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 Typesort ascending Death Method
Violet negro woman (slave) March 25, 1844 at John Dinkinses Suicide
Joel Roper Sr. August 30, 1845 at the house of Joel Roper Sr Suicide rope
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
J. Hancock June 13, 1859 at J. Hancocks Suicide shotgun
John Crawford June 25, 1853 at the house of John Crawford Suicide pocket knife
Joshua Miller December 22, 1851 at Joshua Millers Suicide shotgun
John J. Cobb July 23, 1843 at William Elkins Mill Pond Suicide
Larkin Swearengen April 1, 1852 at the hous of Larkin Swearengen Suicide razor
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Ellick negro man April 26, 1851 at the house of W. F Prescott Suicide rope
Michael Long October 11, 1877 near the Residence of E.N. Youngblood Suicide knife
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
James Miller March 29, 1847 at the house of James Miller Suicide rope
Aron slave, boy June 15, 1862 near the White house Suicide vine
William L. Russell September 6, 1849 in the Hotel of H Jordon Suicide razor
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Wesley Weaver[?] June 15, 1858 at Mrs Lydia Nevus[?] Suicide shotgun
Basil M. Boone November 4, 1855 at the residence of Daniel Boone Suicide rifle
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
Ann negro woman December 8, 1848 at the house of Benja F Landrum Suicide rope
E. M. Whatley August 31, 1893 at E M Whatley's Suicide
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Samuel M. Dowel July 25, 1844 at James Murrels Suicide knife
Blassingame Wise April 27, 1848 at or near the Negro quarter of Mrs Wiley Glover, on Savannah River Suicide
Prince negro man October 27, 1844 at Mrs Elizabeth Timmermans Suicide
James S. Aiton June 19, 1893 at J.S. Aiton deceased Suicide pistol
Solomon Ellenberg February 18, 1859 near the Residence of G.M. Ouzts[?] Suicide
Lizzie Carson January 29, 1892 at John J Carson Coleman Township Suicide pistol
M. Emmitt Bryant June 25, 1891 at the Residence of Mrs Caterim[?] Bryants Suicide rope
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
John Randall October 19, 1857 at the dwelling house of John Randall Suicide razor
Jacob Long Jr. December 19, 1848 at Jacob Longs Suicide razor
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Sarah Jowls[?] November 16, 1858 at Mrs Mary Ann Keys Suicide rope
Daniel slave, boy April 28, 1859 at L. Halls Tisery[?] Suicide
Darling Willis March 4, 1859 at Wade Holeston warter Suicide pistol
male baby male baby May 24, 1891 at the Saluda River Homicide
Joshua Hammond Jr. September 6, 1849 at a place belonging to John Bauskett[?] on little horse creek Homicide fence rail
John Henry King October 29, 1865 in Hamburg Homicide
William Padgett February 22, 1894 at W.D. Readys plantation Homicide
Mary Slave May 17, 1847 at the Plantation of A. Perrin Homicide
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
Green negro boy July 23, 1850 at the house of John Cheatham Homicide knife
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Hardy Boulware January 2, 1862 at Hardy Boulwares Homicide
Elick Youngblood child March 21, 1881 at S[?] R Warren Homicide
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
Bill King August 9, 1881 at H C Kings Residence Homicide hoe
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide

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