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
Pink Williams October 6, 1898 at or near Mr E.F. Pickles residence Homicide
Julia Mundy June 17, 1881 at Jas H Banknight Homicide
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
Joe infant negro August 26, 1860 at John Huiets Accident
Charles M. Creswell August 5, 1869 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Luther Harris May 26, 1899 at the plantation of George F Towns Homicide
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
Lula Smith child June 22, 1894 at James A Satcher's Plantation Homicide
Cesar Negro, negro boy July 7, 1843 at the house of Elijah Watson Homicide
John Brown December 20, 1844 at the house of John Brown Natural Causes
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
Lidia Watson January 26, 1894 at J E Macks Accident
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
Henry Jones September 21, 1855 Accident
Nancy Weaver December 20, 1893 at Edgefield Court House Accident
Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens Natural Causes
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
J. F. Styron April 21, 1891 at residence of J. F. Styron[?] Accident
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Joseph Ruffington January 9, 1893 at Thos O Attaways Accident
Learma Butler November 7, 1890 at W.H. Folks plantation Natural Causes
Duke negro man March 25, 1855 near Dennis Carpenters Accident
Mary Gillam January 1, 1891 at Mrs Francis Wrights Plantation Natural Causes
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
Milledge Stuard October 8, 1881 at Mount [??] Yard Natural Causes
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident
John M. Tillman May 6, 1860 at Mr J.A Tillmans Steam Mill Homicide
Joseph Powel August 18, 1879 at [??] Accident
Charles negro boy March 7, 1857 at Archy Clark residence Accident
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Gus Blocker August 18, 1892 at the plantion of July Blocker Homicide
Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?] Natural Causes
Edward slave, boy October 22, 1857 at the residence of Wm Miller Natural Causes
Eva Blocker February 11, 1893 at J. P. Wrights Plantation Accident
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Susan Medlock April 7, 1894 at Johnston Homicide
Charles negro man February 27, 1850 at Scotts Shoals on Savannah River Accident

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