1910 Don’t Shoot the Bartender

January 5

It has been a good winter so far. More of the old Shop’s candy and ice cream customers have placed orders for replacement cooking kettles and some repairs. The brothers and their workers heat and hammer. The torches bring some much needed warmth to the Shop. A very busy start to the year.

January 21

Frank’s wife, Augusta (Gussie) Kavanagh gives birth to a son named Charles. The family rejoices and celebrates.

February 7

Joe hires one of Martin’s coppersmiths, a Mr. Fairbanks. He had worked for the original Joe. Older and more experienced than Frank and James and very skilled. Martin’s Shop seems to be in serious trouble. Employees have left. Martin’s friends are the only workers left. The production of whiskey seems to be the primary focus now. The three brothers consider hiring several of Martin’s men, but they settle on just Fairbanks for now. They do not want to over hire and regret it later. They decide on just this one gentleman and Joe gets in touch with him.

March 19

On this Saturday the Kavanaghs have a St. Paddy’s Day celebration. After a half-day of work, it is music, food and drink at Joe’s house on Bond Street. The makeshift Kavanagh band plays. Frank on violin, Leo on the mandolin, James and Eddie on the piano. Joe leads them all in singing, of course. They perform a few old Irish songs including “Cruiskeen Lawn”. One of Joe’s favorites.

May 11

The Shop receives an order for a new copper tank for a hose wagon for the Fire Department. The hose wagon is another term for a fire truck/pump truck of the time. It is essentially a pump chamber similar to the ballast tanks they make for steamships. It adds to the already busy Shop’s schedule.

Job ledger entry. Copper tank fabricated for hose wagon. Pump trunk for Fire Dept. May 14, 1910

June 6

Leo and Eddie return to the Shop. This time Leo is staying for good. He is finished with school and is a full timer now. Eddie has one more summer of apprenticeship. They are in the midst of a still fabrication and installation for Sherwood Distillery. They are very busy. Working six days a week. The extra hands help.

July 13

Globe Brewery needs several new large beer vats. Joe takes the call and sends Frank and Eddie to the brewery. They assess the situation and return. A price is quoted and they get the job. James makes the sketches for the vats. Leo assists and observes. Joe has asked James to instruct Leo on making the drawings they need. Joe thinks it is best for Leo to learn this as well as the smithing skills. James agrees. He hopes to have someone to share the sketch work soon especially if they stay this busy. After the drawings are finished the crew begins cutting and shaping the copper. Frank, Eddie and Mr. Carey make the two vessels. They heat the copper to soften it. Then Frank taps with a brass hammer from one side while Eddie and Carey use wooden mallets on the other side. The work piles up. After a long hot day, the brothers decide to hire two more helpers. This brings the number of employees up to eight.

August 27

On this Saturday, Leo and Eddie both take the pitcher test. They attempt to shape a sheet of copper into a drinking pitcher on their own. It is the last step from apprentice to coppersmith at the Shop. It has been the tradition. Both pass. Both pitchers are well done, if not perfect. Joe is proud of them. He congratulates his boys then wanders over to the corner of Pratt and Central puffing on his pipe. The rest of the crew and Joe’s brothers clap the boys on the back. They chat and laugh a bit as only seasoned workers can. Joking with the young apprentices. Joe stands in the open lot at the corner and has a vision of the Shop and its future. This is a good corner with a lot of traffic. Room to build. A good strong Shop could be made here. Something that would last. Permanent premises. He pictures his sons working there and perhaps their sons.

August 28

Joe discusses his thoughts of a new building with Johanna after Sunday Mass. He is convinced they will have the jobs to justify a new place. The work is coming in fast since Martin’s Shop’s demise. They have the right crew and an ever increasing customer list. Unfortunately, if they buy the property and build a building that will take more money. They may be able to raise the money since the Shop is having such a good year, but it will certainly delay Johanna’s loan being paid off. She tells Joe that he should speak to his brothers. If they can do it, she will wait on the loan. She will help if this can guarantee a future for her boys.

September 3

A hot Saturday is spent finishing some small kettle orders. Joe discusses buying the corner lot of Pratt and Central with his brothers over lunch. Joe thinks they should build a new Shop there. Something permanent. James and Frank like the idea as they certainly could use the room. They have eight men packed into a small space now. They will all think about it and determine if they can raise the necessary funds.

