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.


1916 And Then There Were Two

January 3

The first Monday of the year is a cold one and it starts at 7:30 a. m. The work has continued into the new year. The crew does any torch work they can in the morning. It will heat the place up a bit. The Shop is full of confectionery kettles to be made and a variety of replacement parts for stills. Copper sheets are heated and curved to make the kettles. The bottoms and tops fabricated and attached. Drip pans, valves, fittings and assorted other parts are made for the distillery repair jobs that are scheduled for this month. The Kavanaghs talk about the holidays and the family. Gussie has stayed ill and they are all concerned. Of course, Frank most of all. He has had the doctor check his wife. He has diagnosed her with the flu, but she seems to be unable to shake it or fight it off.

January 25

Gussie does not recover. The flu weakens her and she dies this day. Frank is overwhelmed with grief. He has lost a son six years ago and now his wife. He has his smaller boy, Charles, but is inconsolable. The family pray for him and his boy. They rally to support him. Gussie is buried at Loudon Park Cemetery as she was not Catholic, but Lutheran.

Gussie Schneider Kavanagh’s death notice. January 25, 1916. Baltimore Sun

February 7

Frank returns to the Shop. He took some time to grieve and take care of his son. His boy will be cared for by Gussie’s sister, Sophia Hobner. The work is still strong and steady. Joe has widened his customer base while staying primarily local. They make forays into Virginia and Pennsylvania for distilling work, but no further. Joe contacts every brewery, eatery, distillery and anyone who could require coppersmithing services. He keeps a constant flow of jobs in and jobs out.

February 11

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs for the first time.

March 6

A circular fountain and a curved brass rail add to the work in the Shop. The crew works hard, but Joe and James are worried about Frank. He is still despondent due to Gussie’s passing and he is distracted in his work. His brothers understand, but they are concerned if he will be able to move past it. Also they are concerned for his safety as some of what they do can be dangerous. They will wait and give him time to deal with his sadness.

April 10

Frank approaches his brothers at the beginning of this week to talk. He tells them he is not sure he can do this anymore. He is overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the day to day. They are shocked and ask him what he wants to do. He answers that he needs a change. He needs to go somewhere else and try to move forward. He does not know what he will do about his son, Charles. He doesn’t think he can work at the Shop anymore. Joe and James encourage him to give this more thought. That he can not make such a decision rashly. He agrees and returns to work. Joe and James do not know what to think. He is their brother and they want the best for him. Still, they are very worried for him. Not to mention the implications for the Shop. Frank is their best smith and very experienced. Also, he is a partner. They do not want to even consider how they would work that out. They hope he changes his mind.

April 21

On this Monday, Frank tells Joe and James he is resigning. He has made arrangements for young Charles to stay with the Hobners. Frank believes he is better off with someone that can properly raise him. He also tells them that he can not work here anymore. It is too painful to stay and that includes working for the company. He will find work somewhere besides Baltimore. He knows he is a good smith and finding work will not be a problem. The brothers try again to dissuade him, but his mind is made up. Joe will have the paperwork drawn up. They will find a way to pay his share to him. He wants them to pay this money to his sister-in-law over time. To make payments that she can count on to support his son. In addition, Frank has several small lots of property in the City. He asks his brothers to buy them. He will give them a good deal. This too shall go to Charles. Frank does not know where he will go, but he is considering joining the military.

April 29

Frank officially withdraws from the partnership. He relinquishes all hold on the Shop and its name. Joe and James will continue on as partners still operating under the name, the Joseph Kavanagh Company. The family is still struggling to understand it, but they respect Frank’s wishes. The crew are equally confused by this. They will miss Frank. He was a kind and gentle man. A good co-worker and boss. They will keep working. Eddie moves up as the best smith in the Shop now. Even several older gents do not have his level of skill. Mr. Fairbanks and James Woods are both excellent. Eddie is the best after Frank leaves though.

Notice that the three brothers’ co-partnership was dissolved. April 29, 1916. Baltimore Sun.

June 12

The crew spends a long Monday working on the summer steamship work and the usual kettles, beer vats and assorted distilling parts. A repair job at Bauernschmidts’s Brewery will take several days. They have a very backed up schedule. Joe and James have lunch together to discuss what they should do. James wants to hire a few more men. Joe thinks they should hire a machinist. They make so many custom parts for different equipment especially the stills. A lathe run by a trained machinist will help them more than laborers. They eat while they talk and agree to hire three more men. An experienced machinist and two more helpers. That brings them to 12 true coppersmiths now including the Kavanaghs. They have an additional 14 helpers and now one machinist, Mr. Abe Saltzman. He is hired within several days. Joe knows many people and finding a qualified machinist with a good reputation isn’t hard for him.

June 20

Leo Kavanagh weds Mayme Smith. Joe and Johanna’s oldest son gets married on a Tuesday evening. The family are thrilled for the couple. The Kavanaghs assemble at St. Leo’s that night. James, Honora and their kids, Joe and Johanna and their daughter, Eddie and his girlfriend, Anna and Frank and his boy, Charles. Also, several of Martin’s daughters are there. Kitty, Regina and Mary Kavanagh. They pray for Leo and Mayme and wish them the best in their married life.

