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
Sallie Busch August 21, 1892 at Lewis Beans plantation Natural Causes
Gus West October 11, 1883 at Jack Holms Unknown
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Lidia Watson January 26, 1894 at J E Macks Accident
John H Webb January 22, 1882 at James Webb Residence Accident
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident
William Lundy August 28, 1846 at house of John Rainsford Accident
Rachiel Mitchel June 21, 1881 at J. R Corleys Accident
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
James L. Hill January 10, 1867 at James L Hills Accident
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin Unknown
Tom Slave, old negro man January 12, 1853 near the residence of Harry Scott Accident
Susan Medlock April 7, 1894 at Johnston Homicide
James Edward Settle boy March 9, 1884 on Henry Hill Plantation Accident
Lousay November 25, 1860 at Doct John E. Padgett Accident
George Mitchel June 21, 1881 at J. R Corleys Accident
Elleck free boy December 13, 1866 at Johnathan Gregorys Accident
James Reynolds December 20, 1860 at the residence of James Reynolds Homicide
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
infant Boy infant Boy October 29, 1894 at [?] Coleman Natural Causes
Elijah Flour[?] youth July 24, 1849 at the hous of Mrs Salley Spradley Accident
Larrence Valentine December 28, 1893 at Mt[?] Willing Accident
infant infant January 22, 1894 at Oak Gilchrist House Natural Causes
Albert Jones April 29, 1885 at Pickens Reynolds house Homicide
Infant Boy Child Infant Boy Child June 18, 1883 at Marsh Grobe Yard Accident
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
infant infant December 15, 1892 at Mr. Pleasant Grave Yard Accident
Kizziah[?] slave, servant March 11, 1860 at the residence of Mr M Lanham Natural Causes
Clara Bell colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes
Belaus[Velaus?] slave, boy March 30, 1863 at Robert Smiths Accident
Henry Jennings September 14, 1891 at the residense of diceased Natural Causes
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Jack Taylor April 11, 1892 at the house of Hal[?] Miles Natural Causes
Sindy Brighthop August 21, 1898 on S.W. Gardners place Homicide
William Prince July 9, 1851 at the house of John W Garrett Accident
infant child infant child April 14, 1895 at Charley Moors Homicide
Ed Glover July 8, 1882 at Poore House Accident
Hurnon[?] April 4, 1862 at Doct H R Cooks Plantation on Savanah River Unknown
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
William Perry January 7, 1894 in the county and state aforesaid Accident
Harriet negro woman July 20, 1859 at the residence of JB Rease Natural Causes
Milledge Denny colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Lucius Walker October 5, 1869 at James Doziers plantation Accident

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