her. Joe finishes his proposition to them. He will find a place. They will work for Martin until everything is ready. Then they will act. The three will be equal partners. All will own a piece of the Shop. Joe thinks he should be president. He makes the deals, knows the customers, does the books and is the senior brother. They will all three make the same salary though. He also impresses on them that Uncle Joe had a dream for the Shop and the family. The brothers working together. This is not it. He stresses. We must do this for Joe and for their futures. They all agree. Joe and James and Frank shake hands. They thank Johanna and promise to sign any required note. The loan will be repaid. They hash out the rest of their plan over tea and more pie. Joe will look for premises. All will keep quiet and keep their eyes open. Customer names and jobs are to be memorized as best as possible. Anything of importance shall be noted and recalled. They will aim for the Spring. The brothers will pick up where their uncle started. They will be partners. They will make a new Shop, but they would have no chance without Jo Kavanagh.



Theodore Roosevelt is the President. He visits Panama to review the construction of the Canal. This is the first foreign trip by a sitting president. San Francisco is rocked by a devastating earthquake that kills over 3,000. Devils Tower, Wyoming and the Petrified Forest, Arizona are declared National Monuments. The first forward pass is thrown in American Football at St. Louis University. Lon Chaney Jr., Bugsy Siegel, Lou Costello, Ozzie Nelson and Satchel Paige are born.

There are still 45 states in the Union.

Interior of Gough & 7th Steet - 1904 or 5
The interior of 7th and Gough St. Beer vessels being fabricated in the foreground. 1905.



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