July 7

Eddie drives Joe, James Woods and a helper to Brehm’s Brewery on Belair Road. Eddie loves this truck, but he is dreading talking to his father at the end of the day. He is going to ask for a raise. He is clearly the best smith now. He is senior to everyone but his Uncle James, his cousin James Woods and Mr. Fairbanks. Fairbanks is a good smith, but more of a brazier than a coppersmith. Eddie knows he has more skill than Mr. Fairbanks and his uncle and his cousin. His brother Leo is a fine smith, but engineering and drafting are more his area of expertise. They arrive and Joe does his thing. He chats up the supervisor and the foreman. He does this charming Joe thing he does. He is conversational and tosses in witty repartee. He has that entertainer’s way about him. His old vaudeville days. While Joe talks, Eddie and the boys get to work. They solder some seams and replace a few valves. A quick job that is finished by lunchtime. Joe presses the brewery for more work while he is there. Making sure that Brehm’s will call at the smallest problem. Any issue that comes up they will rush in their truck to take care of it. They head back to the Shop. When they arrive at Central Avenue, Eddie parks out front and they return to the Shop for lunch. The afternoon is a hot one. Eddie works on some brass bearings for a boiler job. All the while, mulling over in his mind what to say to Joe. He calls his father Joe. Everyone does. Joe didn’t stand on ceremony much or perhaps father and eventually grandfather made him feel old. His sons and his daughter and his grandchildren all called him Joe. Just like everyone else. It was always his preference. His way. On the ride home after work, Eddie pleads his case for more money. He is a skilled coppersmith. One of the best he thinks. He works hard and is on time every day. He always does what he is told. Joe listens than says no. He tells Eddie that he must pay his dues. Joe and James are still in debt for the building. Though, that debt is to Joe’s wife, Johanna. Eddie must wait. They are building the business and it will be good for all if they do that. Especially for the Kavanaghs. Joe makes sure to mention. Joe is adamant. Eddie speaks up that a tradesman should be properly paid based on his skills. He tells Joe that not only himself, but most of the crew need to be paid more. If the Shop needs to charge more, they should. Joe cuts him off there and says that pricing and salaries are his domain. Not Eddie’s. He flatly refuses to discuss it further as they pull up at 619 S. Bond Street.

August 17

The dog days of the Shop are here. August is quite often the cruelest month for a smith. Using fire in the heat and the humidity. There is no escape from it. It is draining, but part of the job. The Kavanaghs and workers are fabricating a storage tank for Hannis Distilling. They have multiple kettles, pans and pots being made, but 12 men work on this tank. It will take nearly two weeks to complete. Another week to install. During lunch, they talk baseball. Babe Ruth has been pitching up a storm according to Eddie. Ruth is off to a hot start on the mound with a record of 16-9 so far this year. Eddie mentions that Ruth just out dueled Walter Johnson in a 1-0 win. The Babe pitched a 13 inning complete game shutout. Even Joe is impressed and has to give credit to Ruth. He is turning into a top notch pitcher.

August 19

The crew spends a Saturday prepping for a still replacement at Horsey Distilling. They work most of the day. Knocking off at 2. They try to be out of there by lunch on Saturdays, but the work has demanded otherwise. Or at least Joe has. Joe tells Eddie 2 p.m. is still better then 4 or 5. Before a night out with Anna, Eddie visits his brother Leo at his home on McElderry Street. He discusses their wages. Leo also is unhappy with his pay. He is less inclined to fight with Joe about it than Eddie. Eddie tells Leo they should have a union in there. Besides the better pay, as their customers go union it will be tougher to do work for them as a non-union shop. Leo is not convinced. They have plenty of work. Eddie agrees but thinks that could change. He mostly believes they deserve more money. Joe could charge more and everyone would make more money. Leo will think about it.

August 26

Eddie attends a meeting of the Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers International Alliance. He accompanies several members that he is acquainted with in the trades. Eddie listens intently as they discuss proper wages, worker safety and even death benefits. He is even more convinced that the Shop needs to find a way to go union. To pay its workers better. Eddie envies the brotherhood these metalsmiths seem to share. They have strength in their numbers. Eddie is conflicted as the business belongs to his family. However, he meets several men from small shops in the same situation. They make it work. They are owners and union. Eddie learns there are several Coppersmith Unions around the county that are associated with this group. One is Local #53 in NY. Eddie gets their address and decides to send them a letter.

September 11

The work weeks begin with a visit to the Shop by Frank. He informs his brothers that he is enlisting in the Army as a coppersmith. He has been classified as such and will be sent to the Panama Canal. They have need of hard working men of many trades. Coppersmith being one. Frank is sure this is what is right for him. His brothers do not try to persuade him. His son will live with the Hobners as arranged. Frank will send what money he can back home while Joe and James send money for the sale of his part of the Shop. They wish Frank well and encourage him to visit when he can. When he leaves, Joe and James agree they hope this will work for their brother. In the Shop, they are bending some decorative brass moldings into an ovular rail. It is tricky. They have a wooden template to match. Eddie and four men are at Globe Brewery to install some new vats. Eddie has heard back from Local # 53. They welcomed his interest. They advised him to try to sway his father and uncle to unionize. The size of the Shop’s crew would be more than enough to start a local in Baltimore. If he can not convince them, they recommend he organize with coppersmiths from a few rival businesses. Eddie is not sure what to do. He is considering.

