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 251 - 300 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
William Perry January 7, 1894 in the county and state aforesaid Accident
B. J. Mims January 20, 1885 at the Residence of Capt B J Mims Natural Causes
Tom negro slave December 18, 1858 at Chlo Watsons Homicide
Jim slave June 10, 1859 at M, L, Bonham Esqr residence on the Pine House road Natural Causes
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Simon C. Wood[?] December 26, 1857 at Wm Calelaziers[?] Natural Causes
Rachiel Mitchel June 21, 1881 at J. R Corleys Accident
Wilson Griffin freedman February 13, 1867 at Luke Rodgers Homicide
Bettie Willis March 24, 1892 at the Croker place the home of Miss Bettie Willis Natural Causes
Louisa Wooden October 13, 1893 at Mose Woden Accident
Levi S. Mathews July 13, 1892 at G. C. Wheerles[?] Residence Natural Causes
James Thomas colored July 20, 1869 at Liberty Hill County Homicide
Alick Croker boy September 29, 1878 at Mrs. Marshes premises Accident
Lovina negroe girl, a slave September 4, 1860 at Doct H M Folks[Faulk?] Suicide
Charles slave, boy September 25, 1861 at Elijah Watson Homicide
Lucious Perry November 8, 1891 at the plantation of Ben Boatwright Homicide
Richard Mims August 1, 1899 at the plantation of Mrs. H. Carter Accident
Willis Cumings child October 10, 1890 at C. M. Lanhams Accident
Tandy Holmes September 21, 1894 at or on Dr. W.C. Prescotts Plantation Homicide
J. F. Styron April 21, 1891 at residence of J. F. Styron[?] Accident
Jesse Limbecker June 18, 1869 at Hamburg Accident
James Edward Settle boy March 9, 1884 on Henry Hill Plantation Accident
Charity Johnson March 11, 1847 at the Residence of Charity Johnson, late deceased Natural Causes
Allen Bauknight freedman June 11, 1866 at William Bauknights Accident
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
Sallie Holmes December 20, 1893 at D. P. Bodies[?] Accident
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
George Hatcher freedman June 19, 1867 at B. W. Hatchers Mill on Shaws creek Natural Causes
Edinborough Ryan December 30, 1882 at Mrs D. L Bussy Plantation Accident
Tom negro boy February 5, 1853 at the late residence of Col Harling Quarles[?] deceased Natural Causes
George Mitchel June 21, 1881 at J. R Corleys Accident
Benjamin Cockroft March 18, 1847 in the woods near the house of Beryman[?] Bledsoe Accident
Selena Allen child, boy, baby December 12, 1890 at Mrs Blacks[?] Plantation Accident
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Jane Glover January 12, 1883 at Handy Tanks House on John Wir[?] plantation Unknown
Nelson Smith freedman, boy October 4, 1866 at Andrew Warts Homicide
infant child infant child November 23, 1891 at the plantation of Willis Owdom[?] Accident
William Anderson April 14, 1864 at the plantation of T.[?] S Boles Natural Causes
William Bailey July 19, 1846 at the House of Samuel C Scott Homicide
Anderson B. Branham January 6, 1892 at the plantation of M. C. Parker Unknown
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
Julia Van June 20, 1892 at the plantation of Mr Joe Thurmond Homicide
Ben Shubrick col December 24, 1869 at Negro heade Lane Natural Causes
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House Accident
Sarah Scurry September 28, 1844 at the House of Sarah Scurry Suicide
Sam negro, slave September 18, 1846 at the residence of Mrs Nancy Delaughter Natural Causes
Peter Negro man December 30, 1859 at the Plantation of Mr Wm Bunch Accident
Jno. C Swearingin April 24, 1895 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes

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