Colville, Silas Cheek (1804–1844)

By: Morris L. Britton

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 1, 1994

Silas Cheek Colville, Red River trader, was born in eastern Tennessee on January 2, 1804, the son of Joseph and Martha (Cheek) Colville. He moved with his family to McMinnville, Tennessee, around 1810. In 1829 he went to Fort Smith, Arkansas, with Holland Coffee and others and established Coffee, Colville, and Company. John S. Young, once secretary of state in Tennessee, was his brother-in-law, and Hugh Franklin Young was his cousin. In 1834 Colville accompanied Coffee to establish a trading post at the old Pawnee village on Red River, but he soon returned to his home in Van Buren. In 1837 he joined Coffee at Walnut Bayou on the Red River. They soon moved to Preston Bend (now Preston, Grayson County). Colville and Coffee dissolved their partnership after Coffee's marriage in 1839. Colville then became associated with James A. Caldwell at Shawneetown, near the site of modern Denison. They had postal contracts for much of East Texas, some interest in a trading house in Austin, and an association with E. F. Edrington, an Indian trader. The partnership furnished supplies to the Republic of Texas. Caldwell died in 1842.

Colville served on a committee to honor William Gordon Cooke, who was commanding the Military Road expedition. In a fight at Warren in the spring of 1841, he killed John Hart, an old pioneer, once a merchant of Jonesboro. Hart had aggressively protested the land claims of Coffee in Preston Bend, without legal success. Colville was acquitted, yet he was killed by unknown assailants in 1844. The place of his death is unknown, although his will was probated in old Fannin County. He had never married. The site of his burial has yet to be discovered. Litigation over Colville's Red River land continued almost until 1900.

Audy J. and Glenna P. Middlebrooks, "Holland Coffee of Red River," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69 (October 1965).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Morris L. Britton, “Colville, Silas Cheek,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994