October 12

The Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robins 4 game to one to win the World Series. Babe Ruth wins game two. He gives up one run in the first then duplicates his game from August. 13 innings of shut out ball and the Sox win 2-1. For the season, he bats .272, but pitches to a 1.75 ERA and compiles an impressive 23-12 record. Cobb hits .371, but does not win the batting title. Tris Speaker of the Cleveland Indians wins the title with a .386 average. Joe and Eddie go through their comparisons of Cobb and Ruth, as always. Joe admits that Ruth is an excellent hurler, but Cobb will always be the best player due to his hitting.

November 7

Woodrow Wilson defeats Charles Hughes narrowly to win re-election to the Presidency. The Kavanaghs vote for Wilson. They have shifted now toward the Democrats. This started when the Republicans chose Taft over Teddy Roosevelt in 1912. They loved Teddy and voted for him when he ran in that election as the Progressive Party Candidate. That combined with the successful state of the economy for the Shop lead them to vote for Wilson. Joe is convinced now that the election is over the U. S. will enter the war. It is discussed in the Shop over the next few days. Joe is of the mind that Wilson was walking a tight rope to win re-election. He did not want to lose votes by committing too early to war, but did not want to alienate those in favor of it. He talked tough to Germany, but stayed neutral for now.

November 19

Frank sets sail for the Panama Canal. His family bids him farewell. He assures them he shall return by 1918 if not before. His mother, Katherine, is particularly saddened. She has been their quiet matriarch since her husband, Patrick’s death. She watched as things went up and down for her boys with the Shop. She has seen Martin’s problems and then watched him leave Baltimore. Now Frank is leaving too. Joe, James and their sister Sarah Woods comfort her. They are still the Kavanaghs in Baltimore and they are sure Frank will be back.

December 24

The Christmas party. Joe’s and James’ mother, Katherine visits the Shop for the first time. She has never felt the need to see their place of business. They press her to come for this party and most of the family are there. They celebrate with their customers and vendors. There is music and food and drink for all. They act as if it is any other year, but it is not. They miss Frank. They feel for his loss of Gussie. Frank was the younger brother who Joe and James looked out for. He trusted them and they trusted him. They saw him grow up from boy to apprentice to master smith. This brotherhood of three has changed. The two elder brothers are left now. A partnership of two. They were blindsided by this turn of events. Surely, they had considered what will happen in the future. How, some day, one or more of them might leave the Shop. They were not anticipating it happening any time soon, but it has. They celebrate Christmas. It just isn’t the same.



Woodrow Wilson is the President of the United States. Revolution in Mexico leads to an invasion of New Mexico by Pancho Villa. U. S. troops chase them back and follow them into Mexico taking and occupying Santa Domingo. The U. S. also begins occupation of the Dominican Republic. Norman Rockwell’s first Saturday Evening Post cover is published. The National Park Service and the Piggly Wiggly are founded. Jeanette Rankin of Montana becomes the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. Jackie Gleason, Gregory Peck, Olivia De Havilland, Walter Cronkite and Kirk Douglass are born.

There remain 48 states in the Union.


1915 The First Truck

1915 The First Truck

January 17

It is a chilly Sunday evening. Eddie and Anna Hartman double date with Leo and Mayme Smith. Mayme is Leo’s girl. The four have gotten to be pretty close. They attend the St. Leo’s Club Annual Dinner and Dance. The brothers are both members. Eddie has been seeing Anna for the last several months. It is about the same for Leo and Mayme. A pretty big crowd attends and a good time had by all. The Shop is off to a hot start for January. Joe has been bringing work in at a quick pace. More confectionery kettles to be made and repaired this month. Several weeks of repairs for Horsey Distilling. The usual drip pans and a replacement condenser. Fittings and valves are replaced throughout the system. They are always making these for stock as well. The hours are piling up. James and Frank tell Joe they need more help. Several of their “helpers” have progressed to being apprentices. This helps with the volume of copper work they have, but now they need more laborers. Joe agrees and they decide to hire four young men. The Shop’s crew reaches 20.

Notice in the Baltimore Sun. St. Leo’s Dinner & Dance. January 17. 1915.

March 2

Today finds Frank, Eddie and four helpers working on a storage tank for Gwynnbrook Distilling. The tank was fabricated in the Shop then dis-assembled. Now, they are putting it all back together on site and attaching the appropriate valves and apparatus. They will spend the better part of this week there to finish the installation. They load into the cart each morning and reach the distillery by 9. Returning at 4 p.m. for closing time They piece the tank together in two days and spend the next two sealing it and attaching it to the full distilling system. The rest of the crew are working on some general copper work. Some large commercial cooking jackets and a small residential fountain. The copper is heated, turned and curved. Perforated sheets rolled into tubes for the fountain. Whatever is required to achieve the shapes they need. Spring is coming on just as winter has been. Busy.

May 7

This Friday is spent building a replacement continuous still for Baltimore Distilling. It needs to be finished today so Joe puts his best men on it. Frank and Eddie leading the team with five helpers . In addition, James Woods and several fellows are at White Brewery for some repairs. They are fixing some seams and installing some freshly made drip pans. During lunch, the talk of the Shop is that Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run yesterday off of Yankees hurler, Jack Warhop. The Yankees winning the game nonetheless. Ruth went 3 for 5. Eddie again predicts big things for this young local kid. He doesn’t mention that Ruth also committed an error in the game. Joe and the older Kavanaghs again say they look forward to what the Babe will do, but he has a long way to go and a lot to prove.

