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Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia 1879

Page 241

ARCHIBALD L. VIRDEN is now one of the oldest residents of Virden. He is a native of Ross county, Ohio, and was born October 27, 1823. His father, Isaac Virden, was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and when a young man came to Ohio, and in that state married Amelia Saddler, who belonged to one of the earliest families in Ohio. The subject of this sketch was the seventh of a family of eleven children, of whom the ten oldest were sons, and only one, the youngest, a daughter. He lived in Ohio till about eleven years of age, and then in the fall of 1834, the family came to Illinois, and settled on Buckheart creek, twenty-three miles east of Springfield. The place where they settled was first in Sangamon county; it was afterwards thrown into Dane, in the formation of that county; and is now in Christian. His father bought land and opened up a farm, on which le lived till his death in 1846. From the time he was six years old while he lived in Ohio, Mr. Virden went quite regularly to school. But they had settled in Illinois in a new country. As soon as the families became numerous enough a rude school house was built of round logs; a log was conveniently left out at the sides, and some greased paper pasted over the aperture, answered all the purposes of a window. In such a pioneer institution Mr. Virden completed his education. On the 18th of August, 1844, he married Henrietta Dyson. She was a native of Maryland, and the daughter of William Dyson, who came to Illinois in the fall of 1839, and settled in the same neighborhood in which Mr. Virden lived in Christian county. In the fall of 1848, Mr. Virden moved to a farm five miles west of Springfield, where he lived till 1851, and then bought a farm near Mt. Auburn, in Christian county, where he resided till the fall of 1852. He had learned the plastering trade, and was accustomed to work at it in the winter season from the time he was eighteen.

He came to Virden in the fall of 1852. The town had just been laid out and its growth was just commencing. No houses had yet been built, though the timber was on the ground for the construction of two or three. He followed his trade of plasterer for about a year, and then purchased a small grocery and confectionery store, and embarked in that business. Virden proved a favorable point for building a town, and as the place increased in size, he enlarged his business, and in 1845 formed a partnership with S. B. Wilcox. They built a store near the railroad, and carried on business on a more extensive scale. In 1857, Mr. Virden sold out his interest in the firm to Walter Turner. The next year, 1858, he went into business with Thomas Rae, establishing the present firm of Rae, Virden, and Co. They opened a drug store, which has been carried on without interruption to the present day. The partnership has continued without any change in the firm name, for more than twenty years, and during that period has maintained the confidence and good will of the business community. In his political sympathies Mr. Virden was originally an old line Whig. The first vote he cast for president, was given to Henry Clay, the great and eloquent champion of Whig principles, in the presidential contest of 1844. When the whig party went into a state of dissolution, Mr. Virden became a democrat, and has since continued to support that party. He is a gentleman who has enjoyed the confidence and respect of the people in a remarkable degree, and has filled numerous positions of trust and honor. From 1857 to 1865 he served as justice of the peace. In 1872 he was elected representative in the legislature on the democratic ticket. While in the legislature, he discharged the duties of his position in a creditable and satisfactory manner, and devoted his attention to legislation which, in his estimation, would secure the best interests of the people. He is now the oldest business man in Virden, and there are only three persons now living in the town, who were residents of it when he came. He has had seven children, four of whom are deceased. The names of those living are Ann Maria, who married Otho Williams, and now lives at Jacksonville; William H. Virden, one of the enterprising younger business men of Virden, who is a partner in the firm of Jackson, Hill and Co.; and Edgar L., who is still living at home. The town of Virden received its name from an older brother of Mr. Virden's, John Virden, who, about the year 1838, established a "stand" two miles southwest of where the town has since been built, at the intersection of the Springfield and St. Louis, and the Springfield and Vandalia stage line. This place was widely known as the Virden stand, and when the town came to be projected it received the name of Virden.

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