September 30

Martin visits Joe on a very rainy Friday night. Martin appears disheveled. Joe leads him into his parlor. Martin asks for a drank. Joe pours each a glass of rye. Martin begins to explain as best he can what has happened. He lived too rich for a bit. He became accustomed to it. The money started running low, but he felt sure he could make his business work. He borrowed money. It did not help. He apologizes for his treatment of his brothers. He congratulates Joe on his success. Martin tells his younger brother that they did it the right way. They focused on the work. Joe listens more than he speaks which is very out of character for him. Martin finishes his whiskey and asks for another. Joe pours him another while he continues to sip his own. Martin then expounds on the problems he has had. He knows he made mistakes, but chalks a lot of his bad fortune up to luck. Joe says nothing as he stares at his glass of rye. Martin is managing a company called Baltimore Brass Works now. He hopes that will help him get back on his feet again. His Shop and the firm of Kavanagh-Ward Brass are both closed now. Martin confides that he owes many people. Not just the banks and creditors. Some of his “friends” in the whiskey trade. Martin admits that he feels like he could be in danger. Joe offers to lend him his pistol. A .32 caliber Smith & Wesson Joe had purchased a few years prior. Martin appreciates it and Joe hands over the gun with some bullets. Martin finishes his drink. They wish each other luck and he leaves. Joe pours himself a second rye and considers all that Martin said. Above all else, he is happy that Martin did not ask to borrow money.

Last Ad for Martin Kavanagh’s Shop. Polk’s City Directory 1909-1910.

October 2

The Kavanagh brothers meet at Joe’s house for a Sunday dinner of lamb stew. Comfort food on a chilly, damp fall evening. Joe informs them of Martin’s visit and of what he had to say. They are all a bit concerned for him, but they can not worry too much. Most of the troubles he is facing are his own fault. They discuss purchasing the Pratt and Central lot. They have the money they believe to buy the property and build. They are very busy. They would love to hire a couple more workers, but, decide to hold off for now. They will buy the property and find someone to construct a new Shop. If the work keeps coming in at this rate or faster, they will need the room. Then, perhaps, they will hire more workers. The three are in agreement. Joe, James and Frank drink a toast to the Shop. They sit and talk baseball for a few minutes. A little light conversation before James and Frank head to their homes.

October 24

First thing this Monday, the Kavanaghs discuss the World Series. The Athletics have defeated the Cubs 4 games to 1. They were pulling for the Philadelphia A’s primarily due to Joe. Joe’s old friend Connie Mack manages this team. Joe would have loved to have visited him in Philly during the Series, but it ended too quick. The World Series is the subject of discussion for most of the day as the crew works on some boiler parts and a small railing. They remain very busy. Joe is a happy man today because of the A’s championship. He praises the pitching of Jack Coombs who won three games in the series. He goes on and on in Joe fashion on this astounding performance. He even comments how much he loves the name Jack.

November 24

The Joseph Kavanagh Company buys the lot at Pratt and Central from Mary O’Wells. They will have a building constructed on the property. The Kavanaghs begin searching for a construction company to make their new Shop. They are all very excited at the prospect of a bigger building. They have had a great year so far. Because it is such a profitable year, they are able to afford a new Shop.

December 1

Joe finds someone to build the new place. The Stein Brothers construction company will erect the building. The new address will be 201 S. Central Avenue. Construction begins immediately. The hope is that they will be able to move in very early next year.

December 24

Christmas Eve. Each of the Kavanagh brothers celebrates with their families. Except Martin. Martin spent the night before at the Hotel Plaza. He has spent most of this evening at the cafe inside the hotel. At approximately 9:00 pm, he is awakened by the bartender. Martin has fallen asleep and the bartender, Clarence Keen, insists he leave. He tells Martin that this is a cafe and you can not sleep here. An argument begins. A witness recalls that Martin was acting strangely irrational. The bartender ushers him outside onto the sidewalk. The dispute escalates. It gets physical. Martin draws the .32 caliber pistol from his coat pocket and fires. The bullet strikes Mr. Keen in the throat. He staggers against the steps of the hotel and collapses. He is gravely wounded. Martin flees the scene. Walking quickly up Charles Street toward Preston. It was Christmas Eve. People were out and about. A large crowd gathered after the shot was fired. Several identify Martin as the shooter. He is stopped by a police officer on Preston Street. Initially he denies involvement, than proclaims it was self-defense. The bartender attempted to attack him. The police listen then Martin is arrested. He is taken to Central Police Station and charged with assault with intent to kill.



Howard Taft is the President. The Boy Scouts is incorporated. Glacier National Park in Montana is established. Father’s Day is unofficially observed for the first time. The first Paul Bunyan stories are published. The L. A. Times is bombed. Johnny Olson, Scatman Crothers, Artie Shaw, Bonnie Parker, and John Wooden are born. Mark Twain and O. Henry die.

There are 46 states in the Union.

.32 Smith & Wesson. Used by Martin Kavanagh in the Clarence Keen shooting. December 24, 1910.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s