1922 Murder and Mayhem

January 7

The first Saturday of the year is spent meeting with Jack Hart. He picks up some whiskey and passes along some cash to the Kavanaghs. Jack wants to cut back production a little. He is still selling, but the market is a little inflated right now. Also, he has run into some new competition. He doesn’t go into specifics and Joe doesn’t ask for them. The Kavanaghs are fine cutting things back. They have been going full bore on whiskey production for almost a year. Also, their actual coppersmith work began to return at the end of the year. Jack will start picking up every other Saturday.

January 27

A cold Friday turns snowy fast. The Shop’s crew are working on some new kettles for several Washington D. C. candy companies. The confectionery work has returned. They are also working on some rye. The workmen are very busy through the day as the snow piles up. Joe keeps a wary eye on the weather. Snow is something that generally can be worked around. They do their jobs then deal with it on the trip home. This time, however, the storm is very heavy. Blasting Baltimore and the surrounding area with snow. The snow reaches six inches by mid-afternoon. Joe and James have a brief chat. Tomorrow they are not working. This is one of the weeks when Jack does not come up to the Shop. They quickly decide to close up and send everyone home. If this keeps up, they will be buried this weekend.

January 29

What is now called the Knickerbocker storm(named for a theater in Washington D. C. that has a roof collapse during the blizzard) dumps approximately 26 inches of snow on Baltimore. It has snowed all through Saturday and into Sunday. When it is finished, the City will be effectively shut down for nearly a week.

February 2

The Kavanaghs are finally able to reach the Shop. Travel in the City has been non-existent for three days. Blowing, drifting snow is everywhere and there is nowhere to put it. Joe sets his sons to work immediately. They start shoveling just to get the door open. Once inside, Joe calls his workers and lets them know that they are open. He needs them at the Shop to help dig them out. The crew arrives in several waves. All get right to shoveling. The building is checked out for damage. The roof has held up well which is good news. Joe spends the bulk of the day on the phone with customers. Everyone compares notes on how they made out through the storm. Joe informs them all that they are open and will be the rest of the week.

March 11

A cool spring Saturday is spent at the Shop. Whiskey is distilled. The Kavanaghs see Jack. He picks up what they have ready and pays them. He has two boys with him, John “Wiggles” Smith and Charles “Country” Carey. They assist Leo and Eddie in bringing the barrels up from the basement. Then they load five barrels on Jack’s truck while everyone else chats and smokes. Jack passes along greetings from Kitty to Joe and Eddie. She misses all the Kavanaghs since her and Jack relocated to D. C. They visit regularly, but it’s not the same as living in the City. Joe sends along his best to his god-daughter. Jack assures Joe she’s doing well and he is taking good care of her. Jack tells Joe things are going very well. He has some other side jobs going on. He has invested his money and will soon have a big payoff. Joe nods, but doesn’t ask any questions. Jack and his friends leave followed soon by the Kavanaghs.

April 22

This Saturday the Shop is closed. The Kavanaghs and crew enjoy a day without work. Eddie takes his parents, Joe and Jo shopping. They are going to buy the latest thing. A wireless radio. Radio broadcasts have just begun earlier this year in Baltimore. Eddie purchased one from Westinghouse for $ 12.00. He chauffeurs his parents off to buy the same. Joe is not one to jump into the latest trends, but when Eddie spoke about this device, Joe and Jo were both intrigued. They purchase their radio and Eddie sets it up for them. Suddenly, nights gathered around the radio for news, songs and stories becomes a thing.

May 8

The work week begins with Eddie pulling up in front of the Shop on his brand new Indian Chief motorcycle. He bought it over the weekend. He will miss his old Flying Merkel, but the Indian was a bike he could not turn down. Plus, the Shop and the Kavanaghs are flush with cash right now. They have all got some in reserve for bad times. The year has started off well. Even with the cut back in production and sales of whiskey, they are still making money. The Shop is busy in its own right. Kettles to be made and they have been busy with some ornamental brass work. Eddie is proud as he can be on the Indian. Joe shakes his head and mutters something about it being a death trap.

May 17

Eddie and Anna are very excited. Anna is pregnant with their second child. Young Ed, their son will be three this year and a big brother.

June 12

Another busy work week begins. The Shop’s crew are working on several pump-chambers for the steamships and they are making a still. This one is a legal one. A small 40 gallon still for Sharpe & Dohme. One of their oldest patent medicine customers. Since their alcohol is for medicinal purposes, it is legal. There are attachments and fittings to go along with it. Eddie and several men are at Baltimore Dry Dock as well. There is some copper and brass work to be fabricated there. On top of all that, they are cooking some mash for rye. It is a busy start to the summer for the Joseph Kavanagh Company.

July 15

A hot Saturday is spent passing whiskey and dealing with Jack. Everything seems to be going well. They are all making money and the Shop is busy. The crew have been working the Saturdays when Jack is not visiting. Today, Jack takes his rye and departs. The Kavanghs finish up for the day and head home.

August 12

Jack Hart, “Wiggles” Smith and “Country” Carey arrive at the Shop late in the morning. They chat for a few minutes with the Kavanaghs. “Wiggles” and “Country” load their truck. Jack finishes his business and they depart. The Kavanaghs put some more cash away. They are making some money and have a reserve to fall back on. Joe and James knew that bootlegging would be profitable for them. They did not know how profitable. The brothers and their sons have all made a nice bit of money. Their crew have been paid and have had no shortage of hours. They knew working with Jack could help them, but they did not expect this level of success. They did not know Jack could deliver on his promises like he has. Another thing they did not know is that Jack was a career criminal. His first gang was the Canary Island Gang in New York. Now, he leads a group called the Hart-Sapperstein Gang in Baltimore. They did know he had been in prison, but did not know that he had served time in Sing-Sing for murder. Jack killed a small time gangster, “Jumbo” Wells after a dispute over a woman. Kitty knew, but not her family. They did not know that those same fellows that accompanied Jack to the Shop on Saturdays were part of his gang. They did not know that Jack had been looking for a big score for some time.

August 17

A Thursday evening meeting of the Hart-Sapperstein Gang at 909 S. Broadway. “Buddy” Blades has a scheme for a payroll robbery the next day. He has most of the details worked out even down to the minute. Jack Hart, “Noisy” Socorow, “Wiggles” Smith, “Country” Carey, Frank Allers, Benny Lewis, John Keller, George Heard and John “Fats” Novak listen as Blades fills them in on his idea. A construction company payroll is moved on Friday. It will be easy pickings since they know the schedule and the route they take. After most of them leave, Blades, Hart and Socorow stay and go over the details more thoroughly. Jack Hart is very interested and he knows he can pull this one off.

August 18

At approximately 9:30 a. m. William Norris and his bookkeeper, Frederick Kuethe, of the Hicks, Tate and Norris Construction Company are returning to their offices with the company payroll of $7,263.00. Norris carries a satchel while Kuethe has a small tin box. The two are walking along Madison St. They pass a dark blue Hudson. Inside are Jack Hart, “Country” Carey, “Wiggles” Smith, “Noisy” Socorow and Frank Allers. After the two gentlemen pass the car, Jack, “Noisy” and “Wiggles” jump out and charged at Norris and Kuethe. Hart and Socorow draw pistols and Jack orders them to hand over the money. Norris holds the satchel tight and begins scuffling with Socorow. As Socorow tumbles to the ground, he fires a shot that wounds Norris in the thigh. Kuethe panics and tosses the tin box into the street. “Wiggles” strikes him in the head with a black jack and he falls unconscious. Socorow stands up as a crowd begins to gather. Jack turns to them holding his gun to keep them at bay. As Norris reaches for the dropped satchel, Socorow fires three more shots into him. The thieves grab the satchel and tin box as Frank Allers pulls the Hudson next to them. Hart, “Wiggles” and “Noisy” hop into the car. Allers guns the engine and heads east on Madison Street at high speed. One person in the crowd is able to write down the license plate of the car. Norris and Kuethe lay in a pool of blood on the street. People are screaming and the police are being summoned. The crowd closes tighter around the two men. Kuethe is seriously injured. William Norris is dead. A few moments later, a police officer sees the car driving very fast at the intersection of Eager and Patterson Park Avenue. He spots “Noisy” in the Hudson and recognizes him as a young hoodlum and member of Baltimore’s criminal underworld. He quickly writes down the plate number. Jack and his men stop at a NE Baltimore home to divvy up their cash. After splitting the money, the men take off and go their own way except “Wiggles” and Benny Lewis take the Hudson to a garage and exchange it for Jack’s Mercer. The garage is rented by Jack. They drive Jack’s car to Essex to hide out, but Jack’s car breaks down. “Wiggles” and Lewis begin arguing about whose fault this is and get into a fight about it. The police are called and they are arrested in the late afternoon for disturbing the peace. The Baltimore Police have been flooded with calls and tips about the robbery and murder. They have the plate number and are pursuing all leads. When they hear of the two men in Essex being arrested, the City police send for them both. “Wiggles” is quickly identified in a lineup by one of the witnesses. He is still angry with Benny about their fight and immediately implicates him.

The dark blue Hudson touring sedan used in the Norris murder. August 18, 1922. Photo courtesy of the Daily Record.

August 19

A hot sweltering Saturday at the Shop is spent on several large pump-chambers. Copper pots that can be pressurized and used to pump out water. The work has been strong and steady. They pass some whiskey through the still. The full crew are busy, but they are distracted by the news. There was a murder in broad daylight yesterday morning. The Kavanaghs and crew are shocked to read about it. Joe passes around the paper and then regales them on what it says. A payroll robbery that went bad. One man shot dead. Joe shakes his head and wonders what the world is coming to. Like all of Baltimore they pray the culprits are captured as soon as possible. Best to have such violent men off the streets.

The police are piecing together what happened under intense scrutiny and criticism from the public. They have “Wiggles” Smith and Benny Lewis in custody. Soon, “Country” Carey and Billy Blades are picked up based on their past records and in a sweeping search of Baltimore’s underworld. An unidentified man has called the police and said the car is his. He claims it was loaned to Frank Allers for a bootlegging run. He knows nothing of the murder.

August 21

Another week starts at the Shop. It could be any other Monday for the Kavanaghs. They heat and hammer. They bend and curve copper. They make whiskey. It is a typical day for them. Jack Hart and “Noisy” Socorow have been hiding out at Jack and Kitty’s house in D. C. When they arrived on Friday, Jack explained to Kitty what happened. She was upset, but Jack told her not to worry. They were miles away and no one knows who they are. Kitty was still worried, but happy that Jack was there with her. The robbery and Norris’ death were causing quite the stir even in Washington. Jack and “Noisy” stay inside. Kitty acts as if nothing unusual is going on. She opens a safe deposit box at a Washington bank. She places some of the money from the robbery there. Jack does not want that kind of cash laying around. He does not want it at Kitty’s. In Baltimore, Frank Allers calls an attorney to confess his involvement in the robbery and murder. He is seeking a deal to save himself.

August 22

Jack receives a phone call from Baltimore. The police have taken Frank Allers into custody. It sounds as if they may be on to them. Jack doesn’t know what will happen, but he knows he can’t stay with Kitty. He won’t drag her into all this and this is the first place they will look. He tells “Noisy” and they gather some supplies. Cigarettes and some food. Jack breaks the news to Kitty and she becomes upset. She is worried Jack will be caught. He will go to jail or they will never see each other again. Jack swears to her he will keep in touch. He will always find her. He loves her. Jack promises Kitty he will call her. He will call and let the phone ring once then call again. That way she will know it’s him. She will be here waiting she tells him. She will help him in any way. He tells her to call her Uncle Joe and tell him that there might be trouble. Jack and “Noisy” leave and head to Baltimore to see if they can pick up any news about the investigation. They hide out in a burial vault at Home Sweet Home Cemetery on Biddle Street. They will hide here and see how things go. If they are lucky, it might just blow over. Kitty calls Joe at noon. She tells her uncle that James may be in trouble. She is as vague as she can be, but she tells Joe that the police may be looking for Jack Hart. Jack wanted to give Joe a warning that the police might be looking for him. Joe asks Kitty if this has anything to do with the Norris murder of last Friday. Kitty says it does, but Jack didn’t do it. Joe cuts her off and asks where Jack is. Kitty says she does not know. Joe tells her he must hang up. He has a lot to do. He tells her to keep him up to date and if she needs something, she should call him. Joe sits back in his chair and holds his hands to his face for several moments. He then heads to the Shop and calls James, Leo, Eddie and Guy into the office. He closes the door and quickly tells them about Kitty’s call. The Kavanaghs slip into a bit of a panic before Joe continues. He lets them know they have got to cover themselves. They have to get rid of the whiskey and the stills. They can not have anything to do with Jack Hart. Everyone agrees on this, but how can they cover their tracks in this building full of evidence. They will stay late tonight. They will work all night if they have to do so. They finish out the day as if it was any other. The rest of the crew are told to head home a little early due to the heat. They were too happy to wonder why when it was just as hot yesterday. When they exit the building, the Kavanaghs get to work. They bring up three barrels of whiskey from the basement. They gather all the mash and dry ingredients they have. The truck is loaded with all of this contraband. Next, they start on the stills. Leo, Eddie and Guy disassemble them as quickly as possible. They are in pieces quickly, but then they hammer on them. In this case, they are misshaping the copper. Trying to change the shape of the pots. Joe searches his office for receipts. They have receipts for the ingredients they have purchased, barrels and even bottles from when they started. James and Joe burn these and destroy several empty barrels. There is no more room on their truck so the pieces are tossed into the basement. Finally, they search the Shop, they look in every corner, under every stair and behind every door. They make sure there is no more incriminating evidence laying around. It is late in the evening when they look around and see a very empty Shop. The two stills are reduced to piles of copper. The truck is loaded with rye barley, corn and illegal whiskey. Joe instructs Leo and Eddie. They must take the truck and empty it as far from the City as they can. Some isolated spot outside of the city limits. His sons are nervous, but they know they must dispose of it all. They drive off into the darkness. James and Guy head home. Joe remains in the Shop for a few minutes alone. It is nearly midnight. He goes over it all in his head. He takes one final check all over the Shop. He hopes they have done enough.

