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The History of Virden, Illinois

Virden was named in honor of John Virden, who for a number of years had kept a popular stage-stand some two miles south, and was the proprietor of the hotel. The town was laid out in 1852 by Heaton, DuBoise, Chesnut, Hickox and Keiting. It was surveyed by John L. Morrell. The first sale of lots was in October 1852. The first building was a hotel, built by John Virden, and is now known as the Junction House, kept by Robert Buckles. The first dwelling was put up and occupied by Alexander Hord and family. The first store was opened by Henry Fishback, November 1852; after about four months he sold it out to John I. Beattie; Mr. Beattie took possession February 1st, 1853. Page Heaton built and opened a dry goods and grocery store. In January 1853, the first post office was kept in that store. During the summer of 1853, Joseph E. Walker erected a blacksmith shop in Dye Street; it is now occupied by Lafayette Higgins. The first mill was built by John Williams, and was known as the North Mill; but was destroyed by fire a few years after it commenced operation. The second mill was erected by Matthew Cowens, about one year after the first, and was called South Mill. The first school was taught in the private house of Mrs. James Hall during the spring of 1853.

The first Marriage was Miss Hannah Stead to a Mr. Lloyd, in 1853.

The first death was John Dryr, in 1855.

The first child born was Mary Dohoney, the daughter of John Dohoney, now of Carlinville. She was born December 4th, 1852; since deceased.

The first sermon was preached by Edward Rutledge, a Methodist, in the hotel of old John Virden. The first Sunday School was a union school in the M.E. Church. The first church edifice erected was by the Methodists, in 1853, and the first regular preacher was Rev. Baker. There is now a Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and Catholic Church, all of which are neat and substantial buildings.

The first physician to locate was Dr. Charles Holliday, in 1854; now of Carlinville.

The great snowstorm of January 21st, 1855 was by far the most destructive and severe ever known since the settlement of the village. Stock was frozen to death, the passenger train was blocked in a cut just north of the village limits; the train was stopped for several days. The storm was so severe that passengers had to remain in the cars; provision was carried to them by residents of the town.

In the spring of 1870 the people of the village voted $30,000 for the building of the Jacksonville & South-eastern Railway. The whole length of the road is thirty-one miles; it was finished about the close of 1871;J. W. Lathrop was appointed agent. The first freight received was January 25th, 1872; it was two rolls of leather from Jacksonville, consigned to Battise and Huntly, Carlinville. The first freight shipped was January 10th, 1872; it was a car load of coal from the Virden Coal Company, consigned to J. I. Cochran, Jacksonville.

In the year 1869 a coal shaft was sunk by a joint stock company in Virden, and is now being successfully operated by J. W. Utt. About 8,000 bushels are mined per day, of which about 2,000 bushels are consumed by the C. & A. R.R. The capacity is 10,000 bushels per day. The tile factory has two kilns in constant operation and is turning out 20,000 feet of tile per week. The mine and factory are at present, giving employment to ninety men. Business of all kinds is active. The village is well laid out and is surrounded by rich farming country, and has a population of about 1,600.
[Submitted by Anne Stinnett]

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