May 8

Saturday starts at 7:30 am for the Kavanaghs. First thing this morning, Joe drops the newspaper in Eddie’s lap. Opened to box score of yesterday’s Tigers vs. St. Louis Browns game. Joe recounts it before Eddie can take a look. Ty Cobb went 3 for 4. He drove in two and scored two. He also stole two bases. Coincidentally, Joe doesn’t mention Cobb’s error either. Joe makes his point that this is a better day across the board than Ruth’s. It’s a better day for the team and, at least the Tigers won their game. Eddie replies that Ruth will have his days. He is still young. This conversation continues until the rest of the workers arrive and they all get to work. Thus begins a regular Cobb vs. Ruth debate between Joe and his son, Eddie. It will only get worse as Ruth’s accomplishments and stardom rise while Cobb’s diminish. Apart from talking baseball, the crew are fabricating some beer vats. One for Globe Brewery and one for Gunther’s Brewery. They must make the vats and all the attachments by Monday. Joe has promised they will be installed by the end of next week. As always, James and Leo did the engineering and drawings when the order was placed. Today they start building them. It will be a long Saturday at the Shop. After work, the Kavanaghs learn of the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-Boat the day before. She was on her way to New York from Britain. Nearly 1200 people die. In the next few days, attitudes toward that “far away” war in Europe begin to change a bit. Even the Kavanaghs who were strongly against involvement in this conflict begin to rethink things. The U. S. protests and Germany promises to limit its naval activities to military vessels. A promise they will have trouble keeping.

June 10

The steam ship work arrives to an already swamped Shop. They are as busy as they have been in years. Joe is the one to bring up hiring more men this time. His brothers quickly agree and five helpers are hired within days. The crew are making ballast pump chambers for the ships and the usual brass work that goes with it. They have a backlog of stills to be made and installed over the next several months. Eddie has two boys with him at Brehm’s Brewery for some repairs. Twenty-five men now work for the Joseph Kavanagh Company. All busy and working hard. William Jennings Bryant, the Secretary of State resigns over U. S. handling of the sinking of the Lusitania. This is discussed intently over lunch. Frank is the first to speak up that the U. S. needs to get involved. That our ships will not be safe at sea as long as this war goes on. The rest of the family and crew are not convinced. They are angry about the sinking of the Lusitania, but still not angry enough to want to jump into this war. None are upset about Bryant resigning. Most of them voted against him at least once when he ran for President in the past.

August 15

It is a sunny warm Sunday. After church, Eddie takes Anna Hartman to her first ballgame. The International League Orioles. They ride to the game on Eddie’s motorcycle. Anna holding tight on the back while Eddie cruises through the City on his orange Merkel chewing on a stick of Double Mint Gum. They are keeping quite a bit of company now. Eddie explains the game to Anna. She allows him to do so although she already knows a fair bit about baseball. Her father and cousins are all fans. After the game is over, they have dinner at Joe and Johanna’s on Bond Street. They have a very nice meal and visit. They talk baseball and the family. Eddie brings up the need for a truck again. He tries to convince his father that the horse and cart has to go. A truck is faster, can haul more and costs less over the long run. Joe has privately approached both his brothers about this very thing. With a truck, they will be able to get to and from installs faster. They will be able to respond quicker to customer’s needs and haul more parts easier. The work is there to justify it. They seem to be getting busier and busier. Even with the added help, they are still working six days a week. Joe tells his son that he will think about it.

September 1

The Shop purchases its first automobile. A 1915 new Mack AB Truck with the words Joseph Kavanagh Co. Coppersmiths printed on the side. The bed is open with a rack that can be covered by a tarp. Eddie is very excited about it. Joe is still skeptical, but agrees that this is the way to go. It will be more efficient and more economical. Joe takes Eddie along with him for the purchase. The Shop remains backed up with a great deal of jobs. They have the right combination of customers now. They have a repair at either a distillery or a brewery just about every day. In the Shop proper, they are always prepping for the installs and repairs. They have regular orders for cooking kettles and brass work. Plus, the occasional fountain or railing and the boiler work they do. All these combined are keeping the Shop very busy.

The Shop’s first truck. 1915 Mack AB. Parked at 201 S. Central Ave. Eddie Kavanagh in driver’s seat. Leo Kavanagh in passenger seat.

October 13

The Boston Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 1 to win the World Series. Young Babe Ruth doesn’t pitch in the series. The Red Sox are just too stacked with talent and it only took five games. Ruth’s only appearance is one pinch hit. President Wilson becomes the first president to attend a World Series when he arrives for game 2. Of course, the series is discussed at the Shop. Baseball, Baltimore and family talk keeps the day moving along. The work of a smith can at times be tedious like most jobs. It is a constant rhythm of work and labor. Anything to chat about that makes the time go faster is welcomed. Today a brass railing for a “fancy” home as Joe would call it is made. E. J. Codd has sent in a great deal of work for a large boiler system. With a lot of work and a lot to talk about, the day does not seem so bad. Driving home to Bond Street in the Shop’s truck, Eddie mentions that Ruth finished his first full season batting .315. That’s not too shabby. Joe agrees, but quickly mentions that Cobb won his ninth batting title in a row. Hitting a cool .369 while stealing 96 bases. Eddie never questions Cobb’s abilities or hitting prowess. He is just a Ruth fan.

