Our subject comes of good old Pennsylvania stock, and his grandfather, Eli Virgin, was born in Fayette County, that State, was bred to the life of a farmer, and in due time married and reared a family on the same farm where he had been born and had grown to manhood. He died on the old homestead at the age of sixty years, and there his wife, who lived to be seventy years old, also drew her last breath. Their son, John H., father of our subject was born April 19, 1796, and in 1820 he was married in Fayette County, to Miss Margaret, daughter of John Hughes, of Greene County, Pa. They continued to reside in their native state a few years and in 1826, with their little family and some of their household effects, they started for the wilds of Kentucky, and finally arriving in Greenup County, located there. A few years later, in 1830 they recrossed the Ohio River and established themselves in Knox County, Ohio. Thence they moved to Menard County, Ill., in 1851, and stayed their earthly pilgrimage and their remaining days were spent there in peace and plenty. The father passed to the world beyond the grave in October, 1858, aged sixty-four years, and the mother followed him in December, 1863, aged nearly sixty-six years. Of their children, Eli, Mary and George were born in Pennsylvania, John was born in Kentucky, and Maria and Ruth in Ohio.
The early days of the life of our subject were passed in Kentucky and Ohio, and when he accompanied his parents to Illinois he was in the prime of young manhood, stout of heart, strong of muscle, and clear headed, able to cope with anything that might interfere with his plans of making his life a success. In 1859 he came to this county and bought a part of the farm where he now lives. His capital at that time was rather limited, but not so his earnest confidence in his ability to do whatsoever he set out to do, and he bought 250 acres of his homestead at the rate of $40 per acre, going in debt to the amount of $2,000. In the years of hard labor that followed he worked to good purpose, and by the quiet force of persistent efforts, directed by sound discretion and constant devotion to duty, he succeeded where so many have failed and not only cleared off the indebtedness on his realty, but has added more to it by subsequent purchases till at present he owns one of the largest farms in this vicinity, nearly all of it in a body. His land is under a fine state of cultivation, and is amply provided with barns and other buildings for all necessary purposes. He usually raises 600 acres of corn each year, and never sells a bushel of it, except to accommodate a neighbor, but uses it all to feed his large numbers of cattle and hogs. He is engaged very extensively in stock-raising and generally feeds and ships about 300 head of cattle, and from 300 to 500 hogs a year. The entire farm is under his supervision, and he has several tenant houses on the place for his workmen. He raises a good deal of fine fruit, and has an orchard of about six acres of choice varieties of apples, pears, peaches, etc.
Mr. Virgin was married in Menard County, in October, 1856, to Miss Mary E. Gibbs, and she has been to him all that a true and helpful wife can be. Her parents, William and Elizabeth (Hall) Gibbs, were born and reared in England, and accompanied their respective parents to the United States when young. They located near Baltimore, and from that city came to Illinois in 1840, and have spent their remaining days. Mr. and Mrs. Virgin have nine children living, as follows: Charles F., who married Hattie Lathom, and lives on the home farm; Hattie E. now Mrs. George Deweese, of this township; Clara M., now Mrs. Samuel Willet of Springfield; Anna, Luella, John H., Byron, Leon, and Inez.
Mr. Virgin is a man of large enterprise and of more than ordinary intelligence and ability, as is seen in the shrewd management of his extensive interests, whereby he has acquired wealth. He is influential in public affairs, as a man of his position who has done so much to advance his adopted county ought to be, and for six years he served as County Commissioner for Morgan County, having been elected to that office in 1873. He and his family stand high in the social circles of the community, and are exceedingly hospitable, friend or stranger oft receiving a warm welcome in their charming home, and being royally feasted at their bountiful board.