The Cheeks of Surry/Yadkin
& Wilkes Counties, NC
The purpose of this page is to summarize my research concerning the Cheek families of Surry, Yadkin, and Wilkes Counties, North Carolina. In the 19th century, there were three different Cheek families in this part of North Carolina:
- William Cheek (1728) immigrated from London, England, to Bedford Co., VA, in 1754, and moved to Surry County, NC, by 1799. His descendants are found in Surry, Yadkin, and Wilkes Counties.
- Henderson Cheek (c.1805), whose parents are unknown, first appears in the records of Wilkes County, NC, in the 1820's. His descendants lived in Wilkes County.
- Richard Cheek (c.1780) (my ancestor) migrated to Ashe (Alleghany) County, NC, from Orange County, NC, around 1817. His descendants lived in Alleghany County, NC.
Recent DNA testing conducted through the Cheek/Chick DNA Project has shown no relationship between these three Cheek families.
The Yadkin River Valley
Surry and Yadkin County
The Cheek and "Cheeks" families of Yadkin County today are descended from two brothers, John CHEEK (c.1781) and William CHEEK (c.1790's), who first appear in the records of Surry County in the early 1800's. They lived on the forks of Deep Creek, which is a part of Surry County that became Yadkin County in 1850. They were sons of the English immigrant William CHEEK (1728) "of London" who came to Surry County from Bedford County, VA, by 1799. However, William was not the first Cheek to settle in Surry County.
The first record of the Cheek surname in the Surry/Yadkin region is a John CHEEK who appears on the 1768 tax list of Rowan County, NC, in Capt. Gideon Wright's District (present-day Surry County). Tax was assessed for 2 "polls," meaning there were 2 white males in his household over the age of 16 and under age 60. This John Cheek is believed to be a son of John CHEEK of Anson Co., NC. John returned to the Anson (Montgomery) County area by 1774 and left no known descendants in Surry County.
There is a Richard CHEEK who appears in the records of Surry County, NC, in the 1770's. On Aug. 14, 1774, Richard Cheek was being sued for trespass by John REED. (W.O. Absher, Surry County, North Carolina, Court Minute Abstracts Vol. 1 (1768-1785) (summons issued "to Richard CHEEK to answer John REED plea of trespass"). Legally, a "plea of trespass" was a lawsuit for damages. It might have involved a breach of contract or some other kind of injury. According to Surry County records, John REED owned land on the southwest side of the Yadkin River at the mouth of "Dill's Creek" (Surry Co., NC, Deed Book A, p.10) as well as another parcel on the west side of the "Tarrarat" (Ararat) River and Stewart's Creek (Surry Co., NC, Deed Book A:205-206). His relationship to Richard Cheek is unknown. The surviving records do not reveal the outcome of the lawsuit (only fragments of the court minutes exist prior to 1779).
Richard Cheek apparently died prior to Feb. 18, 1775, when the Sheriff of Surry County, William SHEPPERD, sold a Negro man named Peter to Samuel COOPER from the Estate of Richard CHEEK, to satisfy a claim by Burrell WILLIAMS vs. COBB and Richd. CHEEK in Chatham Co., NC. Recorded Feb. court 1775. (Surry Co., NC, WB 1, p.40.) This interesting record suggests that the Richard Cheek in Surry Co. was related to Richard CHEEK, Jr., of Chatham County, NC. It's possible he might even be Richard Cheek, Jr., of Chatham Co., NC.
On Aug. 3, 1778, John WARD entered 500 acres in Surry County at the fork of Archie's Creek on the waters of the Dan River, adjoining the Virginia line and "including the improvement I purchased of Richard CHEEK." (Surry Land Entry No. 376.) This would have been in the part of Surry County that became Stokes County in 1789. Note there is James CHEEK age 16-25 listed in the 1810 census of Stokes County in Peter's Creek Township, which is in the northwest corner of Stokes County and includes the area around Archie's Creek and the Dan River.
On May 24, 1779, a man named Richard Cheek entered 100 acres of land in Surry County on Tom's Creek including the improvement he purchased of Thomas BURK, and another 100 acres on the waters of Pilot Creek and the Little Yadkin. (Surry Land Entries No. 1618, 1619.) Note, according to the court record from Feb. 18, 1775, the original Richard Cheek in Surry County was deceased. Therefore, this must have been a younger Richard Cheek, perhaps the son of the Richard Cheek who died in 1775.
The final reference to Richard Cheek appears in the Surry County court minutes of Aug. 9, 1785, where "Richard CHEEK, Sr." was "allowed off" from paying taxes as an insolvent (Absher, supra). The fact that he was called "Sr." implies there was a younger Richard Cheek living in Surry County at that time; if so, however, there is no record of him. There are no Cheeks listed on the 1786 tax list or the 1790 federal census of Surry County.
In 1792, a man named William CHEEK was dismissed by the Quakers of the Westfield Monthly Meeting in Surry County for marrying out of unity (i.e., marrying a non-Quaker) (Hinshaw, Encylopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol. 1). The Westfield Monthly Meeting, originally called the Tom's Creek Meeting, was established in 1786 by Quakers who lived around Tom's Creek and Big Creek. This is the same area where Richard Cheek was living a few years earlier (see above).