December 24

A Christmas party at the Shop. The Kavanaghs, customers and employees celebrate the season. Eddie and Leo invite Anna and Mayme. They both get their first experience of visiting Pratt & Central. Most of the Kavanaghs are there except for Frank’s wife Gussie. She is ill with the flu. Frank attends with his boy Charles, but they leave early. The rest stay for a long jubilant celebration of the season. Joe holds court among the crowd. He sings some songs and tells stories. He brags to any customer he can find about their truck. It is the latest model and they took their time in choosing it. He tells them all that he wanted the best deal he could get. They will be quicker to respond to issues at any facility. This will make them even better. Eddie talks mostly to Anna and does his best to not listen to his father praise the truck he resisted buying for so long. It is Joe though. It is his way. His style. Eddie takes it in stride. The Joseph Kavanagh Company has finished off its best year since the old Lombard Street days. Their crew is getting bigger and they are staying consistently busy. They have had no gaps in work this year. The Kavanagh brothers have a very good crew and an excellent group of customers. They believe that things will just keep getting better. There is no doubt about any issues this winter. They have a lot of work on the books to fill the cold months. Things are going very well and they see no reason to think that will stop.



Woodrow Wilson is the President. The Rocky Mountain National Park and the Kiwanis Club are established. A proposal in the House of Representatives to give women the right to vote is rejected. Construction on the Lincoln Memorial begins. D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” is released. The first stop sign is erected in Detroit. WW1 continues as more countries choose sides and it becomes a slow war of attrition. The U. S. remains neutral. Muddy Waters, Billie Holiday, Orson Welles, Arthur Miller and Frank Sinatra are born. Booker T. Washington and Frank James die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Part of the Shop’s crew. Joe in suit & bowler. His sons Leo & Eddie also in group. 1915. Interior of the Shop. Picture taken from front corner of building at Pratt & Central facing east.


1914 Double Mint Gum

January 19

A strong start to the year for the Shop. The Georgetown Candy Kitchen and Ruppert Brothers from DC have ordered new kettles to be made. These two confectionery orders combined with their standard January orders from Baltimore candy companies make for a busy winter thus far. Sheet copper is cut then heated. After it is annealed(softened), it is slowly curved and shaped into the desired size of the kettle. Tops and bottoms are fabricated by heating and hammering. Finally, the associated valves and fittings are attached to complete each item. The moments using a torch in January are often the highlight of the day for any of the Shop’s smiths.

February 23

A chilly Monday starts at 7:30 a. m. The Kavanghs arrive and open the Shop for business. They chat a bit as they ready themselves for the day. All employees must be at Pratt & Central and ready to work by 8:00 a. m. Joe is a stickler for this schedule. They get to work throwing some heat at copper sheets to be bent. They are making some drip pans. These pans are placed under stills or vats to catch any small leaks. It is as simple of a thing to make as anything they do. The edges of the sheets are heated than folded over at a sharp angle. Usually by pressing and bending over a steel or iron table’s corner. Once bent, the corners need to be brazed and any final cuts are made. The crew are busy and the morning passes relatively quickly. They are afforded a half hour lunch from 12:00 – 12:30 p. m. While they eat their packed sandwiches, the discussion lands on baseball as it so often does. Young George Herman Ruth has been signed by Jack Dunne to play for the International League Baltimore Orioles. Eddie again speaks of the local club game he saw Ruth play in. He assures the crew that this young ball player will go far. The older Kavanaghs including Eddie’s father, Joe, are not quite so sure. They are excited nonetheless to see a local boy signed to play. The chat is interrupted when Joe realizes it is 12:30 and they must get back to work. The afternoon is spent on more kettle-making and fabricating some brass parts for a boiler. The afternoon passes slowly, but finally reaches 4:30 p. m. They head home. Some by cart, some by foot while Eddie roars off home on his “Flying Merkel” to the chagrin of his father.

Program from “Irish Night” to benefit St. Patrick’s Church at Albaugh’s Theatre April 29 and 30, 1914.

April 29

This Wednesday starts a wonderful two-day event for the Kavanaghs. Joe and Eddie will perform at a musical show to benefit St. Patrick’s Church. They will play tonight and tomorrow night. A large group of performers from the neighborhood and parish will be involved. Today at the Shop, a fountain is being fabricated. They drill holes in copper sheets than roll them into tubes after heating them. This work is done by Eddie and several helpers. Meanwhile, Frank and a couple lads are at Brehm’s Brewery replacing some fittings and sealing some leaks. A busy spring day for the crew. After work, the Kavanaghs gather at Albaugh’s Theater for the show. Joe sings “Cruishkeen’s Lawn” and “The Irish Exile”. Eddie sings “Nora Malone”. Both are involved in the chorus/ensemble tunes also. The two-day show is a success and some funds are raised to support the Church and its parishioners.

