Captain John Kavanah


March 14, 1893

Baltimore, Md


Captain Kavanah Meets with a

Terrible Fate


His Was a Life of Dash and Danger,

And Ended in Falling Fifty Feet

From the Smoke-stack of the

Electric Power House at

Brooklyn-----A Gunner

On the Famous





     Captain John Kavanah, of No. 917 Sharp street, after serving a gun on the Merrimac in her great contest in Hampton Roads without injury, met his death yesterday, while painting the smoke stack of the Electric Power house at Brooklyn, Anne Arundel county.

    The height of the chimney is about seventy-five feet.  Captain Kavanah, or as he was better known, Captain Jack Kavanah, had reached a point within twenty feet of the top. A ladder was erected, and he ascended it, and spliced another ladder to it. He then descended to get his rope, block and girtling band.  A fellow workman, J.H. Heaney, accompanied him to his ascent when he went to attach an iron hook to a rod connected with the band surrounding the chimney.  Upon descending, Captain Kavanah arranged the girtling, and told Heaney to pull ahead.  Heaney said, "I won't do it, because if you try to get up, it is death."

But nothing daunted, he pulled himself up, and had reached within a few feet of the desired point, when the hook slipped, and headlong he fell.  Heany, who was below, at once took in the slack of the rope and tied it, which saved Kavanah from being crushed to pieces, for as he fell, he struck the comb of the roof, and sliding down, was kept from falling to the ground by Heany's foresight. There he was held on the side of the roof until assistance was obtained, and he was carried down and placed in the buggy of Officer Acton, who brought him to his residence, 917 Sharp street, where he died in a short while.  He fell on his right side, and broke some ribs, which lacerated his liver, causing his death.  Coroner Geer held an inquest last night, and the jury gave, as their verdict, that his death was an accidental.

    Captain Kavanah was born in London in 1830, and came to Norfolk, Va., in 1858, and worked as a rigger in the navy yard.  At the outbreak of the war he joined the Confederate service, and was detailed to the Merrimac, with which vessel he served until she was destroyed.  From that time on he continued to serve in the navy, and at the close of the war was on the Tallahassee.

     Since the war he has been a rigger, and has done some marvelous work.  Among his achievements may be mentioned the placing of a marble piece and the rods on the Washington Monument, the lightning rod on the Mount Calvary Church, the placing of three telegraph poles on the City Hall.  He met with many falls, but had never been seriously injured until yesterday.  Captain Kavanah leaves a widow and five grown children.





Rigger Cavanagh Escaped the Terrors of Was to Meet a Violent Death


     John Cavanagh, the well-known rigger was killed yesterday afternoon at Brooklyn, Anne Arundel county, while at work on the smoke-stack of the power-house of the Curtis Bay electric road.  Cavanagh had fastened a rope to a band far up on the smoke-stack and had prepared his rigging-seat, with its block and tackle arrangement, all ready to be hauled to the point where he wished to work, when two of his fellow workmen tried to persuade him to forego the attempt to climb to the dangerous position.  He assured them that the risk, and asked one of them to pull him up.  The man refused, and Cavanagh proceeded to pull himself by hand over hand.

     Just as he was within reaching distance of the band that encircled the smoke-stack and was trying to make his fastenings more secure the hook at the end of the rope gave away.  Cavanagh dropped the roof of the power-house, nearly 40 feet below.  He struck the comb of the roof and slid halfway down to the eaves, when his progress was arrested by the tightening of the rope tied to his body.  The workmen, who had hold of the rope, when he saw Cavanagh disappear on the other side of the roof, ran quickly backward, coiling the rope as he ran.  By so doing, he saved the rigger an additional fall of 25 feet from the power-house to the ground.

     Several men mounted the to roof and carefully lowered Cavanagh to the ground, after which he was driven to his home, 917 Sharp street, by Policeman Acton, who happened to be passing in his buggy at the time of this accident.  He died soon after arriving home.  A coroner's jury assembled late in the afternoon and decided that the death was accidental.

  Cavanagh was born is England 62 years ago and came to this country in 1858, his first home being Norfolk, Va., where he was employed in the navy yard.  At the time when the Merrimac was creating such havoc among the Federal vessels in Hampton Roads he was one of the crew which manned the forward gun of the Monitor's antagonist.  He was in the thick of the fight between the Merrimac and Monitor and afterward served throughout the war in Commodore Pickney's fleet and on the Tallahassee.  He was in the James River on one of the ships of the Naval Brigade at the time of its dispersion by the Federal forces.

     After the close of the war Cavanagh came to Baltimore and engaged in the rigging business.  He placed the marble slab on the top of the Washington Monument and put the lightning rod that surmounts Washington's statue in place.  He also placed the lightning rod on Mount Calvary Church and has done work at different times on the City Hall dome.



     Capt. John Kavanah, who served as a gunner on the Merrimac, and whose death resulted from a fall while he was painting the stack on the power-house of the Curtis Bay Electric Railway, at Brooklyn, Anne Arundel county, was buried yesterday from his home, No. 917 Sharp street.  Services were held in St. Joseph's Church, corner of Barre and Howard streets.  The Rev. Francis Doory, assisted by the Rev. Peter McCoy, of St. Mary's Star of the Sea Church, Officiated.  The pallbearers were Michael Eagen, John Hickey, Michael Cullen, John J. Pentz, Patrick Dougherty and Michael Higgins.  The internment was made at

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