August 23

Joe reads the newspaper at his desk. There is now a widespread manhunt for Jack and “Noisy”. They are searching for them up and down the east coast. Joe is sure they will be found soon. He worries, but knows there is nothing he can do about it. The Shop’s crew arrives and notices the sudden absence of the two stills. They question Joe and he shrugs it off. He tells them that they have been trying to get away from all of that. Making a point of never saying what he was talking about. He says that the work is here now, they are busy and there is no need for all of that as he motions to the pile of copper. He puts them to work. They are still fabricating some pump chambers along with some brass work. The Kavanaghs confer mid-morning. Joe has not heard anything else. They will go about their business and deal with whatever happens. Also, Joe makes this very clear to all of them. If asked, they do not know Jack Hart. They know no Jack Hart. They know James Connelly. He insists that they all be sure to stick to this. He says to make no mention of bootlegging. James Connelly is Kitty’s husband. We don’t know much more. He looks around from his brother to his sons then to his nephew. We must all say the same thing to avoid any problems. Each of them nod in agreement. They all will take Joe’s lead on this. They hope they don’t have to worry about it but if they do, they are prepared.

August 24

The investigation takes a wild turn as a young man, John Keller, tells Assistant States’ Attorney John Leach that the robbery and murder were perpetrated by men from Chicago and Boston. Hart and Socorow are innocent. After following Keller’s lead, they find the license plate and the tin box. This does not refute his story so they interrogate the 17 year old Keller further. In short order, he breaks down. He confesses that Jack and “Noisy” have asked him to make up this story and go to the police. Now, the police are sure again that Hart and Socorow are the men involved. Keller admits to helping them. Taking them food and news to their hiding place. He reveals it is the Home Sweet Home Cemetery.

August 25

An early Friday morning raid at the Home Sweet Home Cemetery finds nothing. Jack and “Noisy” are gone. They have split up and gone their separate ways. The police claim they have strong evidence to focus north and west of the City. They receive a tip from a taxi driver that he drove Hart, Socorow and Keller to the home of Harry Wolf, an attorney, at Park Heights and Slade Avenues on the night of August 23. Wolf is a well known criminal defense lawyer. Jack and “Noisy” came seeking advice and representation. Harry Wolf invited them in and to dinner. They ate and discussed the case. At the same time, Wolf received a visit from Police Detective Harry Hammersla. He speaks to Wolf on his front porch asking for help in finding Hart and Socorow. All the while that this porch chat is going on, Jack and “Noisy” are enjoying dinner inside. After the police learn of all this, Wolf is questioned and the cops hint at obstruction of justice from him. The police keep searching and sorting through tips and information. They know they must be getting close to finding Hart and Socorow. At Pratt and Central, the Shop’s crew are finishing the last of their pump-chambers and beginning a large brass rail job. Kitty calls Joe again. She is very worried about Jack. She does not know where he is and is concerned something will happen to him. Joe does his best to calm her down. He tells her that Jack will get in touch with her. He will call when he can. Joe offers her any help if she needs it. After the crew leave, Joe calls another meeting. He and his brother, his sons and his nephew Guy sit in the office and talk. Joe, again, implores them to keep to the story they have. Joe is certain the police will show up here. It is just a matter of time. In the interim, the problem may be work. They are busy in the Shop at the moment, but with no bootlegging, there is no guarantee that this will continue. James speaks up that we have to just hope that work comes along. We do have cash. They all nod for they have stored away some money for emergencies. This would definitely qualify. After a bit more discussion, they decide to keep paying everyone as they have been. They will not work Saturdays unless it is absolutely necessary. They will break into the Shop’s cash stocks and everyone will be paid. They will adjust as they need to.

August 28

Another work week begins. They focus on the brass railing and the attachments for it. They also have a repair at Gunther’s brewery to attend to. Eddie, James Woods and three helpers are dispatched. While they are gone, Kitty calls again. This time she tells Joe that the police visited her today. They questioned her. They are convinced that Jack is involved and they seem to think she knows where he is. She adamantly denied this, but she tells her uncle she doesn’t think they believe her. Joe listens then tells her that it is only normal procedure for the police to question her. She should not read too much into it. She should just tell the truth. She does not know where Jack is and knows nothing of this crime. Joe pauses then says that she should not mention any of Jack’s other activities. He would genuinely appreciate it if she left out the whiskey activities that involve the Shop. She quickly tells him not to worry. She won’t say a thing about that nor will Jack. Jack is the one who told her to call Joe and give him fair warning. He wanted to be sure the family was okay and protected. Joe thanks her and again offers any assistance he can give. At lunch, he passes all this on to the rest of the Kavanaghs.

August 29

The Shop’s crew are busy heating and hammering. A replacement beer vat must be made for Gunther’s. The repair was successful, but it was a temporary fix. A new vessel must be fabricated. At approximately, 10:00 a. m. several Baltimore City Police officers arrive. Two patrolmen and two detectives. Joe greets them and welcomes them. They ask Joe if he knows where Jack Hart is. Joe replies that he knows no Jack Hart. The police say he is James Connelly. That name Joe recognizes. He tells them that is his niece, Kitty’s husband. They ask again if Joe or any of the Kavanaghs know where he is. He is a wanted man. Joe plays dumb as he can. Telling them that he does not know James Connelly very well. He has known Kitty since she was a child. They have been married for a few years. Connelly has been to family parties even the Christmas Eve Party at the Shop, but Joe does not know him beyond that. He assures the police that this is true with the rest of the family. He calls the rest of the Kavanaghs over and they agree with all he said. They know James Connelly through Kitty, but they don’t know much more about him. They believe he works as a streetcar driver, but are not sure. The police question them for a little over a half hour. They wander through the building. Not really searching, but certainly looking around. They regard the pile of disassembled still parts with some interest. They ask what this is and Joe shrugs it off as an old copper still. They took it apart and are waiting to re-use the copper. They accept their answers and seem to believe them. They depart, but tell Joe they may be back. Joe tells them to come by any time. The police leave and the Kavanaghs breathe a sigh of relief.

August 31

Another call to the Shop from Kitty. This time she informs them that the police escorted her to the station today. They questioned her again. Repeatedly asking where Jack is. She is very frightened that they don’t believe her. Joe does his best to console her. He says good bye and updates the family on what Kitty said. The phone rings again. This time it is Kitty’s sister, Regina. She tells Joe the police just left her mother’s home. They have questioned her, her mother and her sister, Mary. They ask the same thing. Where is Jack Hart/ James Connelly? None of them know where he is. Joe tells Regina that they were visited by the police as well. She is very upset and worried about Kitty. Joe assures her he is in touch with Kitty. He will help Kitty any way he can. He says that Regina and her mother and sisters should just tell the truth. Tell the police they do not know where he is if asked again. Joe hangs up. He calls his brother, sons and nephew into the office. He lets them know about Regina’s call and says we need to expect another visit from the police.

September 1

A typical Friday is broken up by the return of the Baltimore City Police. This time they ask to speak to several of the Kavanaghs individually. They want to talk to Joe, James, Leo and Eddie. Joe and James are the owners so that is understandable. As far as Leo and Eddie go, the police may believe they know Kitty and Jack better. Being closer in age and contemporaries. One by one, the Kavanaghs in question sit in the Shop’s office and speak to the detectives. They ask them all general questions about their knowledge of Jack and Kitty. The Kavanaghs stick to their story. They are close to Kitty as she is family, but Jack not so much. They have socialized with them, but mostly during the holidays. They see them even less now that Jack and Kitty live in DC. The final question is always, “Where is Jack Hart/James Connelly?” They all answer they have no idea. When asked if Kitty knows, they say no to that also. The police leave with answers but none of the ones they want.

September 3

Kitty Kavanagh is taken into custody as a material witness and for possible involvement in the crime either before or after the fact. The police have discovered her safe deposit box with some of the money from the robbery inside. In addition, there are varying stories of Kitty’s whereabouts on the day of the crime. She insists she was in Washington DC, but her mother, Mary Rachel Kavanagh, told the police they had spent several hours together that day in Baltimore. Mary Rachel assumed Kitty was spending the night in an apartment in her home town. Kitty responded that her mother was mistaken. She and Jack did keep an apartment in Baltimore to use during visits, but she was not there on August 18. Several witness have said they saw a woman in the getaway car on that day. This has given the police enough evidence to hold her in custody. She is not allowed to leave as they interrogate her every day. They ask the same questions of her and she gives them the same answers. She does not know where Jack is. When Joe hears about her being taken in by the police, he is very concerned. He is worried for Kitty. He can not believe she was involved in this robbery. He hopes that the evidence clears her. Joe does worry that the bootlegging might come out. If so, he is prepared for something bad to happen. He discusses it with the rest of the Kavanaghs. They will deal with any problems that come along. At the moment, they worry for Kitty.

September 7

The police visit the Shop for a third time. This time they conduct a comprehensive search of the building. They spend some time in the basement with Leo and Eddie. They pick through the broken barrels that were left there. When they return to the first floor, one detective says it sure smells like whiskey down there. What were those barrels for he asks. Joe quickly answers that they did a lot of distillery work before Prohibition. They had barrels for storage of sample whiskey for their customers to taste. The detective answers that was several years ago. Does the smell last that long? Joe responds that must be it. They were in the basement which is out of the air and it’s a little stifling down there. The detectives move on from the basement and ask Joe if he thinks Kitty knows where Jack Hart is. He says he is absolutely sure she does not. If she knew, she would tell them. The police seem unconvinced of this, but the rest of the Kavanaghs concur with Joe’s opinion. The police leave the Shop. The crew returns to work and finishes the day.

September 16

Jack Hart is arrested. The police find him in a DC apartment approximately six blocks from the White House. He is sitting smoking a cigarette with another man, Bernard Livingston who is wanted in an unrelated jewelry heist. He is taken immediately to Baltimore for incarceration. A crowd has formed outside the courthouse on Calvert and Lexington as news spread that Hart has been captured. A loud and boisterous crowd to welcome Jack back to Baltimore. The Kavanaghs read about it the next day, Sunday in the newspaper. They are relieved, but still concerned. They must wait and see if Jack is a man of his word. Does he keep them out of it? Or does he spill the beans on the bootlegging? Joe is convinced they will be fine. The police do not seem interested in the bootlegging issue. In fact, when they smelled whiskey in the Shop’s basement they were curious, but they did not push it. Jack is arrested for robbery and murder. That seems to be the focus of the investigation.

September 17

“Noisy” Socorow is located and arrested in New York. He is buying a copy of the Baltimore Sun at a news stand at 6th Avenue and 42nd Street. Two detectives take hold of him from either side and he is captured by the New York City police. He will be held for an extradition hearing and then returned to Baltimore to stand trial.

September 18

Today “Noisy” Socorow’s extradition hearing is scheduled. He has a lawyer and this is cause for concern for the Baltimore City States’ Attorney, Herbert O’Conor. He wants Socorow back in Baltimore. He is ready to proceed with the trials. The citizens of Baltimore are clamoring for justice after this bold murder in broad daylight. O’Conor and three Baltimore City Detectives take the train to NY and attend the hearing. They are given the use of a New York City Police vehicle while they are in town. One detective waits in this loaner police car while O’Conor and the other two detectives sit in court. A pre-trial meeting of the lawyers in judge’s chambers reveals that Socorow’s lawyer will submit a writ of habeas corpus. He is claiming that Baltimore has the wrong man. This is a case of mistaken identity. O’Conor is outraged and insists that Socorow be turned over into his custody. The judge tells them both to plead their cases during the trial then he will decide. As the trial begins, O’Conor begins to feel as if the judge will side with the defense. He will demand more evidence before turning “Noisy” over to the Baltimore authorities. At the conclusion of the trial as NY State Supreme Court Judge Martin orders “Noisy” remanded to NY, O’Conor leaps up and shouts to the detectives to grab him. They both take hold of “Noisy” Socorow and drag him out of the courtroom led by State’s Attorney Herbert O’Conor. The judge begins yelling at them to leave that man lone. Several bailiffs step in the way. They push through them. The defense attorney is knocked to the ground in the chaos that ensues. They rush down the stairs as they are pursued by court officers and bailiffs shouting for them to halt. Before they can be stopped, they reach the door and hurry to the police car. The detectives toss Socorow in and all climb inside. They race away with “Noisy” in custody. More loud shouts and cries from police and court officials are ignored as they drive off. They drive to the New Jersey Ferry. They take a train the rest of the way and deliver “Noisy” Socorow to Baltimore City Jail. The state of New York threatens sanctions. An outraged Governor Miller of NY demands his return to New York. Governor Albert Ritchie of MD refuses and there are some harsh exchanges between them. No sanctions are filed though and in time the dispute between the states passes over.

September 21

The trials for “Country” Carey, “Wiggles” Smith and Frank Allers move very quickly. Allers is given immunity for his testimony. He implicates both in the crime. Carey and Smith are found guilty and given life sentences.

September 24

Kitty Kavanagh is released from police custody. The witnesses that claimed a woman was in the Hudson used in the getaway are refuted. Other more believable witnesses are sure there was no woman at the scene. Obviously, with Jack in jail, they felt no need to ask Kitty about him anymore. Her mother, sisters and younger brother welcome her home. She calls her Uncle Joe. She tells him that she would never turn on Jack or her family. She is glad to be home, but very worried that Jack will be found guilty. She says Jack is considering pleading guilty, but she does not want this. Nor does Jack’s lawyer want him to do this. While Joe listens, he thinks to himself that he does not want that either. A guilty plea would involve a full statement. Though the Kavanaghs and the Shop are not involved in anyway in the Norris murder, the full statement could be embarrassing for them or worse if the bootlegging comes out. He tells Kitty she is right. He should plead not guilty and trust his lawyer. He emphasizes that Jack should trust his lawyer.

October 10

The Giants beat the Yankees again in another all New York World Series. The Series is cut back to a best of seven this year. The Giants win four of the first five games to capture the championship. Game two ends in a tie. A somewhat suspicious tie as the game was called due to darkness although the sun was still out. There is speculation that the game was called to extend the Series and increase gate receipts for both teams. To avoid any controversy, Commissioner Landis orders all money received for game two attendance be donated to WW1 veterans. The Kavanghs discuss the World Series as they always do. Joe is happy for the former Oriole John McGraw who wins his third World Series as a manger. The season comparison of Ruth vs. Cobb is gone over too. Ruth misses some time due to injury. He bats a modest .315 and hits 35 home runs. A disappointing year for him. Cobb has a great year. Hitting .401. Eclipsing that magic .400 plateau. He does not win the batting title however as George Sisler tears up the American League with a .420 average.

