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
Eddie Watson Infant April 25, 1892 at Bob Stevens Natural Causes
B. J. Mims January 20, 1885 at the Residence of Capt B J Mims Natural Causes
infant child infant child September 9, 1891 at Wards Natural Causes
Sis Bonham child February 18, 1894 at M.B. Davenports Accident
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?] Natural Causes
Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley Natural Causes
Wesley male slave, child October 5, 1857 at the residence of Sophia A Tilman Homicide
Lizzie Darian child November 21, 1894 at Waldo Richardsons Accident
Joseph Powel August 18, 1879 at [??] Accident
Jacob Horn February 25, 1866 at the hous of Jacob Horns Homicide
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Isham Glover August 10, 1892 at Edgefield C.H. Homicide
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Emanuel slave March 12, 1856 at Matthew McGraw's plantation Accident
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
George W. Medlock January 1, 1848 at the house of Daniel Abby Natural Causes
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
infant child infant child November 17, 1891 at Mr M Toneys place Unknown
Fed Martin convict September 1, 1895 at Poor House and CH Unknown
Eva Blocker February 11, 1893 at J. P. Wrights Plantation Accident
Elleck free boy December 13, 1866 at Johnathan Gregorys Accident
Blassingame Wise April 27, 1848 at or near the Negro quarter of Mrs Wiley Glover, on Savannah River Suicide
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
Sallie Young December 8, 1890 at Mr A. F Broadwaters Plantation Accident
Unknown April 11, 1860 at or near W.J. Walkers Unknown
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
W. T. Mathis November 11, 1897 at the Yeldell place Natural Causes
J. J. Jennings November 16, 1860 at J J Jennings Suicide
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
R. Mackgrath January 5, 1852 at the house of John Dobey Other
Toby negro man July 10, 1844 near Bauskett Bridge on Stevens Creek Accident
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Everett Hook July 18, 1891 at the saw Mill of M J Hook Accident
Polly Vines April 20, 1892 at the house of Ben. Holt Natural Causes
Isaac Oliphant November 9, 1882 at Ritch Thomson Accident
Mary Harrison September 10, 1894 at Dornville Accident
infant, child infant, child November 29, 1894 at the plantation of J. P. Roton Natural Causes
Alick Croker boy September 29, 1878 at Mrs. Marshes premises Accident
Sam slave, boy October 10, 1857 at the Carolina Hotel, Edgefield C.H. Unknown
Infant Boy Child Infant Boy Child June 18, 1883 at Marsh Grobe Yard Accident
Henry Parks September 14, 1895 at Parksville Homicide
Clara Bell colored child June 23, 1868 at Rev. H.T. Baitleys Homicide
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Tom Waldrum colored man (Free) January 20, 1857 in the woods near Mr Avory Franklins Accident
Joseph Moore Jr. April 19, 1846 at the house of Dr John D. Nicholson Natural Causes
Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller Natural Causes
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Belaus[Velaus?] slave, boy March 30, 1863 at Robert Smiths Accident
Milton Barter[?] youth August 24, 1849 at Capt. Andrew J Hammonds Mills 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