List of performers from program for “Irish Night”
More performers for “Irish Night”

May 10

A sunny Sunday is spent at Church in the morning and at a ballgame in the afternoon. Joe and his sons, Leo and Eddie attend an Orioles game at Oriole Park to see Ruth pitch. He has caught the eyes of many a baseball fan and scout. He is a clear standout on both the mound and at the plate. After his signing by Mr. Dunne, his teammates begin calling him Babe due to his “baby-face” and young demeanor. Ruth doesn’t disappoint as he pitches a complete game win today. The Kavanaghs enjoy the game, but Joe does bring up that this week will be busy at the Shop. He lets both his boys know that they have repair jobs at Globe Brewery and Gwynnbrook Distilling to deal with in the next few days. Leo and Eddie stay focused on watching baseball. Monday will bring all thoughts of the Shop to them. Joe thinks of the Shop every day of the year. He would tell you that it is his job to do so.

June 15

The week starts hot even for June. The topic that has dominated the crew’s discussions and continues to do so is that Babe Ruth has been sold to the Boston Red Sox. The Kavanaghs go over and over this little tidbit most of the day while they are making some pump-chambers and other parts for steamships. Their usual swathe of ship work in the summer has “steamed in” so to speak. Eddie praises Ruth and is not surprised he was not in the minor leagues for very long. Joe who always assumed he knew a lot more about baseball than most folks, tells Eddie we shall see. In Joe’s eyes, Ruth will have a long way to go to replace the great Orioles of old in his heart. McGraw and Keeler and the rest were the best ever according to Joe. He will root for any Baltimore boy who makes the major leagues, of course.

June 30

Joe reads of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. It is so far away. He doesn’t give it much thought. The Shop is very busy with kettles coming in almost every day, the repairs for steamers, breweries and distilleries. Joe is getting better and better at fielding calls, pursuing jobs and scheduling work so the Shop stays busy, but is able to meet its deadlines. His big personality and affable style seems to draw work in to the Shop. He does drive his crew hard at times. Something that his employees take note of especially his sons. They will have to learn to deal with it. His brothers, James and Frank, take it in stride. After all, Joe is Joe. They can handle him and his leadership seems to be working. They are not the big multi-state company they were under Old Uncle Joe, but they are staying busy. They are making money and have re-established the Kavanagh name and its quality.

July 13

Another Summer Monday of work and talking baseball. On Saturday, Babe Ruth won his debut for the Red Sox. The Kavanaghs scour the newspaper for details. They talk baseball as they work. Today, Eddie and two boys are at Gunther’s Brewing for some vat repairs. Eddie and company climb a ladder into the vat and solder some seams shut. The rest of the crew are busy on the steamship repair work and also making fittings and valves. Joe and his brothers have decided they should start stocking these as the demand seems to be steady for them. They produce a variety of sizes and configurations of fittings and valves. They will be readily at hand now as needed. When Eddie returns from Gunther’s he again pushes for Joe and his brothers to purchase a truck for the Shop. The old horse and cart works fine, but automobiles are here to stay. The brothers promised to give it some more thought.

August 4

War erupts in Europe. A domino effect of conflicts has spiraled Europe into war. Sides are chosen up and the conflict begins in earnest. Again, the Kavanaghs like most Americans, consider it too far away to effect them or be of much concern. President Wilson will declare U. S. neutrality as he intends to keep America out of this war. The Shop’s crew toil away in the heat. Finishing the last of the steamer work and attending to a small patent medicine still.

September 8

The Kavanaghs and crew are in the midst of a large job. Most of the crew are in on this one. It is a 2000 gallon storage tank. As always, the sheet must be heated and curved. In this case, many hours are spent by eight men to shape and then braze this one shut. It must be fabricated in whole and then disassembled for shipping. This one blocks up the Shop for 3 weeks. Joe loves it. That gives him more time to schedule work and guarantee a backlog of jobs. Joe’s main focus most days is to assure that they will have scheduled work. Busy days with as few lulls as possible. A busy Shop is a profitable Shop in his eyes.

October 14

Joe reads the newspaper first thing this Wednesday. He is rather disappointed to read that the Boston Braves have swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series 4- 0. This is the team Joe pulls for always. He knows it is baseball and that’s that. He turns his attention to cold-calling some customers. They have plenty of work, but that won’t stop Joe from looking for more. Today they make some cooking kettles for a local cafeteria and some brass bearings and parts for a boiler job.

November 14

The crew are working hard through this Saturday. They are backed up with work enough that they will be working all day today. Some bottling apparatus parts are being made. A column still is being fabricated for Sherwood Distilling. In the afternoon, their work is interrupted. The crew hears a loud crash right outside the building. They rush to the corner and see a man has been thrown from a vehicle onto the sidewalk. A terrible collision has occurred at the intersection. A fire alarm has sounded at the foot of Bond Street. On the way to respond, two fire department vehicles have crashed at Pratt & Central. A fire hose wagon heading east on Pratt and the fire chief’s car heading south on Central. Frank, Leo, Eddie and James Woods rush to their aid. They carry District Chief John Emerson who was thrown to the sidewalk and five other firefighters into the Shop’s office. The small roughly 10 X 10 wood office is filled with injured men. Joe calls the police and hospital immediately. They attend to them as best they can. Several are badly cut and several have broken bones. All are stunned from the impact. The Chief is rushed by car to Mercy Hospital. The rest are taken to St. Joseph’s. The Kavanaghs and crew watch silently as the ambulances drive away. Joe informs Eddie this is why we do not need a truck.

