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
Garett Doby October 11, 1880 at William Rufus Natural Causes
Sallie Holmes December 20, 1893 at D. P. Bodies[?] Accident
George Washington Crowder October 19, 1866 at Grannetville Accident
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Reubin Weaver December 28, 1895 at Elijah Boatwrights Plantation Natural Causes
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Clara Bell colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Jack negro boy May 14, 1852 at the house of H. W. Posey Accident
Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham Natural Causes
Dudley Roundtree August 10, 1856 at the dwelling house of the late Dudley Roundtree Natural Causes
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House Accident
Infant Infant December 18, 1894 at the Rinheart Grave yard Unknown
Jane Glover January 12, 1883 at Handy Tanks House on John Wir[?] plantation Unknown
Presley Wise July 11, 1891 at D W. Padgetts plantation Homicide
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Charley Geeter October 27, 1881 at Violets Geeter's house Accident
Bob negro September 23, 1864 in the District Natural Causes
Blassingame Wise April 27, 1848 at or near the Negro quarter of Mrs Wiley Glover, on Savannah River Suicide
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
Henry slave, boy May 1, 1857 at Arthur Glovers House, Horns Creek Accident
John Henry King October 29, 1865 in Hamburg Homicide
Prince negro man October 27, 1844 at Mrs Elizabeth Timmermans Suicide
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Mary Harrison September 10, 1894 at Dornville Accident
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Isaac Grimer December 10, 1868 at Jacobs Branch on the Spaun Church road Accident
Infant Boy Child Infant Boy Child June 18, 1883 at Marsh Grobe Yard Accident
Henry Goodman May 4, 1851 at or near to William H Adams on little horse Creek Accident
A. G. Leek February 23, 1859 at A. G. Leeks Residence Other
Albert Jones April 29, 1885 at Pickens Reynolds house Homicide
Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith Natural Causes
John G. Riddle July 3, 1860 at the residence of Mr Richard Burton Natural Causes
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes
Joel Etheridge November 29, 1893 at Joel Etheridge Residence Unknown
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?] Natural Causes
Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House Natural Causes
Mary Bright Hanpt[?] October 6, 1881 at Bright Hanpt[?] Unknown
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
Adam Barker August 10, 1879 at the Residence of Adam Barker Decd Suicide
Mid[?] Griffin February 2, 1895 at the Govelace[?] Place Natural Causes
B. C. Bryan March 16, 1884 at B C Bryan Residence Natural Causes
Lilla Olophant female infant August 18, 1879 at Simpton[?] Pinns[?] Accident
William M. Tredaway March 27, 1851 at the house of William M Tredaway at Beach Island Homicide

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