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
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
Milledge Fuller freedman February 18, 1867 at John Ransford plantation Accident
male baby male baby May 24, 1891 at the Saluda River Homicide
John E. Paul June 14, 1892 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Eva Blocker February 11, 1893 at J. P. Wrights Plantation Accident
George Ross June 29, 1898 at Adoms[?] place Homicide
Moses Blalock May 19, 1882 on the Plantation of W G McDavid Homicide
Martha Lanham January 29, 1892 at Wilts[?] Curryes place Natural Causes
Tilman Attaway April 14, 1849 at the corner of the Oharer[?] old field Accident
William M. Tredaway March 27, 1851 at the house of William M Tredaway at Beach Island Homicide
Julia Mundy June 17, 1881 at Jas H Banknight Homicide
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Elleck free boy December 13, 1866 at Johnathan Gregorys Accident
W. W. Miller Sr. white man July 10, 1891 at J M. Mays place Accident
Cesar Negro, negro boy July 7, 1843 at the house of Elijah Watson Homicide
negro man negro man April 10, 1850 near Kilcreases Ferry Accident
Charles slave July 31, 1851 at the house of John M. Norris Esqr in Edgefield Accident
Tom Slave, old negro man January 12, 1853 near the residence of Harry Scott Accident
John McManas December 4, 1883 at the Jail Accident
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
infant infant March 24, 1892 at Pinksville Homicide
infant child infant child June 14, 1891 at Kenny Grave Yard Accident
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton Natural Causes
Edmund Brown December 24, 1853 at the house of Wm Merchantile[?] Homicide
John Young June 27, 1891 at the residence of John Young Accident
infant infant January 10, 1898 at Johnston Homicide
Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns Natural Causes
Wade Medlock July 12, 1894 at Benjamin Boatwrights Plantation Unknown
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Mingo Mosley January 13, 1883 at Samuel[?] Corley's Accident
John H. Anderson March 21, 1891 at Tom Anderson place Homicide
Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C. Natural Causes
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
William Samuel April 26, 1891 at Scima[?] Hill Church Homicide
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
Pink Williams October 6, 1898 at or near Mr E.F. Pickles residence Homicide
Eunice Hogan October 26, 1851 at the house of John Briskey Homicide
Willie Toney March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Allen Bauknight freedman June 11, 1866 at William Bauknights Accident
Edward Johnston December 26, 1892 at William Bushes Unknown
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Jesse Moragna[?] March 3, 1882 at Luke Moragines[?] House Accident
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes
Lesthia Ridlehouse[Ridlehover?] January 5, 1892 at the Residence of Mrs Edny Mary Accident
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys Natural Causes

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • admin@ehistory.org

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory

Supporters

+ American Council of Learned Societies
+ DigiLab, Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, University of Georgia