Destroyed Fire Vehicle from Accident at Pratt & Central, November 14, 1914
Fire Chief Emerson’s damaged car from 1914 accident. Photo from Baltimore American newspaper courtesy of MD Firefighters Association.

November 21

Another Saturday of work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. This one will be just a half-day which the crew are happy to hear. The morning passes quickly as more stock fittings are made and several peanut kettles are produced. The Kavanaghs and their workers leave at noon. Eddie cruises toward Bond Street on his motorcycle. He stops at a corner candy store several blocks from home. Eddie has a bit of a sweet tooth. He intends to just run in and out quick, but he notices a young girl behind the counter. He takes his time in choosing and asks the salesgirl what she recommends. She says he should try this new flavor of gum. Wrigley just released it this year. He thanks her and introduces himself. He buys some Wrigley’s Double Mint gum and leaves. He drives off on his bike but, he knows he will be back. He likes this girl. Her name is Anna Hartman. He likes the gum too. One day he will marry this girl. She is my grandmother. And he will chew Double Mint gum for the rest of his life.

November 26

It is Thanksgiving. A day for family, food and thanks. Johanna prepares a traditional feast for her, Joe, Leo, Eddie and Anna, their daughter. Joe’s brothers do the same with their families. They celebrate in their homes, but are thankful as a group. They are very grateful that they have had this new start for the Shop. Things have turned so quickly from bad to good. They are all healthy, happy and gainfully employed. The Shop is on the right track. Joe, James and Frank have done an outstanding job of building back what was lost due to the Fire, Uncle Joe’s death and Martin’s inequities. As a family, they are truly thankful. They have no fear of a loss of work over the winter. Joe has scheduled work in advance that will carry them through the cold. Meanwhile, the War in Europe is escalating and spreading across the globe. It will grow to be the one of the largest military conflicts in history. The U. S. will stay out of it as long as possible. Eventually, most nations including ours are pulled in to what will be called “The War to End all Wars.”

Woodrow Wilson is the President of the United States. The first commercial airline opens in Florida. Ford Motor Company begins using an eight hour workday with a minimum wage of $ 5.00 per day. Weeghman Park which will become Wrigley Field opens in Chicago. USS Amcon is the first ship to pass through the Panama Canal. WW1 begins in Europe. William S. Burroughs, Jack LaLanne, Jonas Salk and Joe DiMaggio are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Joe Kavanagh (in suit) and a few of his crew. 1914. Pratt & Central. Photograph taken from front garage door on Central Avenue .Facing back of the building.


1913 The First Ride

January 13

This would have been Old Uncle Joe’s 77th birthday. The three remaining nephews, Joe(46), James(36) and Frank(29) carry on his legacy. The day before they bring their families together for Sunday dinner with their mother, Katherine(69) and to remember their uncle. Joe’s wife, Johanna(40) and their three children are there, Leo(20), Eddie(19) and Anna(6). James’ wife Hanorah(31), their sons Guy(9) and James Jr.(5) and Frank’s wife Gussie(27) and their son Charles(2) are there, as well. They eat ham and potatoes and tell stories of their uncle who started it all. His skills, his words, his faith and his great love of family. He had no children that survived, but these men know he was more than uncle to them. He was mentor/teacher/friend and leader. They mean to keep his dream alive. To work together. To provide for their families. To keep Joe’s Kavanagh tradition alive.

February 3

The Shop has started the year very well. There are confectioner’s kettles to be made and a good bit of boiler work. The candy and ice cream companies are the Shop’s standard fare in the winter. The boiler work is from E. J. Codd, one of their oldest customers. Codd is fabricating a large boiler and there a lot of small brass parts to go into it. The Kavanaghs and crew divide up the work and get busy. James Woods and Mr. Fairbanks attend to the brass parts while Frank, James, Eddie and Leo work on the kettles. Each of those Kavanaghs has a helper and everyone is busy. It is the kind of winter that would make Old Uncle Joe very happy.

March 7

The British freighter Alum Chine explodes in Baltimore Harbor. The ship was loaded with 300 tons of dynamite. The explosion is massive and shakes the nearby ground. A fire alarm goes off and firefighters and equipment hasten to the scene. The word spreads quickly and the Kavanaghs are shocked to hear of it. All thought of the jacket kettles they are making disappears in a moment. It was less than 10 years ago that the City burned, so a fire of this magnitude sends much of the citizenry into a near panic. This includes the crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Fortunately, the fire is quelled and there is little to no damage to the City. It serves as a stark reminder to Baltimore of what happened not so long ago.

May 7

The volume of work stays at a high level. They work Saturdays and extra hours to keep up. This is a good thing. Still, the brothers know they can not burn out their crew. Joe, James and Frank decide to hire two more helpers. Today they are making some more beer vats and drip pans. This time for Bauernschmidt’s Brewery. The vats are made by heating copper sheet until it is softened(annealed). Then, they are hammered and shaped. A brass hammer is used on top while a large wooden mallet is held underneath. After the shape is achieved, finishing hammers are used to smooth it out. Tap by tap. A slow process, but something they are good at. The drip pans are simpler. Just anneal some copper sheet and fold or bend it over to make a rectangular pan. This job alone ties the Shop up for over a week.

