Courtesy, The Lilly Library, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana.

Brown County
Drug Stores

by Tony Coppi

The first drug store in Brown County started in 1919 when Charles Genolin, a pharmacist from Indianapolis, rented a room in the Franklin P. Taggart two-story building at the corner of Van Buren and Main streets which is now the Hob Nob Corner Restaurant.

He operated the store for only two years, passing away in 1921. His widow obtained a pharmacist license after passing state examinations and continued to operate the store until 1925.

On that year Herbert J. Miller, a drug store owner in Cross Plains, Indiana stopped in for a five-cent coke and a visit. He learned that the store was for sale and after a brief discussion he became the new owner.

The Miller family ran the business in the oldest commercial building in Nashville for 47 years. Mr.Miller was killed in an automobile accident in 1947. His son, Maurice `Pods’ Miller, inherited ownership of the store. He was a graduate of the Purdue College of Pharmacy.

“When we first came here in 1925 there was only one shop, a post office, a bank, a barber shop, two grocery stores, a dry goods store, and two livery stables,” Pods recalled.

Hook’s Drugs, the pioneer chain of drug stores in Indiana, began operation in Indianapolis in 1900. From then on the privately-held company grew and had over 330 drug stores in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky.

In 1972 they purchased the Miller store and moved it into Salt Creek Park.

During the years of operation they preserved furnishings, artifacts and memorabilia of the many stores such as the original soda fountain in the first store, oak top soda tables, porcelain drug jars, an antique prescription counter, and show globes, the symbol of pharmacy.

The collection of antique pharmacy items and relics led to the formation of the first museum in the United States to document and interpret the history of community pharmacies in America.

In 1975 Hook’s commemorated its 75th anniversary by re-assembling the original furnishings of the first drug store into a room at the Nashville location. Kay Hedrick and Mary Doris Bay, dressed in period costumes and worked in the museum store. In 1992 Hook’s closed the museum in Nashville. The fixtures, contents, antiques, replicas, and old time remedies were moved to the museum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Before Hook’s established a store in Nashville Floyd Cox, owner of three drug stores in Indianapolis, opened Cox’s Rexall Drugs at the corner of Van Buren and Molly Lane. He and his wife, Gladys, lived in an apartment above the store for two years.

Cox was a past president of the Indianapolis Association of Retail Druggists. He was helped organize the Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club in Brown County. He promoted the idea of having a golf course in Nashville and was a charter member and board of the Golf Club of Brown County.

Cox passed away in 1962. His wife, also a pharmacist, took over the store. She moved the business to a building on South Van Buren and Washington Streets behind the Big Foot store. Looking toward retirement from her profession, she sold the store to Jim Mosier, who changed the name to The Village Pharmacy.

Another change in ownership was made when Pat Cashen bought the store in 1980. After eight years he sold out in order to spend more time in his other store in Columbus, Indiana, Doctor’s Park Pharmacy.

David Brierly, from Shelbyville, was the last owner of the Village Pharmacy. In 1997 he sold the inventory to Hook’s and joined their staff of pharmacists. He is now working in a CVS store in Columbus.

The only remaining drug store in Nashville is the CVS Pharmacy in Salt Creek Park. Jeff Boley and Morris `Mo’ Skirvin are pharmacists with the chain. They are both graduates of the Butler University College of Pharmacy. Mr. Boley, originally from St. Mary, Ohio, had owned a drug store in Albany, Indiana for 15 years. Mr. Skirvin was born and raised in Brown County. On graduating from Butler University he worked eight years for Pat Cashen before joining the Hook chain.

Some nostalgic traces of the old Brown County drug stores are still around. The original oak fixture and apothecary items—some dated around 1900—along with medical and surgical instruments of a country doctor, Ruben J. Miller, grandfather of `Pods’ Millers, remain in the Hob Nob restaurant.