After graduating from the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) School of Pharmacy, James Goodrich (J.G.) Hughes moved to Ashland from Cumberland County, VA. He opened Hughes Drug and married Nannie B. Luckett in 1889. Pharmacists of this era mixed chemicals and natural products by hand to make drugs in liquid or pill form often containing alcohol, morphine, cocaine or opium. He also sold perfumes, stationery, college books, kerosene lamps and fine toiletries, and many other items.
In 1901, J.G. moved the store from England St. to a two-story brick building he built at 106 South Railroad Ave. The Hughes name is carved into a cement plaque at the roofline. He built a similar building next door, which housed the post office for many years. For the next 84 years, the drugstore was a fixture in Ashland.
In the 1950’s, J.G.’s son, Thomas Watkins Ligon Hughes (“Doc”) took over operation of Hughes Drug. During Doc’s time, miracle drugs like antibiotics became commonplace. Doc and his wife Evelyn (Christian) were well-known in Ashland.
Their second son, David, met his future wife, Connie Bull, while both worked at the drugstore as young adults. David joined Doc as a pharmacist in the family business in 1959, after graduating from MCV.
David and Connie renovated Hughes Drug and brought it into the modern era of Valium, beta-blockers, and birth control pills. At the soda fountain, popular items included limeades, Castlebury’s BBQ, Sealtest ice cream and milkshakes. Folks also stopped by for the latest magazines, some toothpaste or Miss Clairol, and to chat with neighbors. Hughes Drug closed in 1985, after 96 years of serving the Ashland community. Many Ashlanders fondly remember the personal attention given to their medical needs as well as the great limeades.
(Above text by Nancy Kackley & David Hughes. From: Ashland, Virginia, 150 Years, 1858-2008, Ashland Sesquicentennial Committee, 2009)
Photo above: Connie Bull (later, Connie Hughes) at the Hughes Drug sales counter.