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 101 - 150 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Unknown August 30, 1866 at Fosity[?] Creek ford Unknown
John Shumport[?] November 7, 1851 at John Shumports[?] Accident
Mahlon Jones December 25, 1891 at Landrams Farm Homicide
Garett Doby October 11, 1880 at William Rufus Natural Causes
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
Victor male slave April 24, 1859 at A. L. Dearing Plantation Natural Causes
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
Joel Etheridge November 29, 1893 at Joel Etheridge Residence Unknown
Joe Elam February 16, 1882 at Nicholson premises Natural Causes
Elmira Jackson May 18, 1884 at George Holingsworths House Accident
Sarah Lucas October 30, 1890 at Mr. M L Holson Accident
William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles Natural Causes
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Cland Elam child March 17, 1892 at A. J. Norris Place Accident
Presley Wise July 11, 1891 at D W. Padgetts plantation Homicide
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
John McKinny September 26, 1894 at W P. Lipfords[?] Homicide
Selena Allen child, boy, baby December 12, 1890 at Mrs Blacks[?] Plantation Accident
infant child infant child January 10, 1892 at Trenton Accident
infant child infant child June 14, 1891 at Kenny Grave Yard Accident
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Robert Reynolds July 30, 1892 at J.W. Reynolds Plantation Accident
Tilman Attaway April 14, 1849 at the corner of the Oharer[?] old field Accident
Dinah Woman Slave May 22, 1849 at Allen Griffith Natural Causes
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns Natural Causes
Pete slave October 31, 1864 at Liberty hill Unknown
Caroline Free negro August 26, 1858 four miles from Hamburg Unknown
William H Maharey May 25, 1863 at Haslin Factory on the Procelian Manufacturing Company Accident
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Ernest Bean April 6, 1884 at the Mill of B[?] Hill Accident
Elick Youngblood child March 21, 1881 at S[?] R Warren Homicide
Willis Cumings child October 10, 1890 at C. M. Lanhams Accident
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House Accident
Ned Dozier September 27, 1893 at MJ Holsteins Homicide
infant child infant child December 9, 1891 at a colored cemetary Accident
William C. Goff May 7, 1865 at Bethany Church Accident
James Mitchell February 18, 1879 at L D Laudrums Natural Causes
Blanchy Wilson November 30, 1893 on the plantation of Robert Hastings Accident
Lidda Hampton November 24, 1893 at A Derrecks Natural Causes
J. D. Wells December 14, 1890 at Edgefield C.H. Natural Causes
Julia Hightower child November 9, 1890 at Mr Sam Marshes Place Accident

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