Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Gheen, James

by Whaley W. Batson, 1986

fl. 1778–96

James Gheen, cabinetmaker, may have moved to Rowan County from Chester County, Pa., in the late 1770s. The Rowan County tax list for 1778 shows that he resided in "Capt. Craige's District." Nothing of Gheen's parentage is presently known. It is believed that he was married and had several children when he arrived in Rowan County. The 1790 census lists James Gheen, Jr., and James Gheen, Sr., in the county with families composed of four and ten persons, respectively. In addition, Thomas Gheen is listed with a family of four. None of them held slaves.

Two land transactions for Gheen are recorded in Deed Book 14 of Rowan County, 1778–92. In 1780 he purchased 270 acres on the north side of the Yadkin River, and in 1792 he bought 500 acres on Second Creek. Like other cabinetmakers in the Piedmont area, Gheen probably supplemented his income by farming. Although he acquired two acres and four lots in the town of Salisbury, he did not establish a shop there. His will, written in 1796, bequeathed the land on Second Creek and the house, shop, and shop tools to his youngest son, Joseph.

Thirteen pieces of furniture have been attributed to Gheen. One piece—a combination desk and bookcase—was made in 1794 for the Reverend Samuel E. McCorkle, pastor of Thyatira Presbyterian Church and a founder of The University of North Carolina. A signed and dated bill of sale for the piece survives. The other pieces are nine desks-and-bookcases, two chests of drawers, and a desk. All of the items are similar in design vocabulary and distinctive construction techniques. In addition to his cabinetmaking business, Gheen was a constable for his district in 1782–83.

The name of his wife is not known, but there were at least seven children. The date of his death and place of burial are also unknown.


Archives, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (Winston-Salem), for information on James Gheen.

Carolyn Weekly, "James Gheen, Piedmont North Carolina Cabinetmaker," Antiques Magazine 103 (May 1973).

Origin - location: 


James Gheen is listed in some genealogy reports as having
been born in North Carolina approx 1740 and having died on 26 April 1796 in Rowan North Carolina. There is some research that suggest his parent's family emigrated to America from Wales.

Find a grave has his wife as Elizabeth Gheen.

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at