James Cheek
of South Carolina

James Cheek, son of Richard CHEEK, Sr., & Jane RANDLE(?), was probably born between 1730 and 1735 in Virginia or North Carolina, and died before 1790 in Laurens Dist., SC. He reportedly married Ann Mayo, daughter of William MAYO & Martha JOHNSON of Beaufort Co., NC.

Children of James Cheek:

  1. +William Cheek, b. Sept. 29, 1752, probably Edgecombe Co., NC; d. Apr. 16, 1845, Madison Co., GA; m. (1) Mary "Polly" VINES, June 8, 1773, Laurens Dist., SC; m. (2) Priscilla Ann SARTAIN, Feb. 1792, Laurens Dist., SC; m. (3) Sinthia (Cynthia) COKER, Sept. 13, 1821, Elbert Co., GA; bur. Madison Cemetery, Madison Co., GA.
  2. Maybe Shadrach Cheek, b. bef. 1765, Edgecombe or Orange Co., NC; d. after 1810, Christian Co., KY? Little is known about Shadrach Cheek who is found in Christian Co., KY, at the same time as Lewis Cheek & James Cheek. His name appears tax lists in Christian Co., KY, 1804-1817, and the 1810 census. Children may have included Shadrack Cheek (c.1786-1857) of Putnam Co., MO; Joel Cheek (c.1795) of Crawford Co., IL; and Nathan Cheek (c.1795) of Crawford Co., IL.
  3. +Lewis Cheek, b. 1750-1760, Edgecombe or Orange Co., NC; d. 1830-1840, Lawrence Co., IL.
  4. +Ellis Cheek, b. June 26, 1760, Orange Co., NC; d. Sept. 9, 1838, Laurens Dist., SC; m. Elizabeth SMITH, daughter of Drury SMITH & Sarah, last name unk. (b. Apr. 6, 1765; d. Jan. 9, 1838).
  5. +James Cheek, Jr., b. 1765-1770, Orange Co., NC; d. 1840-1850, Franklin Co., MO; m. (1) Nancy; m. (2) Lydia WILLIAMS, Apr. 24, 1817, Gibson Co., IN (b. abt. 1785; d. aft. 1850).
  6. +Willis Cheek, b. abt. 1771, Orange Co., NC; d. Jan. 2, 1852, Laurens Dist., SC; m. (1) Jemima SANDERS, abt. 1794 (b. abt. 1775; d. bet. 1820-1830); m. (2) Elizabeth GRAY, daughter of Abram GRAY & Mary PARKS, bef. 1830 (b. Oct. 11, 1798; d. Dec. 9, 1884); bur. Rabun Creek Baptist Church, Laurens Co., SC. Listed in the census of Laurens, SC, 1790-1850. Will dated Nov. 7, 1845, proved 1852. (Laurens Wills Vol. 2, Book A, pp.234-236.)


James Cheek, Sr., of South Carolina was probably born in Virginia or North Carolina sometime in the early 1730's.  He was under 14 when his father Richard CHEEK, Sr., of Beaufort Co., NC, wrote his will in 1743, so he could not have been born earlier than 1730.  But he probably reached the age of majority (20 years old) by 1755 when he sold property in Edgecombe County, NC.  This means he was born no later than 1735.

According to a 1773 deed, James Cheek' wife was named Ann.  The will of William MAYO of Beaufort County, NC, dated Aug. 27, 1759, mentions a daughter, "Anne Cheek."  (Beaufort Co., NC, WB B, p.67.)  Some researchers believe that she was James Cheek's wife, although other sources say Ann MAYO married James's brother, Richard Cheek Jr.

James Cheek moved to Orange Co., NC, by 1758, and obtained a land grant for 409 acres on both sides of the north fork of the Little River.  He was a Quaker and a member of the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting.  Between 1761 and 1764, he sold all his land in Orange County and relocated to the South Carolina "upcountry".  In 1765, he was granted 550 acres on Beaverdam Creek and the Saluda River in "Old" Berkeley County, SC.  This was probably the Beaverdam Creek located in the part of Old Berkeley County that later became Newberry District.  There was a large Quaker community in this area, centered around Bush River.  In later years, James Cheek and his family moved farther up the Saluda River into Laurens District where some of the family settled on another Beaverdam Creek near the present-day town of Grey Court.

The above timeline is confirmed by a Revolutionary War pension application filed by Ellis Cheek, believed to be James' son.  Ellis Cheek testified that he was born in Orange County, NC; was living in Fair Forest River, SC (now Union or Spartanburg County) when the war began; enlisted in 1780 and again in 1781; and moved to Laurens District, SC, before the conclusion of the war [which ended in 1783].  In 1781, Ellis was disowned by the Quakers at the Bush River Monthly Meeting in Newberry Dist., SC, for "taking up arms in a warlike manner."  (Ency. of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol. 1.)