October 14

Anna Kavanagh gives birth to a girl, Alice. Another Alice named for the original who brought this family to America. Sadly, Alice is not well. She has health problems. She is what they called a “blue baby”. There are problems with her lungs and breathing is very difficult for her. The doctors are honest. There is little chance she shall survive long. Eddie and Anna are crushed, but pray for their baby.

October 21

Walter “Noisy” Socorow’s trial begins in Towson after his request for a change in venue. He is found guilty and also sentenced to life in the Maryland Penitentiary.

October 25

Finally, the day of Jack’s trial arrives. The testimony of witnesses recounts the events of August 18. Frank Allers testifies to Jack’s leadership of the gang and the attack. He walks them through the events leading up to the robbery and murder. Finishing with how Jack gave his gang their cut and headed to Washington, D C. Martin Kavanagh, Kitty’s 17 year old brother, is called to the stand. He answers questions about Kitty. He provides a solid alibi to corroborate her statement. He is asked about Jack, of course. He answers all questions, but clearly knows nothing of Jack’s illegal activities and nothing about the Norris murder. After a quick deliberation, Jack is found guilty. He too is remanded to MD Penitentiary for the rest of his life. He breaks into tears and declares he will be a model prisoner As they walk out of the courtroom, a weeping Kitty lunges to Jack to embrace him. Jack tells her not to worry. He will come for her. When he arrives at the penitentiary, he informs the warden that “There is no prison that can hold me”.

November 14

Things at the Shop seem finally to be back to normal. The Norris murder will become one of the most bizarre strange but true criminal tales in Baltimore history. For the Kavanaghs, it is a tale told to children for generations. Some details slipping away with each telling. A family story that explains what is quite possibly the strangest year in the history of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. At the Shop there is no whiskey to make, but the economy has held strong. They have several large commercial cooking vessels to make and E. J. Codd has brought in a large boiler job. This has quite a bit of copper and brass work. Liners, valves, fittings and bearings are fabricated. The Shop is filled with the sound of hammers and the heat of torches with nothing illegal going on.

December 23

The Shop’s Christmas party is held a day early. Christmas Eve is a Sunday so the party is today. It is a quieter affair than the last several. After the strange year with Jack, the end to their bootlegging and the sad news about Alice, they celebrate but without the same enthusiasm. Customers, vendors, employees and the Kavanagh family mingle together. Kitty and her sisters, Mary and Regina are there. Joe has remained very supportive of Kitty, his god-daughter. She has moved back to Baltimore to be closer to her family. Jack and all his cohorts are in the Maryland Penitentiary just several blocks away from the scene of the Norris murder. The attorney, Harry Wolf, who advised them is disbarred. The Assistant States’ Attorney Herbert O’Conor becomes a rising star in Maryland politics. The whole strange sequence of events is over and the family is very relieved. The Shop’s Kavanaghs are happy they have work. They are glad to be safe and not in jail, obviously. They are happy that they have some cash put aside for tough times if they come. They worry for young Alice. The family rallies around Eddie, Anna and their baby. They pray and support them. They do not hold out much hope for her. They rest on each other and their faith to guide them. Before the last song is sang and the party breaks up, Joe calls his sons, Leo and Eddie, and his brother, James into his office. They drink one toast of rye together. Apparently, Joe has several bottles of their own rye that he managed to save. He asks them all to think about the future. They will be challenged to stay busy in the new year. He wants them all to give it some thought. He assures the three others that they will find a way to keep going and to stay open. He knows they will or at least the Shop will. The Shop always does.



Warren G. Harding is the President. He delivers the first presidential speech by radio this year. The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated. The Hollywood Bowl opens. The Molly Pitcher Club is formed with its goal being the repeal of Prohibition. A 20 ton meteorite lands in VA. The California Grizzly Bear becomes extinct. Betty White, Jack Kerouac, Carl Reiner, Charles M. Schulz and Stan Lee are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Special note of thanks to the Baltimore Sun, New York Times, Washington Post and the Daily Record. Articles from all were used to verify the facts of the Norris Murder case.

Jack Hart being returned to Baltimore from Washington DC. Escorted by Police Captain William Murphy on the left and Detective Jim Comen on the right. September 16, 1922. Photo courtesy of the Daily Record and the Jacques Kelly collection.


1921 Rye Running and the Dodge

January 8

A cold Saturday finds the Kavanaghs at the Shop meeting with Jack Hart. Jack is also picking up some whiskey and bringing them some money. The usual cycle, but they are discussing increasing their volume of production and sales. Jack wants to move to at least 3 barrels per week. Joe, speaking for the Shop tells Jack they will need to make a bigger still. It can be done. The family has discussed this over the holidays. They have agreed to make a new still. In fact, James and Leo have started designing it. Joe wants some assurance that if they step up their output that it won’t just be left at the Shop. This is something they do not want. Jack is very clear. He is planning on moving some of this whiskey out of state. He begins to explain his plan, but Joe cuts him off. He tells Jack that they don’t need to know his plan nor do they want to know it. As long as he can keep selling the rye quick, they will build a bigger still and proceed. Jack will continue to pick up every Saturday. He will take 3 or 4 barrels per week if they can make it. As before, Jack lets them know that he is taking all the risk. He will not bring trouble to the family if he runs into any. They shake hands and Jack leaves after Leo and Eddie load the whiskey onto his truck. The Kavanaghs prepare to leave for the day after agreeing to get to work on the still as early as they can next week.

January 14

The Shop has started the year rather slow. The usual confectionery work has arrived, but not nearly as much as they are accustomed to getting. It has been mostly repairs and no new kettles. The economy has slowed around the country. It is a cause for concern for Joe and James. They must always worry about work and the Shop. It is a part of the job. They can look on the positive side though and that is this may make increasing the whiskey produced easier. Leo has finished the drawings for the new 100 gallon still for Pratt and Central. They have the copper sheet and block ready. If there is nothing else to do, they will focus completely on making the still. At the very least, it is something to keep the crew busy.

February 26

The new still is finished. Jack visits for his usual exchange of cash for whiskey. They show him the new unit and he is impressed. Using a copper “whiskey thief”(a small tube with holes on each end), they draw out some of the rye and give Jack a taste. He approves. They will be able to step up to 3 barrels in several weeks. The Shop is still slow. Due to this, they have managed to make this new still and have started using it in a short time. Jack brings several fellows with him this time for assistance. They load the truck while the Kavanaghs and Jack confer. Before leaving, the Kavanaghs check some mash that is fermenting and plan their schedule for next week.

“Whiskey thief” Made and used by the Joseph Kavanagh Co. for checking whiskey’s or beer’s quality. Also called a “barrel thief”.

March 19

It’s a Saturday evening St. Paddy’s Day party at Joe’s house on Collington Avenue. Two days after the actual day, but the Kavanaghs are celebrating. Johanna makes corned beef and cabbage. Joe’s brother James’ family is there. Joe and Johanna’s boys, Leo and Eddie are both there with their families. And Jack and Kitty are there. They take turns on the piano and they sing. They eat and drink and celebrate their heritage. Jack and Kitty make an announcement. They are moving to Washington D. C. They will still be close and will visit regularly. They simply wanted a change and a move to a bigger home. The family toasts them and wishes them luck. Earlier in the day, Jack and his boys had picked up 3 barrels. The Kavanaghs were paid. Now, they party, but there is no discussion of what they are doing. As far as the Kavanagh men’s wives, they all know what is going on. Johanna is not happy, but she does trust Joe to do this safely. She knows there is one thing he is particularly good at and it is running the Shop. James’ wife Honora is of a similar mind. She trusts James. Leo’s wife, Maymie and Eddie’s wife, Anna are a bit more worried about it. They both are concerned that this could lead to trouble. They accept it as it seems the only way they can make money. Anna, of all the wives is the least happy. She is someone who is pro-temperance. She does not like being on the other side of this. She passes on her worries to Eddie, but supports him. If he thinks this is the only option, then they must do it.

April 20

The Shop is still focused on whiskey at the moment. They are making mash and passing rye through the still every day. There is little real work in the Shop. They are fabricating a long ornamental brass railing. They are also making a copper liner for a boiler. They are all busy, but without the whiskey work, they would be doing a lot of standing around.

May 21

Jack shows up with his boys and loads his truck quickly. He and Kitty are moving today to their new home in D. C. He has moved more rye and it’s working well. The Kavanghs are able to replenish their petty cash. They have enough money to cover their expenses for several months including payroll.

June 11

Eddie attends an evening meeting of Local # 80. There are a lot of coppersmiths out of work at the moment. The slow down in the economy has effected most businesses. Some of the brothers ask Eddie about the Shop. It seems to be the only place that is unaffected. They have maintained their crew of 14 coppersmiths through the last several years. They wonder if Eddie can find some work there for his brothers. They ask how they are staying busy. Eddie deflects a little bit. He says they are doing a lot of stock work. Making fittings and valves. Waiting for the work to pick back up, but they are not in a position to hire any one else. His fellow members accept that and congratulate him on having enough work and faith to do that.

June 13

Eddie asks Joe to call a meeting. Joe, James, Leo, Eddie and Guy drink coffee in the Shop’s office. Eddie fills them in on what happened at the meeting. They all agree he handled it well. Eddie tells them that the union may not be the only group wondering how they are staying busy. It is bound to be a question that comes up with other businesses. How can they explain the money they are making without revealing the bootlegging they are doing? James suggests they could just say they are doing some side work. The crew could be anyway. Eddie nixes that right away. We can’t be doing side work. We belong to the Coppersmiths Union. We have our wages set and our hours monitored. James nods in agreement and casts an eye to Joe. He says to Joe you’re not in the Union. Joe puffs on his cigar and replies are you saying I should get a job. Eddie speaks up and says that may be the only option. Not a job, but something that can help explain how we are keeping our crew intact. We trust the crew. They will back us up, but we better find a way to explain the money. Especially, if we keep making more whiskey. Leo chimes in that it has to be you, Joe. We can’t do it. Joe answers them all. You aren’t talking about me getting a job so much as me making up a job. Joe breaks into a small chuckle. You mean a dodge. I can come up with a dodge. He grins and tells them he will think of something. Something believable that will infer another income for him. He even offers to lower his salary on the Shop’s books. That will show that I was willing to take less money to keep our crew paid. Everyone will think I am magnanimous laughs Joe. Eddie quickly says that no one will believe that. The rest all break out into laughter including Joe. They return to work and Joe begins thinking of his dodge.

June 16

The League of Women Voters of Maryland is formed. Johanna Kavanagh is quick to join. She worked long and hard to help get the right to vote. She is pleased to join a group that supports like-minded women.

June 29

Joe announces to his sons and brother that he is now the manager of Marine Hardware and Supply. He is selling hardware and running the place out of his home he says with a twinkle in his eye. Leo chuckles and asks if they can work there too. No, of course not. You fellows are union he answers. Joe begins making some handwritten receipts for his salary from the non-existent Marine Hardware and Supply. He even takes an ad in the Polk’s City Directory for next year stating his involvement with this company. Joe loves this kind of thing. He was a former vaudevillian and a chance for some chicanery certainly appealed to him. It was a chance to act for him. A dodge indeed.

1922 Polk’s Baltimore City Directory. Listing for Joseph A. Kavanagh working at the fictitious Marine Hardware and Supply.

July 16

Another Saturday brings Jack and several of his friends to the Shop. He has made another run of whiskey and he has their money. His boys load his truck with 4 barrels of rye. The Kavanaghs put some more money aside for their expenses and their crew. Still, they have cash to split. Each man leaves with $ 200.00. A big windfall at that time.

July 28

The Shop is busy making whiskey. Some of the crew are actually working on several kettles, but most are either cooking up mash or running the stills. They have both in operation now. Staggering their output so that they can optimize their time. As they work, the Kavanghs are chatting about the so-called Black Sox. The White Sox team that lost the World Series to the Reds in 1919. They are on trial for fraud after allegations of fixing the Series have come to light. Several players have confessed their involvement. The men debate and discuss. What will happen if they are found guilty? Will they go to jail? Most of the crew doubt that will ever happen.

August 3

The talk of the day is that the Black Sox players have been exonerated. During the trial, some of the evidence disappeared from the Cook County prosecutors office. The evidence included confessions by pitcher Eddie Cicotte and outfielder Joe Jackson. The Kavanaghs are not surprised. They couldn’t believe that any court would convict ball players. They are still shocked that a player would throw the Series, but they felt sure they would not be convicted of a thing.

August 4

First thing in the morning the Shop’s crew are talking about the latest turn in the Black Sox story. Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landas has banned all eight of the accused players from baseball for life. He made a statement that regardless of the court outcome any player with any level of involvement in fixing games will never play major league baseball. The integrity of the game is to be maintained and respected. Some players appeal over the coming years, but none of those eight ever play in a Major League Baseball game again.

September 12

They are finally pressed for hours now as the work has begun to come back. They have some kettles to make and E. J. Codd has brought in a good-sized boiler job. They have copper liners, copper tubes, valves and fittings to make. On top of this, the whiskey production has been upped further. Jack is moving their rye faster and faster. More money comes their way. They decide to save some of their cash. They want to be prepared for a slow start to next year. That is what happened this year so they best be ready for it. Nonetheless, they all receive 200 dollars again. Eddie buys his family a car to his wife’s delight. Anna loved riding with Eddie on his motorcycle when they were dating. Now that they are married and have a child, she is a lot less enamored with his bike.

October 14

This Friday includes the annual recap and discussion of the World Series. It is an all New York affair this year and every game is played at the Polo Grounds. The Giants defeat the Yankees 5 games to 3. Babe Ruth hits his first World Series home run in this Series, but he injures his elbow in game 2 on a slide while stealing third. He is hampered for the rest of the games. The Giants take the championship. For the season, Ruth has a monstrous year. He hits 59 home runs breaking his own record again. He sports a .376 average as well. Eddie, the Ruth fan is very pleased. Joe’s favorite player, Ty Cobb does pretty well too. He rebounds from a poor 1920 season by hitting .388. Joe is quick to remind Eddie that batting average is the best barometer of a player’s abilities. Eddie brings up the home runs, but Joe just shakes him off. It is hits that make an offensive player. Not how far the hit goes. The debate continues as it has for years.

