Virden History - Macoupin County Illinois
©1997 Mary McKenzie


"History of Virden"
Macoupin County IL

excerpted from the Carlinville Free Democrat, October 27, 1859,

submitted for use by Mary McKenzie

"In the year of our Lord 1852, Messrs. A. McKim Dubois, E Keating, V Hickox, John A Chestnut and C P Heaton purchased section 9, on range 6, in township 12, Macoupin County, IL, and surveyed it for village lots. Four acres in the centre of the section were allotted for a public square, which is now fenced, sowed down with blue grass, and beautified with locust trees.

The embryo village was named Virden from John Virden, who erected the first hotel.

In September of 1852, the St Louis Alton & Chicago Railroad was completed to this point, and the depot erected the following winter.

In December 1852, the first house was built on the north-west corner of Green and Springfield streets, by Alexander Hord. It had to serve the purpose of a hotel until February and the patronage was such that the table was seldom free with farmers arriving with their produce at all hours of the night. Lodgers had to sleep in the floor because there weren't enough beds.

By 1859, there were 124 buildings in Virden. The buildings were of various colors, white, blue, pink, brown, and green window-shutters.

In February of 1853, John Virden opened a hotel on Matteson Street which he named the Virden House. In 1855, Frederick Hathaway kept the Virden House; from September 1858, P Silloway kept the Virden House and renamed it the Silloway House, John Meacham ran the Silloway House from September 1858, and P Silloway in June 1859, P Silloway again became the "tavern-lord."

In 1855, Mr Ritchie opened a hotel on Matteson Street. In March 1858, Mr Butler became the occupant, and named it the Butler House. In March 1859, it was rented by Frank Tabbu; he named it the Virden House. On the first of October following, Messrs. Carrico and Rutherford became the occupants.

On the first of November 1852, C P Henton sold the first goods in a building on Jackson Street. The nearest house was two miles off. In Jan 1855, John Evans and George Fortune entered into partnership with Henton. In Sep 1858, the name was changed to Evans and Fortune.

November 8, 1852, Henry Fishback of Carlinville, opened a store on Jackson Street, in the building next to the present (1859) post office, on the west. John Beattie and Thomas R McKee carried on the business for Fishback. In one year it was sold to John Beattie, and in the fall of 1856 it was bought by William West; the latter closed in February 1858, selling his stock at auction.

Business owners between 1853 and 1859 were C T Sage, Robert Hobson, Alex Hord, John C Davis, John P Henderson, L Achilles, Dugger, Hagler, William Hill, James W Greaves, A Virden, J Walker, Wilcox, Turner, Samuel Herst, John L Beattie, Belfry Cowen, John Kelly, Thomas Organ, Vm Vannote, Thomas Organ, Wm Vannote, Fuller, Bond, E H Dugger, Thomas Ray, John L Overstreet, W C Dean, John M Bronaugh, W C Dean, Angelrodt, Barth, William Evans, Wm Emerson, Cinncebox, John Squires, John Taylor, M B Whittier, Brown, Sanson, Chaffee, R M Prindle, Valentine E Davis, Swasy, Brittan, Michael Bayer, Henry Austry, Frank Huntley, Charles Johnson, R W Kay, Wm Stead, and Mrs A P Knowles.

Names taken from societies and churches of Virden include Bristow, Owen, Baker, Burgess, Holden, Lemon, Clarke, Justice Buckley, Mr Wrightsman, Orin Chaffee, Armella Chaffee, J E Walker, Amanda Walker, Melvina Hord, Charles T Sage, Sophia E B Sage, I C Harvey, Daniel Wise, W W Cox, J D Jackson, Lucy Beattie, Lethinia Beattie, R W Loud, Jane Loud, E J Loud, L D Hardin, Elizabeth Hardin, Josiah Porter, John Dodge, Doefner, W L Tarbot, A L Virden, W F Huntley, S B Wilson, T A Ray, J Evans, J J Williams.

In 1854 a district school house was erected on corner of Jackson and Church streets; its size twenty by twenty-four; cost, $500. In 1858 an addition was built, twenty-five by thirty-three feet; cost, $1,000. Scholars in attendance last winter (1857) was 170; two female teachers and one male teacher; a circulating library of 122 volumes in the district. A select school for ladies was taught by Miss Elizabeth Davis in 1857 and, in 1858, Mrs Mary Chandler taught at the school.

Physician's in 1854 were F Fuller, C P French, and C H Holliday. Dr Henry practiced some in 1854. Dr Helm a few months in 1857 and died. Dr A Shutt came her in 1858 and went away in 1859. Dr C Teal settled here in January 1859, and Dr W A Knox in May following. Lawyers were Mahlon Ross and John Rodgers.

The post office was established in 1853. Postmasters from 1853 to 1859 in consecutive order were John Bennyworth, John Evans, Samuel Haggart, and Wm Jackson."


Virden Township

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