James Cheek appears to have died prior to 1790 when his wife Ann CHICKE is listed as a head of household in the census of Laurens District.  His will, if he had one, has not survived.  His children have been identified mainly by geographic proximity.

North Carolina Records

1743. Beaufort Co., NC. James CHEEK is named in his father Richard CHEEK's will, dated Sept. 29, 1743; recorded in Beaufort Co., NC, Apr. 30, 1745. He received 140 acres "all of Land I hold above the mill Creek between the uper fork and the River". The will indicates that James was then under the age of 14. (Will Bk. N, p.144.)

May 7, 1754. Edgecombe Co., NC. James CHEEK witnessed a deed from John BURNEY & wife Elizabeth to Thomas SHARP, 150 acres on the north side of the Tar River adjoining Cheek's Mill Creek and the dec'd Richard CHEEK's upper limit line. Other wits: Jacob ATKINSON & James HEARN. (Edgecombe DB 1, p.49) [Note: John BURNEY was James CHEEK's brother-in-law.]

Sept. 1755. Edgecombe Co., NC. James CHEEK of Edgecombe Co., NC, to William LITTLE of Surry Co., VA, £40 bond for sale of 300 acres on Cheeks Mill Swamp. Wits: Amos ATKINSON, Abraham LITTLE. Recorded Feb. 1756. (Halifax Co., NC, DB 4, p.400).

map of 
Orange County landowners

18th Century Landowners in Orange Co., NC
from a map by Nancy Brister

Sept. 29, 1758. Orange Co., NC. James CHEEK & William YOUNG are chain carriers for Alexander TORINTON [TURRENTINE, TORINGTON], 369 acres on the Little River in Orange Co., surveyed by William CHURTON. (NC Archives, Orange Co. Land Entries, Warrants, and Plats of Survey, Folder No. Grant issued Feb. 9, 1761. (Land Grant Book 12, p.45.)

Feb. 22, 1759. Orange Co., NC. James CHEEK granted 409 acres in Orange Co. on both sides of the north fork of the Little River. (Land Grant Book 14, p.373.) Grant recorded May 15, 1764. (Source: Eve B. Weeks, Orange County, North Carolina, Deed Register, 1752-1768 and 1793 (Heritage Papers, 1984).)

Mar. 13, 1759. Orange Co., NC. The court clerk records a sale of 100 acres from James CHEEK to John BROWN. (Orange County Deed Register; see Eve B. Weeks, supra.)

Oct. 27, 1760. Orange Co., NC. A survey of land for Samuel TORRINGTON describes 394 acres in Orange Co. on Little River & Buffalo Creek adj. James CHEEK, Margaret BOGGAN, and John BROWN. Chain carriers were Richard HOLEMAN and Alexander TORRINGTON. The land grant issued Jan. 29, 1761. Endorsement on reverse of warrant states land was in dispute with Nathaniel CARY and survey was not to go over Thomas WADE's old line. (NC Archives, Orange Co. Land Entries, Warrants, and Plats of Survey, Folder No. and; Land Grant Book 12, p.45.)

1761, 2nd month, 7th day. Orange Co., NC. James CHEEK is received by the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting (Quaker church). (Hinshaw, Ency. of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol. 1, p.379.)

Note: the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting is still an active Quaker congregation. The meeting house is located in the present town of Snow Camp, Alamance Co., NC.

Nov. 10, 1761. Orange Co., NC. The court clerk records a sale of 100 acres from James CHEEK to William BRIMS. Witness: James CLARK. (Orange County Deed Register; see Eve B. Weeks, supra.)

Feb. 7, 1764. Orange Co., NC. James CHEEK appointed overseer of road where William BURNEY was formerly. (Orange Co., NC, Court Minutes.)

May 14, 1765. Orange Co., NC. The court clerk records a sale of 209 acres from James CHEEK to John CLARK. Wit: John DUNNAGAN. (Orange County Deed Register; see Eve B. Weeks, supra.)

Note: the 3 land sales above, recorded Mar. 13, 1759 (100 acres), Nov. 10, 1761 (100 acres), and May 14, 1765 (209 acres), account for the entire 409 acre parcel that James CHEEK obtained by land grant in February 1759.

