Joel Owsley Cheek

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Joel Owsley Cheek
BornDecember 8, 1852
DiedDecember 14, 1935
Residence209 Louise Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Alma materTransylvania University
OccupationBusinessman, philanthropist
Spouse(s)Minnie Ritchey

Joel Owsley Cheek (December 8, 1852 - December 14, 1935) was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was the founder of the Maxwell House coffee brand.

Early life[edit]

Cheek was born on December 8, 1852 in Burkesville, Kentucky.[1][2] He attended Transylvania University in 1868.[1][2]


Cheek began his career as a schoolteacher for two years.[1][2] He subsequently became a peripatetic salesman for the Webb Wholesale Grocery Company Tennessee and Kentucky.[1] Cheek invested in the company, and it became known as Cheek, Webb & Co..[1]

With investors L. T. Webb, J. J. Norton and J. W. Neal, Cheek opened a coffee shop in Downtown Nashville in 1901.[1] They persuaded the owners of the Maxwell House Hotel to serve their coffee, and they use the name of the hotel as their coffee brand.[1] They began using the slogan "good to the last drop" in 1917.[1] In 1928, Cheek sold the brand to Postum Co. for $42 million; it was subsequently purchased by General Foods.[1] However, he was featured in Maxwell House advertisements until his death.[1]


Cheek "gave away much of his fortune to educational institutions, civic improvement campaigns, recognized charities and other worthy causes."[3]

Personal life, death and legacy[edit]

Cheek married Minnie Ritchey in 1873.[1][2] He had eleven children.[4] He resided in Nashville, Tennessee: first at 513 Woodland Street in East Nashville and later 209 Louise Avenue near Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University.[4] His cousins were the owners of Cheekwood, which later became a museum.[1] Cheek was a Christian, and "a strong advocate of prohibition.[3] He never smoked or drank.[3]

Cheek died on December 14, 1935 in Jacksonville, Florida.[4] His portrait hangs in the Cumberland County Library.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Walter, Jeff (July 22, 2003). "Maxwell House-Cheekwood saga began with young teacher in debt". The Tennessean. p. 48 – via (Registration required (help)).
  2. ^ a b c d Crawford, Byron (February 15, 1985). "Coffee ended grind for traveling salesman". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. p. 3. Retrieved May 10, 2018 – via (Registration required (help)).
  3. ^ a b c "Joel Cheek, 83, Coffee King, Is Called By Death". The Leaf-Chronicle. Clarksville, Tennessee. December 14, 1935. p. 1 – via (Registration required (help)).
  4. ^ a b c "Coffee Merchant Dies". The Cincinnati Inquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. December 15, 1935. p. 12. Retrieved May 10, 2018 – via (Registration required (help)).
  5. ^ Waggener, Ed (October 28, 2016). "He's Everywhere in Cumberland County, KY: Joel Owsley Cheek . ." Columbia Magazine. Retrieved May 10, 2018.