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
John Matthews October 13, 1829 at the house of William Adams Other
Richard Mims August 1, 1899 at the plantation of Mrs. H. Carter Accident
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Abram negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at Henry L Maysons Accident
Minnie Johnson December 22, 1892 at John Bettis plantation Accident
J. E. Black May 8, 1861 at the Residence of J. E. Black Other
John Whitlock boy September 8, 1869 at Grainteville Accident
Infant Infant December 18, 1894 at the Rinheart Grave yard Unknown
Aggy Latily[?] negro woman slave June 21, 1848 at the plantation of N L Griffin Unknown
Edmond Price April 30, 1892 at Kennys Graveyard Unknown
Wade Medlock July 12, 1894 at Benjamin Boatwrights Plantation Unknown
James Booth August 23, 1878 at E. C. House Homicide
Albert Watson June 15, 1892 at the plantation of W.B. Maffett Natural Causes
Susan Churchwell October 6, 1884 at Allen Simkins House Unknown
Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?] Natural Causes
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Gus Blocker August 18, 1892 at the plantion of July Blocker Homicide
Jim Brown Child April 19, 1882 on Jasper Talbert Premises Unknown
Martin B. Elam January 28, 1851 at Mrs Mary Elams Other
infant child infant child October 6, 1891 at her Residence Unknown
Thomas Glover August 2, 1893 at Bill Werk[?] Residence Homicide
Robert slave, boy April 8, 1847 at Edward Hampton's Suicide
infant child infant child January 18, 1892 at the Plantation of L. G. Swearinger Accident
Blanchy Wilson November 30, 1893 on the plantation of Robert Hastings Accident
Esther Jeter April 17, 1893 at Huiets x Roads Accident
Bluford Abney November 14, 1894 at M.A. Colemans plantation Natural Causes
Whit Terry October 19, 1894 J.K. Corleys Place Homicide
Al White October 12, 1898 at Mundy[?] Place Homicide
Sindy Brighthop August 21, 1898 on S.W. Gardners place Homicide
David West boy January 30, 1862 at Graniteville Accident
John Webb March 26, 1899 at Edgefield Court House Homicide
Tom negro man Slave August 21, 1850 at H. L. Maysons in Beach island Accident
William C. Goff May 7, 1865 at Bethany Church Accident
infant child infant child April 14, 1895 at Charley Moors Homicide
John slave September 27, 1863 at the residence of Johnson A Bland Accident
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Joel W. Warren November 9, 1894 at Joseph Mirren[?] House Natural Causes
Elijah Flour[?] youth July 24, 1849 at the hous of Mrs Salley Spradley Accident
Henry negro man June 3, 1849 at the house of Mrs Mary Harrison Accident
Lucious Perry November 8, 1891 at the plantation of Ben Boatwright Homicide
infant infant May 5, 1893 at F. L. Foys Natural Causes
Henry Turner September 24, 1878 at Johnstons Homicide
Charley Ryan May 9, 1892 at T. H. Ramsford Plantion Homicide
infant infant December 15, 1892 at Mr. Pleasant Grave Yard Accident
Mike negro man September 13, 1844 at Dr John D. Nicholsons Mill Accident
Isaac Oliphant November 9, 1882 at Ritch Thomson Accident
J. M. Long October 10, 1891 at J. M. Longs Homicide

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