South Carolina Records

South Carolina mountain river

South Carolina "Upcountry"

Geographical Note: Land records indicate that James Cheek settled in Old Berkeley County, South Carolina.  "Old" Berkeley County should not be confused with present-day Berkeley County.  Old Berkeley County was one of the four original "royal counties" of South Carolina.  The other royal counties were Craven, Colleton, and Granville.  In 1769, these four counties were divided into several large districts.  The northwestern part of South Carolina became the "Ninety-Six District," named after a British fort believed to be 96 miles south of the Cherokee village of Keowee.  In 1785, the 96 District was divided into six smaller districts: Spartanburg, Union, Laurens, Newberry, Abbeville, and Edgefield.  However, the 96 District continued to exist as a political entity until around 1798.  In addition, for many years the inhabitants of the 96 District continued to file legal documents in Charleston, the capital of Old Berkeley County.  It can be challenging to figure out where early settlers in South Carolina actually lived.  (More info about the formation of SC counties)

June 3, 1765. Old Berkeley Co., SC. James CHEEK granted 550 acres on the northeast side of the "Saludy" (Saluda) River and Beaver Dam Branch. South Carolina Archives, Series S213184, Vol. 7:452 [plat dated Jan. 5, 1765]; Series S213019, Vol. 12:330 [land grant dated June 3, 1765]; Series S111001, Vol. 6:477 [memorial dated July 2, 1765].)

Note: this was probably the Beaverdam Creek in present-day Newberry Co., SC, near the Bush River Quaker community.

Oct. 22, 1765. James CHEEK's land is mentioned in a plat to John PINDALL for 100 acres in the fork between the Broad River and Saluda River, on a small branch of the Saluda River called Beaver Dam Creek adj. James CHEEK on the northeast. (SC Archives, Series S213184, Vol. 11:149 [plat dated Oct. 22, 1765]; Series S111001, Vol. 10:72 [memorial dated Mar. 12, 1770].) John PINDALL sold this land to Samuel PEARSON by deed dated Nov. 4, 1772, recorded Feb. 2, 1773. (DB A-4, pp.434-439.)

Sept. 17, 1766. James CHEEK's land is mentioned in a plat obtained by Joshua GRIFFITH for 150 acres on both sides of a small branch of the Saluda River called Beaver Dam Branch, adj. James CHEEK to the northwest. (SC Archives Series S213184, Vol. 11:315 [plat dated Sept. 17, 1766]; Series S213184, Vol. 11:315.)

1768. Petition by inhabitants residing in forks of Broad and Saludy Rivers, Bush Creek, Rayburns Creek, and parts adjacent, for road from Orangeburgh to Saludy and Bushes and Rayburns Creek; they ask that James CHEEK and others be appointed as road commissioners. (Citizens and Immigrants: South Carolina 1768 by Mary B. Warren, p.98.)

May 5, 1767. James CHEEK's land mentioned in a plat obtained by Joseph RUCKMAN for 350 acres in Old Berkeley County on Bush Creek adj. James CHEEK, Joshua GRIFFITH, & DUNCAN. (SC Archives Series S213184, Vol. 20, p.223 [plat dated May 5, 1767]; Series S111001, Vol. 10, p.472 [memorial dated June 18, 1771].)

Sept. 26, 1772. James CHEEK obtained an additional 100 acres on the Saluda River bounded by vacant land. (SC Archives, Series S213184, Vol. 14, p.67 [plat dated May 5, 1772]; Series S213019, Vol. 26:525 [land grant dated Sept. 26, 1772]; Series S111001, Vol. 12:449 [memorial dated Nov. 21, 1772].)

Feb. 4, 1773. James CHEEK & wife Ann to Samuel PEARSON, all of (old) Berkeley Co., SC, 421 acres on Beaver Dam Branch on north side of the Saluda River, being part of 550 acres granted to James CHEEK on June 3, 1765, which had been surrounded by vacant land at the time of surveying. Signed: James CHEEK, Ann (X) CHEEK. Wits: Thos. HAMTOM, William CHEEK & George BUCKELEW. Acknowledged by Thos. HAMTON before Robert CUNNINGHAM, JP, on Nov. 5, 1772. (Charlotte Deeds Vol. B-4, pp.255-260.)

Mar. 13, 1773. A plat obtained by William ESLAR in Old Craven Co., SC, describes 150 acres on the "Saludy River" adj. William CHEEK, James CHEEK, John DEES, William BURGESS, & William PURVESS. (SC Archives, Series S213184, Vol. 15, p.55 [plat dated Mar. 13, 1773].)

Note: This may be the first record of the Cheek family in the Laurens District.  The plat map shows land belonging to James Cheek located next to William Eslar's parcel along what appears to be a branch, possibly "Rabins Branch" (Rabon Creek).  James Cheek's name appears on the map but the text description of the parcel also refers to land belonging to William Cheek.  William Eslar obtained another plat on the same date, Mar. 13, 1773, for 200 acres in Old Craven County on Reedy River adj. James REYAN [RYAN] and John BAW [BAUGH].  The Reedy River joins the Saluda River in what is now Laurens Co., SC.  Part of the area that became Laurens was in Old Craven County's jurisdiction; the other part was in Old Berkeley County.  Other records show that John BAUGH's land was located on Reedy River in Old Berkeley County.  All these records, taken together, are evidence that William Eslar's plat which mentions William Cheek and James Cheek was for land located in Laurens Dist.