November 8

It is election day in Maryland. No presidential election but local races abound. Joe and Jo head to the polls. This time Johanna insists that their son, Eddie drive them. She has already determined that driving in a car with Joe is a dangerous move. She will learn to drive, but for now Eddie delivers them to the polls. Johanna is particularly happy to vote for Mary E. W. Risteau. She is running for the House of Delegates. She wins and becomes the first woman to serve there. Johanna loves it and she doesn’t hesitate to tell her husband that this is what government needs. More women to have their voices heard. More women to hold public office. Joe agrees with her because he knows better not to.

December 24

The Christmas Eve Party is on a Saturday this year. They do no distilling today. Rather, they move their barrels and mash into the basement. They hide any buckets or pots they they have been using. The place is cleaned up. A tree is stood and decorated. The Shop looks like Christmas. The usual mix of customers, employees and family gather in the late afternoon. Jack and Kitty drive up from D. C. in their Hudson. The building is filled with the sound of carols and rejoicing. Joe sings his seasonal favorite, “Oh Holy Night” in his booming baritone. They eat, drink and sing. The Kavanaghs are happy. They have had a good year. The Shop’s work has picked up and the whiskey business is treating them well. They have made money this year and there seems to be no end in sight to it. The Shop has a stash of cash to fall back on and so do all of the Kavanaghs. The good times are here as the Roaring Twenties begin. What could possibly go wrong?




Warren G. Harding is the President of the United States. Charlie Chaplin’s motion picture, “The Kid” is released. Howard Taft is sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court becoming the first and only person ever to hold this position and the presidency. The first radio broadcast of a baseball game occurs in Pittsburgh as the Pirates host the Phillies at Forbes Field. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is diagnosed with polio. The first Miss America pageant is held in Atlantic City. The First White Castle restaurant opens. The Tomb of the Unknowns is dedicated by President Harding. Betty Friedhan, Nancy Reagan, John Glenn, Gene Roddenberry and Steve Allen are born.

There remain 48 states in the Union.

James (Hart) & Patrick Connelly
James Connelly (Jack Hart) and his brother Patrick. Left to right. Photo courtesy of Christine Mouser.


1920 Bootlegging and Lakewood Avenue

January 5

It is a Sunday dinner at Joe and Johanna’s house on Collington Avenue. Joe invites his brother and sons for a ham dinner and to talk. Joe, James, Leo and Eddie discuss the upcoming meeting with James Connelly. They will produce rye whiskey and Connelly will sell it for them. They won’t be able to age it properly, but it will be whiskey. They have had a still in the Shop for years. A demonstrator used for display and occasionally for use for customers. To make any volume of good rye whiskey and keep it a secret will take some planning. Joe knows the best results come from good Maryland rye barley. They are familiar with the process of distilling. It takes a few days for the full process. They are fortunate. The men who work for the Kavanaghs have done so for some time. They can be trusted. Eddie can guarantee that they always have their regular crew due to his involvement in Local# 80. He has spoken to them as union brother and co-worker. He has explained the situation. They are doing what they have to do to survive. The crew promises to keep their secret. They want to have jobs. As Eddie has told them, if this works everyone can still be full time. There will be no salary cuts. Everyone gets paid. The crew are in. One thing Eddie does not tell them is who they are working with on this. There is no mention of James Connelly. It has been agreed that his name will stay within the family. Also, they will conduct all business with Connelly on Saturdays. No crew, but the Kavanaghs will be there. Joe, Leo and Eddie will have to experiment a bit to get the right recipe and the proper procedure to get a consistent good rye. They are sure they can do it. Joe makes a point of letting them all know that not one of them can enjoy their product too much. He is clearly referencing his older brother, Martin. Martin had done some bootlegging in the past, but his love of the drink and his mismanagement turned it into a disaster. All four agree on this. They certainly enjoy a glass of whiskey. Each of them, but none to excess and particularly with Martin’s mistakes in mind. The money will be used firstly for expenses and to maintain everyone’s salary at the present level. They all agree that anything beyond that will be split evenly among them. James insists that his son, Guy receive a share. He has been working the last several summers as Joe’s assistant in the office and will be full time in June. After some discussion, everyone agrees. The money is settled. They decide to begin their test runs of whiskey as soon as Joe can acquire the proper ingredients. They have an agreement. They will put all sales in James Connelly’s hands. They will make the liquor but have no involvement once it leaves the Shop. They will cover their expenses first. Then, they will pay themselves and their crew at their normal rate. Any funds leftover will be divided evenly five ways.

January 7

The Kavanaghs and all baseball fans are shocked to read of the sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. He is sold for $ 100,000 cash. Joe reads the story first and quickly heads out to the Shop to inform his crew. His son, Eddie a big Ruth fan is floored. He can not believe the Red Sox would give up on a guy like Babe Ruth. A talented pitcher and a great hitter with tremendous power. This event is discussed throughout the coming days. They are working on their standard winter work. Confectionery kettles and the associated equipment to go with it. The valves and fittings which they make. It is a cold day in the Shop, but it seems to pass quickly as they speak of the surprising sale of Ruth to the Yankees.

January 10

A chilly Saturday finds Joe, James, Leo and Eddie Kavanagh at the Shop. Today they meet with James Connelly. James is married to Kitty Kavanagh, Joe’s niece and goddaughter. They are nearly inseparable. They are usually together, but today is business so Kitty does not accompany James. Joe speaks for the Kavanaghs. He tells James that they can produce a good rye. They have the experience and they have a still. They can make it all here. They can bottle or barrel it here. Joe makes it clear that once it leaves the Shop they want no involvement. James is fine with this idea. He assures Joe and the other Kavanaghs that he is familiar with this market. He has done some bootleg whiskey sales before. He has many contacts that would sell to pubs and after hours clubs. In addition, there may be a market outside of Baltimore. James will do all the legwork and handle finding the market and all sales. He thinks they should start fairly small and find some customers who are interested. We can always make more he tells them all. Joe wants some assurances that there will not be any legal issues. James says not to worry he will take care of all of that. There is no state level enforcement of the Volstead Act so James does not anticipate any problems. He promises that if the situation changes or if he runs into trouble, he will keep the Kavanaghs out of it. He impresses on them that they can trust him on this as Kitty is a Kavanagh. He would not want any trouble for her. Joe is pleased to hear this. James has some associates that will help him with moving and selling the rye. They are tough fellows, but he trusts them. They will keep everything quiet as they can. Finally, he tells the Kavanaghs that his friends in the whiskey trade know him by a different name. It is a nickname or work name. His friends know him as Jack Hart. He brushes it off as Jack is just an Irish nickname and the Hart comes from his days as a ladies’ man. He quickly adds that those days are in the past. He loves Kitty and always will. The name has just stuck. It is what he is known by on the street or with most of his contacts. He asks that they call him Jack around his associates, but around the family he wishes to be called James. He likes this separation of his “work” and his regular life. The Kavanaghs are a bit puzzled by this, but not stupid. They know that Jack Hart must be a pseudonym to protect his true name. Not just to keep his name from any illegal connections, but perhaps to keep it unknown to any police or authorities. Joe agrees. He even tells Connelly that they will swear they know no Jack Hart. Jack likes that. They shake hands and all agree on meeting again soon. The Kavanaghs will make some rye and Jack will find a market for it and determine how much money they can make.

January 16

On this Friday, Prohibition goes into effect. The law was passed a year ago on this date and today the ban on strong spirits is official. No whiskey, wine and only low alcohol “Near Beer” can be produced or sold in the United States. Most states have a mini-Volstead Act that provides for enforcement of the law. Maryland stays a “wet” state. Never passing a mini-Volstead and much of the bootlegging and such was ignored. Any legal concerns could be avoided with the use of discretion. If a violation is found on the federal level, that would be another matter. The Shop has work. No distillery work as that stopped last summer. The distilleries worked hard to produce all they could before this day arrived. They were not doing any repairs or replacements though. Prohibition’s effect on the Joseph Kavanagh Company started last year. They do have some cooking kettles for sweets and they are also working on some brass parts for a large boiler. Leo and Eddie begin the process of cooking down the corn and rye for their whiskey. They are making the mash or slop which begins the distilling process. It is cooked and then must sit and ferment for several days. The crew work around them. The usual day of heating and hammering now mixed with the smell of mash cooking.

Cards with the Kavanaghs
Some notes on making rye whiskey from Joseph A. Kavanagh’s book.

January 24

The Kavanaghs finally have their first run of rye. A rye that they consider to be pretty good quality. They do two passes to get the taste and potency they want. They can tweak it on the next batch. They are looking to sell and this is a fair quality whiskey. That will do for their purposes. They use well charred riveted barrels for storage. They fill one and leave for the day.

February 7

Joe calls Jack and he stops by for a taste test. Two weeks of aging is hardly aging, but it’s the best they can do. They fill a glass for Jack. He likes it. For bootleg alcohol, this is a good whiskey. They fill several bottles. Jack takes them for samples. He will begin finding a market for their rye. Leo and Eddie have repeated the process this week. They fill another barrel.

February 14

Jack Hart visits the Shop. He has begun pushing their rye whiskey to several after hours clubs and some individuals who are interested. Many folks have stocked up prior to Prohibition going into effect, but these supplies will not last long. He fills a crate with twelve bottles of whiskey. He guarantees to Joe, James, Leo and Eddie that in a week he shall return with some profits for them all. After he leaves, Leo and Eddie get another barrel ready. Joe mentions a new baseball league has been formed. This is the Negro National League. African-American players who are banned in Major League Baseball will have their own chance to play on the big stage. The Kavanaghs are interested. Baseball is baseball to them. Joe and his sons, in particular, are huge baseball fans. All three hope that perhaps Baltimore will field a team in this league. The chance to see more baseball locally is something they would love.

February 21

Jack has found a market. He has put the word out and there is interest. He passes along some cash and leaves again with 20 bottles of rye. The Kavanaghs are relieved. They didn’t make much, but the opportunity for money is there. They check on the mash from last night then refill the first barrel.

March 20

Another Saturday spent making whiskey on a lovely spring day. The Kavanaghs work and test their product to be sure it remains consistent. Jack Hart arrives with their whiskey pay. He says things are going well. He has several clubs or speakeasies as they will be called that are buying. He is hustling and trying to sell anywhere he can. Jack fills his crate with bottles and passes along their money. They have more than they need for supplies. They put the rest into petty cash for now to be sure they can all be payed as well as their crew.

April 18

A beautiful spring day is spent at a local park. The Kavanaghs have gathered for a picnic and a farewell to Joe’s and James’ brother Frank. Frank has been visiting for a few months. He works as a coppersmith at the Panama Canal. He may not be back for several years. He returns to visit his family including his son, Charles who lives with his sister-in-law. He misses his boy and the rest of them, but he is payed very well to work at the Canal Zone. They eat, drink and play cards. The attached picture has survived nearly 100 years and is dubbed “Cards with the Kavanaghs”. In the picture are Joe, James and Frank. The three brothers. Also, Joe’s sons Leo and Eddie and his daughter Anna. And James’s sons, Guy and James Jr. The only non-Kavanagh in this picture is Mr. Fairbanks. A long term employee of the Shop. He worked for the original Joe. He is one of their most trusted men. He is not a full smith, but more of a general helper. Though he lacks some smith training, he makes up for it with knowledge and years of experience working copper.

May 8

Another Saturday of distilling whiskey. Frank has returned to the Panama Canal. The work has stayed fairly consistent though at a markedly lower level than in the past. So far so good. Jack comes by every Saturday. Drops off money and picks up rye. They have doubled their output due to increasing demand. Jack has made more connections with the local whiskey market. The Kavanaghs are making more and more money each week from their rye. They have a stash of cash for supplies. They have petty cash to back up their crew’s salaries and a bit more this week. For the first time, the last of the cash is divided up five ways. It is approximately $100 so each man gets $20. Not a bad bonus for a week’s work in 1920.

June 7

Guy returns to work at the Shop. He is Joe’s assistant in the office. He is full time now that he is finished with school. Another decorative fountain is made. They drill holes in copper sheet then after heating it, they roll them into tubes. The tubes are then curved into the desired diameter. Once installed, water is pumped through and sprays from the holes. It is a complicated process, but one they have done many times. In addition to this fountain, Joe has brought in some steamship work. The typical pump ballast chambers that they make. The still is working as well. Leo and Eddie are finishing up another run of whiskey. Every day now they are either cooking mash or distilling to keep a steady flow of product. A busy day at the Joseph Kavanagh Company.

July 3

At a Saturday evening meeting of Local # 80, Eddie receives a letter from Bartholt H. Hubbert. They are a coppersmith and contracting company in Baltimore. They are registering some complaints about two apprentices that have been assigned to them by the union. It is one of Eddie’s duties to deal with such issues. He quickly reads the letter. He adds it to his list of things to do. Eddie is a big supporter of the union and his brothers. He will have to find some fair solution for both the business and the apprentices.

First page of letter to Local# 80. Complaining about two apprentices. June 26, 1920.
Second page of letter to Local# 80. Complaining about two apprentices.

July 16

Today, the Shop is focused on some repairs at Gunther’s Brewery. Eddie is on the job with James Woods and three helpers. In the Shop, they are making some kettles and doing some more ship work.

It is a hot July day. They are accustomed to this and work through it. Some rye mash is cooking. The bootlegging has become more profitable. They are still nervous with this new enterprise, but they have had no problems as yet.

August 17

Joe reads a shocking story in the newspaper today. He rushes out to the Shop to tell his sons and the rest of the crew. Cleveland Indians shortstop, Ray Chapman, was hit in the head with a pitch the day before. Carl Mays of the New York Yankees was the pitcher. Chapman was horribly injured as the ball struck him in the temple. Very early this morning, he dies. It is the first and only fatality to occur during a baseball game. The Kavanaghs are stunned. They have never heard of such a thing. Having a ball thrown at a batter is always a dangerous thing, but part of the game. This was a tragic event. The crew discuss this through the day and they follow the story in the newspaper after that.