According to Surry County, NC, Wills 1771-1827 by Jo White Linn (Clearfield Co., 2007), pp.114-115, "Court Minutes place William Cheek on Archer's Creek in 1794".
A man named "Dauson Sheek" (Cheek?) served on a Surry County jury in 1794. (Jo White Linn, Surry County, NC, Wills 1771-1827, supra. There seems to be no other record of Dauson "Sheek" or Cheek in Surry County. It is possible he went to Campbell County, TN, where there is a Dawson CHEEK on the 1818 tax list.
Willis Cheek appears in a Surry County deed dated Dec. 19, 1795, from Rodham MOORE of Patrick County, VA, to Joseph JESSOP, describing boundaries along "Archer's Creek" and the Virginia line, "including the plantation Willis CHEEK now liveth on" (Surry Co., NC, Deed Book F:284). "Archers Creek" probably refers to "Archie's Creek" which is in the extreme northeast corner of Surry County. Joseph JESSUP was a Quaker who owned land in the Tom's Creek area, according to other records (see Surry Co., NC, Deed Book F:238; F:341).
William "of London" Cheek
The Cheek family of the Tom's Creek area, who may have been Quakers, disappear from Surry County after the mid-1790's. On June 7, 1799, we find a William CHEEK receiving a land grant of 140 acres on the waters of Elkin Creek at the "dividing ridge" (i.e., the Blue Ridge) in Wilkes County, NC (Wilkes Deed Book D:803). This is believed to be the English immigrant William CHEEK (1728), often called William "of London" Cheek, or William the Immigrant, to distinguish him from the many other William Cheeks in North Carolina. William's 1802 will mentions 140 acres in Wilkes County. (Surry County, NC, Wills Vol. 3, pp.54-55.) Two of William's sons, John CHEEK and William CHEEK, remained in Surry (Yadkin) County; other sons went west to Kentucky and Indiana.
A man named Samuel CHEEK married Nancy ELRODE (ELROD) on Mar. 22, 1802, in Surry County, NC, with bondsman Jacob ELRODE. Samuel's relationship to the other Cheek families in Surry County is unknown. Samuel Cheek served as bondsman for the marriage of William ALLEN and Fanny CHEEK in Wilkes County, NC, sometime around 1810 (there is no date on the marriage bond).
Samuel Cheek is mentioned in the will of Adam ELROD of Salem, NC, (then in Stokes County, now Forsyth County), dated June 14, 1806. Adam Elrod was obviously not a fan of his son-in-law. He left him only one dollar, and directed that Samuel's minor son William CHEEK be raised by Abraham ELROD. Samuel's wife Nancy Elrod must have died (she is not named in the will) and her son William Cheek was living with her parents. The Elrods were members of the German Protestant sect known as the Moravians, who came to North Carolina from Pennsylvania in the 1750's and founded the Wachovia settlement. There are no further records of Samuel Cheek or his son William Cheek in Stokes County.
Wilkes County, NC
By the end of the 19th century, there were several Cheek families living in Wilkes County, NC. Some were the descendants of William "of London" Cheek (1728) of Surry/Yadkin County. Others were descendants of Henderson Cheek (c.1805). Henderson Cheek is a bit of a mystery. His parents have never been identified, and he has no documented relationship to any of the Cheeks in neighboring counties. The first name "Henderson" suggests he might be connected to the Cheeks of Alleghany County, but DNA testing through the Cheek/Chick DNA Project disproved that theory. The name of Henderson's son, Aaron Wesley Cheek, suggests a possible connection to the Cheeks of Surry and Yadkin Counties, because John Cheek (c.1781) of Surry/Yadkin also had a son named Aaron Wesley Cheek. However, DNA testing disproved that theory as well. So, it seems that Henderson was either from an unrelated Cheek family or perhaps he was a son born out of wedlock. At the time, "Henderson" and "Wesley" were both common names in western North Carolina. Richard Henderson was a famous frontiersman, and John Wesley was an early leader of the Methodist church.
Henderson Cheek and Juda Anne BAGLEY (or BAGBY) posted a marriage bond in Wilkes County, NC, on Sept. 29, 1827, with Jonathan OSBURN [OSBORNE] as bondsman. They are listed in the 1830 census of Wilkes County, in a household consisting of one white male 20-29, one white female 20-29, and one white female under 5. Based on their neighbors, they were living in the Swan Creek area of Wilkes County, which is south of the Yadkin River (nowhere near the land on the "dividing ridge" that William "of London" Cheek purchased in 1799). Henderson Cheek's name appears in the 1830 census immediately after Joseph YOUNGER who is known to have owned a mill on Swan Creek, later called Bagley's Mill. (See Wilkes County Heritage (Wilkes Gen. Society, 1982), Vol. 1, p.476.) By 1860, however, Henderson Cheek and his family had moved to Traphill, which is in the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Wilkes County. Henderson Cheek is identified as a Baptist minister in the census records from 1860 through 1880.