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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Virden

Illinois

Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Confirmed Sundown Town?
Probable
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Sign?
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
1898
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990 3635
2000 3488 3446 11
2010
2020

Method of Exclusion

  • Violence Towards Newcomers
  • Other

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black

Comments

email 1/2008 Auburn resident, 1971-89, reports Virden is sundown:

I saw the information regarding your research of Sundown Towns in the current Teaching Tolerance magazine. There are not many central Illinois towns listed on your list and I most certainly grew up in a sundown town. Auburn, where I spent the first 23 years of my life, was an all white town…no other ethnic groups were present or allowed. There was a saying that “once the sun went down, no niggers were allowed in town.” Well, in all actuality, no black people were allowed in town at all; day or night. All three schools from K to 12, were all white the entire time I was there from 1977 to 1989. As far as I know, until just recently, that hadn’t changed. But Auburn was not the only town, there was Thayer, Virden, Divernon, Pawnee, Girard…and some smaller towns in between that most certainly had unwritten rules about black people. I just thought that I would add to your wealth of information and maybe you could do some more research into the towns in central Illinois.

In the fall of 1898 the Chicago-Virden Coal Company at Virden, IL, installed 300 AL Negroes, and 75 armed guards to protect them, in the place of employees who had walked out in protest against the company’s refusal to recognize the terms of an agreement between the IL Coal Operators’ Assn and the union. In the ensuing riot, ten striking miners and six guards were killed and about 30 persons injured. (Paul M. Angle, Bloody Williamson (NY: Knopf, 1952), 99.)