Silas Cheek
of Mecklenburg Co., NC

Silas Cheek, son of William CHEEK & Sarah BLAKE, was born between 1765-1774 in Bute Co., NC, and died May 19, 1810, in Mecklenburg Co., NC. He is buried at the Flint Hill Baptist Church in York Co., SC. Silas Cheek had four children by Mary Armstrong Smartt, daughter of John & Margaret ARMSTRONG of Orange Co., NC, widow of Elisha SMARTT. She was born between 1770-1780 in Orange Co., NC, and d. Nov. 4, 1833 in Mecklenburg Co., NC. Mary is buried at the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church in Mecklenburg Co., NC.

Children of Silas Cheek & Mary Armstrong:

  1. Robert Tines Cheek, b. 1800-1810, Mecklenburg Co., NC; d. aft. 1840. Robert T. CHEEK or CHICK appears on the 1820 census of York Dist., SC, and the 1830 and 1840 census of Mecklenburg Co., NC; bur. Steele Creek Presbyterian Church. His middle name is often mistranscribed as Fines or Finias.
  2. John Sankston Cheek, b. 1800-1810, Mecklenburg Co., NC; d. May 1844; no children. John S. or L. CHICK appears on the 1830 and 1840 census of Mecklenburg Co., NC; apparently never married; bur. Steele Creek Presbyterian Church. His middle name is often transcribed as Lankston, but he was probably named after his uncle John SANKSTON of Orange Co., NC. A lawsuit filed after his death, Samuel COX et. al. v. H.W. MARKS et. al., 27 N.C. 361 (1844), reveals that John S. SMARTT a.k.a. John CHEEK died in May 1844.
  3. Sarah Blake Cheek, b. 1800-1807, Mecklenburg Co., NC; d. Nov. 7, 1867, Mecklenburg Co., NC; never married; bur. Steele Creek Presbyterian Church.
  4. Rebecca Armstrong Cheek, b. abt. 1808, Mecklenburg Co., NC; d. Nov. 27, 1875, Mecklenburg Co., NC; m. Henry Washington MARKS, July 24, 1823, Mecklenburg Co., NC (b. Feb. 8, 1797; d. Apr. 26, 1867); bur. Steele Creek Presbyterian Church. Children: William Marks (c.1829), Thomas Marks (c.1830), Sarah Marks (c.1836), Margaret Marks (c.1838), Stephen Marks (c.1840), Samuel Marks (c.1844), James Marks (c.1847).


Silas or Cylas Cheek was either the youngest or second-youngest son of William Cheek of Warren County, NC.  He moved to Mecklenburg County, NC, prior to 1790.  He may be the Silas Cheek who obtained a marriage license in Montgomery Co., NC, in 1788 or 1789, but if so, the name of his wife is unknown, and she was soon out of the picture.  Silas Cheek's 1810 will makes no mention of a wife, but names four "base-born" (i.e., illegitimate) children by "Mary Smartt."  She is believed to be Mary Armstrong Smartt, the widow of Elisha Smartt who died in Mecklenburg Co., NC, in 1796.  It's not known why Silas and Mary failed to get married, but it's possible Mary would have lost Elisha's property if she remarried.  Many wills of the era contained a harsh remarriage penalty.  Or, it's possible that Silas and his wife (if he had one) were separated but never officially divorced.  In addition, morals in the North Carolina backcountry were notoriously loose by the standards of the time.  When the Anglican minister Rev. Charles Woodmason traveled to the area in 1767-1768, he was shocked by the women he met.  He wrote disapprovingly in his journal that "Indeed Nakedness is not censurable or indecent here, and they expose themselves often quite Naked, without Ceremony—Rubbing themselves and their Hair with Bears Oil and tying it up behind in a Bunch like the Indians—being hardly one degree removed from them."


1788-1789. Silas CHEEK paid 10 shillings for a marriage license in Montgomery Co., NC. ("Marriage Licenses Purchased in Montgomery Co., NC, 1788-1789," NC Gen. Soc. Journal 6:135)

1790 Census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, p.158: SILAS CHEEK
1 white male over 16
No white males under 16
No white females
1800 Census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, p.541: SILAS CHEEK
1 w/m 26-45

June 1801, Lancaster Dist., SC. Land belonging to CILAS CHEEK is mentioned in a lease obtained by Randolph CHEEK for 160 acres in Catawba Indian land in Lancaster SC, adjoining Sugar Creek and the Hurricane Branch. (Source: transcription provided by Louse Pettus.) The Sugar Creek area is located on the border of Mecklenburg Co., NC, Lancaster Dist., SC, and York Dist., SC. The exact location of the state line was not established until 1813 and inhabitants in the Indian lands often appear in records in both North and South Carolina.

Jan. 31, 1803. Mecklenburg Co., NC. Cylas CHEEK was bondsman for the marriage of Rebekah SMARTT and Cheek SMITH [his nephew, son of Mary CHEEK & John SMITH].

