Thomas J. Byrnes has been a leading grain merchant at St. Marys for many years and his participation in civic enterprises had made him an important factor in that city and the surrounding community.
St. Marys is his birthplace. He was born March 26, 1870, a son of one of St. Marys pioneers, Edward Byrnes. Edward was born near Dublin, Ireland, in 1834, and came to America when twelve years of age with his parents, who located in New York City and spent the rest of their lives there. In New York City he finished his education and on coming West first located in Kentucky, married there and moved to Missouri, and in 1863 joined the old Catholic community of St. Marys, Kansas. There he continued his vocation in life as a farmer and his homestead adjoined the town on the south. He lived retired from farming for a number of years in St. Marys and died there in December, 1904. He was a democrat and a devout communicant of the Catholic Church. He held various township offices. His wife, Kate Carroll, was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, in 1839, and when eight years of age accompanied her sister Margaret to the United States. They landed in New Orleans and came north to Covington, Kentucky, where she lived with her sister until her marriage. After their marriage they went to Liberty, Missouri, and had a farm in that section until they came to St. Marys. She is still living at the old home in that city. Thomas J. Byrnes was the youngest of four children. James L., the oldest, is now postmaster of Flagstaff, Arizona. Kate died at St. Marys in 1910, wife of John Powell, who is now a cattle rancher. Mary, who died at Topeka in 1914, was the wife of Paul Huicke, who is general manager for the J. Thomas Lumber Company at Topeka.
Thomas J. Byrnes secured most of his education in St. Marys College, graduating in the commercial course in June, 1889. His first important business experience was as an employe in the flouring mill at St. Marys, and he was with that mill in various capacities for ten years. The experience gave him the training for an independent business career and in 1898 he entered the grain and feed trade and had been active in that line ever since. His elevator is along the Union Pacific tracks in St. Marys and he also is associated with Mr. J. T. Feighny in an elevator business at Fremont. His offices are at the corner of Seventh Street and Bertrand Avenue.
Mr. Byrnes had long been one of the prosperous citizens of St. Marys. Besides his home on Commission Street he owned a farm of seventeen acres adjoining the city on the west, another farm of a quarter section three miles southwest of St. Marys, and a half section of prairie and meadow land three miles northeast. He is also a stockholder in the First National Bank.
His position in public affairs had been a notable one. Before St. Marys adopted the commission form of government he served in the city council and one term as mayor and is now one of the city commissioners. He had also been trustee of St. Marys Township. Mr. Byrnes is a democrat, a member of the Catholic Church, of St. Marys Council No. 657, Knights of Columbus, and St. Marys Camp No. 1410, Modern Woodmen of America.
In 1892, at St. Marys, he married Miss Helen Hammer, daughter of Stephen and Mary (Hammer) Hammer. Her parents, though of the same family name, were not blood relatives. Her father and mother are both deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes have four children; Jeannette, a graduate of St. Marys parochial schools and still at home; Regina, who had also completed the parochial school course; Robert and Edward, both students in St. Marys College.