Construction continues at the southeast corner of Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Mount Vernon Road for a Peachtree Immediate Care facility. In the past, this spot was home to a car wash and, before that, a gas station. However, in early Dunwoody history, this was the location of the Joberry Cheek sawmill, cotton gin and flour mill.

The Cheek Sawmill

The Cheek sawmill, flour mill, and cotton gin, pictured in the early 1900s, occupied the southeast corner of Chamblee Dunwoody and Mount Vernon roads.

Cheek built his home next door to the mill. The home sat where Panera Bread is located today. 

Joberry Cheek’s daughter Lizzie Cheek (Newhard) lived in the house into the 1970s. The home had fallen into disrepair, and some residents of the area thought it was abandoned. 

Across Mount Vernon Road, then called Lawrenceville Road, was the home Joberry Cheek built in 1906 for his son Bunyan Cheek. Later, Cheek’s daughter Myra Cheek Martin would live in the home along with her husband William Martin. That home still stands on the northeast corner of the intersection and is known as the Cheek/Spruill Farmhouse.

William Martin died in 1906. In 1908, Myra married John Crook, a milling engineer who designed Joberry Cheek’s mill and other mills across the United States and in South America.

Almost 100 years ago, on Nov. 21, 1920, a tragedy occurred at the Cheek mill and gin. A hot fire was built under a dry boiler, most likely due to a faulty gauge, and the boiler exploded. People from all over the community rushed to see what had caused the loud sound. Three men who were working at the mill and gin that day, Graham Spruill, Lynn O’Shields and John Manning, all died that day. (“The Story of Dunwoody,” Ethel Spruill and Elizabeth Davis, 1975)

Joberry Cheek was born in 1851 to Samuel and Martha Bruce Cheek. The family lived in Elberton, Ga., at that time, but by 1870 had moved to the Shallowford District of DeKalb County, in what is now Dunwoody. He married Laura Manning Eidson in 1874. The Manning and Eidson families were both pioneers of Dunwoody. DeKalb County historian Vivian Price Saffold shares that the family history indicates Laura Cheek was the miller of the Cheek Mills.

Joberry Cheek died in 1935 at the age of 84, three years after Laura Cheek had passed away. They are buried together at New Hope Cemetery on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.

Besides the Cheek Spruill Farmhouse, another little reminder of Joberry is the small street named Joberry Court, which runs off Chestnut Ridge Drive. This street is behind where his home, mill and gin once sat

Other sources cited include 1981 DeKalb News Sun, “DeKalb’s Mills Produced Everything, From Flour to Stone Mountain Corn.”

You can email Valerie at pasttensega@gmail.com or visit her website at pasttensega.com.

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