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 1 - 50 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
Wallace E. Bland July 4, 1880 at Edgefield C. House Homicide
Kisiah Frazier December 17, 1893 at the plantation of T S Rainsforde Natural Causes
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Luther Harris May 26, 1899 at the plantation of George F Towns Homicide
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
negro man negro man April 10, 1850 near Kilcreases Ferry Accident
white man white man October 21, 1849 in the woods near Holsonbakers[?] old fields Natural Causes
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller Natural Causes
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident
Pompy Robinson November 1, 1898 at Norris Place Natural Causes
Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased Natural Causes
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Henry Parks September 14, 1895 at Parksville Homicide
Lewis negro man March 20, 1846 at & in the Revd Mr. Brooks Plantation Accident
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
Richard Stevens February 21, 1898 at Johnston S.C. Natural Causes
Charley Geeter October 27, 1881 at Violets Geeter's house Accident
W. W. Miller Sr. white man July 10, 1891 at J M. Mays place Accident
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
Solomon negro man June 24, 1844 near the Mill of George A. McKee on Stevens Creek Accident
Charles M. Creswell August 5, 1869 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Gus Blocker August 18, 1892 at the plantion of July Blocker Homicide
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
infant infant December 15, 1892 at Mr. Pleasant Grave Yard Accident
Richmond slave March 3, 1857 at V[?] Elbert Blands residence at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Thomas Prince July 31, 1848 at the Joal of Said District Natural Causes
Harry negro boy September 9, 1858 at the residence of the Rev. J. L. Brooks Accident
Clem slave, boy October 3, 1858 at Tabitha Abney's Accident
Luther Sullivan October 26, 1898 near John Stuarts Homicide
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident
William White December 10, 1898 at Savanah River Accident
Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith Natural Causes
Mahlon Jones December 25, 1891 at Landrams Farm Homicide
Reubin Weaver December 28, 1895 at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation Natural Causes
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
John McKinny September 26, 1894 at W P. Lipfords[?] Homicide
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
infant child infant child September 15, 1861 at the residence of Mrs Margret Willis Accident

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