August 20

Eddie and Joe spend part of the day at Arrow Brewery. Eddie and several helpers working on a repair while Joe talks to the foreman about work. He is scouting for more jobs. The brewery is not as busy as it has been in the past. They can make the “Near Beer” which sells, but not as well as typical beer. They assure Joe that if they need anything at all, they will call him. As they drive back to the Shop, the topic of baseball comes up as always. Joe and Eddie discuss the situation with the Chicago White Sox. They won the World Series last year, but now are accused of throwing the championship. Losing on purpose. Apparently all part of some scheme by gamblers to make money. The story is that the gamblers paid the players and they deliberately lost. Both Joe and Eddie have trouble believing it. They have such a love of the game. Eddie does say that the White Sox certainly seemed like a better team on paper. It was a surprise that they lost to the Cincinnati Reds, but it is not unheard of for the favorite to lose. They both will have to wait and see how the story plays out.

September 11

Eddie, Anna and baby Ed move to 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. After a Saturday morning of making whiskey, Eddie packs the Shop truck with their belongings from Collington Avenue and they move to Highlandtown. They are thrilled to be out on their own and out of Joe’s house. The Kavanaghs will live on this street for 67 years. When Jack Hart came to the Shop this morning, he spoke to the Kavanaghs about increasing their volume even more. He is considering running some of their rye down south to other states. This could really make some money fast. The Kavanaghs are interested, but would have to plan how to do more distilling. Joe tells Jack that they will consider it while he explores the idea.

September 20

Joe and Johanna buy their first automobile. Joe has resisted, but he knows it is way past time for them to buy a car. He purchases a Ford Model T. His son, Leo accompanies him. Leo drives and gives his father his first driving lesson. It does not go well. Joe seems to have trouble coordinating clutch and gas. He stutters and speeds and finally has Leo drive him home. Joe will practice on the street with little success.

October 12

The Cleveland Indians defeat the Brooklyn Robins in the World Series. Winning 5 game to 2. The Series is discussed at the Shop just as it is every year. The yearly Cobb/Ruth comparison is all Ruth this year. The Babe hits .376 while walloping 54 home runs for the Yankees. He shatters his own record and out homers several teams. He leads the league with 150 walks and accumulates 99 total extra base hits. His pitching days may have passed as he only starts one game. His value as a hitter outweighs anything he can do as a pitcher. Cobb has a good year. He bats .334. Good for tenth in the league. Ty Cobb misses some time due to injury and showing his age. Regardless, this is a far cry from Cobb’s typical season. Along with Cobb, all other players’ stats this year are dwarfed by the explosion of power displayed by Ruth. This year Eddie wins the Cobb/Ruth debate with his father easily. The Series and Ruth’s numbers are still over-shadowed by the Black Sox Scandal as it is now called. The Kavanaghs and crew like much of America find it hard to believe a ballplayer would throw a game for money. The evidence says otherwise and the money must have been tempting. The Shop’s crew are baseball fans and this is something almost unfathomable to them.

October 22

The Eight members of the so-called Black Sox are indicted on nine counts of conspiracy. A grand jury was convened to investigate gambling and fixing games. Eddie Cicotte and then several other players confessed to their involvement. Joe cannot believe it, but all the evidence reveals that a conspiracy was in place. A few key players including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson admit to accepting money. Jackson’s performance in the Series conflicts with any notion that he was not trying to win. Still, he took the money. All will stand trial next year. The men of the Shop shake their heads at the idea. To them, these ballplayers are paid to do what they would dream to do. To be paid to play a game you love must be incredible. It is not that simple and players were still underpaid. The crew return to their work still wondering about it.

November 2

Jo votes for the first time. Joe drives her on a rather wild ride to the polls. He is a new driver and shows it at every corner. They bump and swerve their way to vote. Despite this, they arrive early. Johanna becomes one of the first women to vote in Maryland. She feels a great sense of satisfaction. As a member of the Fair Government League, she and her fellow members have campaigned for years for suffrage. She proudly casts her ballot. Joe and Jo vote for Warren Harding who defeats James M. Cox to win the Presidency. The Kavanaghs are Democrats at this time, but they felt a certain dissatisfaction with President Wilson and his handling of the war. This cast a bad light on Cox. Much of the country felt the same. As they make their way home, Joe asks his wife if she enjoyed voting for the first time. Johanna answers that she did. She declares she will vote in every election. Only next time she will drive.

November 12

MLB owners hire Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis as commissioner of baseball. The owners feel they need to hire a leader. An authority to answer fans’ questioning the integrity of the game. He is given full power to discipline players and teams for rule infractions and behavior. The Kavanaghs take this as a good thing. Landis is a federal judge and highly regarded. Hiring a man to safeguard the game seems like a good plan.

December 24

Christmas Eve is always a party at the Joseph Kavanagh Co. In the middle of the afternoon, work is stopped. The crew begin making space for the party and setting out tables and chairs. Guy is dispatched to pick up food. Leo and Eddie take the truck and buy a tree. It is quickly stood and decorated. The party starts as customers, family and friends visit through the afternoon into the evening. Rye is served and “Near Beer”. James and Kitty Connelly are there. Songs are sung including a duet between Joe and Kitty. A festive party. Leo, Eddie and Jack Hart step out into the street. They have a smoke on the corner and Jack tells the Kavanagh brothers that he thinks he has a buyer out of state. He can take care of getting it there. It would be barrels of whiskey and not bottles. Jack emphasizes that he will take all the risk. They produce it and he distributes. It would be an opportunity to make a lot of money with one sale. Leo and Eddie are interested, but both know that they will have to discuss it with their father and their Uncle James. They return to the party mid song and Jack finds Kitty in the crowd. Leo and Eddie join their families. Joe and James are enjoying their party. They have found a way to keep the Shop open and they have made some money. They have been smarter than Martin. Joe and James are bootlegging as he did, but they are doing it better. Martin was alone. They have each other. They trust each other. They feel safe and insulated by Jack Hart. They can trust him. He loves Kitty and she is a Kavanagh. She loves them especially her Uncle Joe. As Christmas toasts are made, Joe thinks of Martin. Maybe Martin wasn’t sloppy. Maybe he just had no one he could trust.




Woodrow Wilson finishes his second term as President. Warren G. Harding wins the general election defeating James M. Cox. The 1920 census puts the U. S. population at over 100 million for the first time. The Senate votes against joining the League of Nations. Congress fails to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. The League of Women Voters and the National Football League are founded. The first commercial radio station opens in Detroit. Westinghouse sells the first home radios for $ 10.00. DeForest Kelley, Bella Abzug, Shelley Winters, Ray Bradbury and Mickey Rooney are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Cards with the Kavanaghs 1920
Cards with the Kavanaghs. All Kavanaghs but one. Left to right: James Sr., Eddie, James Jr.(standing), Frank, Leo(standing), Joe, Guy(back to camera), Anna. Mr. Fairbanks(Shop employee) on the far right.


Martin Joseph Kavanagh

Martin Kavanagh was born in Baltimore on September 16, 1862 to Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh. He was their first of nine children. They lived on Albemarle Street. Patrick was a ship’s carpenter. Patrick’s brother was Joseph Kavanagh. Owner of the Joseph Kavanagh Co. usually called the Shop by his family and workers. When the Shop had grown enough to begin bringing in several apprentices, Martin was hired and trained by Joseph as a coppersmith. He started at the Shop at 15 in 1877. He was the first of five brothers to work for their uncle. Martin learned his trade well and became a full coppersmith within 3 yrs.

In 1884, he married Mary Rachel Uhlberger, They had a child together several months earlier. It was certainly a scandalous thing at the time. The girl was named Katherine called Kitty. She was the first of eleven children for Martin and Mary Rachel. Martin grew in Joseph’s trust. He became Joe’s senior man by the 1890s as brothers Eugene, James then Joseph A. are hired. The Shop grew even more. A crew of over 25 including Uncle Joe, nephews Martin, Eugene. James, Joseph and finally the youngest, Frank. Frank apprenticing as a coppersmith and the last man taught by Uncle Joe.

By the turn of the century, The Joseph Kavanagh Co. had prospered. Installing and maintaining stills from Connecticut to Florida. The nephews all making the periodic trips up and down the east coast. Martin included. When he was at the Shop in Baltimore, Martin began occasionally running a pass or two of rye whiskey in the company still. They had constructed a still as a demonstrator for customers. They made some rye for their own consumption, but not often and nothing more. Martin slowly begins a somewhat regular production after hours without his uncle’s or his brothers’ knowledge. Selling what he makes to friends who were in the illegal whiskey trade. This is before Prohibition, but there was always a market for illegal cheap whiskey. The Shop is very busy with their distillery repairs and installs but also working for breweries and fabricators and steamship companies in Baltimore. Martin was Uncle Joe’s second in command. Uncle Joe leads a strong crew of smiths including his nephews all with their own contributions to the business.

In 1903, Eugene Kavanagh is returning to Baltimore via train from Connecticut. He was there to take measurements of the building to give an appropriate quote on a still installation. The train crashes at approximately 5 p.m. Eugene is killed. Uncle Joe and the family are shocked and deeply saddened.

February 7 1904. The Great Baltimore Fire destroys the building on Lombard Street. Joe and his four nephews witness it from the East side of the Lombard Street bridge. Uncle Joe wants to continue. He invests in temporary facilities. Briefly at Hawk & 7th Streets then at Gough & 7th. Uncle Joe takes ill six months later. He dies on December 10, 1904.

In Joe’s will, Martin is named his successor. Martin(unbeknownst to his brothers) has already been gifted 50% of the company by Uncle Joe. The will passes the rest of the company and its name to Martin. The surviving nephews and several nieces are all named in the will. Martin receives the lion share of the estate. The other beneficiaries received $1000-2000 in cash. Martin receives the business and $25,000. Martin owns the Shop now. His brothers, Joe, James and Frank work for him.

Martin leads the business in its rebound from the Fire. It is a difficult time in Baltimore. Most companies are in the same state as the Kavanaghs. Recovering from destruction. The City has been cleaned and the rubble removed very quickly, but the economy is still struggling to bounce back. Commerce in and out of the City takes some time to return to normal. The brothers all agree to take less money until the Shop can get back on its feet again.

Martin’s crew at Gough & 7th is at 15. His brother Joe struggles to find work to cover them all. He pushes and scrounges for work in any distillery, brewery or fabricator that is open. Martin has a solution. He has the crew build a 100 gallon still in the building. He and some of his friends begin running passes of whiskey on a more and more regular basis. The brothers are aware of it and Martin does not hide it, but he doesn’t share much of the specifics. Joe and the brothers take any money they can get and they assume it will be temporary.

By 1906, the Shop’s work has increased a bit. The days of their still work up and down the East Coast are gone. In the time since the Fire and the Shop re-establishing itself in their new building, local smiths have stepped in for many of their out of state customers. Some distilleries hire them on full-time. The business of Joseph M. Coppersmith, Martin J. Kavanagh Successor must focus on local work. Joe makes calls and jobs continue to arrive. Slowly they begin to get busier. Martin considers hiring more men. His brothers are very much against any more hires. They are still waiting for Martin to increase their pay. He continues to tell them that the money is not there. Martin and his friends keep making and selling rye on the side. New men that the brothers do not know arrive at the Shop. Running whiskey or transporting whiskey. Martin seems to be making more money though his brothers are not. He tells them he will raise salaries to the Pre-Fire level as soon as the Shop can afford it. Brothers Joe, James and Frank are restless. They are opposed to hiring more men. They would rather work more hours and make more money individually. Martin is more and more focused on the whiskey operation than their coppersmith work.

Christmas Eve 1906. Martin is having drinks with his friends in a local pub. His brother, Joe has agreed to join him. Martin was jovial and dressed in a new suit. Holding his Uncle Joe’s gold watch while they spoke. Joe sipped his rye as Martin bought a round for his friends and sundry. A jolly lot they were, but not Joe. Joe watches his brother hold court and buy several rounds for all. Joe leaves and returns to his home. He speaks to his wife about his brother. He confides in her that he is not sure he can trust Martin anymore. At least, not to run the Shop and pay he and the other brothers properly.

Early in 1907, Joe meets with his younger brothers to discuss breaking from Martin’s Shop and forming their own. They all agree to do this. They must time their move right. They make notes of jobs, customers’ names, vendors’ names and prices. They take a few tools, some of their uncle’s old hammers. Not enough to be noticed, but enough to help with a new business. Joe finds premises for them on Central Avenue. They are ready.

April 22, 1907 at 9 a. m. Joe, James and Frank step into Martin’s office and inform him that they are quitting. They are starting their own Shop which they will call the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Martin is outraged and calls them ungrateful. A large argument begins as Martin asks one then another of his brothers to reconsider. They are determined. They are tired of not getting properly paid and they can not work for him anymore. Martin saves his strongest victrol for his brother, Joe. They were always close, but Joe has had enough of Martin’s mismanagement, drinking and money squandering. Martin screams at Joe that he is not even a coppersmith. He is certainly not Uncle Joe. Joe answers that neither is Martin. They walk out to cries of “You are not Joe!” from Martin. They make their way to Central Avenue and get right to work.

So, begins several years of battle between the two Shops. Martin calls customers and passes on that his brothers have abandoned him. Martin tells his customers his brothers do not have the experience to succeed. Joe makes calls to introduce the new company. He lets those folks know that he has Old Uncle Joe’s best men with him. He has the best smith and best engineer the Shop had working for him. It is an ugly battle of words. Meanwhile, Martin’s work quality starts to suffer. His skills have deteriorated in the last few years. The drinking and high-living seems to be playing a part. Slowly, his brothers’ Shop begins to draw in more and more work. Customers of Martin’s begin coming to them due to slow deliveries and slipshod work. Martin continues to focus on bootlegging and illegal whiskey instead of basic coppersmith work. Things at Martin’s Shop go down quickly with less skilled men and with Martin’s erratic leadership.

