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 501 - 524 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Typesort descending Death Method
Larkin Swearengen April 1, 1852 at the hous of Larkin Swearengen Suicide razor
John Randall October 19, 1857 at the dwelling house of John Randall Suicide razor
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
Daniel slave, boy April 28, 1859 at L. Halls Tisery[?] Suicide
Nancy Slave June 19, 1847 at the house of Mrs G. Rily's Suicide
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Lizzie Carson January 29, 1892 at John J Carson Coleman Township Suicide pistol
Darling Willis March 4, 1859 at Wade Holeston warter Suicide pistol
Joshua Miller December 22, 1851 at Joshua Millers Suicide shotgun
Blassingame Wise April 27, 1848 at or near the Negro quarter of Mrs Wiley Glover, on Savannah River Suicide
Aron slave, boy June 15, 1862 near the White house Suicide vine
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
Lewis slave May 21, 1861 at S. H. Roggers Suicide
Ann negro woman December 8, 1848 at the house of Benja F Landrum Suicide rope
Ellick negro man April 26, 1851 at the house of W. F Prescott Suicide rope
Wesley Weaver[?] June 15, 1858 at Mrs Lydia Nevus[?] Suicide shotgun
John Crawford June 25, 1853 at the house of John Crawford Suicide pocket knife
James Miller March 29, 1847 at the house of James Miller Suicide rope
Basil M. Boone November 4, 1855 at the residence of Daniel Boone Suicide rifle
William L. Russell September 6, 1849 in the Hotel of H Jordon Suicide razor
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Sarah Jowls[?] November 16, 1858 at Mrs Mary Ann Keys Suicide rope
Solomon Ellenberg February 18, 1859 near the Residence of G.M. Ouzts[?] Suicide
Joel Roper Sr. August 30, 1845 at the house of Joel Roper Sr Suicide rope

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