Wooden mallet used for shaping copper sheet into large vats, pots & kettles

June 16

A hot busy day at the Shop. Their usual steam ship work has arrived. Added to the kettles they are always making, it keeps them busy. They keep working Saturdays, but only a half-day. Eddie tells his uncle and the rest of the crew of an amazing young local baseball player. Eddie saw him play over the weekend. A pitcher who can really hit too. He is from St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, but is now playing for different City teams on the weekends. In those days, there were neighborhood teams, and work teams and a variety of club teams throughout Baltimore. The Kavanaghs have always been baseball fans. Eddie is no different. In fact, at times it seems baseball, music and the Shop are the only things that Eddie and his father agree on. Eddie goes on and on about this young left-handed slugging pitcher. His name is George Ruth.

August 9

After work on this Saturday, Joe and his sons Leo and Eddie attend a Baltimore Orioles game. Major League Baseball has moved on from Baltimore, but there is a minor league team in the City now. The International League Orioles play at the same Oriole Park/ American League Park that the old Orioles did. It is a minor league team, but it is still baseball. Joe and his boys have a good time though the Orioles lose to the Buffalo Bisons. Joe tells tales of Wee Willie Keeler and John McGraw. How those old Orioles were so good and played so hard. They were tough and were not afraid of some physical contact in the games. The boys, on this rare occasion, are a captive audience. They watch the game and listen to their father speak of the “glory days” of Baltimore baseball.

October 10

Joe Kavanagh finally gets his wish. He takes this Friday off from the Shop. He rides an early train To Philadelphia to attend a World Series game at Schibe Park. He wishes to see his old acquaintance, Connie Mack. Mr. Mack is the manager of the A’s and is too busy to socialize. Joe is disappointed but not much as the A’s defeat the Giants in this game 6-5. He takes the train home and gives a vivid detailed description of the game to the rest of the Shop’s crew the next day. Later that afternoon the Philadelphia A’s win the deciding game 3- 1. The A’s are World Series Champions again.

November 5

Just before his 20th birthday, Eddie applies for and receives a motorcycle license. He has wanted a bike for several years. Without consulting his parents, he buys a “Flying Merkel”. It costs him over $ 300.00 He has been saving for some time. He lives at home so his expenses are not too bad. He buys the bike knowing that his parents will not be thrilled. Joe is rather dubious of automobiles, but in particular motorcycles. The price tag also bothers Joe who was always rather frugal. He is upset with Eddie, but this is nothing compared to Johanna. She is sure Eddie will be killed on this bike. Eddie assures them this is a very safe model and he will abide by all rules and laws. He promises he will be safe. Joe accepts it and chalks it up to the second son being the most troublesome. Johanna reminds Joe that he was a second son so perhaps he is right. She begins saying a nightly prayer for Eddie and his Merkel.

Eddie Kavanagh’s motorcycle license. November 5, 1913.

November 19

Another busy day for the crew of the Shop. Frank, Eddie and a helper are at National Brewery doing some repairs. They fix leaky seams, replace some fittings and re-shape some vats that have been damaged. Careful hammering and tapping is all it takes. At the Shop, a brass railing is being bent and fabricated for a local school. James and Leo are at Monticello Distilling taking some measurements for another repair. Some columns of the stills need to be brazed and some need to be replaced. It will be an extensive fix once the job is quoted and they are given the go-ahead to proceed.

December 24

The Shop holds a Christmas party at 201 S. Central Avenue. Over time, this event will become a tradition. A large gathering of Kavanaghs and their families and their customers. The brothers, their wives and children are all in attendance. They are joined by several of their brother Martin’s daughters, Kitty and Regina. In addition, their employees are there and customers show up through the afternoon and into the early evening. It is a fun holiday affair full of food, drink and song. Christmas songs and Irish classics are sung. The three brothers join together to sing “O Holy Night” once again. They have much to celebrate. Things are going well with the business and the family. They have moved on from the craziness that was Martin. They are established now at Pratt and Central. Their young workers are learning and developing their skills especially Leo and Eddie. Both have come a long way in a short time. The Shop has a bevy of customers and seems to have settled down to a reliable level of work. They can only hope for more of the same. They face the winter with very little uncertainty. Joe has made a point of scheduling work that they can count on through the cold months. The Shop was able to begin re-paying the loan from Johanna. She is glad of that, but still not happy about Eddie tooling around on his “Flying Merkel”. Eddie spends a great deal of time at the party trying to convince his uncles to invest in a truck for the Shop. Automobiles are not the way of the future anymore. They are the present. A horse drawn cart is archaic in his eyes. The uncles will give it some thought. Even Joe seems to have softened his skepticism about these vehicles. They will see what the new year brings, as always.



Woodrow Wilson begins his term as the 28th President of the United States. The 16th amendment to the Constitution is passed allowing for Federal Income Tax to be levied. Basic construction on the Panama Canal is finished. The first automobile highway is completed and named “Lincoln Highway”. The first crossword puzzle is published in NY World. The Federal Reserve is created. R. J. Reynolds produces the first packaged cigarette, a Camel. The National Temperance Council is founded. Richard Nixon, Rosa Parks, Jimmy Hoffa, Vince Lombardi and Burt Lancaster are born. Harriet Tubman and J. P. Morgan die.

Reverse side of Eddie’s motorcycle license.

There are 48 states in the Union.