Edgefield County, SC
Total population (1850): 39,262
Enslaved population (1850): 22,725
Percent slave: 58%
Extant nineteenth-century inquests: 524
Date range: 1829-1899
Percentage of violent crimes in county sample: 39% (202/524)
The small, rural district of Edgefield, South Carolina was the Deadwood of its day, amassing a reputation for murder and mayhem unique in the nation. Forget the gangs of New York, the toughs in tailored suits strutting about Edgefield's Court House Square were up for almost anything. Take this typical exchange between Thomas Cherry and Charles Cobb.
Cherry: "You Damn puppy."
Cobb: "What are you?"
Cherry: "Do you mean to call me a Damn puppy?"
Cobb: "What are you?"
Cherry: "If you call me a Puppy, I will ag you in the face."
Cobb: "You are nothing else."
With that Cherry stabbed Cobb through the face with an umbrella.
"If we over in Edgefield insult each other, there is generally a fight or a funeral afterwards," noted Ben Tillman, one of the ten men of the district to serve the state as governor. Like Tillman, circuit judge Thomas Mackey took an almost perverse pride in the region's reputation. "I am going to hold court in Edgefield," he told a friend, "and I expect a somewhat exciting term, as the fall shooting is about to start."
Like most reputations, Edgefield's was at once deserved and exaggerated. At 39 percent, Edgefield County does have the highest proportion of violent crimes in the CSI:D sample. At 35 percent, Greenville County is not that far behind. More important, Edgefield's reputation for affairs of honor masks the mountain of dishonorable violence revealed by the morgue. Men spoiling for a fight on the street are rarely much different at home. In June 1893, Bill Gasten was sitting near his wood pile when his wife emerged from the house to draw some water from the well. Something she said set him off and he grabbed up a walking stick, hit her with it, then threw her down and began choking her. Emerging from the kitchen, her sister grabbed up the stick and told Bill to "let his wife alone." She had just started back to the kitchen when Bill cracked her head with a hoe.
Edgefield County, SC Inquests
|Name||Deceased Description||Date||Inquest Location||Death Type||Death Method|
|A. G. Howard||February 28, 1860||at Grannet Ville Depot||Accident||pine tree|
|A. G. Leek||February 23, 1859||at A. G. Leeks Residence||Accident||alcohol|
|A. P. Shultz||January 9, 1850||at or near Solomon Clickleys[?]||unknown||unknown/mental illness|
|A. R. Steel||girl child||August 28, 1869||at Graniteville||Accident||drowning|
|Aaron||slave||December 3, 1851||at the house of Larkin Swearinghim||Homicide||cow hide|
|Aaron||slave||December 5, 1852||at A. Bushnells Shop||Homicide||chisel|
|Abram||slave||October 8, 1860||at the Residence of H. B. Raborns||Natural Causes||disease|
|Abram||man slave||August 17, 1860||at the Residence of Gen[?] Jas B. Griffin||Accident||animal|
|Abram||negro man Slave||August 21, 1850||at Henry L Maysons||Accident||drowning|
|Adam||negro man Slave, boy||August 3, 1850||at Vaucluse Factory||Accident||drowning|
|Adam Barker||August 10, 1879||at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd||Suicide||gun|
|Aggy Latily[?]||negro woman slave||June 21, 1848||at the plantation of N L Griffin||unknown|
|Al White||October 12, 1898||at Mundy[?] Place||unknown||gun|
|Albert Brunson||at Edgefield CH||Accident||train|
|Albert Jones||April 29, 1885||at Pickens Reynolds house||unknown||gun|
|Albert Watson||June 15, 1892||at the plantation of W.B. Maffett||Natural Causes|
|Alexander P. Kennard||February 16, 1847||in the District||Natural Causes||illness/mental illness|
|Alfred Hollingsworth||October 10, 1898||at David Strothers place||Homicide||razor|
|Alice Adkinson||October 18, 1898||at Republican Church||Homicide||gun|
|Alick Croker||boy||September 29, 1878||at Mrs. Marshes premises||Accident||drowning|
|Allen Bauknight||freedman||June 11, 1866||at William Bauknights||Accident||gun|
|Allen Holmes||March 4, 1882||at Oscar Seigler Residence||Homicide||gun|
|Allen Smith||Freedman||January 19, 1867||at S.B. Chappells Residence||Homicide||gun|
|Amanda Glover||August 30, 1892||at Mr Pofse[?] Lotts Plantation||Natural Causes|
|Ana May Blocker||child||December 2, 1894||at Ben Boatwrights farm||Natural Causes||illness|
|Anderson B. Branham||January 6, 1892||at the plantation of M. C. Parker||Accident||disease/fall|
|Andrew||slave||September 3, 1850||at A.P. Butlers plantation||Homicide||rail|
|Andrew||negro man||October 6, 1855||on the track of the South Carolina Rail Road||Accident||train|
|Andrew Trapp||December 4, 1869||near Trapps Mills||Homicide||knife|
|Andy Padgett||July 5, 1891||near Ridge Spring||Homicide||knife|
|Ann||negro woman||December 8, 1848||at the house of Benja F Landrum||Suicide||hanging|
|Ann Kimball||September 4, 1895||at China grove church||Homicide||blunt instrument|
|Ansabelle Brown||October 21, 1866||near the Tambor[?] Soba[?] Rail Road||unknown|
|Apling||negro man||April 5, 1849||in the woods in said district near the Lexington line on a branch of McGier Creek||Homicide||gun|
|Aron||slave, boy||June 15, 1862||near the White house||Suicide||hanging|
|Arthur Morris||June 20, 1898||at M. W Clarks||Homicide||gun|
|Augustus W. Burt||March 25, 1847||at the Plantation of A.W. Burt||Homicide||axe|
|Auson Peeler||July 25, 1868||near Kalmia[?] Mills||Accident||horse, fall|
|B. C. Bryan||March 16, 1884||at B C Bryan Residence||Natural Causes||disease|
|B. J. Mims||January 20, 1885||at the Residence of Capt B J Mims||Natural Causes||disease|
|Balus Harrison||November 14, 1893||at Edgefield CH||Accident||fall|
|Bartly||negro man||January 16, 1846||in the woods near the plantation of Dr Wm M Bent||unknown|
|Basil M. Boone||November 4, 1855||at the residence of Daniel Boone||Suicide||gun|
|Baze||negro slave||March 31, 1863||at the D. J. Howls||Homicide||chop axe|
|Belaus[Velaus?]||slave, boy||March 30, 1863||at Robert Smiths||Accident||drowning|
|Ben Culbreath||July 24, 1895||at Jno A Corleys plantation||Accident||horse|
|Ben Lowman||September 14, 1894||at W.[?] L. Rawls Mills||Homicide||gun|
|Ben Shubrick||col||December 24, 1869||at Negro heade Lane||Natural Causes||possible mental illness|
|Benjamin Cockroft||March 18, 1847||in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe||Accident||alcohol/exposure|
|Benjamin F. Jones||March 24, 1845||at W B Griffins||Homicide||gun|