MRS. HENRIETTA E. (DYSON) VIRDEN, widow of Archibald L. Virden, has been a resident of this county for many years, and her many fine traits of character mark her as a true woman, whose kindly presence and friendly disposition have won her a warm place in the hearts of all about her. Mrs. Virden is a native of Montgomery County, Md., born January 8, 1827. Her father, William Dyson, was born in the same county, and was a son of John Dyson, who is supposed to have also been a native of Maryland, and to have been a descendant of an old English family. He was a farmer, and died on his farm in Montgomery County.
Mrs. Virden's father was reared on the old homestead in Maryland, and he continued to live in his native State until 1842. In that year he left his old home, and taking with him his seven children, started for Illinois with teams. After a journey of seven weeks he arrived at his destination in Christian County, and identified himself with its pioneers, buying a tract of land near Taylorville and devoting his time to its development until his premature death in 1845, cut short his busy career, and deprived that county of a useful citizen, who was doing good service in helping to promote its agricultural interests. His wife, the mother of our subject, preceded him in death, dying in their old Maryland home in 1836. She was a native of Montgomery County, that State, and her maiden name was Annie Darnall. She was a daughter of Thomas and Henrietta (Fish) Darnall, who were natives of Delaware.
Mrs. Virden was fifteen years old when she came with her father to Illinois, and she lived with him until her marriage, at the age of seventeen years. August 18, 1844, she gave her hand and heart to Archibald L. Virden, in a marriage which was a harmonious and happy union from beginning to end, a period covering nearly thirty-six years, lacking but a few days of the anniversary of the occasion when they were made one.
Archibald Virden was born October 27, 1823, in Ross County, Ohio, of which his father, Isaac Virden, was a pioneer. The latter was born January 10, 1779, and removed from Maryland to Ohio in an early day of its settlement. He was there married to Amelia Saddler, who was born in Ohio in 1791, June 10, and was a daughter of one of its first pioneer families. In 1839 Mr. Virden's parents also became pioneers, coming to Illinois and locating among the few settlers that had preceded them in the wilds of Christian County. The father bought land, which he improved into a farm, upon which he made his home until death called him to a higher sphere. He and his good wife reared a family of ten sons and one daughter.
Their son Archibald was sixteen years old when the family came to this State, and he continued to be an inmate of the parental household until his marriage with our subject. They began their wedded life in Christian County, then went to Sangamon County, where they lived two years. Mr. Virden then bought a place near Auburn, in Christian County. In 1852 he sold his property there, and coming to this county, was one of the leading citizens of Virden from that time until his decease, August 8, 1880. The village had just been laid out by his brother, John, in whose honor it was named. The surrounding country, which was sparsely settled, was still in the hands of the pioneers, and deer and other wild game had not yet fled before the advancing steps of civilization. Mr. Virden bought village property, and in the years that followed was active in the commercial interests of Virden, and was potent in promoting its advancement, materially, socially and morally. He at once opened a grocery store, being one of the first merchants of the village. He managed that successfully a few years, and then entered the drug business, in which he continued until his death. He was a very capable business man, prompt and systematic in carrying on his business, using only the most honorable methods in his dealings, and building up an extensive and lucrative trade. He was not many years past the meridian of life, and was at the height of his usefulness, when death closed his career and removed from Virden an honored and valuable citizen, who had always been true to all the obligations imposed upon him in all the relations of life that he had held towards others. A loving husband, a tender father, a kind neighbor and a faithful friend was lost to his family and community when he closed his eyes in the dreamless sleep of death, and the Presbyterian Church, of which he was a consistent member, was deprived of one of its most generous supporters.
Of the children born to Mr. and Mrs. Virden these two are left to comfort their mother's declining years - Annie M. and Edgar L. Annie married Otho Williams, and they have three children, named Mariel, Archie Virden and Lamira. Edgar, who married Miss Jennie Piper, is a resident of Cincinnati. William, Mrs. Virden's second child, was born June 28, 1852. He married Sarah Wilcox, and died in December 1882, leaving three children - Homer W., Henrietta E. and Archie L.
Mrs. Virden is very pleasantly situated in one of the cosiest and most attractive of Virden's homes. She presides over it graciously, and all who cross its threshold are welcomed to comfort and true hospitality. Our subject is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and carries her religion into her every day life with true Christian spirit.