MRS. HENRIETTA E. (DYSON) VIRDEN, one of the most highly esteemed residents of Virden, is a most worthy representative of one of the old and honored pioneer families of the State. Mrs. Virden was born January 8, 1827, in Montgomery County, Maryland, and is a daughter of William and Annie (Darnall) Dyson, and is the widow of the late Archibald L. Virden.
The Dyson family is of English extraction, although it has long been established in Maryland, where both the father and grandfather of Mrs. Virden were born. In 1842 William Dyson, with his seven motherless children, left the old home, where his wife had died in 1836 and started for Christian County, Illinois, Mrs. Virden being then a maiden of 15 years. She vividly recalls the overland trip and the pioneer conditions which they found when her father settled on a tract of land which he had purchased near Taylorville. The family, however, had scarcely become accustomed to the hardships which were doubly hard after the comforts of their former home, when the beloved father was stricken with illness and soon passed away, his death occurring in 1845.
On August 18, 1844, Henrietta E. Dyson was united in marriage with Archibald L. Virden, who is recalled to the residents of Virden, with feelings of sincere esteem. Mr. Virden was born in Ross County, Ohio, October 27, 1823, and was a son of Isaac and Amelia (Saddler) Virden, the former of whom was born in Maryland, and the latter in Ohio, where the name is recorded among the earliest pioneers of the buckeye State. When Archibald was about 16 years of age, the family came to Illinois and settled in Christian County, where the father bought and improved a farm with the assistance of his 10 sons. Archibald remained at home until his marriage, but shortly after removed to Sangamon County, and two years later purchased a property near Auburn.
Mr. and Mrs. Virden were early settlers in the village which bears their name, so called in honor of Mr. Virden's brother John, who had laid it out and was an early benefactor of the little hamlet. From 1852 when Archibald L. Virden located at Virden, until his lamented death on April 8, 1880, he was a prominent factor in its commercial, social and public life. The surrounding country, although yet unsettled, was rich in agricultural possibilities, and it was with rare good judgment and foresight, that Mr. Virden acquired considerable land and became one of the earliest business men. For some years he engaged in the grocery business, but later embarked in the drug business, with which he was associated until his decease. His business career was always marked with success and he was ranked with the capitalists of the locality. He was missed in almost every circle, belonging as he did to the public spirited class of citizens in whose hands rests the development of the communities in which they live. He was a man of the highest integrity. In his home he was beloved, in his neighborhood he was esteemed and in the city he was respected, and in all places he was mourned. He was a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church, to which he was a liberal giver, but his benefactions were not confined to this religious body. Charitable organizations and worthy enterprises benefitted from his gifts.
Mr. Virden is survived by his widow and by two children, Annie M. And Edgar L., and seven grandchildren. Annie M. is the widow of Otho Williams, and has four children: Mariel, who is the widow of Harry Colean, who died at his mother's home in Jerseyville, Illinois, leaving one child - Edwin Williams; Archibald Virden; Lamira; and Genevieve. Edgar L. married Jennie Piper, and they reside in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The death of the second son, William, in December, 1882, was a second severe bereavement to Mrs. Virden. He was born in 1852 and married Sarah Wilcox, by whom he is survived, with three children - Homer W., Henrietta E. and Archibald L.
Mrs. Virden has been the witness of many wonderful changes in Virden, and has been permitted to see the results produced by the helpful, useful lives of herself and husband. Her home has always been one of genuine hospitality and many of the prominent visitors to this locality, in the early days, have been her guests. With her husband, she assisted in the founding of the Presbyterian Church here, in which she has ever been a tireless worker. She is the center of a loving family circle and is interesting to the stranger, both on account of her representing the old pioneer families, which are held in the highest esteem, and also for her interesting conversation and gracious hospitality.