1806 Tax List, Mecklenburg Co., NC, Capt. Haynes' Co.: SILAS CHEEK, 200 acres, 1 white poll, 11 black polls

1807 Tax List, Mecklenburg Co., NC, Capt. Haynes' Co.: SILAS CHEEK, 431 acres, 1 white poll, 12 black polls

1808 Tax List, Mecklenburg Co., NC, Capt. Haynes' Co.: SILAS CHEEK, 431 acres, 1 white poll, 14 black polls

1810 Census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, p.60: CYLAS CHEEK
1 w/m 10-142 w/f under 10
1 w/m 26-451 w/f 10-15
 1 w/f 16-25
 1 w/f over 45

May 19, 1810. The Raleigh Register reported on May 31, 1810, that Cylas CHEEK had died in Mecklenburg Co., NC, on May 19, 1810. (Carrie L. Broughton, Marriage and Death Notices from Raleigh Register and North Carolina State Gazette, 1799-1825 (Gen. Pub. Co., 1989).)

Oct. 31, 1808. The will of Cylas CHEEK dated Oct. 31, 1808, proved July 1810, "I do lend to Mary SMART's four base born children, namely, Robert T. SMART, Sarah B. SMART, Rebecca ARMSTRONG, and John S. SMART, all my estate, real and personal. And it is my will, that my estate should be kept together until the said Robert T. SMART arrives to twenty-one years of age, and then equally divided, share and share alike with the said four children, to them and their heirs forever, and that said children be raised well, and given good learning. If either of them should die without any heir in marriage, then their legacy to their own brothers and sisters, and the profits that should arise from this estate, while kept together, as yearly incomes, to be laid out to the use and benefit of the said children." Execs: William PETTUS, William JACKSON, William H. SMITH, Thomas B. SMITH. Wits: Jesse CATHEY, Jason BLAIR. (Meck. WB A, p.196).

Note: Robert's middle name is often transcribed as Finias or Tims, but it was probaby Tines, after his uncle Robert Tynes Cheek of Warren Co., NC.

There is a North Carolina Supreme Court case, Samuel Cox et. al. v. H.W. Marks et. al., 27 N.C. 361 (1844), which concerns a dispute between the administrators of the estate of John S. SMARTT, also known as John CHEEK, and John's sisters over the disposition of certain slaves and their issue that had been willed to them by Silas CHEEK. According to the case, John S. SMARTT aka John CHEEK died in May 1844 and the sisters took possession of the slaves in question. Samuel COX, administrator of John Cheek's estate, sued the sisters to recover the slaves. The sisters argued that they were entitled to the slaves because John had "died without an heir in marriage" (i.e., legitimate children) as stated in Silas Cheek's will. The court, however, found in favor of the administrator on a legal technicality. The case does not identify John's heirs.

Many thanks to Louise Pettus for providing information about this family!

Steele Creek Pres. Church (2007)
Showing location of Cheek graves
(no markers now visible)

Mary Armstrong Smartt

Mary is probably the white female, age 50-59, who is listed in the household of John S. CHICK in the 1830 census of Mecklenburg Co., NC, p.349.

The will of Mary SMARTT, dated Nov. 1, 1833, names children Robert T. CHEEK, John S. CHEEK, Sarah B. CHEEK, and children of Rebecca A. MARKS; also refers to "sale of my land in Orange County". Exec: son John CHEEK. Wits: Hugh MCDOWELL, J.S.L. WATSON. (Meck. WB G, p.147.)

She is probably the Mary CHEEK who was buried at the old Steele Creek Presbyterian Church which is located near Interstate 77 in Mecklenburg Co., NC, near the border of York, SC.  Cemetery surveys done many years ago recorded markers for Mary Cheek, Robert T. Cheek, John S. Cheek and Sarah B. Cheek.  These markers can no longer be found, although the location of the graves is listed in the cemetery records.  The markers may have fallen over and were covered up by soil during a period of time when the cemetery was not being maintained.  According to the prior surveys, Mary Cheek's gravestone stated she died Nov. 4, 1833, in her 60th or 65th year (sources conflict).  Her children John CHEEK, Dr. R.T. CHEEK, Sarah B. CHEEK, and Rebecca A. MARKS were also buried in this cemetery. 

Mary SMARTT was the widow of Elisha SMARTT who died in Mecklenburg Co., NC, in 1796. Mary ARMSTRONG and Elisha SMARTT posted a marriage bond in Orange Co., NC, Mar. 7, 1792, with bondsman John HOLMES.

The will of John ARMSTRONG of Orange Co., NC, dated Nov. 25, 1790, proved Feb. 1791, names wife Margaret, daughters Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret, & Rachel; land on Haw River joining John HOLMES, Moses CRAWFORD, & Richard CHRISTMAS; Execs: wife & Richard CHRISTMAS; wits: Richard GOFF, William TROUSDALE. (Orange Co., NC, WB B, p.121.)

The will of Richard CHRISTMAS of Orange Co., NC, dated June 25, 1830, proved May 1833, bequeathes slaves to Mary SMART and Peggy SANKSTON, "niece[s] of my deceased wife," among others. (Orange WB E, p.300.)

Mary's sister Margaret ARMSTRONG m. John SANKSTON, Mar. 21, 1800, in Orange Co., NC. Note that Mary and Silas Cheek had a son named John Sankston Cheek.