There are no further records of James Cheek after 1773, unless he was the James Cheek in Old Tryon/Rutherford Co., NC, from 1774-1782 (see discussion below).  Ann was apparently a widow by 1790 when she appears in the census of Laurens Dist., SC, along with sons William, Ellis, and Willis Cheek.

1790 Census, Laurens Dist., SC: Ann CHICKE
0 males over age 16
1 male under age 16
6 females
(Also listed on p.75: William Cheek, Willis Cheek, Ellis Chick.)
South Carolina, 1773
Enoree and Tiger Rivers in SC Saluda River in SC
Beaverdam Creek of the Enoree R.
(present-day Laurens Co., SC)
Beaverdam Creek of the Saluda R.
(present-day Newberry Co., SC)
Click here to view the original map

The deeds and land grants involving James Cheek from 1765-1773 describe land on Beaverdam Branch or Beaverdam Creek of the Saluda River.  One grant also mentions the fork of the Saluda and Broad Rivers.  This puts the Cheek family in what is now Newberry District, where there was a large Quaker community centered around Bush River (right-hand map, above).  By the 1780's, however, the Cheek family had relocated several miles upriver to the northwest.  The Revolutionary War veteran Ellis Cheek (whose gravestone proves he was a son of James and Ann Cheek) testified in his pension application that he was living in Fair Forest River (now Union or Spartanburg District) when the war started (i.e., 1776) and moved to Laurens District before the conclusion of the war (i.e., before 1783).  Some of the later Cheeks in Laurens District lived around the town of Gray Court, which is located on a different Beaverdam Creek, a branch of the Enoree River (identified as Beaver Creek on the left hand map, above).  View a Google map.

Curiously, no Cheeks are listed on the 1779 census of the Ninety-Six District, which included the entire geographic area that James Cheek and his family might have been living in 1779, including the areas that became Newberry, Edgefield, Union, Spartanburg, and Laurens Districts.  Either James Cheek was omitted from the census by mistake, he was deceased and his family was living in another household, or they left the area after 1773.

Interestingly, there is a James Cheek who purchased 600 acres of land in Old Tryon County, NC, on July 5, 1774.  (Old Tryon Court Records.)  Old Tryon County, which was abolished in 1779, originally encompassed all of present-day Rutherford and Lincoln Counties in North Carolina as well as York, Chester, Union, Spartanburg, and Cherokee Counties in South Carolina.  According to a road order entered in Old Tryon County in Oct. 1776, James Cheek probably lived near the NC-SC state line between what is now Rutherford Co., NC, and Spartanburg Co., SC.  A jury was appointed "to lay out a Road from Wm. Gilbert's the nearest & Best way to James CHEEK's on the South Carolina line so as to Cross at Twitty's Ford on Broad River".  "William Gilbert's" probably refers to the village of Gilbert Town, located on the Second Broad River (the north fork of Broad River) in what is now central Rutherford County.  Twitty's Ford on the Broad River was in Rutherford Co. about 8 miles from Gilbert Town.  Although far off the beaten track, this area became the center of a nasty guerilla war during the Revolution.  James Cheek, along with three children (names not given) are listed as killed or wounded by Indians in Rutherford Co., NC, in May 1782.  (NC Gen. Society Journal, 9:236, Nov. 1983.)

It's not known whether this is the same James Cheek who was living in the Bush River Quaker community from 1765-1773.  However, the dates are consistent: James Cheek sold his land in the Bush River community in Feb. 1773.  He and William Cheek appear the following month (Mar. 1773) in a land plat issued to William Eslar on the Saluda River in Old Craven County.  Based on other records, this land was probably located around the Reedy River in what later became Laurens District.  But then James Cheek disappears from the records of the Ninety-Six District.  Meanwhile, his son Ellis Cheek was living in "Fair Forest River" at the start of the Revolutionary War.  The headwaters of Fairforest Creek (near the town of Spartanburg, SC) are less than 20 miles from Rutherford Co., NC.  None of the Cheeks are listed in the 1779 census of the Ninety-Six District, so it is plausible they were all living across the state line in North Carolina that year.  Ellis Cheek was disowned by the Bush River Quakers in 1781 for taking up arms.  James Cheek of Rutherford Co., NC, was killed or injured by Indians in 1782.  Ellis Cheek moved to Laurens Dist., SC, before 1783 where his brother William Cheek obtained a land grant in 1785.  Ellis, William, and Willis Cheek and their mother Ann (apparently a widow by that time) are listed in the 1790 census of Laurens Dist., SC.