In August of 1909, Martin declares bankruptcy and his Shop closes. The Joseph Kavanagh Co. is doing much better. Upon receiving word that Martin’s business is closed, Joe makes quick calls to any of the old customers to bring them into the fold. Martin’s future is in doubt. He owes many creditors both legal and illegal. He visits his brother Joe in the Spring of 1910. He admits that Joe’s way was the better way. The better Shop. They have a drink in Joe’s parlor and talk. Martin blames everyone, but himself. He blames the Fire, he blames the City and he blames his creditors. Joe listens quietly without responding. His brother is very shaken and disheveled in appearance. He confides in his brother that he is concerned for his safety. Joe lends him a pistol he purchased a few years ago for protection. He doesn’t offer money, but passes along the gun. His brother leaves.

On Christmas Eve 1910, Martin Kavanagh is spending the evening at the Plaza Hotel. He is nodding off at the cafe at approximately 9 pm. The bartender wakens him to tell him he can not sleep there. Martin and this bartender, Clarence Keen, get into a loud argument. Martin is told to leave. Keen escorts him out. On the front steps, the fight turns physical. Martin pulls the revolver from his pocket and fires at Keen. Wounding him in the throat. Keen collapses against the steps. He is gravely injured. On a Christmas Eve night, many folks are out and about. There are many witnesses to the shooting and Martin is apprehended several blocks away, He is booked for assault with intent to kill.

Martin stands trial. He is found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail and required to pay Keen, who recovers, $ 500.00. Martin serves his time while his brothers’ company flourishes. Joe, James and Frank buy a lot at the corner of Pratt & Central Avenue. They use money borrowed from Joe’s wife Johanna(she owned and operated a boarding house for a few years). They have a large coppersmith facility built. The brothers carry on the legacy of their uncle. A family coppersmith Shop that will do business from that corner for over 90 years before the next move.

After Martin’s release from prison, his wife has divorced him. He spends a brief time in Baltimore. He remarries. Wedding Marie Roman and they both move to Chicago. The only contact the brothers have with him is through his daughter Kitty. She is Joe Kavanagh’s goddaughter. She visits her father and brings word of him home to Baltimore. He is working in Chicago in construction and is happy with his wife and her family. He dies November 6, 1919. He was hit in the head by a brick that fell from a building on a construction site. He is buried in Chicago.

He is for all intents and purposes the first villain of the story of the Shop. Corrupted by power and addled by drink. He nearly took the business down with him, but his brothers had other plans. With the money and help of Johanna Kavanagh, they move forward. They thrive and they succeed. Joe’s sons soon are hired and the next generation begins its training and smithing. Joe and his brothers speak rarely of Martin. They were left with many questions. The obvious one being what happened to that $ 25,000 that he inherited. How did he start with so much and fall so fast? The brothers wondered, but there were no answers. They got to work and did what was necessary. Martin was gone and the three picked up the pieces so the Shop could live on. It did and still does.

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


1919 Prohibition and Suffrage

January 7

The Joseph Kavanagh Company starts another year. The business now employs six descendants of the original Joseph. His nephews, Joe(52) and James(42) own the Shop now. Joe’s two sons Leo(26) and Eddie(25) both are coppersmiths. Joe is married to Johanna(46) and they also have a daughter Anna(12). James’ son, Guy(16) assists in the office during the summers. James’ wife is Honora and they have another son, James Jr.(10) Another coppersmith, James Woods(25) is the son of the first Joseph’s sister Sally Woods(47). The original Joseph has two more nephews who worked for the Shop in the past. Martin(56) who lead the business into near ruin. He eventually declared bankruptcy, spent six months in jail for shooting a bartender then moved to Chicago. Finally, there is Frank Kavanagh(35) who several years ago retired from the Shop. He moved to the Panama Canal where he works as a coppersmith. He is employed by the army, but as a civilian. The Kavanaghs have persevered through ups and downs, The one constant being the Shop for over 50 years. It’s a source of support and pride. The two remaining brothers continue on the tradition started by their uncle. They do so now with an eye to the future. They put themselves in his place now. Preparing for the passage of the business to the next generation. Today is a cold windy day in Baltimore. The heat of the torches and their labor gives the Shop’s crew some respite from the cold. They are building some ice cream and candy jacket kettles. The kettles are used for preparing the sweet treats. They have remained busy through the holidays. One thing that is on the minds of the Kavanaghs is the Temperance movement has gained a lot of steam. The U. S. could be heading towards banning strong liquor. The distilleries are the backbone of their work. The breweries would be second in importance followed by cooking kettles and vessels. The still work is clearly a large piece of what they do. Joe and his crew try not to think about it and do their jobs. Today Joe reads of the passing of Teddy Roosevelt in the Baltimore Sun. He is shocked as is his crew. Roosevelt was only 60 and seemed a healthy man. As a matter of fact, some were hoping that he might seek the presidency again. You can count the Kavanaghs in this group. Teddy was widely popular and a very charismatic figure. The Kavanaghs held him in high regard and lament his passing.

January 16

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution passes. Nebraska become the 36th state to ratify it. No strong liquor can be produced or sold in the U. S. There is no established means of enforcing it as yet. That will come later as Congress must pass laws accordingly. None of this sits well with Joe and his family. They rely heavily on the distilling industry for regular repairs, replacements and still construction. The crew is still occupied with kettles today, but the long term effects could be devastating for the Shop. There will be some distilling allowed, but only for medicinal purposes. Joe and James, the owners, worry for their future. They can focus on brewery work, but even that shall be impacted. The law covers beer also not just wine and whiskey. Though lower alcohol beer or “near beer” will be allowed. They will be able to service those breweries, but at a considerably lower volume. The Kavanaghs decide to try to push for more of their other kettles for cooking and food service. Also, they will try to broaden the scope of the brass fabrication they do. They make a variety of items from copper, but they will try to draw some additional jobs from the ornamental brass industry.

February 15

Leo, Eddie and most of the Shop’s coppersmiths attend a meeting of Local # 80 on this Saturday evening. It is a contentious meeting as all involved are concerned about the newly ratified Prohibition Amendment. Much of the coppersmith work out there, not just the Shop’s work, is distillery work. There are plans from some distillers to convert to soda or other beverages. It will not compare to the work they receive now, but it will be something. Eddie warns the rank and file that jobs will almost assuredly be lost. The volume of work will go down substantially. The union brothers are solidly supportive of each other. Efforts will be made to find work for all members. It will be a challenge, but they are committed to finding a solution.

March 22

The Shop is closed this Saturday as they have cut back their hours to five days. They do not want to work themselves out of the jobs they have. This does make it easier for Johanna to attend her monthly meeting of the Fair Government League, a suffrage organization. Jo has been involved for several years. Strong efforts are being made to pass an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing women’s suffrage. The group has a letter-writing campaign under way and pursues many avenues to get support for their cause. Johanna and her fellow members are very confident they will finally receive the right to vote. They will not waiver. They are determined to have their voices heard and to have a say in our nation’s government.

April 15

The Shop has slowed down certainly, but thanks to Joe’s many contacts, they are able to continue with their full crew for now. Joe makes calls every day. They find any work they can, but this can not go on forever. Their workload is buoyed by a large boiler job for E. J. Codd, one of their older customers. Brass bearings are made. Valves and fittings are sold. Some custom copper parts are fabricated for the boiler. This job helps to keep them busy despite the concerns over Prohibition.

June 4

The 19th Amendment passes. Johanna and women throughout the U. S. are jubilant. Jo is anxious to cast her first vote, but will have to wait until next year. Strangely, Maryland does not ratify this amendment until 1941. Still, women in the state can and will vote. The Shop has gotten a little busier. Joe has visited the docks to push for some steamship work. He offers lower prices and they receive some jobs. They still are skilled at making the copper ballast pump chambers. Also, Joe has been in touch with the Navy to procure some of their work for their ships. It adds up to enough to carry them through the summer. They still are not working Saturdays, but at least they have a backlog of things to do. Guy Kavanagh has returned to work in the office this summer. It affords Joe the opportunity to dig for ship work and press any customers he can for jobs.

June 28

The Treaty of Versailles is signed. The peace agreement after the War to End All Wars is finalized. A relief and a day of celebration for the world.

July 19

On another free summer Saturday, several of the Kavanaghs attend an International League Baltimore Orioles game. Joe and his two sons, Leo and Eddie take in the game on a hot afternoon. The Orioles, now a minor league team, are doing well. The three of them talk baseball. They are all fans though of slightly different generations. The Kavanaghs enjoy a win and the team will go on to win its first International League Championship this year.

September 4

Eddie and his wife Anna welcome a baby boy, Edward Patrick. The Kavanaghs celebrate the new addition. Joe and Johanna are grandparents for the second time. He was my uncle and I worked with him for several years before he retired. He was a jitterbug champion dancer, a jokester and an all around entertaining character. His birth is a welcome distraction to the worries about the Shop. The summer is over and the ship work is gone. Joe, James and all the Kavanaghs have begun to be concerned for the winter. The winter was always a problem in past years. They felt they were passed all of that, but now with Prohibition they return to worries about lack of winter work.

October 3

Another work week ends. The crew are fabricating an ornamental railing from brass moldings. Eddie, James Woods and several helpers are at Gunther’s Brewery. Several vats to be re-soldered and valves and fittings to be replaced. Joe reads a story in the paper about President Wilson suffering a stroke the day before. He is left partially paralyzed. Congress passes the Volstead Act to legislate enforcement of the 18th Amendment. It has been vetoed by the president. Efforts are now underway to gather enough votes to override the veto. Joe is concerned. How could anyone want to ban whiskey much less Joe’s beloved rye? But temperance has gained a lot of support in the country. It seems that Prohibition will be here to stay. It is just a matter of time.

October 10

The Shop’s crew still stands at 32 men. Joe scrounges for work. Cold-calling seems to be working for now. They have some cooking kettles to make and some brass and copper work for boilers. They do not have the backlog they want, but are happy to have work. The Kavanaghs and crew discuss baseball today like so many days. The chat that often helps the day pass. The Cincinnati Reds win the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox, five games to three in a best of nine. The Sox were heavy favorites to win the championship. The season was played with a new type of ball. Better materials and consistency of baseballs bring an end to the so-called “dead ball” era. Eddie’s favorite player, Babe Ruth homers 29 times setting a new single season record while batting .322. He also compiles a 9-5 record as a pitcher. Joe’s man, Ty Cobb, wins another batting title with a crisp batting average of .384. Eddie brings up the large number of home runs by Ruth. His father, Joe, merely shrugs the homers off as he believes batting average is the telling statistic in baseball. He’s quite sure Cobb is and always will be the better player. Eddie still expects bigger and better things from Ruth.

October 28

Congress overrides Wilson’s veto of the Volstead Act and rules of enforcement are established. The Shop will certainly be impacted. Any way for distilleries to slip by the 18th Amendment are gone. Most will try to stay open by making other beverages or simply close. Joe and James discuss their options over lunch. They do not have many. It seems very likely that they will have to cut back the size of the crew. More to the point, they may not be able to generate enough revenue to make a profit. Joe will continue to track down leads on any copper work he can find. Today they are working on bending and shaping some perforated tubes into a fountain. It is a 15 ft. diameter circular fountain. Because of this job along with making some pots, pans and odd ends, they do have some work. The doubts about the winter keep returning to Joe and James.

November 6

Martin Kavanagh dies in Chicago. He is hit in the head by a falling brick at a construction site. Joe is visited by Martin’s daughter, Kitty. She received word via telegram earlier today. Joe and James are saddened to hear of their brother’s passing. They have not been in touch with him directly since he moved in 1912. After all the water under the bridge, Martin’s slipshod running of the Shop and the shooting of Clarence Keen, there was no desire on either side to communicate. The Kavanaghs do mourn Martin’s death. Thinking of him reminds them of the young man he was and the mistakes he made. The crowd he began to run with and the illegal activity he was privy to. He sold illegal liquor and squandered the Shop’s money. His brothers, Joe, James and Frank staged a walkout and moved on about 13 years ago. They did what they had to do. The brothers have no regrets. Joe considers all this as he thinks of Martin.

November 27

Thanksgiving dinner is celebrated at Collington Avenue, Joe and Johanna’s house. Their sons and their sons’ families are there and, of course, Anna their daughter. After a feast of turkey and all the fixings including parsnips, a family favorite, the men hold a meeting about what to do about the Shop. They adjourn to the front parlor. They smoke and have a glass of what is left of Joe’s favorite, Monticello Rye. He has stocked up a bit knowing that Prohibition was coming. Joe asks for ideas from his boys, Leo and Eddie. He needs their thoughts as he and his brother, James must come up with a solution to this Prohibition problem. Eddie mentions the still at the Shop. He is hesitant to bring it up to his father, Joe. The idea of making their own whiskey is so very similar to what led to Martin’s downfall. Joe listens as Eddie discusses the possibility while Leo chimes in occasionally in support of Eddie. Joe is not crazy about the idea, but he has considered it himself already. Leo and Eddie are young newly married men each with a young son. They both will need money. Joe knows this. He is worried about the legalities of the whiskey trade. Martin made many mistakes not the least of which was the men he was involved with. Plus, he enjoyed the product he was selling far too much. It’s the nature of bootlegging. Joe thinks to himself that maybe Martin was just sloppy. If they embark on this road, they will be breaking federal laws. Since the Volstead Act passed, states have lined up to pass their own “mini” Volstead acts in their General Assemblies. Maryland has not. This could help them. If there are no local laws being broken, it will make it easier to do this and not draw too much attention to themselves. They do lack contacts in the world of illegal booze. Eddie believes he may know someone. He mentions Kitty’s husband, James Connolly. She has confided in him that James has a prison record. She did not go into details, but he has one. Eddie passes on to his brother and father that he is fairly certain that Connolly has some experience in the whiskey business. Joe decides to table the discussion for now. He will talk to his brother then they will decide. In the meantime, he tells Eddie to make sure James and Kitty Conolly are at the Shop’s Christmas Eve party.

December 16

Frank Kavanagh returns once again to Baltimore. He takes a train from New York after sailing from the Panama Canal. His brothers and the rest of the family are very pleased. He will be here through the holidays and at least until the spring. He is working hard at the canal and making good money. He misses his son and the Kavanaghs, but the money is too good to pass up. The Shop is full of chatter between Frank and his family. Catching up and filling in details. He asks about the Shop and the new Prohibition law. No one answers at first then Joe says they are dealing with it and will figure something out. He prefers to keep their concerns and plans close to the vest.

