Edgefield County, SC

County Name: 
Edgefield
State: 
South Carolina

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."

"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

Displaying 51 - 100 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
Rufus Harling September 16, 1897 at Clarks Hill Homicide
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence Natural Causes
Infant Infant December 18, 1894 at the Rinheart Grave yard Unknown
Solomon negro man June 24, 1844 near the Mill of George A. McKee on Stevens Creek Accident
Kisiah Frazier December 17, 1893 at the plantation of T S Rainsforde Natural Causes
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson Natural Causes
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
Robert Johnston May 23, 1891 at Clarks Ferry below bridge on C. & G.[?] R R Accident
Isaac Oliphant November 9, 1882 at Ritch Thomson Accident
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
Ora Weaver February 21, 1891 at the plantation of D B. H Holfarth[illegible - ink blot] Accident
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident
Lizzy Rardon September 28, 1879 at Clansey Holloways plantation Accident
Sam slave, boy October 10, 1857 at the Carolina Hotel, Edgefield C.H. Unknown
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Henry Padget freedman November 14, 1866 at Wm Padgets premises on Clouds Creek Homicide
James Reynolds December 20, 1860 at the residence of James Reynolds Homicide
Mary Harrison September 10, 1894 at Dornville Accident
Willis Cumings child October 10, 1890 at C. M. Lanhams Accident
George Washington Crowder October 19, 1866 at Grannetville Accident
Allen Holmes March 4, 1882 at Oscar Seigler Residence Homicide
Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House Natural Causes
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
Minnie Johnson December 22, 1892 at John Bettis plantation Accident
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
John McKinny September 26, 1894 at W P. Lipfords[?] Homicide
John M. Tillman May 6, 1860 at Mr J.A Tillmans Steam Mill Homicide
James Leppard February 13, 1893 at F. M. Leppards Natural Causes
infant child infant child December 14, 1877 at Dr. K N Hudsons plantation Homicide
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Willie G. Harris March 25, 1897 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Willis Asbell December 7, 1877 at Ridge Spring Homicide
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
Lucious Perry November 8, 1891 at the plantation of Ben Boatwright Homicide
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1858 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham Natural Causes
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown

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