Livingston Co

New York

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The Story of the Paul Byrnes Archive Room

You may remember the Byrnes Drug Store, now the Nunda Family Pharmacy. What you might not know is that there is a college archives room named for the man who started the business - Paul Byrnes!

You will find below a brochure from the Albany College of Pharmacy & Health describing the Paul Byrnes Archives and a story written by his son, Thomas Byrnes, shown standing in the store's doorway in August 1958. Tom's story explains how his father became a pharmacist and ended up starting the drug store in Nunda.

For more information on the Byrnes Drug Store, please see " Two Centuries of Medical Care in The Town of Nunda and Vicinity" by Thomas Byrnes, RPh.


The Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences held on November 3, 2012 a formal dedication of the College Archives Room in the newly renovated Lewis Library on campus. The Archival room was made possible by two of Paul's sons Thomas (Class of 1957) and James (Class of 1966) with a generous gift to the College in memory of their father Paul A. Byrnes, class of 1934.

Paul Byrnes was born in Sherburne NY on September 3, 1912. His parents, who lived at 51 Chapel Street were John and Mary Byrnes. Paul graduated from the Sherburne High School in 1930. He went to work for E.F. Smith, a local farmer, that summer. In the fall of that year he answered a newspaper ad wanting a stock boy to work at the Bigelow Drug Store in Sherburne. Paul was hired and after a few months Orin Bigelow Sr. could see some promise in Paul. Orin started to talk to Paul about entering the profession of Pharmacy. Orin brought him down to the College in Albany and he had an interview with Dean Mansfield.

Paul entered the Albany College of Pharmacy in the fall of 1931 as a freshman. He graduated in 1934 after a three year course. During his college years the Depression was in full swing. His parents had very little money to spend on his education. There were no college or bank loans available. He virtually worked his way through college, sometimes holding three part time jobs.

Paul met Ethel Miller, who lived in Albany, and they were married on Valentines Day in 1935. Upon graduation they moved to Kingston, NY where he took a position in a drug store. After a short time in Kingston he decided that he would like to buy a store and go into business for himself. A salesman gave him a tip that there was a store for sale in Nunda, NY. He had never heard of Nunda but a cousin, Lee Dromgoole, knew where Nunda was and he would take him out there for he had to pick up a truck load of potatoes from nearby Cohocton valley.

The drug store was located in the middle of the business district in the village of Nunda which was quite similar to the size of Sherburne. After looking at the store he decided to make the purchase. He borrowed some money from his half-sister, Mabel Tehan, and made the purchase. His first day of business was on November 13, 1935. Our grandfather John Byrnes was a carpenter. He came out to Nunda and built an apartment over the Drug Store where we lived for four years.

The business became a family affair for he had four boys and one girl. His wife Ethel helped with a gift department in her spare time. Paul retired in 1983 at which time the business was incorporated with his son Thomas as president and James as vice president of the firm. The business flourished and was in the family for 70 years when it was sold to a new owner and is still going strong.


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