List of American citizens including Frank Kavanagh returning to U. S. from the Canal Zone. December 1919.

December 24

The annual Christmas Eve party at the Shop. A bit of a muted affair this year but still festive. They have managed to stay busy enough to keep their crew through this year. The volume of work is down and looking to get worse over the cold months. Joe has spoken to James about the possibility of doing some bootlegging. The illegal whiskey trade could be a source of income. James is less concerned than Joe. He is very much in favor. He needs the Shop to stay viable. He also has two sons who are still in school including Guy who has worked in the Shop’s office for the last two summers. Joe, James, Leo and Eddie are all in agreement. They eat and drink(more of Joe’s stash of rye) at Pratt Street & Central Avenue. Welcoming family, friends, customers and vendors. Among the family who attend are James and Kitty Connolly. Eddie speaks to James privately while Joe and Kitty lead the party in singing some Christmas songs. He broaches the subject of illegal whiskey. James smiles and informs Eddie that he wanted to discuss the same thing with the Kavanaghs. He assures Eddie they can all make a lot of money. It will be safe. He is smart and he has many contacts both local and not so local. They stand in front of the Shop’s still and James lets Eddie know that they are looking at a gold mine. The market for illegal booze will only get bigger as stocks and supplies become diminished. They drink a toast and listen quietly to the holiday music around them. James Connolly will set something up for them. They will sort out the details in the new year. Leave it all to me he tells Eddie.




Woodrow Wilson is the President of the United States. The Boston Molasses Disaster occurs. A wave of molasses bursts from a tank and rolls through the streets killing 21 and injuring 150. Oregon becomes the first state to tax gasoline. The Grand Canyon National Park, the American Legion and UCLA are established. Curly Lambeau forms the Green Bay Packers football team. Several major strikes in the U. S. break out including telephone workers, coal miners and steel workers. Felix the Cat becomes the first animated character in film. J. D. Salinger, Jackie Robinson, Andy Rooney, Nat King Cole and Liberace are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Martin and wife Jack and Kitty
James Connolly and Kitty Kavanagh(young couple in embrace) with Martin Kavanagh(wearing hat), his second wife Marie(left foreground) and other members of her family in Chicago. 1917. Photo Courtesy of Christine Mouser.


1918 The Union and The Spanish Flu

January 5

The first Saturday of 1918 has the Shop’s crew enjoying a day off. The Kavanaghs are at Pratt & Central to discuss unionization. The owners, Joe and James meet with Leo and Eddie, Joe’s sons. Eddie has petitioned his father over the holidays to abide by his word and allow a union at the Shop. Leo is in agreement with Eddie and is there also to bridge any gap between his brother and his father. Peacemaker, essentially as Eddie and his father do not see eye to eye often. Joe and James have agreed in principle, but Joe insisted they wait until the New Year to discuss the details further. Eddie states his case in regard to the need for higher wages, as well as the benefits of the union work and a skilled labor pool they would be able to access. Eddie knows several fellows who are members of a small Baltimore Coppersmiths Union Local #80. He thinks this group would be a perfect fit for the Shop’s crew. The Kavanaghs and their workers would give the union numbers and will make it easier to become affiliated with larger union groups. Joe wants to be sure they will have some control over wages and the assignment of coppersmiths. In short, he is hoping that Eddie will have some influence over the union. For Joe, unionization must be good for the Shop not just the workers. Eddie says he will have some influence because he is helping with the organization of the union. That is just what his father and uncle want to hear. As this is a Coppersmiths Union, only smiths and their helpers can be members. Joe is not a coppersmith therefore he will not join the union. Despite being an owner, James is a coppersmith and will be in the union. The remaining 13 coppersmiths and the same number of helpers/apprentices will be union members. The machinist will not be in the union. So a deal is struck. Joe and James will allow the Shop’s crew to join the Coppersmiths Union. All smiths and helpers will be required to join the union and any new hires must be union members. Eddie will make arrangements with Local#80. He will work out the details and promises to use any influence he will have to better the Shop. The Joseph Kavanagh Company goes union.

List of employees of the Joseph Kavanagh Co. in 1918. Recorded by Eddie Kavanagh.

January 10

The crew are laboring on the usual January work of candy and ice cream makers’ work. Cooking kettles and parts to go along with them. The heat from their torches warms the Shop as they work. James speaks to his brother, Joe at lunch. He wants his son, John Guy(called Guy) to work at the Shop in the office this summer. He wants him to learn bookkeeping and the business end of the Shop. This surprises his brother. Guy is 15. That would be the appropriate time to start a coppersmith apprenticeship at the Shop. Leo and Eddie started at that age. James tells Joe that he does not want his son to have to toil and work like they do. He would prefer if he does something more like what Joe does. His brother was not expecting this, but he agrees and welcomes the help in the office. Joe will train Guy as his assistant. At the end of the day, the Kavanaghs discuss the war in Europe. Joe reads the paper every day and updates his crew on the latest news. American troops have joined the Allies in the war against the Central Powers. After the initial invasion of Allied countries like France, the war has been at a near stalemate. The slow plodding conflict that has been fought for several years will heat up in the coming months.

February 9

On a cold Saturday evening, Eddie attends a meeting of Coppersmiths Union Local# 80. He discusses the Shop’s situation. The few men there are thrilled to have an increase in membership. They talk about the number of smiths and helpers at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. They speak about the organization itself. How they will be affiliated with the Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers International Alliance. A large union group that will give some strength to the much smaller coppersmiths union. Wages and details are ironed out and discussed. Eddie will be the point man for the Shop’s members in the union. He will invite his fellow smiths to attend some meetings as well. Dues are assigned and the crew are accepted into the brotherhood of the union.

March 12

Baltimore’s annexation bill is approved by the General Assembly. Baltimore will annex approximately 50 square miles of land. The majority being drawn from Baltimore County with five miles coming from Anne Arundel County. It is a hotly contested bill in the assembly. After much debate and constitutional arguments, the City is allowed to grow substantially.

April 13

Another meeting on a Saturday of Local #80. A few of Eddie’s co-workers are there. They have received their affiliation with the ASMWIA. There is strength in numbers. Eddie is a powerful speaker and very passionate about workers’ rights. The other members are particularly impressed because he is a Kavanagh. A potential owner yet still wants the business and crew to be union. Elections are held for leadership positions. On the first ballot, Eddie is elected General Secretary of Local # 80. He will be deeply involved with union affairs for the rest of his life.

May 18

Johanna spends a Saturday afternoon at a meeting of the Just Government League. She attends just about once a month. Joe spends this time with his daughter, Anna. Playing piano and singing. Johanna tells her husband about each meeting. How the group is confident that suffrage is getting closer to a reality. The members make plans and set goals. They write letters to elected officials and try to garner all the support they can. Johanna is sure that women will have the right to vote sooner rather than later. She intends to be one of the first at the polls when that happens. Joe supports her and is in no way surprised. Jo is a strong woman with deep conviction. She is also always determined.

June 3

John Guy (15) Kavanagh becomes the 10th Kavanagh to work at the Shop. He will begin assisting Joe in the office this summer. He will take phone calls, learn how to do accounts receivable and payable. Joe will show him the bookkeeping techniques he uses. Joe will still handle payroll, but the rest he will train Guy to do. The Shop itself is quite busy. Joe is happy to have the help. The steam ship work is here. Pump chambers being fabricated and assorted brass parts made. A brass railing and a copper fountain are being produced. Assorted cooking kettles and vessels are curved and fabricated. Also, today Eddie, James Woods and three helpers are at White Brewery. They are making some repairs and installing a new beer vat. The drawings all made by Leo Kavanagh under the supervision of his Uncle James.

July 15

They labor in the heat of a July Monday. They shape copper into kettles and cooking apparatuses. They do not have quite the volume of steamship work as they have had in the past. More and more the steamers are repaired at shipyards and by the owners themselves. It is hardly missed as they continue to receive a great deal of distillery jobs. They have repairs scheduled across the state for the next month. A busy and successful year so far. Joe is more accepting of the union now as Eddie has gained some influence and is playing a leadership role in local # 80. I believe also, he is rather happy to be exempt from membership. He was never a coppersmith. Joe likes the separation that is inferred by it. It makes him feel more like an owner. More like Joe Kavanagh in his own eyes. He is spending the summer training his nephew, Guy. He teaches him how to do the books and the proper procedure for dealing with customers. Joe is cautious as he has no inclination to train a replacement, but he does like having some of his time freed up. He can make more cold calls, schmooze and get friendly with customers. This is his style and it helps him maintain a steady strong flow of work into the Shop.

August 2

Joe receives a letter from Panama. Frank is returning to Baltimore for an extended visit. He misses his son and his family. Joe passes this along to the rest of the Kavanaghs. The Shop is humming along. The employees are union now and making more money. Joe raised his prices a bit to accommodate the higher wages and the Shop hasn’t missed a beat. Jobs still coming in and the crew all very busy. Joe believes that perhaps Eddie was right and they will all make more money. He doesn’t tell Eddie that. Meanwhile, Eddie, James Woods, Henry Blum and four helpers are at Horsey Distilling for some repairs. Some pots and parts for a column still are fixed. Seams are soldered and some valves and fittings are replaced. A long Friday in the heat, but a good day. They cruise back to the Shop in the truck with Eddie driving as he always does.

August 24

Frank returns to Baltimore via train. He took a ship from Panama to New York then a train home. The Kavanaghs welcome him enthusiastically. He arrives on a Saturday and a big family dinner is held at Collington Avenue by Joe and Johanna. The entire clan is there and very happy to see Frank.

August 26

A very high number of people in Baltimore begin to grow sick. It is a quickly spreading strain of the Spanish flu. It is proving fatal for many folks. Families and citizens begin noticing that many of their friends and relatives are growing ill or know of someone growing ill. This is discussed at the Shop. It is rather strange that this is going on and it is not the traditional “flu season”. The Kavanaghs are fortunate. None of the family or crew have grown ill. The Shop is starting another hot week of heating and hammering. Twisting and curving copper into the assorted shapes they need. Joe reads the latest from Europe. At lunch, he informs his crew of the news. The Allies have finally begun to push the Central Powers back. What has been a slow war of attrition has finally changed. The tide is beginning to turn. The Allies have just defeated Germany at the Battle of Amiens. Bulgaria has been forced to surrender. A slow progress has begun to occur.

September 11

The Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs 4 games to 2 in the World Series. The season was shortened due to the war so the Series ends earlier than ever before. This was also the first time the Star Spangled Banner was played at a baseball game. It is played during the seventh inning stretch of game 1 to honor the American soldiers fighting in Europe. This championship match-up is a battle of pitching. Neither team homers in the six games. Babe Ruth wins two games for Boston and bats sixth in the lineup becoming the only pitcher ever to bat anywhere but ninth in a World Series game. For the season, Ruth bats .300 with 11 home runs and 11 triples. Ty Cobb wins another batting title with a .382 average while also leading the league in triples with 14. Both Joe and Eddie’s favorites do well, but Eddie’s hero is the one that is a champion.

September 19

James Connolly marries Kitty Kavanagh in New York. James is from NY and they wished to be married with his mother in attendance. The Kavanaghs are happy for them. They seem very much in love and they want nothing but the best for Kitty.

October 10

Eddie Kavanagh weds Anna Hartman at St. Patrick’s Church at the corner of Broadway and Bank Streets on this Thursday evening. The Kavanaghs assemble at the church after work. Joe and Johanna and their daughter, Anna are there. Leo, his wife, Mayme and their son Leo Paul attend. James and his wife Honora and their two sons, Guy and James Jr. also. Frank and his son, Charles attend. Aunt Sally Woods(Joe and James’ sister) and her family. Several of Martin’s children as well including James and Kitty Connolly just back from their wedding in NY. The family are excited and happy for Eddie and Anna. Johanna pulls the happy couple aside during the revelry. She has something special for Eddie. She gives him her father’s pocket watch. She speaks to him about how he is the second son. Many advantages are given to the elder son. Not to mention that Leo is Joe’s favorite. Johanna knows that when their time comes Leo will be the senior man at the Shop. There will be no stopping that. She tells Eddie of how this “second son” thing effected his father, Joe. Joe felt slighted when his older brother Martin inherited the Shop. Johanna tells him to take this watch which belonged to James Long. Keep it in his family. When you have two sons, you should pass it on to your younger boy when he gets married. She smiles at Anna and says better yet, have your wife give her second son the watch. It will be better to come from the boys’ mother. Thus, starts a family tradition that leads to me receiving this watch in 77 years. The party continues and they celebrate loud and long into the night. The next day is a slightly slow day for several of the Shop’s workers. A hungover Friday for more than a few.

Eddie Kavanagh and Anna Hartman’s marriage certificate. October 10, 1918.

October 13

Fatalities from the flu begin to pile up. It is serious as the number of sick and dying begin to increase. So far, it is largely ignored by the City and State. They do not want to cause a panic and they do not want to limit public meetings. There are too many efforts to gather people to support our involvement in the War and to press the sale of war bonds. These public events add to the spread of the illness. And it has spread wildly in Baltimore. Now, it is clear that actions need to be taken to contain it. The Health Commission cancels all public events. Hospitals become packed with the sick and some can take no more. The Spanish Flu has become a worldwide pandemic. The U. S. is hit hard and Baltimore hardest of all. By the end of the year, over 20,000 people are infected and over 4,000 die.

November 11

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, WW1 ends. The Germans and the Central Powers have been defeated. Kaiser Wilhelm has abdicated. An armistice is signed. The news is met with wild victorious celebrations in the U. S. Our boys will be back home and we have peace. The Kavanaghs celebrate as so many do, but in Baltimore there are many still ill from the Spanish Flu. Health initiatives have been implemented. Still, many are sick and dying. The Kavanagh family is spared as not one of their family is sick or dies. A rare family to go untouched by this outbreak.

December 24

The Shop’s Christmas party is a lively affair this year. Family, customers, employees and vendors all celebrate together. It is a special holiday for Americans and certainly for the Kavanaghs this year. The War to End All Wars is at an end. The deadly Spanish Flu has been contained though not stopped entirely. Their brother/uncle Frank has returned. He will stay through the holidays, but return to Panama in January. He promises to visit again next year. The Shop has had a successful year and it has made the transition to a union shop relatively seamlessly. The Kavanaghs involvement in the Coppersmith Union will continue for a long time.

Woodrow Wilson is the President of the United States. U. S. Time Zones and Daylight Savings Time are established. The first Air Mail Postal Service begins in the U. S. 101 people die in a tremendous train wreck in Nashville, Tennessee. Opha May Johnson becomes the first female marine. The Battle of Ambos Nogales is fought on the American-Mexican border. The only battle of WW1 fought on North American soil. Ripley’s Believe It or Not opens. Leonard Bernstein, Ted Williams, Billy Graham, Spiro Agnew and Madeline L’Engle are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Coppersmiths Union Local # 80. Damaged Photo taken at the Shop 1918


1917 The Great War and Eddie Quits

January 5

The first week of the year for the Shop has been a good one, but less so for the Kavanaghs. The stream of work is quite good. They have the candy and ice cream customers for whom they are making kettles and some distillery and brewery repairs on the books. However, the family is saddened to hear that their matriarch, Katherine is moving to Philadelphia in the Spring. Joe and James’ mother has decided to live with her cousins in Philly. One is older and ill. Katherine will help care for her. The last few years, she has taken multiple trips there. It seems as though Frank leaving was the tipping point for her. Perhaps, she just wants to be closer to her family, the Lubres. In either case, she will go and the boys have promised to visit her. It is only a train ride away. Yet, it will be difficult to see their mother go.

January 13

Today the newspapers are full of a story about an explosion in what is now Lyndhurst, New Jersey. A munitions supply has been blow up and rumors are flying it was caused by German saboteurs. Joe reads the story in the paper at his desk on Saturday morning. The U. S. is clearly careening toward this conflict in Europe. It really is just a question of when now.

February 3

U. S. breaks diplomatic relations with Germany.

February 16

After a day spent fabricating some distilling parts, Eddie discusses the idea of a union with three fellow coppersmiths employed by the Shop, James Woods(Eddie’s cousin), Henry Blum and Henry Nieberding over a beer. Eddie tells them he is doing his best to get Joe to unionize. He is resisting, but Eddie wishes to know how they feel about it. They think it is a good idea. They want more money, but they are not ready to do something like strike or even speak up about it. They fear Joe will just fire them on the spot. Even James Woods who is Joe’s nephew is not keen on too much involvement. Eddie accepts their answers. He encourages them to consider this chat and not forget it as Eddie is not giving up on this one.

March 2

A long week of heating and hammering is nearly forgotten on this Friday. The newspaper prints the Zimmerman Telegram which was just released to the public. It is a telegram sent to Mexican officials from Germany and intercepted by England. The gist is that Germany has offered to return part of the SW of U. S. to Mexico if they attack the U. S. The Germans propose an alliance with Mexico to conquer Europe and America. The Southwest would be Mexico’s reward for their help. Joe interrupts the crew’s work to go over what has happened. He reads the story in the paper to them all. There will be no stopping now. War is coming.

March 3

A Saturday morning of work is followed by an afternoon of moving. Joe, Johanna and their son, Eddie and daughter, Anna, move from Bond Street to Collington Avenue. They move Northeast a bit, but still fairly close to the Shop. Eddie drives the Shop’s truck so it is not too hard. It does take the whole afternoon. While they move, they discuss the latest news. This time it is about Russia, France and England’s strongest ally in WW1. There has been a revolution and Tsar Nicholas the Second has abdicated. The implications for the war are that the Allies will lose a powerful partner. The implications for the world will be even greater in the future.

March 17

A big Saturday St. Paddy’s Day party at 4 N. Collington Avenue. It is also the first big gathering at Joe and Johanna’s new home. A fun affair full of music, food, drink and celebrating their heritage and family. Katherine is leaving for Philly on Monday. All the Kavanaghs are there to bid her farewell. Her grandchildren from Martin are there including Kitty, Regina and Mary. Kitty is just back from two weeks in Chicago to visit Martin. Joe and James inquire politely how he is doing. He is involved in some smith work and is happy with his new wife and her family. They do not press her for any details. She is accompanied by her new beau, James Connelly. He is from New York and has been seeing Kitty for about six months. He accompanied her to Chicago and met her father. He seems to fit in well with the Kavanagh gents though he is a bit rough around the edges. They are introduced to him as James, but in other circles he is known as Jack Hart.

April 2

The U. S. declares a state of war with Germany. The Kavanaghs start their week of work like most Americans. They do not know what to expect, but there is no belief that this will be a fast war.

May 24

The Shop is full of kettles to be made today while four men work on a brass railing. Eddie and three boys are at National Brewery for a repair. While the crew works, Joe and James talk. Joe tells James they have to consider this war. Alcohol is used in a lot of munitions and they should contact the Navy about it. Coppersmith work might be in great need for the Navy. James agrees. Joe sends a letter to the Department of the Navy. He is offering the Shop’s services to the military for anything they need. The Secretary of the Navy responds via letter and thanks him.

May 27

A Sunday ham dinner at Collington Avenue. All of Joe and Johanna’s family are there. Their young daughter, Anna, of course and their oldest, Leo and his wife, Mayme, and their second son, Eddie and his girlfriend Anna Hartman. They enjoy a pleasant meal then the men sit and smoke while the ladies clean up after dinner. Eddie decides now is the time to talk union to Joe. Leo is a bit taken aback that his brother would mention it. Eddie tells Joe that unions are the way of the future. It will not just be good for the employees, but good for the Shop. Eventually, most work will require a union to get the job. Also, with a union if you are slow, you can request a smaller crew. You need not fire anyone as things go up and down. Safety and efficiency will be improved. Joe puffs on his pipe and gives a complete no. Joe will be damned if he will let anyone else dictate who he hires, who he fires and how much he pays them. Eddie’s answer is that those things are determined by the market already. Joe tells his youngest son that this is a ridiculous notion and there is no chance it will ever happen at the Shop. Joe moves to the piano and begins playing. It is his way of saying the subject is closed.

June 5

The U. S. begins conscription of 18- 30 year old males today. The draft will be used to augment the soldiers who have volunteered. The war will require many lives to fight and die. Johanna worries for her sons and asks Joe what can be done to protect them and keep them home. She is mostly worried for Eddie as he is single. The Shop has begun receiving some Navy work after his letter. He promises to make some phone calls on the boys’ behalf. Johanna makes it very clear that she does not want her boys going off to war.

June 10

Leo’s wife, Mayme gives birth to her first child. A boy named Leo Paul. The Kavanaghs are excited to welcome this new edition to the family. Joe and Johanna are first time grandparents.

July 14

A Saturday morning is spent prepping for a repair at Monticello Distilling next week. They also are making several ballast pump chambers for steamships. Four peanut kettles are built as well. When Joe gets home in the afternoon, he spends several hours at the piano with his daughter, Anna. He has promised Johanna that he will do so. Johanna has a meeting, but not with a church or social club. She is attending a meeting of the Just Government League. A local suffragist group that has been growing rapidly. Johanna read some of the writings of Edith Houghton Hooker. She founded the organization. Johanna became interested and this is her first meeting. Her son, Eddie, drives her and picks her up afterward. She is excited and energized after this meeting. So many women who want a say in government. They want to vote, but more than that they want their voices heard. After dinner, she tells Joe all about it. Joe is a bit confused as to why she would want to vote. Fortunately, he is smart enough not to ask her and get into a conversation he does not want to have. For Eddie’s part, he agrees with his mother. Besides, she gets a vote at home why not in government. As a matter of fact, Eddie always thought she got all the votes at home.

August 20

A busy week begins at the Shop. They are finishing up their summer ship work and making some stock fittings and valves. They use these all the time and have sold quite a few to the Navy. Since Joe sent his letter, they have received several naval jobs. Joe has promised them fast deliveries. Whatever they need. He has also mentioned his concerns about his sons being drafted. Through a few phone calls, he now has a contact at the draft board. He may have found a way to keep his boys out of this war. During the ride home, Eddie brings up the subject of a coppersmiths union again. Joe is not interested in discussing it. Eddie pushes him a bit. If the Shop does not go union, they will regret it later. Their customers will unionize and we will be banned from working there. Also, when the Shop gets slow, we can tell the union we need less men for a few days. We won’t have to fire or lay off anyone. Eddie implores Joe to consider that maybe the union is good for both the business and employees. Joe is adamantly opposed. Eddie finally tells his father that he may not be able to continue working at the Shop. He is not sure. Joe is surprised, but does not believe for a second that Eddie would leave. He instructs his son to wait, pay his dues and eventually he will make more money

September 7

Eddie has made up his mind. He tells his girlfriend, Anna, that he will resign from the Shop. He will go to Philadelphia where his grandmother and her family live. He has been in touch with some cousins and they can find him a job at the Philly shipyard. He will return for her. He promises, but he has to do this. He hopes that Joe will change his mind, but he has his doubts. This is his only option to get paid appropriately. Anna will wait. She is not sure how long though. At the end of the day, Eddie tells his father that he is quitting. Joe can’t believe it. Eddie lets him know his plans about moving to Philadelphia. He will live with his grandmother Katherine’s family and work at the Shipyard. Joe is upset and feels betrayed by his son and tells him just that. Eddie answers that it is just business. Not personal. Joe pauses as that is something he would say. He accepts it and they drive home in silence. Both wondering how Johanna will react.

September 9

After Sunday mass, Eddie says goodbye to his parents, his sister and Anna. Johanna is both heartbroken and angry. Angry at both her husband and son that they can not work this out. She is convinced this will just be temporary. Eddie takes off on his motorcycle and heads to Philadelphia.

September 20

The Shop is still loaded with work, but Joe has a problem. Firstly, James thinks they need to replace Eddie or get him back. They have a good sized crew, but they are missing their best smith. The best man to send out for repairs and get them done quickly is not here. That’s Eddie. Joe is not ready to replace him. Joe still hopes he will return. They have a lot of work and in the ten days since Eddie quit they have fallen farther and farther behind their schedule. Joe does not know what to do. He is able to make calls and put some customers deliveries off. He can work his magic a bit, but eventually people want their jobs finished.

October 10

The Bolshevik Revolution has begun in Russia. A group of revolutionaries led by V. I. Lenin are moving against the provisional government that was set up after the Tsar abdicated. This fight will get bloody and violent and lead to the Russians exit from WW1. In Baltimore, Joe has his own revolution going on. His son has left the Shop because he wants to unionize. His wife wants to vote and wants all women to have a say in our country. In addition, pressure at home to get Eddie back has intensified. Johanna has made it clear that this is Joe’s fault. She wants her boy back. She wants him to be married like his older brother. She does not care how Joe does it, but she wants this fixed. She reminds him that she loaned them money to start the new Shop. She did this to give her sons a successful future. She lets Joe know that she is finished waiting. Joe has no choice. He will get Eddie back. At lunch today, he talks it over with James. James wants Eddie back too. James is less against a union than Joe anticipated. Of course, James is a coppersmith so he can actually join the union. Joe had not considered that. They agree to give the union a try if Eddie will come back.

October 13

On Saturday, Eddie Kavanagh enjoys the best day of his life. His father, Joe, has taken a train up to Philadelphia to see him and he wants him back. Joe spells it all out. The Shop needs him. They will pay him what he wants. Once the details of this union are worked out, Joe promises to give it a try. He lets Eddie know that James is in agreement on this. Joe tells Eddie that his mother wants him home. Now. Eddie is happy. He will return to the Shop. Eddie is smart enough not to go too far with his father. Instead, he thanks Joe for coming up to talk to him and bringing him home. They have a dinner with Joe’s mother, Katherine and her family. Joe will take the train home on Sunday. Eddie has to speak to the folks at the shipyard on Monday then he will head home on his bike.

October 15

Eddie Kavanagh returns to Baltimore on his “Flying Merkel”. I know he felt a great sense of victory. He feels in an odd family-related way what most worker/union activists feel. Satisfaction and justice. He has given it all great thought on the ride home. He will have to show Joe how this will work well for the Shop. He knows Joe will be watching and listening very carefully. He arrives at the Shop at lunch time. He is welcomed back enthusiastically by the crew. Even his father is happy to see him. They break into baseball talk immediately. Both Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth have had stellar seasons. Cobb wins the batting title at .383 while also leading the American League with 24 triples and 44 doubles. Ruth bats .325 with a 24-13 record while posting a 2.01 ERA and throwing 35 complete games. The debate and comparison is cordial between Joe and Eddie. Their favorite players both did well and despite their personalities, both father and son are glad to be working together again. Later that night they hear that the Chicago White Sox have won this year’s World Series. They defeat the NY Giants 4 games to 2. The White Sox pitching dominates as Eddie Cicotte and Red Farber pitch 50 of the 52 innings in this series leading them to victory. Johanna is very pleased to see her husband and son back to their old ways. Talking baseball and working at the Shop. Together. That’s just what she wanted.

December 6

The USS Jacob Jones is sunk by the Germans. The first American military casualties attributed to the war. There will be many more. It is a time of change for America, the world and certainly the Kavanaghs. The Shop has another good year financially despite the upheaval about Eddie and the union. Eddie is making arrangements and plans to form a coppersmith’s local in Baltimore. The Shop’s crew including some of the Kavanaghs will be members. Joe is still not sure about this, but his brother and his sons, Leo included, have given it their stamp of approval. Perhaps, it will work out for the best. In addition, his wife Johanna, has taken up with this suffragette group. She attends meetings and reads all she can about their goals. In several years, women will receive the right to vote and Jo has done a good job of convincing Joe that this is the right thing. Still, it is a lot of change for this 19th century man. His son a union organizer and his wife a suffragette. What is his world coming to?



Woodrow Wilson is the President. U. S. troops withdraw from Mexico and end the search for Pancho Villa. The Great Atlanta Fire destroys 70 blocks of the city. The first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded. New York state grants women the right to vote. Most railroads are placed under government control due to the war. Ernest Borgnine, Marvin Miller, John F. Kennedy, Dean Martin and Dizzy Gillespie are born. Buffalo Bill Cody and Scott Joplin die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Letter from Secretary of the Navy to the Shop. May 25, 1917.